Library as a multi-purpose space is not a new idea. In the remote town of Los Alamos, New Mexico during World War II, while Oppenheimer and his scientists were developing the nuclear bomb, for the wives of the scientists the library was “also .. a social hotspot. Los Alamos, barren as it was, had few communal spaces. For many residents, especially for the wives of the scientists, it became a venue to catch up, trade concerns, and exchange gossip.”
Atlas Obscura posted a piece on June 23 2017, “The Librarian Who Guarded the Manhattan Projects’ Secrets” by Michael Waters. It tells the story of Charlotte Serber who established and ran the library and document room. In order to set up the library, she had to teach herself the Library of Congress classification system. Her all-female staff were composed of the Atomic wives and Women’s Auxiliary Army Corps officers.
Serber was the only female in a leadership position, although scientists like Leona Wood and Mary Lucy Miller were instrumental in the development of the bomb. Serber was also the only group leader not invited to the test at Trinity Site in July 1945 because the site “did not have the proper ‘facilities’ for women”.