libraries

Cats, Card Catalogs, and Not So Little Free Libraries

Swinging Library Cat
Cat Sculpture in IUPUI Library, via Kristen Twardowski

When I first stepped into the main library on the campus at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI), I stared upwards and blinked for a long while. You see, there was a giant blue cat hanging upside from the ceiling. Most libraries don’t have one of those.

I hadn’t expected to be amazed by the libraries in Indianapolis. But maybe I should have. I was there for a library conference after all. I was bound to discover one or two book filled spaces. And discover them I did.

IUPUI University Library

It turns out that the cat in the IUPUI library is a jaguar, which is the school’s mascot. He is also a great introduction to some of the quirkier aspects of IUPUI spaces.

In addition to providing books to patrons, the IUPUI library is dedicated to having communal learning spaces. The seating arrangement pictured below, for example, draws on images from the natural world. Within these decorated halls, the library houses 1.4 million books, which were visited by 872,123 people in 2016. For patrons interested in technology, the library also has a 3D Printing Studio with MakerBot printers and 3D scanners where students can design and create 3D objects.

IUPUI Library Seating.jpg
Library Seating at IUPUI, via Kristen Twardowski

Indiana State Library

This incarnation of a state library for Indiana has been around since the 1930’s. Though the library is primarily intended to be used by legislators and state officials, it is very open to the public. (The staff was quite content to let me wander through it.)

When I rounded one corner of the library, I was tickled to find an entire wall covered in card catalogs. I don’t believe the tiny drawers actually contained paper cards with information on books the way they once did, but having the card catalog cabinets remain as part of the aesthetics of the space made the State Library feel more…stately.

But that may just be the librarian in me talking.

Card Catalog.jpg
Card Catalog, Indiana State Library, via Kristen Twardowski

Book Terminals by the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument

And then there was the book terminal. This green structure filled with books overlooks the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument on Monument Circles.  I’ve had a bit of trouble finding information about the terminal, but it seems to function the way a lot of Little Free Libraries do; people are welcome to simply come and take (or leave) books here. I saw dozens of children’s books, books on science, mystery novels, and light, summer fiction all available for reading.

Free Library Indianapolis.jpg
Book Terminals, Monument Circle, via Kristen Twardowski

These are only a sampling of the libraries that Indianapolis has to offer, and it is wonderful to see how dedicated the city is to bringing books to its people.

I’ll admit that I’m tempted to bring some aspects of these libraries back home with me. A giant animal statue would be a great addition to my branch library, don’t you think? Maybe something other than a cat though. A wolf perhaps? Or maybe a lemur.

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15 thoughts on “Cats, Card Catalogs, and Not So Little Free Libraries

  1. Wow, amazing as always, Kristen! I had the chance recently of perusing the Genealogy Dept of the library in Ft. Wayne. No upside down cats, but the library is amazing and I guess that Genealogy center is second only to Salt Lake City.

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    1. I’m glad to hear it is such a robust department! The genealogy sections of libraries can be such treasure troves. I especially love that in many cases, they are spaces where we can learn about everyday people rather than only famous ones.

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  2. Bassett hound? The red eyes come from being up all night trying to finish one more page. The slumped body and overgrown ears indicate exactly what he is reading. Imagine words meandering through his auricles and down his dumpy body, skipping over spiny neural foramina. When done reading, he shuffles to the kitchen, plopping his duffle bag butt in front of his dish, waiting. Thinking. Being in the moment. A Zen master of fur, contemplating. When fed, he heaves himself off the cool linoleum, collects all his bumpy lumpy parts and waddles to the back porch for a bit of a snooze and sunbeams.

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  3. Darling…, aren’t we all? I believe my cat loves me despite my furriness. Maybe it was a mind meld by Dr. Spock. Aha! That’s why I keep leaping up to the top of my refrigerator…much cooler!!

    Yes, tongue firmly in cheek.

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    1. Oh, this is wonderful info! Thanks for sharing. I had the worst time trying to discover more about it. (…I probably should have paid more attention when I was actually there because my Google abilities failed me.)

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