Where oh where has my library gone?

The New Library. This great name of this great building suggests that there is some old library somewhere. Well there is: the Roscoe L. West Library. You know, that rather large cement structure between the New Library and Forcina with the cute lion statue out front? (Just to clarify: the lion statue was there long before “Roscoe the Lion” was coined.)

But what activities are occurring in the shell of the building that used to be my library? Are adolescents absorbing information? Is the Internet being used for plagiarizing purposes? Are computer keyboards being fervently tapped by ultra-caffeinated zombies? Are administrative offices teeming with ringing phones and pissed-off students? No.

There are empty rooms. There are empty book cases. There’s some random furniture that didn’t quite agree with the New Library’s plush and comfy seating ornaments. There’s a whole lotta nothin’. Check out the picture accompanying this article. The horror!

The West Library has been closed since the beginning of the Fall 2005 semester, when the New Library opened to so much celebration and festivity you’d have thought the College earned Ivy League status. Now, a year-and-a-half later, a lot of people have forgotten about the West Library. I’m upset.

As a longtime fan of the West Library, I would like to see this building reopen for some reason, any reason, if only so I could go inside again and remember all those great times I had researching interesting stuff for important papers. And to revel in the sight of the green-tiled walls. And to hear the second story’s floorboards creak. And to smell the basement’s stale air. Ah, memories.

But alas, the West Library isn’t a library anymore; it’s as far from a library as Sodexho food is far from edible.

This is not to say I do not like the New Library; I do. “Is very nice,” as Borat would say. But what the hell is an empty building doing on campus? (Forget about the Green Farm House for now . oops, that probably just reminded you about it.) The West Library is not a relic; it is a building perfectly acceptable for usage, similar to how Centennial is perfectly acceptable for humans to live in.

Last semester, I was happy to see that the amount of construction on campus had considerably lessened. I took the time necessary to truly appreciate the beauty of our 289-acre campus.

But this semester, construction is back in a big way. Giant holes in the ground all over the place, a big ol’ water-barren lake, the rubble of the apartments . a very beautiful campus indeed. My family will be pleased when they come to see me graduate in May and see what their money really went toward.

Even with massive budget cuts, the administration now seeks to fill the holes it dug, refill a lake it drained and rebuild the apartments it destroyed. Why not throw that old library into the mix?

An article from the Aug. 31, 2005 issue of The Signal reported that “the College is committed to renovating the section built in 1930” and that “a committee is still deciding the future use.”

The Autumn/Winter 2005 issue of TCNJ Magazine offered similar vague explanations – that “the College is still exploring its options” and that Taras Pavlovsky, dean of the New Library, “hopes to keep part of the building as a remote-storage facility for the (new) library’s ever-expanding collection.”

Can these hopes become reality? Is this “committee,” if such a committee exists, really “still exploring its options” a year-and-a-half later? Oh, still no word? Okay, take your time.

The old library could easily become a new dormitory. Why not? There will always be a shortage of housing on campus. (Forget about the apartments – they’re bad luck.) It could have classes. It could have offices. It could have a computer lab. It could have a large auditorium. It could be a mini museum to commemorate the College’s 150 glorious years of history. Anything’s possible.

I happened upon something peculiar on the “Virtual Tour” on the College’s Web site (tcnj.edu/~vtour), which enables prospective students to click on campus buildings to view information and pictures of their exteriors. However, the user is not able to click on the West Library, and there’s no nifty label like the other buildings have. There’s a building; I can’t click on it! Why not? What is this mysterious building? What don’t they want me to know? Is Osama hiding inside?

Upon further perusal of the College’s Web site, I could find no mention of the West Library since the New Library opened, and those sparse mentions were only to show how much it pales in comparison to the almighty New Library. Ever since then, it might as well have not existed.

It seems that the College wants nothing to do with one of its own buildings. What the hell did it do to anyone? What would the real Roscoe L. West, a former College president for 27 years, think about all this? It is he whom Roscoe the Lion is named after – he must be respected.

But all cock mockery aside, the fact that the College does not even acknowledge a campus building as being a building on campus is very disconcerting. When the College boasts extreme pride about pretty much everything it does, it is unusual and unexpected that nothing has been done nor has any information been offered regarding the West Library in the year-and-a-half since the New Library conquered its lonely predecessor.