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Let There Be Light…

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…and some moments of “punctuated equilibrium”

At the OK Library, much of the summer was spent in moving thousands upon thousands of reference books toward the back of the main floor of the OK Library. Now folks who enter the “Joe Cali” room will pass through what seems like colorful canyons of reference materials. As Joe was a master in finding materials to the most obscure of questions, it is pretty on point to have the entrance to “his” room with its wall of “vinyl” and stereo make you pass through a world of reference first.

These reference books were moved to what previously was a huge area of Abstracts and Indices. We had them for about everything, even Folklore Abstracts, Film and TV abstracts, and Women’s Studies abstracts, as well as the more-often used Bio and Chem abstracts. Of course, now various databases take their place. What one had to do by using many volumes and index cards is now done quickly and with a keyboard and a few strokes. Maybe we held onto them for a while for various reasons but their time to go finally came. So when the Volunteer Work Crew arrived during Reunion 2019, a team of volunteers helped dispose of tons of old tomes and in relays filled about every dumpster on campus. So, in between relays of disposing obsolescent materials and moving thousands and thousands of volumes in relays, the old reference area is now a large open and bright space. It has huge mid-century modern windows with great campus views. Late in the day, sunshine often streams in. Who knew that those thousands and thousands of books were in the way of some great light and a great space? During the November Academic block there will be a Design/Build Course offered by Michael Casselli ’87, who along with the students and Head Librarian Kevin Mulhall, will turn this new space into an awesome multipurpose space. It is this sort of process that really makes Antioch College what it should be. Students and faculty and others will have a major part in creating the world in which they inhabit. Some of the furniture may even be made using campus 3-D printers. This project may appear as a Giving Tuesday project next month, so please be sure to think of us (save a few bucks for us) as the OK Library is really a space where everyone comes. To study, to get mail, to a meeting, a class, get a snack, or just some down time.

This week, this new space had its first fun use as a Community Meeting was held here with the faculty and the first- and second-year students (and others) to give feedback on the new curriculum. About 50 chairs were in concentric circles. Like many meetings that are typically Antiochian, the meeting began with some faculty presentations and then broke up into small groups with notetakers. The Library is big enough to accommodate groups in a wide array of areas, and as it was a rather perfect azure-sky October day, one group also headed outside and had their session on the South Hall Patio benches sheltered by the tall pines between South and the OKL. The small groups may have gone overtime and did not return, but I imagine the recorder for each group will compile and share their notes. My ear was open for gossip or feedback tidbits.

Earlier this term, we had similar large and small breakout groups (in the South Gym) to open our collective minds and hearts when it comes to gender, LGBTIA, and equity issues. (Some training and enlightenment.) An awesome speaker from Columbus came as a facilitator and motivational speaker. Prior to that event, all employees also had a half-day session to discuss issues and policies connecting to race and sex. These meetings all help us evolve into better humans. Maybe we will have some “variations” of what Stephen J. Gould ‘63 might say is another version of punctuated equilibrium.

In between all the learning that goes on, whether you are in the classroom or community, there are many joys in being in an environment of 18-22 year olds. As an elder ,some things also do take me aback. Everyone multitasks these days and often uses new technologies to do so.. A few times, people come walking into the library and are talking. Sometimes you might think they may be taking to you, but at other times, for example, it may be in French. A few days ago with an exasperated look on my face a person told me, “I am talking to my uncle.”

Wireless earbuds are so small now you cannot see them. Even though many of the technologies around us evolve, we are also evolving. Maybe in fits and starts we will all have those punctuated leaps towards becoming people who will make some positive change around us. I did hear a third-hand bit of information from a student who transferred from a local community college. After this last Community Meeting on feedback about the new curriculum, they said, “At that Community College, there would probably never be a feedback session like this.” 

Soon the Volunteer Work Crew and both the Alumni Board and Board of Trustees will be paying seasonal visits. In between help and advice there may also be some moments to celebrate 10 years of evolving to our better selves.

Come and visit as you can. At Reunion, one year from now. Or if are traveling across America, stop in and see how we are evolving. You may be pleasantly surprised. In this current America, we are a more unique place than most and in a positive way. 

*Photo of Community Meeting courtesy of Kim Landsbergen. Other photos courtesy of Scott Sanders.