Linda Hall Library is more than a little responsible for my existence, so it is natural that I like it very much. It is among the peonies and trees of the arboretum surrounding the library that my parents fell in love.
Some of my earliest memories of childhood are of Linda Hall library. As my dad was doing research for aquarium chemical product development, I would spend evenings there reading my own books, walking the patterns of the floors, and turning in the little slips of paper to the librarian to get copies of the journals my dad needed.
When I went to school at Drake, when I had a paper due for any of my science classes, I would drive home and spend all day Saturday at Linda Hall, turning in my own little slips of paper to get access to the journals. It was a beautiful, surreal experience for me – and much better than competing with everybody else from my class for the same journals at Drake’s library.
Linda Hall is dedicated to all books scientific and engineering. It is privately-owned and open to the public. And is a beautiful marvel. If you live long enough in Kansas City, all of its hidden jewels show themselves to you. And Linda Hall library is one of the most glittering. If you have never been to Linda Hall, go… even if you have no interest in science. Here are some of the things it has to offer:
1. A truly beautiful interior. If there was a casting call for “library” – Linda Hall would get the part. The wood, the marble, the books and books and books – it is beautiful.
2. A rare book room that has some AMAZING books – right here in Kansas City – including Isaac Newton, Philosophiae naturalis principia mathematica from 1687! My father has held a first edition On the Origin of Species by Charles Darwin owned by Linda Hall library. I don’t think they let people do that anymore.
3. Very cool lecture series and book discussions: http://www.lindahall.org/events/index.shtml
4. A cosmology theatre: http://www.lindahall.org/about_lhl/cosmology.shtml. DH and I went there as part of his birthday celebrations, and were not disappointed. The feed is full of interesting astronomy and sattelite information. I highly reccomend everybody go this year, if nothing else to mark International Year of Astronomy. Check out the bathrooms when you visit the cosmology theater. Rarely do you see marble-ensconsed stalls in public places.
5. True quiet. It seems libraries are getting louder and louder as they get more family-focused. I won’t say if that is a good thing or a bad thing, but if you need quiet, go to Linda Hall. The librarians still whisper and if you need to write, read, or think, it is the place to do it. It almost makes me wish I had a paper due in Developmental Biology next week. Almost.
6. The peonies. And the trees. They offer free (of course) guided tours of the trees on the grounds. I haven’t taken advantage of that yet, but perhaps some day.