With hockey season midterms fast approaching, it is paramount to understand the historical significance of the concrete behemoths in which you will sit…for hours on end. Now, we all know the classic division and respective stereotypes that go along with where one studies, but why is this the case? Is the SciLi actually part of a CS15 project gone wrong? Do hipsters actually live in the basement of the Rock? Why can’t I ever get any work done in the Friedman Study Center? Is the Rock actually a nightclub? Why is the sky blue? All of these questions will be answered in this week’s edition of Ra Ra Brunonia: The Libraries.
One look at the thing and a single word pops into your mind: Why. While not the most visually appealing and the proverbial sore thumb on the hand of College Hill, the SciLi is one of a kind and a mainstay of the Brown campus. The Sciences Library (yes, this is what SciLi stands for) opened in December of 1971 after an absurdly arduous and complex construction process. The gargantuan library replaces both the Biological Sciences Library in Arnold Lab and Physical Sciences Library in Metcalf Lab, and consequently serves as a point of reference for literally anyone within 50 miles of Providence. Primarily constructed of poured concrete, the SciLi was originally designed to include a brick exterior, which would have been far more consistent with the general theme of the campus. Poor choice Brown, poor choice.
The thermometer library is Brutalist in nature (you can say that again) and houses over 450,000 volumes throughout its fourteen floors. The vertically oriented building perfectly accommodates the SciLi challenge all students who hope to expand their intellectual capacity. Additionally, the foyer of the SciLi was designed for the purpose of researching aerodynamics. A considerably more social library, the SciLi helps students procrastinate until the wee hours of the morning and sends them off to the 5 a.m. opening of Loui’s. Before deciding to spend your days in the ‘lightening rod,’ remember one thing: The SciLi isn’t just a library, it’s a lifestyle.
Ah, the good ole’ John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Library—the best of times. While not as centrally located as the SciLi, the aptly nicknamed ‘Rock’ serves as a beacon of hope and truth for those individuals who want a study space that is less mainstream and more punk ROCK (that was a pun…). Opened on November 16, 1964, the Rock was intended to act as additional arm of the John Hay Library and, in its early stages, was actually referred to as the ‘John Hay Library Extension.’ The architect of the project, Danforth W. Toan, stated that “in developing the exterior architectural design, [his team] sought to match the modest monumentality of the John Hay.” While the aformentioned statement is somewhat debatable, the John Hay and Rock are indeed connected by a tunnel beneath College Street. Interestingly enough, the weed-infested area that sits below the AQR is actually the Chafee Garden, originally an outside reading area. Times have most definitely changed.
Rack City Rock City is ultimately for students who enjoy hunkering down and getting work done. The fourth floor, or Penthaus, provides sprawling views of the Providence Place Mall and exudes an aura of warmth with floor to ceiling concrete slabs. In addition, the Rock has stacks on stacks on stacks, holding a total of 1,500,000 volumes. While the Rock does not have a line that is “one hundred deep, VIP, no guest list” as Tyga alludes to in his song Rack City Rock City, he does make a fair point—the Rock is most definitely an exclusive and somewhat elusive club. There is no cover charge, just don’t forget your ID…or break the mechanic glass barrier.
As midterm season begins to fall upon us, like the leaves on a crisp autumn morning, remember to appreciate the libraries in which you study. Each is unique in character and holds a deep-rooted place on the Brown campus.
You could also just study in your room.
Until next time, Ra Ra Brunonia!
(P.S. You will never think of the Rock in the same way…)