University Archives, Princeton University Library

In response to your request for memories of the Reserve Reading Room (From the Archives photo, June 6, above): I spent a lot of time in the Reserve Reading Room on A floor while I was a graduate student during the 1970s. It wasn’t such a bad thing to have all the course reserves in one place. The room also housed most of the current periodicals and a collection of language dictionaries and reference books. Best of all, because it had its own entrance, it would stay open an hour or two after midnight when the rest of Firestone was closed — even for 24 hours during exams. For an insomniac like me, it was the obvious place to go when the only other games in town were Hoagie Haven and the Computer Center on Prospect Avenue. 

The student workers who operated the room after hours would amuse themselves by posting a survey question every day. You would answer by writing on a slip of paper and putting it through a slot. The questions frequently generated the kinds of answers that are only thinkable during that brief crack of time wherein the hypnagogic approximates the hypnopompic. 

The question I remember best: “What’s your favorite war?” And the best answer, though I don’t know who submitted it: “The war to end all wars. You know, the one four wars ago.” Since the ’70s, of course, we’ve added a few more.

Peter Jeffery *80
Scheide Professor of Music History Emeritus, New Haven, Conn.