Apr. 24, 2000

Science Fiction Lending Library Opens In Lerner Hall

By Amy Callahan

In celebration of Columbia's rich history and the expansive ideas that drive the literary genre, the University has opened its first science fiction library.

"Science fiction has been part of Columbia University since Isaac Asimov graduated from the College with a B.A. in Chemistry in 1939," said Noah Fulmor, CC'99, curator of the new library that opened April 18 in 505A Lerner Hall. "Over the years, such SF titans as Robert Silverberg and Roger Zelazny would spend time here, giving Columbia one of the richest science fiction traditions of any university in the world."

Operated by the Columbia University Science Fiction Society, the collection will have 3,000 volumes of popular works as well as rare magazines dating to the 1940s. Non-circulating items will include a signed copy of Isaac Asimov's Second Foundation and an 1887 edition of Jules Verne's 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea.

"As far as we know, Earth and we humans with out dreams and ideas--embodied in our science and technology--are the spearhead of cosmic evolution," said Paul Levinson, president of the Science Fiction Writers of America, who spoke at the opening reception. "New York City and Manhattan in particular are clearly the gleaming tip of that spear. Columbia University is its cutting edge of thought. What better reason to have a science fiction library--presenting the best of that thought--at Columbia University in Manhattan?"

Fulmor said he hopes the library is well-used by students and the campus community. "The library is designed to be used for both browsing and scholarly research," he said. "For my part, I hope that the CUSFS library makes science fiction more accessible to the Columbia community and to the public at large. What many people don't realize is that sci-fi is the most optimistic genre because it assumes that there will be a future."