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Thanks for stopping by McCabe, please show us the contents of your bag

Up until the Fall of 1999, McCabe had receptionists who, as part of their job, would have to search students' bags as they left the library to be sure that no materials went out without being properly checked out. 

What changed? Well, much to the relief of the students (and probably the receptionists as well) we installed the security system we still use today!

Mary Ann Wood comes to Swarthmore

In the Fall of 1999, the face of the library changed forever (or at least 15 years): Mary Ann Wood became McCabe's new Evening Supervisor in the Circulation department.

Before her arrival, there was some very odd system in place in which staff members would come in for the day, leave, and then come back to fill the evening hours on some rotation cycle.** This was back in the dark days before Alison Masterpasqua took over as the head of the Access and Lending department.


**I have had this system explained to me twice and still don't quite understand it, so if you want to know how this worked in any detail, ask Linda or Alison! They lived through it!

Overnight reserves

In the Fall of 2000, the overnight policy for general reserves underwent a drastic change to become the policy that students have come to know and exploit: students would now be able to check out books from 9:30pm until 9:30am instead of 9:00pm to 9:00am. That's right. A whole extra half an hour of sleep. 

Plus, online bookings became possible through Tripod!

Suggestions, suggestions, suggestions

Though the Suggestion Book has become a staple of McCabe library, filled with requests ranging from new titles to add to our video and book collections to having a giraffe in the atrium as well as pictures drawn by those who are artistically inclined, it first began as a legitimate suggestion box way back in 2001.

Feeling that this wasn't in line with Swarthmore's love of dialogue, a former Reference and Instruction Intern decided to set a blank notebook at the circulation desk in 2005 and the rest, as we say, is history.

Pillows in McCabe

Students have been asking for pillows to be put in McCabe since at least 1970 to be used by all those "who want to sleep but don't want to make the long trek back to [their] rooms." (Phoenix, 12/15/70). This suggestion has remained popular over the years, but due to concerns about hygiene, has yet to be enacted. We do have ridiculously large bean bags though, so I guess we're getting closer to that promised land of pillow-y goodness!

Free to a good home

The Rand McNally geophysical globe, donated by Arthur Magill '29, has been up for grabs since at least the Spring of 2002. Any institution that can come up with a plan to disassemble and reassemble the globe can have it for free. That's right, the globe, which originally cost $12,020 in 1967 can be "purchased" for the low, low price of coming up with a way to get it out of the library...


Bonus facts: The globe actually used to sit at the correct axis of 23.5 degrees and was powered by a small motor that allowed it to rotate. It also used to have lights. 


Back in the dark days when AIM and Yahoo IM were not only remembered, but were considered the way to stay in touch with friends [roughly 2002], the reference department at McCabe jumped on the bandwagon and gave students who hated speaking on the phone everything they ever dreamed of: Students were able to IM a librarian with research questions. That's right. Students could ask their research questions from the comfort of their own dorm rooms and get instantaneous answers without having to deal with any telephone-induced anxiety

Renewing books online

In the spring of 2004, Tripod took one step closer on its path to being the powerhouse that we recognize today by allowing students to renew books online for the first time. For the students who know about this feature (surprisingly, despite being in place for over a decade, many still don't), it's unthinkable to suggest that you would have to come to the library or call in order to renew your books.

Toilet Papers are "rolled out"

In the spring of 2004, the staff of McCabe library took the plunge and dedicated itself to producing the "lavatory literature" known as the Toilet Papers, now a staple of the bathroom stalls in McCabe. The effort was spearheaded by Anne Garrison, our former humanities librarian, Justin Clarke, a technical services specialist, and our very own Linda Hunt!


Note: You can be sure that any puns in this Fact of the Day were lifted from the original announcement concerning the Toilet Papers and not, unfortunately, a mark of my creative/linguistic genius.

The Fabled Fourth Floor of McCabe

Up until around 2005, McCabe actually had a 4th floor. As it turns out, students, enraged by the sounds of the buzzer demanding that they leave the library staged a coup and destroyed the 4th floor of McCabe during the revolt. There's actually a panel of ceiling in the Rare Book Room that still leads up to that floor, though all of the stairs have been closed off and the elevator no longer lists it as an option.

Alright, fine. They actually changed the numbering system for the floors of McCabe. The Lower Level was known as Level 1, the main floor was known as Level 2, the 2nd floor was known as Level 3 and the 3rd floor was Level 4. Students do really hate the buzzer though, so it could have happened... and could still.

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