The Class of 1891 was the first graduating class to use the new Library building designed by Frank Furness. In celebration of their 35th reunion, the students of the class endowed a Library book fund, perhaps remembering the inspiration of the splendid new structure.
Proceedings at the Opening of the Library of The University of Pennsylvania, 7th of February 1891:
From the Introduction:
The building was sufficiently finished during the summer of 1890 to receive books, and the Library...was removed to it during the College vacation. When the term began on the first of October, everything connected with it was in order, and the students were at once admitted to all its privileges...It was deemed advisable, before the formal public opening, to test by actual experience the working capability of the building in all its departments. Accordingly, it was on trial for over four months, and as in all that time the most exacting criticism could find no flaw nor suggest the most trivial improvement, the building was pronounced perfect.
From the remarks made by the architect, Frank Furness:
But as long as books survive in a building like this, our triumph is assured. Here all waste is stayed, and in no single alcove does oblivion hold a session. As we walk past these long arrays of cold, inanimate tomes, our steps may be gay with the sensible, warm motion of life, but the footsteps of the living will echo fainter and fainter, and generation after generation will pass by; but, as the old Geronimite said of pictures, these books will survive unchanged. They are the living; we are the ghosts. In the atmosphere of a library our own insignificance is driven home, and, realizing what shadows we are and what shadows we pursue, we stand rebuked in the presence of books, even as when we display our own petty cares under the starlit sky of a summer's night.