QTND 23: Stack Lights

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Hae RAE:

Go up to 2 west and look around near PS1868. I'm not as young as most folks, but I could hardly read the call numbers. Is it me, or is it dark up there.


Dear Blinky,

This wouldn't have been a problem if you'd looked in that very spot about twenty years ago. That was shortly after Mudd Center was opened. At that time the lights on every floor were controlled by master switches, so they were on all the time. In the mid-1980's, when consciousness shifted and there was a major push to save energy, switches were put in throughout the stacks so that lights could be turned on and off in specific stack areas. To avoid at least some of the confusion that caused, small maps of the lighting scheme were put by each switch. The individual switches do save on energy costs, but they sometimes make it hard to find one's way in the stacks, especially for those who don't happen to come equipped with infrared glasses. In this particular case, you'll find the switch for that area is to the north, near the window that looks out to the security building. Others who run into this problem should just look around a bit. It's a bit of a nuisance, but you'll eventually find the switch you need.

—RAE 3/14/94

Dear RAE,

What happened to all the light switches? Did we lose them during the re-model? And why are the lights on in the empty stacks?

--A loving (but bemused) fan.

Dear LBBF,

If you'd been around here a long time, one of the persistent complaints you would have noticed on this board was the lighting in stack areas. The individual switches in the stacks were a retrofit that was done in the mid-1980s to save energy. Unfortunately, it was next to impossible to actually find the switches, since their locations weren't self-evident. What this meant is that users were often walking through the stacks trying to find call numbers in the dark.

The lighting project that was done this summer and in the early fall restored the original light configuration in Mudd. Master light switches now again control stacks areas and this does mean that the stacks are lighted all the time. While this may seem like a step backward in terms of energy efficiency, the engineers who did this project have assured us that the new electronic ballasts and light fixtures will save substantially on energy costs, while also lighting the building all the time.

I think we can all agree that the brighter lights make Mudd a much more appealing place. Having the lights on in the stack areas also makes it quite easy to find whatever you're looking for. I suppose it would have been better if it had been possible to install motion sensitive switches that would bring on the lights right over each stack aisle whenever anyone entered, but that would have been much too expensive a proposition. What we have now, though, is a very workable situation that addresses concerns for both good lighting in the building and for energy efficiency.

--RAE 2/16/04

Last updated:
October 06, 2012