Whilst in Louisvlle attending a seminar on contemporary American literature and touring various sites of cultural interest the University Library was one of those sites that had a never-fading impression on my mind not only for its unique 21st Century Journal architectural plan but for other inexpressible qualities that make it an ideal place for quiet and serene study. My first visit was when the Director of our program led us there for an induction into the use of computers and the internet in literature research. The room we were led into for the class was fully equipped with computers in all the over fifty desks for students and a master screen monitor for the instructor. Many other rooms including the state of art auditorium were equally well equipped.
I passed through the library on many other occasions. But the most significant one was when on my way from the University post office the thought occurred to me of recording the beautiful vistas of the campus in pictures as well as in mind and one such was the Ekstrom Library which represented to me the focal point of all the other libraries scattered at various ends of the expansive campus.
I took about two views of this building and I was still gaping in wonder especially at the bewitching splendor of its frontage with readers combining eating and relaxing. I was particularly struck by its inviting, comfortable, and open space teeming with students and bustling with activity, a lovely terrace equipped with outdoor furniture, facing a pleasantly inviting green outdoor space, exploiting the favorably warm climactic conditions here for enjoying nature. Taking advantage of the generally mild Kentucky weather with its ample, inviting green space, students can study or just catch a break at a number of outdoor tables on the terrace. On nice days, there are few better places to study-and certainly it makes for an inviting entry
I found myself wandering in to get a better view. As I wandered through I remembered my mission of seeking support for our resources-starved university libraries in Sierra Leone. My search for the head led me into the office of Mr David Hogarth who instantly became an able facilitator of my mission enabling me within a week to meet the Dean of libraries.
Whilst awaiting my appointment with her I was led on a tour of various parts of the Ekstrom library. This library, I learnt, holds more than 1.1 million and 5,100 journal subscriptions supporting research and curricula in the humanities, social sciences, business and education. It also contains large collections of microforms, government publications, multi-media and current periodicals, the Granville A. Bunton Pan African Collection, the Barbara S.Miller Multiracial Children’s literature Collection and the Bingham Poetry Collection.
The Rare Books and Photographic Archives provide rare research sources for scholars and other researchers. African American collections, English, European, and American Literatures collections together with the substantial space given to reference and reserved books make this library a very significant research as well as information disseminating tool. But it is also a repository and exhibitor of many prized manuscripts and other documents like for example the outstanding 1482 first printing of Euclid’s Elementia and a copy of the Principia with annotations in Newton’s hand. The working collection of Richard M. Kain, and the first editions and manuscripts of James Joyce and W.B. Yeats preserve much of Irish Literary Renaissance heritage. There is also quite a good collection of Modern English and American writers with noteworthy editions by 1890’s authors and books as well as autographed letters from members of the Bloomsbury Group.