I got my library degree at the University of Minnesota and the library school was located, I seem to remember, on the 4/5th floor of Walter. Somewhere I have a photo I took of the stairwell that I would climb up and down when I was attending.
Later, as I was working on my Master’s thesis and working at the Bio-Medical Library, certain collections were being moved out of Walter over to the Bio-Medical Library (pharmaceutical titles, I believe). I got to work in the stacks during the summer heat pulling titles — where the stacks at that time were truly stacks, you could see down several floors and along the walls were little study areas tucked under small windows.
I remember going to the Upson Room when the Children’s Literature Research Collection was housed there to do some research on children’s authors for a composition class paper. It felt cozy and warm and it was great to just look through the finding aids and ask for materials.
Also the stacks were amazing! Total fire hazards with gaps that you could send a pencil through to the lower stories of the building. It was the best place to just hide away from the world.
Back in the early to mid 90s I was a shipping student and when we made our deliveries and pickups at the old Walter library we used to flip coins and do rock paper scissors to see who had to go inside because it was so hot, humid, dank and creepy. The tiny old elevators that went up and down the stacks were especially disturbing as the stacks were mostly dark with hanging lightbulb’s with pull strings to turn them on and off. You could see between the floors through wire cages.
The loading dock was also especially hard to manage as it was a tight turn to get the 3 ton 6 wheel freight truck behind it. There were several mishaps that shall forever be unmentioned. Thankfully the library staff were forgiving and instructive and it made for good life experiences.
When I worked at the Walter Library reference desk (my first library job!), several times alums came in and were shocked by the redesign, asking “where are the stacks?!”
My favorite was a married couple who had met in those stacks as students.
Walter is one of the best places to work! Even though my work is limited to in-person help like the tutoring services, it is always fun to be there, even when I don’t have appointments. There is something about the building that motivates you to be more productive and get your work done.
Jason Ladd (part 2)
In 1995 I took a summer intro to Shakespeare class. Literature was not my thing so instead of reading the plays, I went to the LRC at Walter and spent 3 days in hot humid weather, watching all the Shakespeare plays the BBC produced. I did ok in class. Got a B.