A brief item in a past issue of Columns asked for alumni memories of Suzzallo Library. Here are some of the responses.
“In the quiet of the Suzzallo Reading Room I discovered I could write. It was my senior year and I was struggling with a demanding assignment from a communications professor. … In the muted light of the Suzzallo Reading Room, I felt tears on my face. I realized that my writing had the power to make someone cry; even my toughest critic: me. … Now I am a writer for World Vision Today magazine. … I’m not sure I would have the confidence—or the desire—to write about life’s challenges if not for the moment in the Suzzallo Reading Room. I changed that day from a person who felt sadness and joy to a person who found words for these feelings and put them down on paper.”—Kari Constanza, ’85
“My scholarly energy was nurtured by every facet of this room. The large wooden chairs held me in a contemplative pose. The chandeliers appeared as magnificent sentinels of learning. The ceiling panels allowed my mind to soar and grasp difficult subjects. I even loved the musty smell of the room. I recall the beauty of the sunlight streaming through the airspace. … Clearly the designers of this room understood scholarly inspiration and contemplation. May the reading room inspire many more generations of scholars to come.”—Steven Yourstone, ’70, ’82, ’88
“One of my most embarrassing moments as an undergrad happened in my favorite library: ‘Snooze-allo.’ It was close to 10 p.m., and my eyes were incredibly heavy, but I pushed on to study. Well, the ottoman beckoned my feet to rest. I obliged, then gazed up at the cathedral ceiling, pondering some now forgotten thought. Tap. Tap. I awoke to a friendly grad student lightly tapping my shoulder and whispering, ‘Excuse me, you’re snoring!’ ”—Marnie Hopkins, ’94
“We were instructed to go out on to the campus and draw something that captures the essence of the UW. At the time of this assignment, I was not aware of the reading room. … While ascending the spiral stairs at the main entrance, I came upon the room. I was immediately taken by its sheer magnitude. Like a grand cathedral, there was something almost ethereal about this place. I took it all in from one grand end to the other. Light beamed down through the large stained glass cathedral windows between the arches-like sun rays in a forest of giant evergreens. … I imagined the many years of scholarly activity that had occurred in this room. Everything about it exuded a sense of history. This was my inspiration. I settled into a chair at one end, took out my drawing pad, and began to draw.”—Bill Proby, ’72
“I actually met my future wife elsewhere on the campus. We did, however, spend a lot of time in the reading room. It was a wonderful place to study and our courtship blossomed in that room. We spent as much time there as possible. … I remember it as being cool, comfortable and very quite, and entirely conducive to romantic daydreaming. … When I was the UW provost during 1975-77, we both visited the reading room and just stood in the doorway thinking about the ‘old days.’“—Irving Shain, ’49, ’52