Via the Kept-Up Academic Librarian, I discovered that one blogger has named Princeton as #2 in his list of The 20 Most Beautiful Colleges in the USA. It is a lovely campus. If you’re not familiar with it, you can take the virtual tour. You can also just watch the opening credits of the tv show House, since the big building you see from the air that poses as the hospital is actually the Frist Campus Center at Princeton. I discovered that when my lovely wife Jen ordered some House episodes on Netflix.
The list reminds me that I sometimes forget how beautiful the campus really is. When I’m on campus, I spend a lot of my day in my office and other windowless underground rooms in Firestone Library. I like my office, except it doesn’t have a window and it’s three floors underground (and five floors from the philosophy and religion collections). My last office did have a window, but it only overlooked the area outside a staff elevator and wasn’t nearly as pleasant a space, so it’s hard to complain too much. On the positive side, my office is very quiet and private, and it’s easy to get work done there as long as I remember to take vitamin D pills to make up for the lack of sunlight. Fortunately, the library supplies me with a fresh bottle of vitamin supplements on the first of every month so that’s not a problem.
It’s easy for me to get caught up in the daily problems of the library and forget the attractive world just outside the door. I need to force myself to leave the building occasionally and take some long walks around campus.
It also reminds me, though, of one reason I like being an academic librarian. I’ve been in some very attractive public libraries, but rarely are the surroundings as pleasant as a lot of college campuses. Princeton is especially attractive, but many colleges and universities have attractive campuses (my own humble alma mater the U. of Alabama was ranked #17). One of the perks of working in academia, at least at many colleges and universities, is the pleasant surroundings. Sure, at Princeton inside the building might not be that great (I love walking the stacks of Firestone, but it’s a workaday library on the inside, not a showplace), but all I have to do is step outside and take a look around to gain a completely different perspective. For example, if I walk about 20 yards across the courtyard, I can go in the chapel, which is magnificent and about the size of many a cathedral. I think the lack of collegiate surroundings would be what I’d miss most if I ever left academia.
I’m counting my blessings instead of sheep.