The Cullom-Davis Library. Seriously, Bradley…WTF?!
Since my freshman year, the Bradley library has been a sore subject on our campus. In 2009 the Scout reported that the Princeton Review named the library as the worst in the nation. In response the student body erupted with mockery for the building, the infrastructure, and lack of usable literature.
The library’s woes are not a new phenomena. In fact, a half century ago, campus was buzzing with animosity over the collections at the library. Times back then were very different. Bradley’s student body was changing and its administration was discussing the construction of a new recreation center, a new building for one of its colleges and the need for updated housing.
Yep, 1969 was incredibly different from today…
In the mid 1960s, the Student Senate and the faculty began a push to update the library. The Scout ran many articles and editorials criticizing the library’s collections, and the Student and Faculty Senates passed multiple resolutions pushing for library updates. After several years of the battle between the students, faculty, and administration over the library, it all came to a head at the end of Feb. 1969. During the week of March 18, the tension had grown so great that University President Talman Van Arsdale announced he would hold a press conference in the Fieldhouse to address the issue.
When Van Arsdale failed to meet the student’s expectations, the students demonstrated and marched to the library. Over a two hour period, the students checked out over 5,000 books, prompting the university to shut down the library.
In response a cohort of prominent student leaders including many student senators, the student body president, vice-president, treasurer, the senior class president and the Scout editor-in-chief took to “occupying” the library. Throughout the night, the students discussed a solution to the problem.
The next morning, Van Arsdale invited the student body president to his office, and throughout the morning, the two presidents negotiated. In the end, Van Arsdale met the Student’s requests. He announced a guaranteed increase of $1.5 million to library funding and to make it a focus of future Bradley expansions.
Fifty years later, our occupying contemporaries would be proud to know their method was successful. Since the Princeton’s Review’s announcement, the university has taken great strides to improve the library. However, the library of today is not the library the students were demanding back in 1969. Today it isn’t books we are demanding, but more space, more tables, more power and more coffee.
The library of 2012, just as it was in 2009, and possibly even in 1969, serves Bradley’s campus as a central hub for social interaction and student life. We go to the library to be “academically productive,” or at least to seem productive while catching up on friends’ weekends, recent relationship drama or just to mutually moan about a class. We may complain, but we secretly love it, and love complaining about it. I would boldly admit it serves campus today in ways that the Student Center can not, in that it is the center of student life.
With all of that being said, I am positive that no one makes a trip to the library over their time on the Hilltop without at least once screaming, “Bradley…WTF?!”
Sources were the Bradley Scout and the Bradley Anaga.