Wednesday, January 18, 2018 marked a major milestone in the life of Moody Memorial Library. That night, the upper-level lights of the building’s facade – which had been dark for decades – were illuminated again after a donor-funded project installed new LED fixtures into the 50-year-old recesses on the historic building’s roof.
The event, dubbed “Bring Back the Light,” was the first in a series of events focused on the year-long celebration of Moody’s 50th anniversary. When it opened in the fall of 1968, Moody was hailed as a “modern and functional” library with ample space for the volumes and services that had been bursting the seams of Carroll Library, which had served as the university library since 1903.
Moody’s original lights
When Moody opened in 1968, it sat at the northern edge of a campus that was growing toward the Brazos River as large chunks of the area were made available to Baylor during the Urban Renewal process initiated by the City of Waco in the mid-1960s. Because it sat largely by itself on the edge of campus, and because it was illuminated from above and below by powerful light fixtures, the effect produced was one of an illuminated lantern on the edge of the darkness, an apt metaphor for the library’s role as a beacon of knowledge in a world at constant battle with the darkness.
Installing the new LED lights
The process of installing the new LEDs began in December 2017 when crews from Warlick Electric began laying new conduit and wiring junction boxes for all 92 of the lights. The original conduit was difficult to access and some was missing its original copper wiring, so the decision was made to install new wiring along the inside of the rooftop’s walled roof edge, with a single box serving to provide wiring down to each bank of three (or, in some cases, two) lights. Once the conduit was installed, workers removed the original fixtures and replaced them with modern LED units that can run as long as 15 years without needing to be replaced. The whole process took several weeks during the Christmas break period after students were dismissed from classes and before the spring 2018 semester began.
Bring Back the Light Event, January 17, 2018
This year, the Baylor Libraries plan to hold a series of events to mark Moody’s five decades of service as the academic life center of the university, and that ambitious calendar of events began with a bang as Baylor President Linda A. Livingstone began the countdown to throw the lights on for the first time since the previous century.
The public introduction of the new lights was held in conjunction with the launch of Baylor’s new national advertising campaign, which launched in early January with the tagline “Where Lights Shine Bright.” Using light-based language and referencing the call in Scripture for Christians to be a source of light in a dark world, the campaign aims to reintroduce Baylor as a place of learning whose students and faculty go on to illuminate the world with knowledge and a focus on Christian values. The relighting ceremony was a natural tie with this campaign and, as an added bonus, drew the attention of President Livingstone and the additional resources of the university’s Marketing & Communications division.
The event included remarks by President Livingstone and Interim Dean of Libraries John S. Wilson, emceed by the “Voice of the Baylor Bears,” John Morris. Some 200 students, faculty, staff and friends of the library turned out for the event, which also featured giveaways of a limited edition poster and stickers featuring the Moody 50th Anniversary logo. After a brief ceremony held inside due to sub-freezing temperatures outdoors, attendees were dismissed by President Livingstone to gather on the porch outside the main entrance to witness the illumination of the lights.
Those in attendance became the first people in decades to witness Moody in all its lighted glory, and the crowd response when the lights came on was immediate and enthusiastic.
The year ahead for Moody
The relighting of Moody Memorial Library is a key moment in its 50th anniversary year, but many more milestones remain, including a student art contest (Moody Through Your Lens), the posting of vintage photos and memories from faculty and staff and, on the 50th anniversary of the doors opening in 1968, a “birthday party” featuring food, games, prizes and a general celebration of all Moody has meant to our campus for half a century.
To learn more about the planned celebrations, and to see vintage photos of Moody Memorial Library, visit the Moody 50th Anniversary page.