Main Library to remain or remodel


Daily Illini File Photo

The front entrance of the Main Library located on Gregory Drive.

By Daniel Jin, Columnist

It ianother day with hundreds of students passing through the bus stop in front of the Main Library. This spot will never be skipped by buses and students.

However, after the motion of demolishing part of the Main Library was proposed, we might need to look back on this old brick building that has stood for centuries. To remain old or to remodel for the new — that is the question.

Built in 1924, the library was the third main building for the University, just after the gorgeous Altgeld Hall. The library’s interior was decorated with 27 stained glass windows showing Renaissance printers’ marks. It was purposely built away from the center of campus to allow the building to expand; this proved necessary, as three book stack additions have added to the building, and of course, the Undergraduate Library as well.

Embracing thousands of incoming freshmen and bidding farewell to brilliant graduates gives this library an impressive attribute: sophistication. Just like an aged professor, it absorbs new thoughts, shares old-fashioned piles of knowledge and enjoys its long-lasting life with bright, young minds.

With almost a century having passed, it’s more than just a building. This old friend is shy and likes to hold back or hide from the light (shoutout to Adele!).

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But it is time for us to take care of it and truly consider whether we should keep it from being demolished or make it more fashionable.

The proposal of remodeling the Main Library includes replacing some part of the library with services students can use for books, collaborations and other purposes.

“As undergraduate services would move to the Main Library, the current Undergraduate Library would be changed to become the place for rare books and special collections,” said Catherine Gray, associate professor in the English department, in an email.

The most astonishing aspect is that almost no one is focusing on this plan, and some are not even informed about it. The plan is likely to destroy parts of a historical building, and such a wound is almost irreparable. The silence is so loud that we cannot ignore this any longer.

When famous architect Leoh Ming Pei designed a glass pyramid at the plaza of Musée du Louvre in Paris, everyone considered the pyramid to be a monster. Several years later, it was eventually accepted by the public. Historical heritages should not be left behind in the history but instead should be refreshed by it.

Others might disagree with my opinion and will actively fight against the plan. They believe any reconstruction to historical buildings is unacceptable.

No matter what opinions you may have, the key is to speak up and debate. Diversifying ideas will contribute to wiser decisions and more responsible actions.

There should be a campus-wide conversation including all students and faculty members, because the Main Library needs our attention now more than ever.

Daniel is a graduate student in LAS.

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