Monday, December 5, 2011

First Monday's Just for Fun: Urban Myths - Library Edition

Sinking Library by Paul Downey

Two of my favorite urban myths are related to libraries.

One of them is a general myth, the kind you can even find on "The Sinking Library." I've only heard this on college campuses, although I wouldn't be surprised to find it being told about public libraries. According to the story, the architects of a specific university or college library did not account for the weight of the books when they were drafting up the plans for the building. As a result, the building is said to be sinking now that the shelves are full. I think I like this particular urban myth because of the implied symbolism. The impact of all the knowledge is enough to sink you.

The other is specific to the library where I work. At least a couple of times per semester, I overhear a tour guide telling prospective students and their parents that the colors on the walls of my library are the result of an extensive study that was done by our psychology department. Different students have different interpretations of how the colors were picked. "Conducive to studying" and "most relaxing colors" are the most common. I shouldn't admit this, but I take a lot of pleasure when I get to correct someone about this. You see, it wasn't a psychological study. It was a designer with an odd (but pretty) aesthetic.

How about you? Heard any good urban library myths lately?


  1. I was a student worker in your library when it opened in 1995 and I remember the initial outrage over the colors. I always kinda liked them, though, except for the "Burger King Stairwell" there at the back. My favorite study room was the teal-ish green one with the painting of grazing cows.

  2. Ha! I remember hearing that myth about Hinsdale when it was built!!

  3. I love that the two people who commented on this post are familiar with the library in question.