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.
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.
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.
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.