We’ve all heard the bells in Baker Library Bell Tower ring to the tune of the Dartmouth Alma Mater among other songs as we rushed to our 10A or threw frisbees on the Green. For new students on campus, including members of the Class of 2016, hearing the bells for the first time chime to “Hi Ho! Hi Ho!” and “Lean on Me” induces smiles and pleasantly surprised expressions. Visitors, students, and faculty alike are naturally curious to know how the bells work.
The bells first rang in 1928 when they were installed with the construction of Baker Tower. Initially, the bells were rung manually until more efficient mechanisms, such as automated paper rolls and computerized systems, evolved. Today, an iMac computer runs the show: at every hour and half hour, a graduate student in the Music Department “rings the bells” via wireless access. Not quite the Quasimodo image you expected, is it?
The bell tower’s jam sessions are three times a day: the Alma Mater plays at 6pm every day, and the two songs that play at certain intervals between classes range from “Barbie Girl” to the “Salty Dog Rag” to the “Indiana Jones” theme song to almost any song you request.
“I appreciate the traditions … and the historical buildings, but it’s also fun that people can request whatever song they want,” Laura Barrett, a librarian at Baker-Berry Library, said. ” It has the best of both worlds.”
So, how does one request a song? Contrary to the rumors that you email [email protected], the real address is less presumptuous — simply email [email protected] with the song title and the date and time you wish it to be played. For those of you who were hoping to surprise a friend on his or her special day, I regret to inform you that the Bells staff no longer takes “Happy Birthday” requests due to its popularity — it’s not special if you hear it every day. Also keep in mind that contemporary pop songs, like my request “What Makes You Beautiful,” will take more time to program. For a complete list of available songs here. Email Bells, and maybe the next time you’re strolling through the Green, you’ll hear the bells ding-donging to your favorite song.
Tags: Baker, Jiyoung Song, library, music, tradition