Wandering around Bloomington

This past weekend, I attended the Preserving Our Cultural Heritage conference, hosted by the Indiana University student chapter of SAA, in Bloomington, Indiana. But before I get to that, I’ll share some of what I did on the day before the conference… (I meant to write about all of this from the hotel, but unfortunately the “high speed” wireless wasn’t as “high speed” as one might have hoped…)

I had never been to Bloomington before. So when I set out Friday morning with GPS in hand (er, on windshield), I wasn’t sure what to expect. The road was in fact not particularly “winding,” but it did get a little long. (Thankfully, I had Harry Potter books on CD from the library to make it seem a little less so, although technically it did not alter length of the 3-hour drive.)

I spend Friday afternoon wandering around downtown Bloomington, which was delightfully small. I wandered around for 2-3 hours and took several pictures – many of the courthouse [got to see the gorgeous rotunda inside since it was Friday and the building was open!].

After a while, I wandered on down the road to the historical society which I visited [they had a mini 1903 Wright Flyer in one of their cases], then to the public library [very nice – the local history reading room was huge plus spoke to a nice librarian there who gave me a brochure on their digital photo collection, Indiana Bedrock]. As I left the library, I could see a clock tower at IU and was beckoned onward towards it.

I’ll spare you the details of the rest of the afternoon, but let’s just say I had a great little walk around Bloomington, in spite of the rain – but it wasn’t too cold, at least, and I had my umbrella. And my camera, of course. It was actually nice to be alone. It allowed me to explore everything at my own pace. (As an aside: the whole afternoon would have driven my husband nuts. He and I don’t exactly see eye-to-eye on sight-seeing. As he says, I like to “walk 3 steps and take a picture; walk 3 steps and take a picture,” which I guess is a little too much like dawdling, in his opinion. LOL) Anyway…a weekend away in a cute town, alone with my camera, is how I ended up with 165 photos of the trip… Haha.

Bloomington struck me as a small town with a big university – pretty neat place. And Indiana University reminded me a lot of Ohio State University, but much less, uh, urban. (There are some other adjectives that come to mind, but I think I’ll just stick with the word “urban,” and leave it at that.) Actually, IU is older that OSU, and there were neat buildings all over the place – like this one and this one and this one. Okay, well, I think I spent most of my time on Friday on the “old campus” area – didn’t even realize how much of the campus I missed entirely until I got a hold of a map later in the day!

Once I found the newer parts of campus, I realized there were plenty of other buildings that were a lot more boring to look at, very 1960s – like the Herman B. Wells Library, which sort of reminded me of Allyn Hall at WSU (except, er, white). I don’t particularly care for the energy-crisis 60s no-windows architecture, but hey, it’s better for the books – and quite frankly, any library with this many freakin’ history books is good by me. According to Wikipedia, the Wells Library is the 13th largest academic library in North America – it had two towers, 11 and 5 stories high! (History books are on the 6th floor in case you were wondering…) Not to knock Wright State, but the Dunbar Library only has 4 floors above ground, and like 1/3 of the center of that on floors 2-4 is open atrium. I’m just sayin’…that’s why I was a bit in awe of this library. (What librarian could not be in awe of 4.6 million volumes?)

Anyway… I will have more to say about the conference itself (which was great, by the way!), but overall, it was just a nice trip. Bloomington is a great little town, and I hope to get back there someday.


One response to “Wandering around Bloomington

  1. The Monroe County Public Library was featured in American Libraries Magazine’s 2011 Library Design Showcase, on March 17, 2011: http://americanlibrariesmagazine.org/al_focus/photos/monroe-county-public-library-bloomington-indiana.

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