If scholars in Harper Memorial Library’s
Great Reading Room happen to glance at the hall’s western
wall, they can ponder the seals of eight U.S. universities—Harvard,
Yale, Johns Hopkins, Columbia, Michigan, Wisconsin, California,
and, of course, Chicago—arranged below the carved injunction
“Read not to contradict nor to believe but to weigh and consider”
(Francis Bacon). Adorned by leafy canopies and grotesques, the seals
flank an iron clock, a gift from the Class of 1909.
The eastern wall sports another frieze, bearing
the coats of arms of eight international institutions—Oxford,
Cambridge, Paris, Berlin, St. Petersburg, Bologna, Tokyo, and Calcutta—and
the biblical inscription “Whatsoever things were written aforetime
were written for our learning.”
The screens, installed during Harper’s
construction (1910–12), are meant to symbolize the University’s
connection to a wider world of knowledge.—A.L.M.