Memories of Powell
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remember one night, I was studying in the stacks and didn't realize
what time it was. All of a sudden the lights were turned off and
I was completely in the dark. I could see only a very dim light
in the distance. Believe me, I packed up quickly and crawled toward
that light. --
Gladys Emerson Thomas '65, M.A. '68
the Rindge Art Collection was given to the university in the mid-'30s,
there was a great banquet in the Main Reading Room. Those of us
on the planning committee brought candelabra from home for the tables.
It was a stunning spectacle, to look down that great, vast room
and see those candelabra glimmering. It was pouring rain outside,
and as far as I know, it was the only occasion in the history of
the university where cars drove right up to the steps of the library.
Boys were on hand with umbrellas to take us inside. Dr. Sproul was
there, and a great many of the university bigwigs. It was a fabulous
occasion. -- Ann Sumner '26
as an undergraduate, I appreciated the beauty of Powell. It is a
marvelous example of Italian Romanesque architectural style, reminiscent,
I was told, of churches in Verona, Bologna and Milan (see sidebar).
As an English major, I sought refuge in Powell quite often -- and
not only when I needed a nap. Especially after fighting the crush
of humanity in survey classes of 500-plus students, I welcomed the
expanses the library offered in which I could lose myself. It was
a sanctuary, tranquil and serene.
in the late '80s, Powell, one of the busiest buildings on campus,
with thousands of students passing through its doors each day, was
identified as requiring major structural reinforcement. So in 1992,
the library closed for seismic retrofitting -- and didn't reopen
until four years later. Just think: An entire class of students
came and went and never saw the inside of this glorious building!
was one of the first four structures built on campus (the others
are Haines Hall, Kinsey Hall and Royce Hall). "The Library," as
it was generally referred to in the early days, was later named
for UCLA's second university librarian, Lawrence Clark Powell, a
prolific author and bookman who served the university from 1944
to 1960 and recently celebrated his 90th birthday.
of the intimacy of the campus in its first configurations (the University
Research Library was not built until 1964), Powell, and especially
its Main Reading Room, was for decades the very heart of the university.