Humanities & Culture

Scene Setting

Jeff Miller photo

Elise Schimke ’17 sought solitude in campus libraries during her time at UW–Madison. So when the history and English literature major from Stevens Point, Wisconsin, had to pick a subject for a project in an elective photo class, her choice was automatic.

The resulting softcover book, Libraries of UW–Madison, is a quirky trip through the stacks of a top university. In 41 photos, Schimke captures what makes each campus library unique. She also finds their commonalities. Each image was shot in a consistent manner, a photographic approach called typology.

To create her photos, Schimke placed a chair between two rows of books and then added items or artifacts that speak to each library’s specialty area: taxidermized ducklings at the Zoological Museum Research Library; a fluffy puppet at the MERIT Library for future teachers; a fishing net at the Limnology Library. The book can be purchased at


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