So...how has the building fared in the past half century?
So far as I can tell, the only external physical change has been the addition of a vestibule/lobby to the entrance. Here, I chatted with a student worker while I signed in. A staff person in a nearby office heard us talking and came out to say hello. She may be the person I exchanged email with when I was figuring out the summer hours. [Summer? In mid-May? Ahh, the academic calendar!) I was granted permission to wander at will, and I decided to start at the top.
Each of the three levels is quite separate from the others and is shut off by a door. A sign on the top floor door informed me that I should respect the need of others for quiet; that I should use a cell phone only in the hall; and that I might have a beverage or snack, but my snack should not be "messy." Fair enough.
The top level includes a couple of classrooms, study rooms with flat-panel computer screens on the wall, the archives and rare books, and a writing lab. Tables and ergonomic chairs were available for study and computer use. A few DVDs are shelved back by the drinking fountain (a "hydration station," I was glad to see). An area with periodicals and newspapers has some informal "living room" seating. There is a reference section, and as I was "warned" before I started exploring, this section is greatly downsized; reference is online now.
The middle level, or main floor, holds more computers. I think an arrangement where rectangular tables radiate out from four sides of large square columns is an interesting use of space. A corner room has huge floor pillows, a fireplace, and a few tables and chairs. A place to simply chill? Seminar room?
There is a display of new books, and I was surprised to see that they have Dewey Decimal classifications, unusual in a college library. (Oops, excuse me, B-W became a university in 2012.)
Down to the lowest level, partially below grade. Here are the stacks that I remember, now quite crammed with books. Again, however, I learned that space issues are largely addressed by the change to eBooks and such. The books here have Library of Congress designations, more common than Dewey in a academic setting. I wish I had asked about the difference.
There is a row of study tables along a window wall, and a couple of people were at work. They glanced up when I walked by; sorry, guys, that squeaking is my ankle brace and I can't do anything about it.
The Curriculum Collection of the department of education is a recent addition to one corner of this level, moved from the building across the way. The textbooks have their date of publication on the spine; I spotted many from the 90s and 2004, just a couple of sets (Reading Street and Go Math) from 2011. A bright rug, two chairs, and a bookshelf formed a "story corner" of sorts. Two shelves hold a random assortment of manipulatives and educational games. It looked like a work in progress, perhaps waiting for a work-study student to bring order.
Back in the new lobby area I looked for the stairs I remembered to the lower level and discovered that they have been replaced with a vending area and an elevator. Ah, that's right--there was no elevator in my pre-ADA day!
For more about Ritter Library, visit the website at http://www.bw.edu/library/. There is also a Facebook presence at https://www.facebook.com/ritterlibrary?fref=ts.
The entrance to the "new" lobby area
A view down the side of the library, with my dormitory (junior and senior year) in the background.