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The Daily Tar Heel

Totally tubular: Davis Library celebrates 40th birthday with 80s party

The bust of Walter Royal Davis stands in Davis Library for the building's 40th anniversary on Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2024.

CORRECTIONAn earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that María R. Estorino is the Interim Vice Provost for University Libraries. She is the Vice Provost for University Libraries. The Daily Tar Heel apologizes for this error.

Davis Library opened on Feb. 7, 1984, a year shared with "Purple Rain" by Prince and the original “Ghostbusters” premiering in theaters.

On Wednesday, a 1980s-themed party was thrown to celebrate the library's 40th birthday. Students lined up in the first-floor atrium for free holographic stickers, Rameses stuffed animals and t-shirts printed on-site with neon pink lettering.

Vice Provost for University Libraries and University Librarian María R. Estorino said that Davis has changed since its opening.

“It was the kind of place where you would be asked to be quiet on every floor, not just on certain floors, and so although clearly people were pushing those boundaries, today, we don’t work in that way anymore,” she said.

She said that some notable changes include allowing food and drink inside and having flexible furniture that students can move, which meets students' different needs and moods.

Estorino said that the adaptable nature of libraries is in part one of the reasons they still exist after centuries and continue to be used in the modern world. The way information is given and received is constantly changing and libraries are frequently acclimating, she said.

She said in comparison to Wilson Library, which gets its appeal from its historic archives and traditional architecture, Davis is a place that is responsive to shifts in research and culture.

Isaiah Kirkpatrick, a junior majoring in medical anthropology, said that students are drawn to Davis because of the solidarity they find in stressful times, like finals week each semester.

"And also maybe something about the fact that this is where folks run naked twice a year," Kirkpatrick said.

For Kirkpatrick, Davis has been a place where students can find joy during times of stress by using the collaborative study floors, where Kirkpatrick has had some of the best laughs on the first floor.

“I get all the time that people always say they can recognize my laugh, like strangers, and they know I’m in here because they hear my laugh,” Kirkpatrick said.

Nerrissa Crawford, a junior majoring in public policy with a minor in medicine, literature and culture, said that she appreciates that you do not have to be quiet in Davis.

In comparison to the Undergraduate Library, which she said is a pretty silent environment, Davis is a place where students can be loud while studying and meet with friends just to socialize.

“You really have to do work [at the UL], but here if you’re just looking to see a friend or something, I think this is a good place to not do work," she said. "So many people come here because they don’t want to do work!”

Estorino said there are no limitations of what students can and cannot do in the library — if they want to watch Netflix before they study, she said that there are no rules telling students that they have to use the library as a solely studious place.

Forty years from now, on Feb. 7, 2064, Estorino said she hopes Davis has continued to adapt to student’s needs and expanded on spaces already used, including bringing Wi-Fi outside and connecting the outside patio to Davis to have a new place for the resources of the library to be used.

“I really hope that people will start thinking not just about what Davis has been, but what it can still become,” she said.


@dthlifestyle |

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