Endnote: Before/After

Gothic Reading Room Before the Pandemic and After
The Gothic Reading Room in Rubenstein Library in normal times (left), and on March 18, 2020 (right).

Jorge Luis Borges famously said, “I have always imagined that paradise will be a kind of library.”

In that case, a library in quarantine—locked down, devoid of people, utterly silent and inaccessible—well, that’s the opposite of paradise. But that’s how the libraries of Duke looked for much of this spring and summer.

True, we have a rich and substantial online library, including millions of e-books, e-journals, databases, streaming videos, and digitized collections. And it has been inspiring to see how much our incredible staff have been able to do, and assistance they have been able to offer, during this extended period of working from home. But there’s nothing quite like the simple pleasure of walking into a library and wandering around, wherever your curiosity may lead you.

The following pictures were taken on March 18, the day we bid farewell to our last library visitors in the spring. We have paired them with images of the same spaces taken during “normal” times, as a reminder of what a library is supposed to look like—and what we will look like again one day—a hub of activity and engagement, as well as a refuge and place of inspiration. Looking at such pictures today, it feels a lot more like paradise lost.

As Duke gears up to welcome students and faculty back to campus in the fall, we are excited to see them in the Libraries again, albeit in a more limited way, safely distanced and masked. And our entire staff looks forward to the day when it’s safe to throw the doors wide open again and welcome everyone back to paradise.

Von der Heyden Pavilion Before and After
The cafe inside the von der Heyden Pavilion at Perkins Library.


Rubenstein Reading Room before and after
The Rubenstein Library Reading Room


Library service desk Perkins Library before and after
Perkins Library, first floor


Chairs outside Perkins Library before and after
Outdoor seating area, Perkins Library


More Perkins Library study areas before and after
Study area, Perkins Library, first floor


Holsti Anderson Room before and after
The Holsti-Anderson Family Assembly Room, Rubenstein Library


More study spaces in Perkins Library before and after
Study area, Perkins Library, first floor


Yet more study areas, Perkins Library, before and after
Study area, Perkins Library, first floor


Perkins Bostock bridge outside, before and after
Outside Perkins and Bostock Libraries