Library graffiti at the University of Chicago


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Song lyrics, lovelorn notes and math problems appear on the walls of the University of Chicago’s Regenstein Library, all graffiti left there by students. In some, like the photo above, a chain of comments was left that may not have been seen by the original defacer — but probably served to amuse those who came after. Sometimes the graffiti is literary.

Perhaps the students who read this thought of Kurt Vonnegut’s ‘Slaughterhouse Five.’ Or maybe they just thought it was kind of profound. Or recognized Shakespeare in this, below.


There is graffiti in Arabic, Greek, Russian, Latin, Hindi. There are warnings — ‘Never take a class by Edward Wallace’ — and declarations, like the one below, that get high marks from a reader ... who has spelling anxieties.

Nerd storage ... after the jump.

There are plenty of critiques, praises, paens. Sometimes rendered graphically.

There are pleas and reassurances.

There are political statements, of course.

Poetry seems to lend itself to the project of graffiti.

But sometimes, it’s not enough to read the classics. You have to take a poll.

All photos by Quinn Dombrowski, a new technologies staffer and researcher at the University of Chicago. Thanks to her for using Creative Commons, so we could repost the photos here. To get a full sense of the scope of the graffiti she found in the University of Chicago’s Regenstein Library, check out her Flickr set of more than 700 photos.

— Carolyn Kellogg

Photo credits: Quinn Dombrowski via Flickr