This is the Deering Library at Northwestern University. I worked here in a work-study job, as part of the financial magic that allowed me to go to school here. I’ ll forever be grateful for that.
I’ve written about unexpected encounters with Lincoln before. I grew up in Lincoln’s hometown of Springfield, Illinois, and I now live in Chicago, where he would have most likely returned to, had he lived to complete his second term. Lincoln seems to be everywhere, and yet I’m always happy when he turns up anew.
Last weekend, I was marveled at the recently-opened doors to the Deering Library on Northwestern’s campus in Evanston, Illinois. When the main university library opened up in 1970, the doors to the Deering Library–which was built during the 1930s–were closed up, until they were re-opened just a few days ago.
I worked in the Deering library as an undergraduate, so I knew it was a special place on the inside. But because the entrance was never used, the exterior was never really examined, by me or anyone else. We came and went through the main library entrance as Deering sat there, the hidden gem of the campus.
And then, a strange thing happened. A series of books about young wizards appeared, and they were all hugely successful. These books were then turned into movies, which were also tremendously successful. And the Deering Library, which seems as if would fit right in at the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, has now been reopened to the public. Not really a coincidence, if you ask me.
While wandering around the exterior of the building last weekend–taking it all in as I never did a quarter-century ago–I spotted a stained glass window containing Lincoln’s familiar visage on the second floor, facing out toward the main library entrance. The window was created when the library was built in the 1930s, but observing it for the first time was a joyous experience for me.
I took many pictures of my new find, wanting to capture the surrounding brick and the red ivy that adorned it. While the window had been for all the years that I was on campus, I only noticed it for the first time last weekend. But better late than not at all, which is also true for most good things in life.
The Lincoln movie is opening up later this month, and I’m sure that it will spark a revival of all things Lincoln. I’ve written many Lincoln pieces in this space, and entering “Lincoln” into the search bar of this blog yields quite a few results. This one is a special Lincoln find, though, and it comes with the added bonus of having a wonderful old library all around it. It’s well worth a look for any Lincoln fans who might be in the area.
One of the things that I love about the internet is that the vast majority still needs to be filled in. It’s like a mostly empty notebook, with the pages in place, but nothing to turn them away from their original blank state. It’s the tabula rasa of the 21st century, at least.
The world of print has been around for centuries, and there are many, many, many books, photos, magazines, post cards, pamphlets, newspapers, and other forms of materials in that medium. They’re still being created, and will continue to to exist for all time. But over the past two decades or so, the internet has also started to come along. My old handwritten letters to family and friends have probably been lost to history, but the emails that I now send to people will live forever, on some far-off server that I probably don’t know the first thing about.
The Library of Congress is now archiving all of the tweets that have been sent on Twitter. My tweets number in the thousands by now and few, if any, of them are worth being remembered by anyone. And yet, in this digital age that now feels like it’s always been a part of our lives, there they will remain. Newspapers turn yellow with age, but tweets will live forever, for better or for worse.
This blog, and the nearly 700 posts that I’ve written so far, are my contribution toward filling up the great digital canvas. These words and images won’t ever get lost, or thrown into a wastebasket. I’m sharing these parts of my life, in a form that I expect will live for centuries to come. Whether they’re worth preserving or not, I won’t hazard an opinion about. But they will be preserved, at least.
And with that in mind, welcome to my everlasting time capsule!