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Big Red matchmaker?

During Ithaca's dreary winters, romance can bloom in unexpected places – like at Cornell University Library's Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections.

One Friday last February, two undergraduates came into Kroch Library. The young man had called ahead, asking the staff to set aside the library's first edition of J.D. Salinger's 1961 classic "Franny and Zooey."

A staff member brought the book out for the young woman and she took it into the reading room.

"Her hands went to her face, and she gasped and started crying – we had to ask her not to get tears on the book. It was clear that this was really special for her, and he was going all-out to pay attention to what was important to her," remembers archivist Brenda Marston.

The two students sat together for nearly an hour, talking quietly and studying the book. Privacy reigns at the library, so staff members didn't dig for details, but the couple walked out holding hands.

"You're never sure about the reverberations of the interactions you have," Marston says. "You know the library affects scholarship, but it affects people personally too. We all hope that the things we help them see, and the connections we help them make, will do something wonderful like this."

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