A Journey to the Underhill Library

Dedicated to my fellow Underhill Library advocates:

Out of our three main libraries on campus (the Cornell Library in Science Center, McCabe Library, and Underhill Library in the Lang Music Building) Underhill Library is the one that I observe to be most disregarded.

I stumbled upon the Lang Music Building through a path that led up to it from the Scott Amphitheater. As it was my first day of orientation, I had never been to that area of campus before. I found myself following a narrow and winded path that was surrounded by the trees of the woods until I emerged to a clearing that showed the side of a building (the Lang Music Building)! Unbeknowst to me, this building was a place where I would later spend hours upon hours (in the Underhill Library).

The building, usually not accessed by wood-trail, is tucked behind the Lang Performing Arts Center and can be somewhat hidden. Inside the library are various instruments lined up on top of the bookshelves. Both sides of the room have shelves of books on various composers, and in the middle is a long rectangular table for large group study. In the upper level of the library (about three steps higher than the lower level), there is a glass wall of windows that look out into the Crum Woods. Orange mini-couches line up looking out into the woods, giving the small space its own unique aura.

Simple, magical, splendid

As there were many buildings to explore, I moved on from the library that I had found during orientation. However, in my first semester I had decided to sign up for a class called “Music and The Battle Between Good and Evil”, which was inside of Underhill Library’s seminar classroom. Seeing the leaves fall through the window as I discussed the contradictions that lie within art propaganda during China’s Cultural Revolution was a unique combination that captured the essence of Swarthmore College for me.

The convenience of being able to have one of my classes inside of a music library with so many music resources available is how I ended up spending more and more time inside the library. One Tuesday afternoon, my music class had ended and I stayed behind in the library. As I lingered behind, one of my upperclassmen classmates (who is a wonderful constant presence in the Underhill library) said to me, “Are you becoming an Underhill person? That’s the best kind of person.” I had then discovered the kinship of the Underhill-bond.

Out of all the other libraries, Underhill is the smallest —which could be seen as a negative. However, the smaller area of the library allows someone to see many of the same people. I have made many friends who are also frequent Underhill-goers. If I needed help with an assignment or wanted to take a break to chat, there are so many familiar people to help. Since we are in the same space and see each other often, conversations strike up and friendships develop. Contrary to the many floors of the McCabe Library and Cornell Library, if you have a friend that is in the Underhill library you can easily see where they are. There is no maze navigating, and simply friendship and the bliss of studying without stressing over where to sit. There is a community within the Swarthmore community, and it is the Underhill-community. When I see people around campus, they remark ,“You’re not in Underhill? What a surprise!” In response, I usually have nothing to say—as it’s a surprise to me too.



Leave a Reply