Current Issue

Oct. 24, 2012

Vol. 113, No. 3


Hidden Princeton

By W. Barksdale Maynard ’88, photographs by Ricardo Barros
Published in the October 24, 2012, issue

Every day, every hour, a bustling life goes on behind the scenes at ­Princeton. Many of the 13,700 people who live or work at the University hardly notice these essential ­operations unless something goes wrong. This unseen Princeton often is a world of strenuous work, fast paces, and very early rising.


Recap Library

Some say this is the future of libraries — gargantuan, shared regional warehouses like this one on Forrestal Campus, home to nearly 10 million items from Prince­ton and other prestigious institutions. No browsing allowed: Forklifts shuttle up and down ReCAP’s 34 aisles (soon to increase to 58), where books are packed ­closely together by size, not subject matter, and shelving soars to 30 feet. The 11 workers wear jackets and hats, as they work in rooms maintained at 55 degrees Fahren­heit, optimal for paper. Some books never see Firestone at all: Publishers send them directly to ReCAP, from where they can be retrieved when requested. The name stands for: Research Collections and Preserva­tion Consortium.

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2 Responses to Hidden Princeton

Alan Johnson *08 Says:

2012-10-24 09:09:20

Very interesting feature! It boggles the mind that there's so much going on at Princeton behind the scenes.

Allen Scheuch '76 Says:

2012-11-07 09:37:34

This "Hidden Princeton" series is fascinating and Ricardo Barros' photographs are wonderful (the snow removal photo reminds me of a Franz Kline painting - his composition is a delight with the three bicycles and rack on the upper right providing stark lines and a sense of scale, the fence running along the top edge offering a straight yet rhythmic border; it's like a piece of inked type blown up 1,000 times). The range of activities and contributions covered in this thoughtful piece really does boggle the mind; and I can't help but be further in awe of Shirley Tilghman's stewardship and leadership of this magnificent organism called Princeton. Thanks, PAW, for giving us this intriguing new window - please keep it up!
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CURRENT ISSUE: Oct. 24, 2012