Left to right: Sign for Room 102: General Reading Room; Olin Library Second Floor Lounge, 1961; Introductory Guidebook (pdf; ~8 mb), all of the above: University Archives. Floorplan, Olin Library First Floor, 1961.
The space originally known as the general reading room for Olin Library has gone through multiple transformations since 1961. During the first year of Olin’s public life, the Main Library (soon to be officially named Uris Library) was closed. Room 102 became the reserve reading room and the undergraduates’ preferred reading room, where they could take advantage of smoking privileges. For many years, the room was the current periodicals reading room, and it was named in honor of Stephen McCarthy, the director of libraries who devoted tremendous time and energy to planning Olin Library. In 2001, it took on a new life as Olin’s café (now the Amit Bhatia ’01 Libe Café), a popular destination for students and faculty.
Olin originally included two lounges, one for faculty and graduate students and the other for staff. Prominent ashtrays signaled that smoking was not only permitted but accommodated in the lounges, as well as in other designated areas throughout the building. Olin banned smoking in the early 1990s, and the two lounges were combined into one space on the second floor.
Read Susan Wainger, “Rooms Accommodate Cooking, Rare Books” Cornell Daily Sun Feb. 10, 1961.