With soldiers in barracks below, Mark Hargrave made his mark in the Love Library cupola on Feb. 27, 1943.
Ronald Buskirk and Jerry Clair followed days later. Richard Boughn was here too. So were Jeff Lamp, Al Eberspacher, George Tomlin, Cam Guy, Mike Kepler, Jerry Scarlett and Jeff Clapper.
In a dusty corner, a heart rests with names mostly faded — a Jess Rou declaring his/her forever love to a name lost in time.
Since opening in 1943, the University of Nebraska–Lincoln’s library cupola has been a quiet destination for a few adventurous souls, mostly students and university employees. Many of those who ventured into the roof tower left names and dates in the bare wood, carving in visit details with pencils, pens, markers and knives.
Venturing into the cupola today is considerably more difficult as it is locked away behind multiple doors requiring a variety of keys. However, campus administrators are working to preserve the names as it prepares to light Love Library’s historic south façade and cupola.
“An initial idea was to paint over the names, but we’ve decided to leave them alone,” said Emily Casper, UNL’s campus landscape architect. “They are a neat part of the history of the cupola.”
The lighting project will add a series of LED fixtures to the library, showcasing the building’s architecture at night. The lights will be mostly white, with an option to cast a color onto and inside the cupola.
“We can do any color, but you’ll most likely see the cupola lit up red for special events and game days,” Casper said.
The lighting project is also an extension of an upgrade to Love Library’s south doors, which are opening for the first time in decades. The door project includes accessibility improvements.
Both the door and lighting projects are scheduled for completion in March. Additional landscaping improvements will be added in the spring.
“This project is going to really showcase the architecture of Love Library and make it more welcoming to the campus community and public,” Casper said. “It’s also going to be nice knowing we were able to preserve the names inside the cupola.”