The philosopher Francis Bacon once wrote: “Silence is the sleep that nourishes wisdom.” He would be pleased to learn that as of the beginning of the Fall 2019 semester, students at Fordham’s Lincoln Center campus have a new quiet haven in which to study and grow wiser. That haven is known as QuinnX.
Opening the Doors
QuinnX is the stacks area of the old Quinn Library, located in the Lowenstein building. Its name, coined by Director of University Libraries Linda LoSchiavo, is the fusion of ‘Quinn’ and ‘Annex’. “To me, Quinn Annex sounded like the place where you dropped off your recycling,” she says, “whereas QuinnX was short, easy to remember, and would look great on a coffee mug.” Since 2016, when the new 3-floor Quinn Library was completed, QuinnX has served as the home for all books published before the year 2000, with access only available to faculty. Library staff members retrieved materials from QuinnX for most patron requests, but aside from that, the doors were shut.
On September 3, 2019, QuinnX reopened with a dual purpose: to provide additional silent study space, and to allow patrons to browse the stacks once again.
While the open floorplan of the new Quinn Library has brought much needed light and air to the library, it has also come with an increase in traffic, and as a result, noise levels. Nicholas Alongi, Head of Access, Information and Collection Services and Operations, told us: “We’re a lot busier than we ever were. We have increased technology in this facility – printers, scanners, PCs.” The amount of seating in the new Quinn Library is almost double that of the old space in Lowenstein.
Now that the library is centrally located in 140 West 62nd Street and features natural light (which was absent in the old library), it has become a bustling hub of activity. Though the third floor of the library is already designated as a quiet study zone, sound finds its way up from the lower levels of the library, especially the first floor Learning Commons that serves as a collaborative workspace. The bridge that connects the library to the rest of the building also brings a great deal of traffic as students travel to and from their classes, wait for elevators, and head in and out of the Plaza.
The reopening has been long awaited by library staff. “The idea has always been that this is a quiet study space. That’s something that is desperately needed here,” said Assistant Director of University Libraries, Robert Allen.
The United Student Government has also been involved in the effort over the past few years, helping to keep library administrators aware of what students want from their library. It has also been a continuous coordinated effort with the Lincoln Center Facilities Department to get the space brought up to code and the doors reopened.
In the heart of New York City, both space and silence are at a premium. Library administrators are hopeful that reviving QuinnX in this new capacity will create a refuge for students at Lincoln Center in search of a place to study in peace.
The Sound of Silence
When you walk into QuinnX, you can immediately feel the studious atmosphere. There are bookshelves at every turn – so many that it can sometimes be a bit of a maze. Around every corner you’ll find more books, but you will also find plenty of spots to settle in for a long study session. There are individual study carrels, large tables, and comfortable armchairs throughout the library, so you can choose the setup that works best for you. Signs created by Fordham students and library staff are displayed on the desks and tables, reminding patrons to maintain a quiet environment.
There are also new learning opportunities now that QuinnX has reopened. The former computer lab, located in the center of QuinnX, no longer has computers but still offers ample desk space (and some colorful wall art). The room is enclosed from the rest of the facility, so it also provides a place where professors can bring students during class time to work with library materials. Nick Alongi says of a recent class held there, “We had books sent from Rose Hill, we pulled some titles from our stacks in the oversize collection, checked them out to the instructor, and set these items aside in case anyone wanted to take them for their project.”
QuinnX is also home to the Math Help Center, a tutoring center run by the Department of Mathematics.
The space is wi-fi enabled, and more access points are being installed soon. There are many outlets and data jacks to plug into, but you won’t find any computer stations or printers – an intentional design choice. “We purposefully didn’t put tech over there [in QuinnX]. Anytime you have a printer or device, it requires an explanation and assistance,” says Nick Alongi. “We just didn’t want to spoil the space with that kind of noise.”
Serendipity in the Stacks
Just as important as study space in any library is, of course, the book collection. QuinnX provides the opportunity to browse more than 260,000 volumes that fill the shelves, all published before the year 2000. To give you an idea of the scale of that number, the new Quinn Library holds about 90,000 books.
“We’ve had three freshman classes come in since the new Quinn opened, and they haven’t really had the opportunity to browse the older part of the library collection,” says Robert Allen. “It’s a very different experience.”
It’s true that searching the library’s online catalog is the fastest way to find a specific book you need. However, browsing the shelves is its own kind of serendipitous research method. Robert Allen told us, “It’s interesting to get in the actual aisle, find the book that you want, and then you look at its ’friends.’ If you have a research project in mind, sometimes it can change just by flipping through a book’s pages.” Often you will come across a title that you would not have known existed if you hadn’t seen it near another book you were looking for. Because books are arranged according to subject (within the Library of Congress classification system), any given title will usually be located near other books on the same, or closely related, topics.
“I think we’re going to get some people who just fall in love with that old library,” says Nick Alongi. “Being surrounded by books is comforting for many people.”
It’s an experience that just can’t be matched by scrolling on your computer or phone. Just spending some time looking at the physical bookshelves can lead you to your next big idea.
When you arrive at QuinnX, you’ll check out a Silent Study Pass to gain access, so make sure you have your Fordham ID (which also serves as your library card, in case you didn’t know). Checking out the study passes is necessary, at least for the time being, in order to collect usage stats. The library uses these numbers for reporting and to inform operating decisions. It’s also a way of making sure the number of people in the space doesn’t exceed safety limits.
Undergraduate and graduate students are welcome, as are Law School students (except during normal restricted access periods). You can check out both Quinn Library and Law Library books (Maloney Law Library account required) at the QuinnX front desk. However, if you need A/V materials, go to the second floor services desk, and a staff member can retrieve them for you.
The same food policies as the rest of the library are in place.
Regular open hours are: Monday-Thursday: 11:00am – 7:00pm, and Friday: 11:00am – 6:00pm.
Looking forward, Robert Allen envisions QuinnX becoming a regular part of student’s lives. To students, he says: “At some point in your career here at Fordham, you’re going to need that solitude. And QuinnX is there for you.”