Library Visit: Loyola University Chicago

One of the big impacts that the Covid-19 pandemic has had on my reading and working life is not being able to go to the library, any library, for going on three months now. I commited to posting at least one library post a month in 2020 and since I can’t currently visit new to me libraries, I’m digging into my photo archives where I’ve been happy to find that I have a plethora of pictures of library visits from years past that I’ve never posted.

Up this month is Loyola University, my alma mater. These photos are from two visits I made in June and October 2013. So much had changed on campus since I graduated in 1992 and I’m sure there have been more changes since my last visit.

As with most university library systems, Loyola has several libraries that house various subjects. The photos featured here are of Cudahy Library and Information Commons. Cudahy Library — full name Elizabeth M. Cudahy Memorial Library — is the main library and Information Commons is a joint venture between the University Libraries and Technology Services. As the name implies, it offers technology resources as well as places for solo work and group study.

Cudahy Library Loyola University Chicago

Above is the Cudahy Library. The right side is the original part of the building, which was completed in 1930. The left side is a 1969 edition which also wraps around the north side of the building. The building behind the library is dorms.

Cudahy Science Hall and Dumbach Hall Loyola University Chicago
Cudahy Science Hall and Dumbach Hall

Directly to the west of the library are the two oldest buildings on campus. Cudahy Science Hall, on the left, was completed in 1912. Dumbach on the right was built in 1908. Dumbach Hall was the scene of quite a few of my English classes.

Information Commons Loyola University Chicago

Pictured above is one of the biggest changes on campus. This new building is the Klarchek Information Commons which opened in 2007. It is next to Cudahy Library, to the south. This building sits on a prime piece of lakefront where, when I was an undergraduate, the Jesuit Resident had been. As you can see, glass covers the two long sides so you can see right through the building. It has a green building rating and was a hive of activity during my visits. I image it is always that way when classes are in session (at least in pre-Covid-19 days).

Cudahy Library and Information Commons Loyola University Chicago
Cudahy Library and Information Commons

If you’re interested in seeing the old Jesuit Residence, as well as the ugliness that was Damen Hall, which has also been torn down, you can see them in the opening scene of the movie Flatliners (click here to watch the opening). Some scenes of that 1990s hit were filmed on campus.

Above is a screen grab from the opening scene of Flatliners. You can see how prominent Damen Hall and the Residence were. Damen was not only ugly, it was also rather awkwardly positioned.

Madonna della Strada Chapel Loyola University Chicago

To the right of Information Commons is the Madonna della Strada Chapel, which was completed in 1938.

Arches Framing Lake Michigan Information Commons Loyola University Chicago

This arched covered walkway between Information Commons and the Chapel create a classical vibe and wonderful framing of Lake Michigan.

Loyola Lake Shore Campus

Loyola has several campuses in Chicago and this one is called Lake Shore Campus for obvious reasons. It’s also considered the main campus. Pictured here is the back of Information Commons. There’s a walkway and places to sit along this edge of the campus, which makes for a refreshing study break. In the middle of Chicago’s epically frigid and windy winters, you can feel that refresh down into your bone marrow.

In the distance, can you see a low rectangular building jutting out over the lake? That’s also a library. It was a science library when I was a student and although I was an English major, I often studied there for the excellent view of the lake. It was also just two blocks from my apartment, so very convenient.

Cudahy Library Loyola University Chicago

Above is the back side of Cudahy Library and its new connection to the glassy Information Commons building. I read that this connecting walkway includes a cafe, but I don’t recall seeing that probably because I was too excited to get to the book stacks.

Donovan Reading Room Cudahy Library Loyola University Chicago

Inside Cudahy, the Donovan Reading Room. When I was a student there was a huge rectangular wall of card catalogs below the mural.

John W. Norton Mural Cudahy Library Loyola University Chicago

A close up of the mural by John W. Norton. It depicts early Jesuit activity in the Great Lakes region.

Donovan Reading Room Cudahy Library Loyola University Chicago

Another view of the Donovan Reading Room standing under the mural and looking back toward the lake.

Cudahy Library Loyola University Chicago

Below the mural in the reading room, there’s a doorway into one of my favorite parts of the library. This area of short stacks always made me feel cozy and like I was entering a hidden labyrinth. The adult male walking in front of me gives you a sense of how low the ceilings are in this area. Tall people may feel the need to lower their heads, but for a hobbit like me, its just the right size.

Cudahy Library Loyola University Chicago

I love how you can see multiple levels of books on shelves through the stairwell.

Dumbwaiter Cudahy Library Loyola University Chicago
Dumbwaiter and microfilm reader.
Caged Books Cudahy Library Loyola University Chicago
Caged books patiently awaiting a reader.
Quiet Study Space Cudahy Library Loyola University Chicago
This section is great for quiet study time.
NYT Crossword Thief Cudahy Library Loyola University Chicago

In the current newspaper section, someone had an important message to share. Make a photocopy, indeed!

Saint Ignatius Loyola Statue Cudahy Library Loyola University Chicago

A statue of Saint Ignatius Loyola at the old west entrance and circulation area. Prior to becoming a priest, Loyola was a military man. He founded the Society of Jesus, aka The Jesuits, in 1541. As a theologian, he is most known for The Spiritual Exercises.

In the Stacks at Cudahy Library Loyola University Chicago
In the literature section of the main stacks of Cudahy.
Graduate Student Rooms Cudahy Library Loyola University Chicago
A row of graduate student carrels.
A Peek Inside a Graduate Student Room Cudahy Library Loyola University Chicago
A peek inside.
In the Stacks at Cudahy Library Loyola University Chicago
Do you get excited walking into such stacks? Sometimes it’s hard not to skip in the library.

Cather on the shelf.

Information Commons Loyola University Chicago
Clouds reflecting on a corner window of Information Commons.
Door Cudahy Library Loyola University Chicago
The original Cudahy Library entrance.

When I was a student in the early 1990s, the area through this door was a medieval, renaissance, and baroque art gallery that has since moved to a new home on Loyola’s Water Tower Campus (Loyola University Museum of Art). I have fond memories of writing a paper for an art history class comparing two illuminated manuscript pages that were on display here. Note the owl at the peak.

Owl Cudahy Library Loyola University Chicago

A side view of the wise owl welcoming scholars into this temple of knowledge.

Aerial views of Loyola’s Lake Shore Campus and the Chicago area taken on July 12, 2016.
(This photo by Natalie Battaglia, all others by me)

A great shot of the campus courtesy of the university’s website. You can easily spot the Information Commons building. To the right of that is the Cudahy Library where you can see how the 1969 edition wraps around the original 1930 building.

In the not very exciting video below, taken with my old point-and-shoot camera, I film a 360 standing in front of Dumbach Hall and then film near Damen Hall where you can see demolition has begun. The chapel bell rings out the time. Also, I like squirrels.

I hope you’ve enjoyed these photos. It was a walk down memory lane for me and now I’m looking forward to visiting again. They’ve really done a nice job of reconfiguring the campus to make it feel like a harmonious, planned space. Back in the early 1990s the campus was still open to vehicle traffic. In 1991 Loyola bought Mundelein College, it’s neighbor, and that probably help spur a lot of reimagining of the campus (that’s speculation on my part).

On a related bookish note, if anyone reading this remembers The Red and The Black used bookstore on Sheridan Road, please reach out to me.

Loyola University Chicago
1032 W. Sheridan Rd.
Chicago, IL 60660

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  1. It would be hard to study when you can look out of the window and see that lakeside view. I’ve been to Chicago only a few times and luckily never in the middle of the winter (though I’ve experienced enough of those in Michigan to know how they feel).

    • Yes, it was! Especially when there was a storm raging. Brrr to Michigan winters. I spent some time in Michigan and had an especially wonderful camping trip up north one summer where we saw the northern lights. Whereabouts in Michigan were you if you don’t mind me asking?

      • I worked for a company headquartered in Midland (near Saginaw). Travelled there about 4 times a year, sometimes more often for 18 years. So I became very familiar with the area.

  2. This was so much fun. My mom was a secretary at Loyola (campus ministry–she retired in ’95) and I grew up in that neighborhood. My memories look pretty much like your screengrab from Flatliners so it was fun to see the changes.

    There was a used bookstore on the west side of Sheridan just north of the Loyola station, but I’ve forgotten the name. Run by a A.B.D. Czech immigrant when I was going to it that had books balanced on boards that looked like it would collapse on you at any moment. It would have been mid to late 80s when I was spending all my money there. There was also Booklegger’s, which was on Sheridan for a while, but I think they’d moved down to the DePaul neighborhood already by about ’86 or ’87. (?)

    • I’m so glad you enjoyed it. YES! That’s the store! I’m thrilled that you know it. On the second floor, there was even a board that had no handhold you had to step on/walk across to get to a section. I loved that place because it was so quirky and dangerous. And it had a great selection as well. So many people who attended Loyola or live/d in Rogers Park don’t know or remember it. That place made me fall in love with used bookstores. I’ve not heard of Bookleggers, but what a catchy name.

      My Mom retired from Loyola’s credit union which was at the med center in Maywood, but in the 80s & 90s she often went to Lake Shore & Water Tower for membership drives and other business. Funny to think our moms could’ve met.

      • They could have met! My mom would also go out to Maywood or the Water Tower campus for various reasons–in fact she started at the Water Tower campus for a year, but was happy when she could get a transfer to Lake Shore.

        I remember crossing that board! But I had completely forgotten the store’s name. That Czech guy was forever building new nooks and crannies in the place.

        • What a small world! I also worked at the med center for a year after getting out of the military & before starting college, and then worked in the float pool between semesters. Loyola was a good place to work back then.

          I don’t remember the Czech guy but that place was always an adventure. I haven’t come across another used bookstore that comes close to touching it. How neat that we have these connections.

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