One of my favorite things about working at Adobe was the small library

Note: This was migrated from my old Medium blog. I have decided to migrate from Medium to WordPress, and I’ll write about the reasons why soon, stay tuned.

I worked at Adobe from 2002 to 2005. What I worked on is a topic for another time. But, one of my favorite things about working there was the library.

The opposite of a small library: shoutout to NYPL!

I haven’t been to the office since 2005, and it looks much spiffier now after the redesign. But, back in the day at least, there was a small library, maybe 20′ x 30′ or so, near the main cafeteria. It had a few hundred books related to the practices in use at the company — design, programming, marketing, etc. And it was an actual library where you could borrow books, with a part-time librarian, electronic card catalogue system and all.

I liked the library, first of all, because it wasn’t used that much. I barely remember seeing any other visitors in the 3 years I worked there. It was nice and quiet, and free from distraction. I would often duck in after lunch for 10–15 minutes just to get a mental breather from my workday.

I discovered a number of interesting books there, such as The Reconfigured Eye, which looks at the history of images, their “truth” and how digital technology changes all that. Also Stop Stealing Sheep and Find Out How Type Works, a very accessible introduction to typography and particular typefaces.

Steve Jobs, in his famous 2005 graduation speech at Stanford, discussed how he took a calligraphy class at Reed College, learned about and became fascinated with the history and visual power of good typography, and this experience directly influenced the type on the first Mac (and to this day). He didn’t go to Reed to learn about type, but it was a consequence of being there and being surrounded by its use on “every poster, every label on every drawer”.

I didn’t necessarily “learn” typography or design from the library, but it gave me a quiet space to explore my emerging interests, which I hold to this day, mostly as an armchair discusser of the subject on Twitter. And that’s why I still remember that room.






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