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The Boston Athenæum is featured in Thomas Schiff's photo book, The Library Book, along with a photo of Alden Library. (Provided via Miriam Intrator)

Alden Library featured in OU alumnus' panoramic photograph book

Alden Library has been represented in a new book featuring panoramic photos of libraries across the country, called The Library Book.

Thomas Schiff, an Ohio University alumnus, photographed libraries featuring unique architecture that spans from classical to more modern and contemporary design. The project took between 10 and 15 years for Schiff to complete.

The exhibit, Viewing Libraries: The Panoramic Photographs of Thomas R. Schiff, will be on the fourth floor of Alden Library from March 30 to May 15. The display has 14 of Schiff’s panoramic photographs and books he has previously published.

“We thought it would be fun, since he’s doing a book about libraries, to do an exhibit in the library,” Sara Harrington, head of arts and archives at Alden Library, said.

Schiff used a Hulcherama camera to take the panoramic photographs. The camera costs upwards of $5,000, Schiff said.

“I don’t know how I stumbled upon panoramic photographs,” Schiff said. “I researched them and then bought a panoramic camera.”

Schiff graduated in 1970. He began his years at OU studying photography but ended up studying business administration. Despite working for an insurance company, Schiff said he always made time to take photographs.

“Mr. Schiff’s photographs of libraries illustrate the ways in which libraries have evolved over time, and continue to evolve today,” Miriam Intrator, a special collections librarian at Alden, said in an email.

He started the project after a friend gave him a list of architecture he should take photos of, Schiff said. After taking photographs of libraries, movie theaters and other buildings, Schiff decided to split those photos into different projects.

“I do a lot of research by looking at other pictures and look for unique architecture,” Schiff said.

The Library Book includes photographs from the Boston Athenæum, the Library of Congress and the Salt Lake City Public Library.

Schiff explained the process of taking panoramic photographs, which includes being in the middle of the area and elevating the camera.

“You have to have something to look at in all four directions,” Schiff said.

He did not intentionally try to balance the book with modern and classical architecture. Instead, Schiff said he just took as many photographs as he could when he was on a trip.

“(The photographs) take you to another world by capturing a perspective that the human eye is unable to naturally see,” Intrator said in an email.


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