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Memories of Powell
What Price Glory?

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Spring 1997
Memories of Powell
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Happily, there are other, more salutary traditions associated with the library. For instance, the first thing visitors see upon entering Powell's awe-inspiring foyer is the seal of the University of California with the motto, "Let There Be Light," [painted on?] the floor tiles. On the occasion of the library's Grand Reopening Dinner in September, this hallowed circle was set off by velvet ropes -- lest the uninitiated break a long-standing taboo and mistakenly step on the seal.

The ropes came down following the event and the next day countless students, either unaware of the ritual or unimpressed by it, tromped right over the seal. It hurt me a little bit to see it, but maybe, I've been thinking in retrospect, this is not such a bad thing, after all. Since its reopening in late September, the lovingly restored Powell has proven as important a campus landmark as ever: Every seat in the reading rooms is often taken, and lines of those wishing to use the new CLICC lab regularly snake clear out of the room.

As a veteran observer of Powell comings and goings, I believe that this could well be the first year in its long and illustrious history that the library attracts more than a million visitors. Personally, I have no problem with that. The lovely new stacks look like they can sleep hundreds of students comfortably. And I've already got my spot staked out.

The seal in the Powell foyer is representative of UCLA and, like the flag, you don't want to tread on it. The custom in my day was not to step on the seal, but I've talked to lots of more recent alumni who never heard of the tradition. Well, at least one person remembers. -- Judy Postley '45

Wendy Soderburg is the well-rested managing editor of UCLA Magazine.

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