Olin-Chalmers Memorial Library, 32, First Bae and Queen Mother, was destroyed this year in October 2018. Olin was erected in 1986, where it remained a weird “it’s two libraries in one building” hybrid for over three decades.
Whether you called it Olin, or Olin-Chalmers like some weird alien person, or just “the Lib” as I did, Olin was a central part of the Kenyon College experience. And with its destruction goes several little pleasures and facets of Kenyon culture as we knew it. There was the impermeable silence of the Third Floor. The numerous quiet and clean bathrooms that let you be alone with your thoughts. The dream of sneaking in after closing. The alcoves on the second floor. The serene, quenching victory of finding a study room to bullshit in. The glass where you could awkwardly wave at friends coming in. The graffiti-covered cubicles. The first floor’s sliding robot bookshelves. The tables with the spinning whiteboards everyone drew lines on. The exhausted peace of looking out at the third floor at 1:30a.m. and seeing nothing, this bookland now your kingdom of the sleepless. The Multimedia Room. That spiral staircase. Those weird egg chairs you could shift with your butt. It was a playground. There are too many things to list.
That place had so many nooks and crevices to be alone in. It was a place to do work alone without feeling alone. I personally remember so many study sessions where I didn’t study but talked with friends about shit I had no right to speak about in a library, usually on the third floor. We all knew it, whether we loved it or hated it, we all have spent a night stressed there, and we have all pooped there. God did we poop.
Maybe you’ll miss the unbelievable amount of printers, or those little golden lamps that didn’t turn on, or the big windows that let you see seasons change and the bright days turn to a starry night on this cursed and beautiful campus. Maybe you won’t really miss it at all. Maybe you only saw it die. That’s fun too.
We have no choice but to look to the future, which is either a new better library for all new campus traditions and weird crevices, or post-grad, where libraries are for nerds. Or slumming it in the mods for God knows how long this construction is going to last. Maybe the rest of our lives. Who knows.
All we can do is say, thanks, Olin. You were, I think we all can agree, a library. And Queen Mother. You will be missed.
Goodnight sweet lib, and may flights of dozers recycle thee to thy rest. I’ll see you on the KAC hill, for some stupid reason.