The second annex is one of the most important parts of the Clark Library, but is an area few visitors will ever actually see. Part of the underground stacks, the second annex contains the majority of our rare books, manuscripts and artwork, and its doors are locked at all times. In 1968, however, when the second annex was finished, photographers snapped some rare shots of what things look like in this staff-only area.
Designed by architects Winston Cordes and Ralph Crosby, the second annex (like its sibling, the first annex, which mainly houses our reference collection) is located underneath the library’s vast central lawn. Koppers, the company responsible for the waterproof cocoon, which keeps the annex safe and dry underneath the grass and the trees, were so proud of the job they had done that they sent out press releases comparing the project to the Fort Knox of books.
As their press release stated, “It’s fireproof, earthquake-proof, and waterproof, even though sprinklers operate daily above it.” It even appears that they had pictures taken to support their publicity efforts, most of which are included in this post. They were taken by Hollywood photographer Delmar Watson.
Today, the second annex looks largely the same as it does in these 1968 images and the cocoon has done its job very very well (apart from a mold outbreak several years ago which resulted in the closure of the library).
This last image is not related to the construction of the second annex, but it was also taken the same day in 1968, and I can’t resist sharing it. The Clark’s lounge has gone through a lot of transformations in the last several years, and though the staff has been working on making it a bit more comfortable, this photo shows us how far we have to strive in order to bring it back to its former glory.