When contractors erected a construction barrier between the main library hall and the stacks, supervisors asked library employee Stephen Hoyle, who just earned his master’s degree in English and will continue working for the library this summer, to draw cartoons on the partition, having seen some of his work on Instagram. Hoyle was happy to oblige, he said, but he didn’t have time to finish his mural before the pandemic closed Alderman Library for the rest of the semester, a couple of months earlier than scheduled.
“I originally envisioned filling the wall with simple scenes of people interacting within the library. Having worked behind the front desk, I knew that Alderman was not merely a study spot,” Hoyle wrote in email. “It was a place where friendships began and developed, where interviews were held and careers took off and where relationships that would blossom into marriage first budded. I wanted to reflect that more personal side of the library.”
Along with those charcoal sketches in the middle-right of the wall, the rest of the drawings depict scenes from some of his favorite classics. Then he quoted the first sentences of well-known novels, alongside portraits of the authors, including from George Orwell’s “1984”: “It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.”