Because it only partially closes on weekends or school holidays and offers a plethora of resources, the Tech Library is a great place to study or conduct research. This, by itself, does not differentiate Tech’s library from that of any other university.
What makes each library different is not the spaces to study in or the availability of encyclopedias, but what that library deems important enough to collect. Some libraries are dedicated to law and some to history, but Tech’s library has a thorough collection of science fiction works.
In 1998 and 1999, Irving Foot, a former professor of English at Tech, donated his lifelong passion to the school in the form of over 8,000 science fiction books and magazines. Since then, Tech’s Science Fiction Collection has continued to grow with generous donations from individuals such as David Brin, Dr. Patrick Malone and Richard Erlich, as well as from organizations, the most notable of which is the Atlanta Science Fiction Society. The current estimate is that 95 percent of the collection was acquired via donations.
The Atlanta Science Fiction Society has donated, among other things, the programs of several science fiction conventions dating back to 1986. This assortment of programs includes those from Dragon*Con and the World Science Fiction Convention and other prominent gatherings of fans.
The current Science Fiction Collection has well over ten thousand novels as well as anthologies and periodicals. Each of the works of the collection is treated with great respect and is stored in the Library Annex. Unless Tech’s library has more than one copy of a book, it is placed in the non-circulating archives, which can be viewed through special visitation hours.
If there are multiple copies of a novel, the library has places one in the Archives for safekeeping and the rest in a special Science Fiction section of the main library. The Science Fiction section, located on the first floor East, is organized by author, unlike the rest of the library.
The sheer volume of circulating science fiction books is a testament to the generosity of donors. The novels in circulation range from the ever-present Dune to the classic works of Philip K. Dick and Ray Bradbury and Orson Scott Card. The collection includes several Conan novels and books titled cool, if nonsensical things like The Hole in the Zero.
Though most of the section is organized by author, someone had a sense of humor when displaying the Star Wars and Star Trek books. For two universes renowned for being unable to coexist, the two series look peaceful side by side on their own shelves, set aside from the rest of the Science Fiction Collection.
If a person is not interested in the actual Science Fiction novels, but instead in the impact of the novels or how one is written, Tech’s library also has books detailing the history of Science Fiction in a scholarly light. These are still considered part of the Science Fiction collection, though they are found mixed with the rest of the library’s items under the LCC PN 3400.
The Science Fiction Collection is not limited to print, though. In the Gilbert Lounge, which is on the first floor of the Library to the left after entering from the CULC, an interested student can find over 150 science fiction DVDs and VHS tapes.
The Gilbert Lounge houses copies of several classic TV shows such as Twilight Zone and Quantum Leap, as well as newer shows and movies such as Splice and the 2010 Tron sequel.
The digital portion of the Science Fiction Collection has not been conveniently separated from the rest of the library’s DVDs and tapes. This leads to easy distractions. If someone decides he or she would like to watch a movie from the science fiction genre but does not have anything particular in mind, that person must sift through the plethora of other videos as well.
Perhaps before finding a science fiction film, he or she will realize that it has been a while since watching Mulan or has finally come across a copy of War of the Arrows or some other movie he or she had wanted to watch but had forgotten about.
Even without distractions, the Science Fiction Collection at Tech’s library is extensive. A student would need to work hard to read but a portion of it.