Upcoming Events: September and early October

Please join us for the following events being hosted in Rare Books and Special Collections:

Tuesday, September 5 at 4:00pm | Opening reception for the fall exhibit, Elements of Humanity: Primo Levi and the Evolution of Italian Postwar Culture. This exhibit is curated by Tracy Bergstrom (Curator, Italian Imprints and Dante Collection) and opens on August 21.

Friday, September 15 at 4:00pm | Dedication program for Emily Young’s sculpture Lethos, to be followed by a reception in the Carey Courtyard View Area (Second Floor – Hesburgh Library). Sponsored by the Hesburgh Libraries and the Alumni Committee for Poetry and Sculpture.

Thursday, September 21 at 5:00pm | The Italian Research Seminar: “Titian’s Icons” by Christopher J. Nygren (Pittsburgh). Sponsored by Italian Studies at Notre Dame.

The monthly spotlight exhibit for September is The Art of Botanical Illustration: Philip Miller’s Gardeners Dictionary.

The summer spotlight exhibit, “Which in future time shall stir the waves of memory” — Friendship Albums of Antebellum America, continues to be on display through September and features seven volumes from Special Collections’ manuscripts of North America holdings.

Upcoming Events: August and early September

Please join us for the following events being hosted in Rare Books and Special Collections:

Thursday, August 31 at 5:00pm | The Italian Research Seminar: “Talking Heads: Relics, Rituals, and Diplomacy in Renaissance Rome” by Margaret Meserve (Notre Dame). Sponsored by Italian Studies at Notre Dame. (This event was originally scheduled for August 24.)

Tuesday, September 5 at 4:00pm | Opening reception for the fall exhibit, Elements of Humanity: Primo Levi and the Evolution of Italian Postwar Culture. This exhibit is curated by Tracy Bergstrom (Curator, Italian Imprints and Dante Collection) and opens on August 21. (This event was originally scheduled for August 31.)

The spring/summer exhibit “Preserving the Steadfastness of Your Faith”: Catholics in the Early American Republic will remain on display through August 4.

The monthly spotlight exhibit, War as Child’s Play: German Children’s Literature from the World Wars, continues through August. The summer spotlight exhibit, “Which in future time shall stir the waves of memory” — Friendship Albums of Antebellum America, continues to be on display through September and features seven volumes from Special Collections’ manuscripts of North America holdings.

Please note that Special Collections will be closed to the public the week of August 7-11 due to facilities maintenance.

From the Profession: Rare Books and Manuscript Conference 2017

by Julie Tanaka, Curator, Rare Books

Old Capitol, University of Iowa

Iowa City, the only UNESCO City of Literature in North America, hosted the 58th annual Rare Books and Manuscript Section (RBMS) Conference June  20-23, 2017. This city’s vibrant literary and book arts community provided an ideal setting for the venue, “The Stories We Tell.”

The Englert Theatre

RBMS’s 2017 conference focused on the role of storytelling in the mission and daily work of special collections. Over four days of papers, seminars, participatory sessions, and workshops, attendees discussed how telling a compelling narrative forms the heart of cultural heritage work. Narratives are the foundations for writing traditional scholarly monographs, but they also inform the encoding of digital humanities landscapes, building collections, designing courses and exhibitions, and many other endeavors special collections specialists undertake.

Plenary speaker, Micaela Biel (professional storyteller and Ph.D. candidate in Educational Theater at New York University) launched into a gripping story—too long to recount here—that engrained in the audience’s minds the four absolute musts of a compelling story:

  1. stakes: what the conditions were to make it matter;
  2. change: transition from one world to another;
  3. theme: tell a story and let the audience gather the theme;
  4. show, don’t tell.

In a nutshell, “Stories are finding the thread of meaning through a collection of memories.” For special collections professionals, Biel stresses the importance not to tell people what collections mean but to let the collections tell a story. We should open a space for people themselves to make meaning of the collections.

Themes

Commitment to Diversity
“. . . we are gathered on the land of the indigenous people of Iowa City,” reverberated through Englert Theatre as Petrina Jackson (Head of Special Collections and Archives, Iowa State University) welcomed attendees at the first plenary session, opening the first full day of “Stories We Tell.” Jackson’s recognition of an often overlooked people foreshadowed one of the major themes that emerged during the remaining sessions, RBMS’s commitment to diversity.

A key component of its vision and mission is RBMS’s commitment to a diverse profession and to collections representing all voices. RBMS recognizes that it needs to bring greater diversity to its membership and has made a concerted effort to attract, mentor, and support “people of any race, color, national origin, religion, gender, sexual orientation, age, and physical ability” as stated in RBMS’s Statement on Diversity. The effect of RBMS’s on-going efforts were demonstrated in the remarks by speakers of the various sessions, by the conference attendees themselves, over 300 scholarships awarded for first-time attendees, pairing new members with more experienced RBMS members to acquaint them with the conference and other members, and programming addressing diversity both directly and indirectly.

“Crown Jewel?”
A call for change—Panel speakers from George Washington University, the University of California, Riverside, and Columbia University challenged the Association of Research Libraries (ARL) statement in 2009 that special collections “define the uniqueness and character of individual research libraries.” They argued that this perspective separates special collections from the rest of the library and that this causes others in the library to view special collections, in fact, as “separate or ‘other’ to the larger library system.” This idea that special collections is a library’s “crown jewel” and that its “unique treasures” are what will distinguish the library from other libraries is misguided.

It is of fundamental importance as libraries face budget cuts, shortage of staff, and increasing needs and demands of users that special collections establish itself within the library as part of the whole and work together with all library faculty, staff, and administrators. Our message to our users and to our colleagues at our own institutions should be that we are part of the library and not the privileged gatekeepers of the library’s crown jewels.

The Lighter Side

Detail from image in Iowa State Gazeteer (1865)

Acknowledging the book arts community in Iowa City, home of the Center for the Book, attendees had the chance to print their own souvenir copy of the conference’s mascot, Prodigious (click to watch the press in action), and to take copious notes in the commemorative notebook printed by Tru Art Color Graphics, a family-run printer in Iowa City since 1896.

About RBMS

Rare Books and Manuscript Section, more commonly referred to by its acronym, RBMS, is a section of the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL), a division of the American Library Association (ALA). Tracing its roots to 1948 and a mission to increase understanding about the value of rare books in scholarly research and improving the care, use, and recognition of rare books in libraries, RBMS has expanded its scope to include the broad range of special collections from rare printed books to manuscripts, archives, ephemera, graphics, and music. RBMS has assumed a leading role in the local, national, and international communities to represent and promote the interests of librarians, curators, and other specialists who concern themselves with the use, preservation, security, and administration of special collections.

RBMS is currently comprised of over 1750 members who represent librarians, curators, students, rare book sellers, conservators, and others interested in special collections. Members share the values of the library profession and are committed to the principles of fairness, freedom, professional excellence, and respect for individual rights. Because of the additional responsibilities special collections librarians have that arise from being entrusted with caring for cultural property, preserving original artifacts, and supporting scholarship based on primary research materials, special collections professionals adhere to the Code of Ethics for Special Collections Librarians and are expected to demonstrate “the highest standard of behavior . . . [because] propriety is essential to the maintenance of public trust in the institution and in its staff.”

 

Exhibit Opens – “Preserving the Steadfastness of Your Faith”: Catholics in the Early American Republic

“Under these distressful feelings, one consideration alone relieved me . . . and that was, the hope of vindicating your religion to your own selves at least, and preserving the steadfastness of your faith.” — John Carroll, An Address to the Roman Catholics of the United States of America

With these words, John Carroll, head of the fledgling Catholic Church in the United States and future bishop, encouraged his fellow Catholics in 1784. Catholics held a precarious position in the Early Republic despite having gained more freedom to practice their religion after the Revolution. By the 1840s, in the face of increasing sectarian-driven violence, Catholicism had taken firm institutional root.

This exhibition displays examples of American Catholicism expressed through (mostly) printed texts from 1783 through the early 1840s. They include the earliest Catholic bibles published by Mathew Carey, and editions of Thomas à Kempis’ The Imitation of Christ used and produced in the United States; polemical pamphlets with sexual and political subtexts that flew back and forth across the Atlantic; no-holds-barred dueling sectarian newspapers; books and pamphlets created in reaction to mob violence against the Ursuline convent school near Boston; and official reports that mapped the Church’s growth and growing pains.

This exhibition is curated by Rachel Bohlmann and Jean McManus and is open to the public through August 11, 2017.

Upcoming Events: January and early February

Please join us for the following event being hosted in Rare Books and Special Collections:

Thursday, Jan. 26 at 5:00pm | The Italian Research Seminar: “John Paul II’s canonization policy: the Italian case” — Valentina Ciciliot (Notre Dame). Sponsored by Italian Studies at Notre Dame.

A new exhibit opens January 16: “Preserving the Steadfastness of your Faith”: Catholics in the Early American Republic. This exhibition displays examples of American Catholicism expressed through (mostly) printed texts from 1783 through the early 1840s. They include the earliest Catholic bibles published by Mathew Carey, and editions of Thomas à Kempis’ The Imitation of Christ used and produced in the United States; polemical pamphlets with sexual and political subtexts that flew back and forth across the Atlantic; no-holds-barred dueling sectarian newspapers; books and pamphlets created in reaction to mob violence against the Ursuline convent school near Boston; and official reports that mapped the Church’s growth and growing pains. The exhibition is curated by Rachel Bohlmann and Jean McManus.

Continuing on display during the month are the two spotlight exhibits: Birds! Winged Wonders in Naturalists’ Eyes and The Nathaniel Rogers Sermon Notebook, ca. 1634-1645

Upcoming Events: December and early January

Rare Books and Special Collections will be closed for Christmas and New Year’s Break (December 23, 2016, through January 2, 2017). In addition, RBSC will be closed December 6, 11:00am to 2:00pm, and December 12, 2:30-5:00pm, due to Christmas celebrations.

We otherwise remain open for our regular hours during Reading Days and Exams, and welcome those looking for a quiet place to study.

The exhibits during December are:

Ingenious Exercises: Sports and the Printed Book in Early Modern Europe, 1500-1800 | What was the nature of sports in the early modern era, before the widespread preoccupation with rules, records, and Reeboks? And what kinds of books did people write about them? “Ingenious Exercises: Sports and the Printed Book in Early Modern Europe, 1500-1800,” addresses precisely these questions. This exhibit of volumes from the Joyce Sports Collection is open to visitors 9am-5pm, Monday through Friday.

Spotlight Exhibits: Birds! Winged Wonders in Naturalists’ Eyes and The Nathaniel Rogers Sermon Notebook, ca. 1634-1645

Upcoming Events: October and early November

Please join us for the following events being hosted in Rare Books and Special Collections:

Thursday, Oct. 6 at 5:00pm | The Italian Research Seminar: “Where Do Ideas Come From? Of Critical Method and/or Historical Materialism” — Joseph Francese (Michigan State). Sponsored by Italian Studies at Notre Dame.

Monday, Oct. 10 at 4:00pm | Native Voices: Native Peoples’ Concepts of Health and Illness special event: “Shaping or Shaped by the Land: Native American Ecology” — Dr. Gary Belovsky (Department of Biological Sciences and Gillen Director of the University of Notre Dame Environmental Research Center).

Thursday, Nov. 10 at 5:00pm | The Italian Research Seminar: “The Dynamic Psyche: Italian Pragmatism and Fascism” — Francesca Bordogna (Notre Dame). Sponsored by Italian Studies at Notre Dame.

The current exhibits during October are:

Ingenious Exercises: Sports and the Printed Book in Early Modern Europe, 1500-1800 | What was the nature of sports in the early modern era, before the widespread preoccupation with rules, records, and Reeboks? And what kinds of books did people write about them? “Ingenious Exercises: Sports and the Printed Book in Early Modern Europe, 1500-1800,” addresses precisely these questions. This exhibit of volumes from the Joyce Sports Collection is open to visitors 9am-5pm, Monday through Friday.

Spotlight Exhibits: Plumb Crazy: Dante and Music and The Nathaniel Rogers Sermon Notebook, ca. 1634-1645

Special Collections will be open regular hours during the Notre Dame fall break.

Summer Adventure: A Curator Attends the Western Archives Institute

WAI2016_GroupPhotoIn July, with support from Hesburgh Libraries, one of our curators attended the 30th annual Western Archives Institute (WAI) held at Santa Clara University (SCU) in Santa Clara, CA. Julie Tanaka was one of 26 participants who came from locations across the United States. Though many were from California, others flew in from Alaska, Oregon, Nevada, Colorado, Indiana, Ohio, and Maine. The group spent over 80 hours in the classroom during the two-week institute learning the fundamentals of archives from Tom Wilsted, former Director of the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center at the University of Connecticut and principal faculty member for the 2016 WAI, and 10 other professional archivists from corporations, public libraries, universities, and government agencies.

Background

WAI is an intensive, two-week, residential institute co-sponsored by the California State Archives and the Society of California Archivists. The institute was founded in 1986 to fill an existing gap in archival training on the West Coast. Modeled on the National Archives and Records Administration’s Modern Archives Institute founded in 1945 and the Georgia Archives Institute founded in 1967, WAI distinguished itself by becoming the only program that trains both people who already have appointments as archivists and those who do not consider themselves to be archivists but who manage archival materials as part of their job.

Scope

The institute provides participants with intensive instruction in archival theory and practices. Sessions cover more than thirteen major topics including an introduction to the archival profession, managing an archives program, grant funding, and professional ethics. Some of the topics related to practice include records management, arrangement and description, preservation, photographs, and electronic records.

WAI gives participants the opportunity to observe a variety of archives in operation and to gain different perspectives from practicing archivists.

Site tours included the Computer History Museum Archives in Fremont, the Society of California Pioneers at the Presidio, and the Santa Clara University Archives.

ComputerHistoryMusuem
Computer History Museum Archives, Fremont, CA
Image of archives
Society of California Pioneers, San Francisco, CA
A Typical Day

Each day began at 8:15 in the morning and ran to around 5:00 in the afternoon and was divided into two sessions. Because of the nature of the institute, many sessions devoted a significant portion to lectures in order to cover the required content. There were ample opportunities, however, to discuss particular questions people had, to seek advice from one another, and to share practices and ideas already in place at participants’ home institutions.

Some of the most memorable parts of the institute were sessions which featured a practicum. One practicum was devoted to arranging and describing a collection that contained correspondence, financial records, disciplinary records of a ship’s crew, and documents about individual crew members. Groups of five surveyed the collection and made decisions about how to arrange the collection before writing a preliminary description of its scope and contents.

Image of Treatment exampleAnother practicum was devoted to conservation. Participants had the opportunity to get hands-on experience doing some minor treatments such as flattening a crumpled document with a mist sprayer. Their finished treatments were then housed in polyester L-sleeves for storage.

After the second session concluded, the majority of participants who were staying on campus for the duration of the WAI had dinner together in the SCU’s dining commons. Conversations about the day’s sessions continued but often steered toward lighter topics and gave everyone the opportunity to decompress before heading back to the dorm to spend another 2-3 hours reading in preparation for the next day.

Take Aways

Two weeks of intensive archival training will not turn a newcomer into an archivist overnight, but this institute provides a solid foundation and the basic skills someone needs to work in and with archives. WAI provides participants first and foremost with an understanding of the profession, from the development of modern archives in France as a by-product of the French Revolution to the code of ethics that governs the profession.

WAI is an invaluable experience. The intensive, residential format encourages attendees to focus their attention on all things archival and to draw connections between policies, procedures, and practices. Participants all agreed that well-defined policies and procedures about the archives’ mission, collecting, access, use of materials, and preservation as well as for processing collections in a timely manner are critical to the professional integrity of an archives and help ensure equitable, high-quality, consistent services.

In addition to gaining knowledge of archival theory and practices, participants at WAI develop new friendships within the community of archivists. These connections form the beginning of a support network that will continue to grow and also serves as points of first contact to which the 2016 WAI participants may turn when questions arise and they need advice.

Upcoming Events: August and early September

Please join us for the following event being hosted in Rare Books and Special Collections:

Thursday, August 25 at 5:00pm | The Italian Research Seminar: “Sandro Botticelli on Facing in Dante’s Paradiso” – Heather Webb (Cambridge). Sponsored by Italian Studies at Notre Dame.

In other news, the July spotlight exhibit featuring a recently acquired Piranesi volume will soon be changed out for the August spotlight exhibit highlighting the Elisabeth Markstein Archive.

The spring and summer exhibit Vestigia Vaticana will remain on display through August 15. After that, the fall exhibit will be installed: Ingenious Exercises: Print and Physical Culture in Early Modern Europe, 1500-1800.

Watch for news about a new Fall semester spotlight exhibit soon!