Let’s celebrate Seattle’s downtown library for the unique information it provides, as well as its bold architecture.
The Seattle Times tells about how in this day when everything is digital there is still need for researchers to get their hands on the original paper documents. The original papers documens often contain additional information. And sometimes the digitizing process takes away information. The article gives the example of the historic man who could not be found in searching the records, but was found in by examination of the copied newspaper obituary. Because the digitizer got his name wrong because it was hyphenated and split on two lines!
The downtown library holds 748,000 books. And, of course, other documents are also essential - maps, journals, legal records, and genealogy records. And records in book form, but are not books, such as the directory of city businesses. Example: one guy transcribed 399,096 entries to “Genealogical Abstracts of Revolutionary War Pension Files.” !
Many of us doubted the practicality of the bold architecture by Rem Koolhaus. But - it works! I like it. I especially like that the stacks are a continuous spiral for - guessing - seven floors. You can wander into the next section as you follow the spiral up or down. Versus when you are exploring one floor you have no reason to go to the next floor. (Yes, I am a serendipity guy. I use a paper dictionary in my Spanish study, partly because I encounter the neighboring words.) When I am there I take the escalators to the top public floor and walking all the way down the spiral.
Photo by Les Osterhout.