UW News

October 16, 2003

Crane project really flies with Odegaard visitors

Since New Student Orientation in September, visitors to the Odegaard Undergraduate Library have been invited to fold a paper crane.

“The idea was to not only welcome students but also to offer them respite from the sensory overload of back-to-school frenzy,” said Victoria Beatty, special projects librarian. “Folding origami can be a very centering, meditative practice because of the focus it takes to make the series of precise folds necessary.”

Cranes are symbols of wisdom, long life, and good fortune, Beatty noted, and it is said that a wish is granted to the person who folds one thousand cranes. She said the library wanted to wish students a happy and successful year.

The library provided the paper and directions for making the crane, never anticipating that the idea would take off like, well, like a real crane.

“We have many more than 1,000 at this point,” said Beatty. “Students came in and made them, and showed their friends how to make them. They’ve gone through at least five reams of paper so far.”

Along the way they’ve had the chance to win a gift certificate from the University Book Store by putting their name on the cranes they make. One is chosen each week in a drawing.

When the idea of Take Back Your Time Day came up (see story), the paper crane making seemed to fit right in, so the project — which was slated to end — was extended through Oct. 24. And when it does end, the cranes, which are currently hanging in the Odegaard lobby and piling up in bins, will be put in storage.  But they’ll be strung into garlands to reappear next fall, Beatty says.  They may even make an appearance at “some suitably festive occasion” before then.