I recently had the privilege of visiting the United States Military Academy Library at West Point . This beautiful, six-story facility is a vital part of the educational mission of the Academy. While the USMA celebrated its 200th anniversary in 2012 the Library building is new, having been completed in 2008.
|The library’s home is Jefferson Hall||The glass and stone building at night|
|Thomas Jefferson statue||Jefferson Hall main entrance|
The library is housed in Jefferson Hall which gets its name from the 3rd President of the United States, Thomas Jefferson. Although Jefferson was not a graduate of the USMA, he was an important early force behind the founding of the Academy. Visitors to the library are greeted by a statue of Thomas Jefferson and the second floor landing houses a replica of Jefferson’s writing desk, complete with a very early “photocopier”.
|Jefferson’s writing table||Reading room|
|Reference desk with a view||Second floor landing with computer stations|
Associate Director for Information Gateway, Daniel Pritchard is understandably proud of the library’s personalized, cadet-focused reference and library services and its outstanding digital collections. You can get a sense of the scope of the library’s digital collection by visiting their website. Cadets are more likely to brag about the extensive DVD collection and the compact-shelving. I witnessed more than one cadet showing off the movable shelving to their parents and other family members.
|Associate Director, Daniel Pritchard||Collaborative Room|
|A small section of the DVD Collection||Beautiful compact shelving|
The USMA Library was the first federal library. As such it’s not surprising to find treasures such as these on its shelves.
|Journals of the Continental Congresses||Abridgement of the debates of Congress|
The library also includes the Special Collections and Archives which unfortunately was closed during my visit. It is open to visiting researchers by appointment only. The Archives is focused on collecting historically relevant records related to the USMA. Although the materials are housed at West Point, they are technically part of the National Archives of the United States. The Special Collections contain items from private and commercial sources. According to an FAQ on the website, the oldest book owned by the Libary is De Civitate Dei by Saint Augustine, Bishop of Hippo. Their copy was published in Venice in 1486 by Bonetus Locatellus, for Octavianus Scotus.
Here are some more pictures of this beautiful space.
USMA Library website
West Point Gives Cadets a New Hall of Learning – An interesting article from the New York Times that was published after the opening of the new Library.