December 14, 2013
These photos of the old-time Cincinnati main public library that was finally torn down in the 1950s have been going around. The picture above looks like an illustration for Jorge Luis Borges's The Library of Babel if done by M.C. Escher after visiting an exhibition of Piranesi's prisons. It reminds me that while I love vast reading rooms, such as Boston's, I always found going into the stacks at Rice University's big library slightly nightmarish.
I particularly like the contrast in men's headgear between the polite gentlemen scholars in the Art Room:
and the hat-wearing hoi polloi in the Newspaper Room:
This confirms all my treasured stereotypes from reading Ben Hecht and watching His Girl Friday about the profound link between old time newspapers and wearing your hat indoors. (In case you are wondering, although Magritte's paintings are full of men wearing hats, they only wear them outdoors.)
By Steve Sailer on 12/14/2013