BBC honors library for its beauty

Armstrong-Browning FTWBy Josh Day

It’s official: Baylor has a new beauty queen.

The Armstrong Browning Library’s elegant design has earned it a place in BBC’s list of America’s most beautiful college libraries published on Jan.14.

The library is the only entry on the list from Texas.

One of the features of the library is the dome in its foyer is which, is entirely coated in gold leaf; The fingerprints of the artists can be seen where it was hand pressed.

Sixty-two stained glass windows are also scattered throughout the building where rare collections of art and poetry can be seen.

“We’re thrilled and we think that it’s well deserved,” associate librarian Cynthia Burgess said.

Fort Worth junior Hillary Shellnut said she was impressed but she wasn’t surprised “because this is a beautiful place.”

Burgess also said the recognition follows Dr. Andrew Joseph Armstrong’s intentions when he built the library.

“I think it reflects on Dr. Armstrong’s dream for the building,” she said.

From 1948 to 1951, Armstrong, the chairman of the English department, worked alongside a team of architects, including Wyatt Hedrick. In a KWBU production, Dr. Scott Lewis, a Baylor graduate, said Armstrong wrote a letter to Baylor President, Pat Neff in 1936 which read: “My dream is a Browning Library, and dreams very frequently come true. My dream is to have something as rich in its architecture, beauty and delicacy as the famous Taj Mahal in India which is said to be the most beautiful building in the world.”

Seventy-seven years later, his dream of the library’s reputation is coming true.

BBC’s list ranks the attractiveness of Baylor’s 19th-century-research library alongside four other beautifully constructed libraries from the east and west coasts.

The Andrew Dickson White Library in New York is Cornell University’s main library.

It is three levels of spiraling wrought iron and red carpet that is accented by the light of the stained glass windows. According to Cornell University’s website, the overall ambience has given it the nickname “Harry Potter Library” among the students.

Another on the list is the Fleet Library of Rhode Island’s School of Design.

According to its website, it was converted to a library from the donated building of the former Rhode Island Hospital Trust bank.

The banking hall itself is now the reading room, complete with marble columns and a beautiful hanging clock.

The largest among the five is the cathedral-like George Peabody Library of Maryland’s John Hopkins University.

It boasts six levels of books, a marble floor and a skylight.

University of California, Los Angeles’ William Andrews Clark Memorial Library is the most similar in style to Armstrong Browning. Its carved wooden walls, painted ceilings and candelabras make it a popular place for chamber music concerts.

The Armstrong Browning library was also included in the lists of Travel and Leisure, Mental Floss and Flavorwire.

The library is open for tours Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Call 254-710-4960 to schedule a tour.