Few buildings on campus are as iconic as Moody Memorial Library, a mid-century marvel anchoring the end of Fountain Mall opposite Pat Neff Hall. Long considered the academic life center of campus, Moody has been home to millions of print volumes, late night study sessions, expert guidance from library faculty and countless hours spent in study carrells. In celebration of Moody’s unique contributions to the campus community, the Baylor Libraries are honoring Moody’s 50th anniversary with a series of events, promotions, contests and limited edition designs.
“A Modern and Functional Library”– Moody’s roots extend into the mid-1960s as the university faced a time of growth and change best encompassed in its Projection 68 campaign, a push to upgrade Baylor’s physical plant with several new buildings by the end of the decade. A larger, modern library was seen as a high priority to replace the cramped, aging space in Carroll Library that had long since been outgrown by the student body. With an initial gift from the Moody Foundation paving the way, the fundraising for the new library was completed and a groundbreaking ceremony held on October 21, 1966.
Despite construction delays that pushed its opening into the fall semester of 1968, Moody Memorial Library opened roughly when expected, with four floors of book stacks, study spaces, offices and classrooms winning instant praise from students, faculty and staff alike. The main entry into the space – formally dubbed the Exhibits Lounge and named in memory of Ada Allbritton, wife of building chairman Joe Allbritton – offered comfortable seating and gallery walls for displaying artwork. Two large gardens provided sunlight and views of greenery for the Garden Level, and modern furniture and period appropriate textiles in colors like yellow, green, and orange added to the mid-century aesthetic.
Moody’s evolution over the next 50 years would see the addition of computer terminals, photocopiers, scanners, printers, and new study spaces. As students’ needs changed, the building changed with them; today’s student body, the most mobile in history, is looking for places to gather in small groups for study sessions or smaller spaces to hunker down and focus without the distractions of roommates and active apartments. Library administrators, led by Interim Dean of Libraries John S. Wilson, continue to focus on adapting Moody’s physical layout to fit the needs of a growing campus; however, work to fully modernize Moody remains.
Celebrating in Style
The year-long celebration of Moody’s 50th has included a kickoff event in January that honored the installation of new upper-level façade lights – for the first time in decades – presided over by President Linda Livingstone; a student art contest called Moody Through Your Lens; the use of social media hashtags like #moody50 and #iheartmoody; and upcoming plans for a celebration in September to mark Moody’s “birthday” on the day the doors officially opened in 1968.
The next half-century will bring changes and challenges for Moody and the more than one million people who enter its doors every academic year. But for a library that was hailed as “modern, functional and beautiful” back in 1968, finding new ways to stay relevant to the times is as foundational to its identity as the red brick walls and soaring windows that opened fifty years ago.
The passing of legendary artist Aretha Franklin has elicited an outpouring of praise from around the world, including in both mainstream and music-centered journalism outlets. Everyone from Rolling Stone to Pitchfork, the Detroit Free Press and Waco’s own Tribune-Herald have paid tribute to the “Queen of Soul” since her death from pancreatic cancer last week at the age of 76. Baylor’s own Bob Darden, the inspiration behind our Black Gospel Music Restoration Project (BGMRP), offered his reflections on Aretha’s legacy in two major pieces featured in Christianity Today and Vox.
“Aretha Franklin matters in a way that few artists have ever mattered and fewer still may ever matter again,” Darden told me via email. “In my opinion, she uniquely combined the sacred and the profane and thus made music that spoke to all people.”
For the BGMRP team working with the digital collection from within the University Libraries, the connection between Franklin and the project is both specific and historic: Aretha was the daughter of the Reverend C.L. Franklin, a man associated both with the BGMRP and its spin-off, the Black Preaching Project. While Aretha’s gospel recordings in the collection number fewer than ten, her father has a larger presence with 26 recordings digitized and included in the collection.
Rev. Franklin’s long career and importance to the black church shaped Aretha’s early life and, later, her legacy. Aretha “was a child of the black church, steeped in the Baptist sermons of her father, the Rev. C.L. Franklin, mentored by Clara Ward, and taught piano by the Rev. James Cleveland,” Darden said. “She knew all of the old hymns and spirituals. And more than once, she stopped her concerts to preach to the adoring crowds of mostly white faces.”
Her fans … knew that sometimes you need Sunday morning to forgive Saturday night.
Aretha’s connection to black gospel music and her roots in it weren’t always appreciated by other gospel artists. “At Mahalia Jackson’s funeral, Franklin sang Take My Hand, Precious Lord,” Darden said. “A gospel legend, the flinty Sallie Martin, was furious: ‘Worst thing I ever heard … a nightclub singer at a gospel singer’s funeral.'”
“Her fans knew that Aretha wasn’t perfect, and that made them — and me — love her more,” Darden said. “They knew that sometimes you need Sunday morning to forgive Saturday night. And they also knew that she meant every single word she sang.”
The importance of music to Franklin’s life cannot be understated, but we’ll leave it to Bob Darden to offer his evaluation: “For Aretha Franklin, a song, be it soul music or a classic gospel song, wasn’t just a combination of lyrics and chords, it was a living thing, it was a performed page from her biography. She sang the songs because she believed them.”
Learn more about the Black Gospel Music Restoration Project at www.baylor.edu/lib/gospel.
A quiet study carrel. An interactive conference room. An active learning classroom. A recording studio. A 3D printer. For today’s faculty and student body, all these share space in the academic sphere. Brian Mathews, in “Encoding Space” writes, “Buildings, especially libraries, are symbolic. They represent the intellectual character and aspirations of a college, university, or community” (Mathews & Soistmann, 2016). This is certainly true of our libraries.
For years, Learning Spaces and Media Services (LSMS) – a team within Library and Academic Technology Services (LATS) – has provided equipment and spaces for students to complete their academic work. With changes to the higher education landscape, LSMS’s work now extends well beyond computer labs and general software access. Particularly in the last four years, LSMS has designed creative spaces for students and faculty to enrich their academic experience.
In 2014, the team opened the Video Booth, a DIY video recording studio for campus-wide use. Professors use this space to record lectures for online courses. Students book the studio to complete creative assignments or practice presentations.
Following the successful launch of the Video Booth, LSMS widened the scope and opened the TechPoint Media Lab. This space adds two audio recording studios, editing stations, and an A/V equipment check-out program. Not only does the Media Lab give students access to complete media assignments, it fosters an atmosphere of collaboration and support.
“Each time a new technology enhances creative work, the libraries have an opportunity to evolve,” said David Burns, director of LSMS. “Libraries have always supported creativity, discovery, and inquiry, and adopting these emerging technologies is simply another step forward.”
This past spring marked one full year of operation for the TechPoint Media Lab. Between the Audio Booths and Video Booth, students and faculty recorded over 4,100 hours of use – that’s long enough to be open for 57 straight days! In total, the space booked over 2,200 projects and had 1,156 unique patrons.
While the numbers are impressive on their own, the Media Lab also received accolades from faculty members across disciplines, including Arts and Sciences, Engineering and Business. This widespread appeal indicates that the Media Lab supplies essential resources for advancing curriculum.
To supplement the Media Lab, LSMS plans to launch a makerspace in August. Whereas the Media Lab provides for audio and video projects, the makerspace will offer tools to make physical things. The Media Lab and makerspace are great examples of the library iterating on how its community interacts with information and engages in learning. “For example, a business entrepreneur may now research a market, ideate in a collaboration space, record a product pitch in the Media Lab and build a prototype in our makerspace,” said Andrew Telep, assistant director of LSMS. “Together, traditional and creative library spaces create a wider ecosystem for learning that helps our students and faculty make connections, solve problems and create.”
The library makerspace will facilitate 3D printing, CNC carving, laser cutting, and other analog prototyping. In the fall, the library will also debut free two-week memberships at the Maker’s Edge. Partnership with the Maker’s Edge in downtown Waco gives the Baylor community access to a fully-realized makerspace, supporting projects with wood, metal, textiles, pottery, electronics, and more.
Another component LSMS is working to implement into these creative spaces is Virtual Reality (VR). In the fall, the team started a pilot program inviting Baylor faculty and staff to experience VR. The program introduces faculty to immersive experiences, which they can incorporate into the classroom. “Our VR lab inspires professors to rethink class content and research,” said Tanner Osborn, academic consultant for LSMS. “Whether it’s orientation for a study abroad experience or designing a 3D model, VR fits into the workflows we’ve developed in our creative spaces.”
Students can work with VR by joining the Baylor VR Club. This student group has partnered with the libraries to develop a virtual environment to access the Black Gospel Music Restoration Project’s digital collection.
All of these resources – the Media Lab, the makerspace and VR – represent the future of libraries. Moving forward, LSMS aims to increase the use of these emerging technologies across campus. With LSMS’s expertise and support, the libraries continue to enable creativity, discovery, and inquiry.
“Our creative spaces have the power to transform how a student learns in our library,” said Telep. “The activities taking place here are analogous to the oldest and most central goals of the Baylor Libraries.”
This article originally appeared in the 2018 ITS & Libraries Magazine.