Have you ever wondered what’s in the library stacks? That mysterious part of the building that includes staff-only sections? I’ll clear up the mystery for you – there are books. Some are tomes of historical value covering every topic under the sun. Some are volumes of the most obscure nature only of value to a dedicated researcher, but nevertheless important to save for a myriad of reasons.
Two and a half of the eleven floors are devoted to bound volumes of magazines, shelved by title. Three floors are open to the public; the 3rd stack aligns with the first floor (fiction, Teen, and a few subject collections), the 4th stack is the Mezzanine Level (nonfiction call numbers A – L), and the 5th stack aligns with the second floor (nonfiction call numbers M – R). The closed 8th stack aligns with the 3rd floor. That’s how high the ceilings are in here! Each volume is, in its own way, the culmination of the selective scrutiny of the librarians in charge of curating the collections.
One of the most important functions of the library is to be a repository of written documents representing the expanse of human knowledge and human endeavors for posterity. Each volume in the stacks not only represents an author’s expertise on a subject, but a publisher, a librarian as the collector, a cataloger to give it a unique call number, a staff of shelvers to keep them organized, a staff of building maintenance personnel to keep things tidy, IT personnel to let the collections become visible in online catalogs, library clerks to check out the circulating books, administrators to ensure continued funding and provide a vision for the future, and you, the public, who need to be able to access all of these books at whim.
Let’s hear it for preservation, access, and posterity!
Oh, and one more thing – legends have it that a judge has haunted the stacks since the early 1900s. He may or may not have left a note that may or may not keep on appearing on the ceiling. A note that says “sentio est hic” – Latin for “the judge is here.” Was that a draft I felt the last time I went to the stacks? Or was it The Judge?
*All photos of the stacks taken by Joelle Levitt Killebrew