Peck's nostalgia gallery
Library of the American College of Switzerland
in better days
disappointingly small proportion of former ACS students and faculty looking back
fondly to the past will also wish to see some pix of the ACS Library. A
somewhat larger proportion were probably unaware that there was a library.
But here it is.
original library in Les FrÍnes expanded through more
and more rooms of the former clinic, starting from this marble-columned former
lobby or whatever it was, and eventually filling eleven rooms right the way down
to the laundry rooms.
The watchful head librarian
the Librarian in the late '70s and early '80s, Cathy
Carey (now Spozio) busily processing
the head librarian at that time,
trying as usual to hide his confusion
Berman seeking bibliographic advice from the Head Librarian
summer 1980, whilst the Head Librarian was luxuriating at a conference for Academic
Deans in the Berkshires, USA, Librarian Catherine Carey
Spozio responded to the College's eviction from its premises in Leysin
by supervising the removal of the entire ACS Library (including books, microfilms,
journals, tables and chairs, bookshelves, and big bulky card catalogues) to its
new premises in Les Avants, Switzerland.
ACS Library book selection committee in Les Avants (Profs Peter
von Bawey and Charles Berman) with ACS
Library staff Catherine Carey, Alison
Wills, and Laura Young, 1981.
in Les Avants, librarians Catherine Carey and Alison
Wills smile beguilingly whilst Prof. Patrick Duddy
studies poetry unashamedly.
it's time to move the lot of this (books, card catalogues, etc.) back to
Pyrole was the name of the ACS Library building, the former
"Doctor's Villa" for the old Grand Hotel ca. 1900 -- 14
rooms absolutely chock-a-block with 50,000 volumes by the end of the 1980s,
and when the last axe fell in 1991 we were still trying to convince the financial
officers to let us build gardening sheds out the back to hold the overflow of
are some interior pix of La Pyrole way back when it was a real library.
main reading room, with an impressive portrait of the famous caretaker Mr Conus, painted
by then-student Maggie Peterson.
reading room, with snowy forests beckoning just outside the window, and ashtrays
still on the tables.
Catherine Spozio (1977-1986), her typewriter (remember those?), the library's
"shelf list" on the right, and beneath that, a few of the US Library
of Congress cataloging schedules, none of them cheap.
photos presently available of Assistant Librarian Ariane
Giobellina (right) working hard in the Library, but seen here skiing in
the nighttime with C. Berman and J. Wilson way above Leysin, February 1984.
The head librarian, with a huge cataloging backlog (left) and a pretty
early generation computer, about 1984 -- data goes in the right floppy, the programme
goes in the left one.
Librarian Anne ("Nanou") De Saule Foster
of Leysin, circa 1985.
Party 1986: Former Assistant Librarian Laura Young
(at that time assistant accountant in another part of the college administration,
presently in Canada), Honoured Departee Librarian Catherine
Carey Spozio, and a bemused passerby.
Wendy Scott (1986-87) from Syracuse, USA, seen here
with ACS Prof. Erik Knudsen
The reference room
Librarian keeps a cautious eye on Dean Pirri
immediately available of Candice (Henry) Greedy [right] in the Library during her tenure as Librarian, but this was taken in Leysin
on the day of her interview for the position, 1987.
Blaud-Miller, Assistant Librarian in the last years of the ACS Library's
what you will about the ACS college management in the 1980s, and many people can
say plenty!!, but however much money they threw away on strange sports ventures
and plushy deals for the cronies, the ACS Library budget was always a very good
one, for a school of that size. Certain top administrators, who won't be
named here and are no longer on this planet anyway, whatever their other failings,
valued college libraries and did their semi-best to pay for them. That is an uncommon
virtue amongst private schools in the Alps.
worries about overflow these days, apparently -- by reliable accounts, no new
books have gone into the Library since 1991, not counting old highlightered textbooks
left behind in the dorm rooms. After the 50,000-volume ACS Library was purchased
by the successor institution, that
12-campus institution's promotional brochure was amended to sing the praises of
its inter-campus library loan programme featuring the whole system's
entire 60,000-volumes. It almost makes you want to cry.
again, and a lot of snow. The Head Librarian, fearing for students' lives
or mounting liability insurance, used to stand out on that porch roof at daybreak
and shovel snow off lest it collapse upon earnest seekers after knowledge when
the midday sun hit the snowpack.
But following the demise of the old college in 2009, the Grand Hotel college buildings have been bought up and renovated, and the library collection is being hauled out of storage, weeded judiciously, and put back into circulation for the LAS International Baccalaureate programme. Here is the ACS Library "La Pyrole" in its present incarnation:
and suggestions are welcome if positive, resented if negative, .
All rights reserved, all wrongs avenged. Posted 10 January 1999, revised 26 November
2012, meddled with 15 January 2022. Photographs by Catherine Carey Spozio and D. C. Peck.