Vol. 13. No. 2
Fall 2003



“Computer, what was the population of Iceland in 1930?”

The disembodied “Star Trek” voice that responds is what people have in mind when they think about the library of the future. But libraries always have been and always will be more than just repositories of facts. True, the library is a source of information, from the first donation to the University—books contributed by Henry Gassett and Brigham Young—to today’s millions of volumes and tens of thousands of online resources (including one that did, in fact, find Iceland’s 1930 population: 108,629). More than that, though, it is a place where students meet to work on class projects, where faculty collaborate on research, and where new users take classes to learn how to identify and use the vast resources.

“Meet you at the library after class.”

“I’ll be studying at the library tonight.”

More than a disembodied voice. A place to meet, a place to learn.

And that’s the goal of the latest library renovation project, set to start in summer 2004: bringing the Marriott Library into the 21st century while enhancing its timeless function as the campus’ central meeting place.

Easier said than done, when the library is actually two libraries, a 1960sera building surrounded by a 1990s addition. The inner structure needs upgrades—seismic, mechanical, technological— and the entire library needs open spaces that are more compatible with users’ needs, including a state-ofthe- art Information Commons, new classrooms, computing areas, help desks, and, perhaps the biggest need of all, a way to more easily navigate the building.

The combination of open meeting places and technological advances is a reflection of trends the library has been tracking over the last several years: while electronic use—from computer classrooms to electronic references—has grown dramatically, gate count, the sheer number of people coming to the library, has grown, too. Far from making a physical library obsolete, the Information Age seems to have encouraged the demand for collaborative working and research space.

Flash Presentation of Proposed Renovations Coming Soon...

The Heart of Campus:
Finding Love Among the Stacks

The library is a meeting place for study and research, to be sure, but it has also been the site of meetings of a more romantic nature. Tales from the days of the Thomas Library go well beyond those of card catalogs and hours spent in the Grand Reading Room.

A 1966 Daily Utah Chronicle article documented a typical Saturday night in the Thomas Library:

“The most interesting students to watch in the library, however, were the pickups and the would-be pickeruppers….One girl sat in the same spot for 45 minutes with her book upside down, pretending to be very intently studying, but not missing anyone who walked past her table. The boys, on the other hand, managed to make several trips to the drinking fountain every half-hour to survey the latest crop of girls that arrived.”

Nancy Peery Marriott BS’63 used the mining section on the bottom floor of the Thomas Library when she had serious studying to do. “It worked for me because it was the one quiet place I could go to study and it was close to my dorm and the music hall, where I also spent a lot of time.” But the library was much more than a study room for Nancy and her husbandto- be Richard Marriott BS’63, son of the library’s namesake, J. Willard Marriott BA’26. “The Periodical Room was the place to meet people. Dick and our mutual friend John Carpenter would spend a lot of time there, as did my best friend Carolyn Kramer, whom I would meet there. Dick told John that he wanted to meet me and that was the beginning of it all.” Their first date was dancing at the Terrace Ballroom downtown in 1961. After that they would often meet at the library to study before going out dancing. They were engaged on New Year’s Eve of 1962 and then married in the Salt Lake Temple a few months later in March of 1962.