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November 21, 2002


Hillman: "Certainly not dull"

To the editor:

I feel that someone should step up and defend the Hillman Library that Terence Smith ("Weighing in on Pitt's eclectic architecture," University Times, Oct. 24, 2002) describes as "dull as ditchwater." I have only worked at the Hillman Library and Pitt since September, but the building is certainly not dull.

The building has been horribly abused over the years (too many books, too many people, too little money), but if one can imagine what is was like back in the 1960s (taking a look at the image on the library's web site at helps), then the strengths of the design become apparent.

Don't enter through the current entrance; instead, mount the steps and turn around to see the expanse of the Carnegie Museums and Library complex across Schenley Plaza. Look at the Hillman in relationship to those buildings. It forms a balanced whole and leaves the Cathedral of Learning to do what it does best — soar above the campus. Once you enter the library, climb to the first floor. It is here that you get a wonderful sense of the majesty that a good library building should convey. The beautiful woodwork, the large windows and particularly the high ceilings achieved by making the second floor a mezzanine surrounding the large seating area, all join to make this one of the most popular study and meeting spaces in all the University Library System.

Admittedly, the fortress-like wall around the base of the building is a false note, but with some investment in a renovation and a little loving care the Hillman Library could again be the superb library building it was when it first opened.

Jonathan Miller Head, Hillman Public Services University Library System

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