Welcome Back: Fall 2020 overview and COVID-19 impact on RBSC

RBSC welcomes all back to campus for Fall ’20! As we welcome students, faculty and staff back from the strangest summer break yet, we want to let you know about a few things to watch for with regards to currently modified library spaces and in-person services.

Hesburgh Libraries’ health and safety protocols include limiting our building population. The Hesburgh Library remains open to current students, faculty and staff of Notre Dame, St. Mary’s and Holy Cross College.

Members of these communities may request appointments to access Rare Books & Special Collections materials. Please email Rare Books & Special Collections for research and course support or to make an appointment. Research requests by non-ND-affiliates are evaluated on a case-by-case basis, per the University’s Campus Visitors Policy.

Visit the Hesburgh Libraries Service Continuity webpage for up-to-date information about how to access expertise, resources, services and spaces.

Special Collections’ Classes

Our curators love to introduce classes to the collections. As class visits are not possible this semester, we are devising alternative ways to teach and to allow students to explore the books, pamphlets, manuscripts and posters that help them to contextualize their studies.

For instructors who wish to take their classes for a Rare Books and Special Collections session, we would be delighted to explore alternative possibilities. Please email RBSC, contact Aedín Clements, or contact the curator with whom you normally work to discuss your classes’ needs.

Fall 2020 Exhibits

Because the department is currently available by appointment only due to restrictions relating to the COVID-19 pandemic and thus closed to walk-in traffic, we have temporarily suspended our physical exhibits program.

The planned fall exhibit celebrating the Centenary of the 19th Amendment and exploring the Women’s Suffrage movement is being organized digitally rather than physically. Watch this space for an announcement when the digital exhibit is published.

Events in Special Collections

RBSC is not hosting lectures, receptions, or other events this fall. Some events usually hosted in RBSC, such as the Italian Research series of lectures, are going online — when we are aware of such plans, we’ll continue to share the information here. However, given the fluidity of plans in the current environment, it is best to watch the organizing program and department websites for the most accurate information.

We look forward to resuming lectures and events when it is safe to do so.

Special Collections Online Resources

From digital exhibits to online finding aids, there are various ways to discover digitized portions of our collections. Our website’s page on Digital Projects provides a directory of these resources.

Explore our collections by browsing the various subject sections on our website, including Latin American Studies, Irish Studies, and Sports Research.

Digital exhibits are a great way to explore a topic or collection in depth. Learn about Catholics in the Early American Republic, Newspapers and Magazines in 19th-century Peru. or view American diaries written in eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.


Books and serials are cataloged in the Hesburgh Libraries Catalog. Manuscripts, collections of ephemera, and other non-book items are typically described and listed in online finding aids. These may be searched on the Hesburgh Libraries’ ArchivesSpace. 

And lastly, as you are reading this blogpost, remember that you can always explore this RBSC at ND Blog to find many interesting posts about our collections.

Who’s Who in RBSC: Julie Tanaka

“It is with bittersweet feeling I write to announce that Julie Tanaka accepted a position as Curator of Rare Books and Manuscripts at Arizona State University. Julie is excited about the opportunities in the new position and I am very happy for her.” —Natasha Lyandres, Head of Special Collections

Julie Tanaka achieved so much that it’s difficult to believe that she arrived here less than eight years ago. Along with her role as Curator of Special Collections and as subject liaison for Western European History, Julie took on many more responsibilities in Special Collections and in the Hesburgh Libraries.

Julie’s impact on the role and visibility of the Rare Books and Special Collections has been appreciated throughout campus and beyond. In her willingness to partner with professors of History, English, Design, and other disciplines to plan excellent programs for research, she has set high standards for her fellow curators. In fact, she initiated and designed many programs that are now an integral part of RBSC.

Julie approaches the library world not as a gate-keeper but in the generous spirit of an educator who wishes everyone to learn and to benefit from the collection. Her outreach to professors who had not considered integrating rare books and other library materials in their courses has had great results. Julie applies the same high standards of planning, teaching and performance from tours for the children of Notre Dame’s Early Childhood Development Center to a research methods class for graduate students.

Julie’s commitment to outreach helped ensure that Rare Books & Special Collections was a welcoming place for students and faculty. But it wasn’t just members of the Notre Dame community who benefited from Julie’s vision.

Everyone who came in, from visiting researchers, who gained access to far more research materials than they originally anticipated, to football fans who happened to wander in on a rainy Football Friday just curious about what goes on behind the smoky glass walls on the first floor of the Hesburgh Library, left fascinated by the items housed in our department—all thanks to Julie. One notable visitor was a ten year old boy from Albania. Julie had noticed the young man and his English-language tutor visiting our exhibit room weekly. They liked to look at the books in the glass cases and study the English letters on the exhibit cards. Julie introduced herself and asked if, on their next visit, they would like to see some more items from Special Collections … outside the glass. Julie carefully choreographed a display for the young man. He left in awe of what he had seen,  with a personalized Special Collections coloring book in hand, full of English letters and wonderful pictures to aid him in his studies. For the remainder of the semester he would come in to say hello and happily test out the new English words he had learned.

The current exhibit, Paws, Hooves, Fins & Feathers, co-curated with Erika Hosselkus, was planned with the greater community in mind. Julie and Erika curated an exhibit that highlights our remarkable natural history collection, with a well-planned outreach to local schools integrated into the plan. In light of the closure, they have transformed the physical exhibit in a digital one, Paws, Hooves, Fins, and Feathers Digital.

As a historian, Julie has been proactive in ensuring that Notre Dame’s students receive a good grounding in library and archival research, and her work over the years with library colleagues and with faculty from various departments, has resulted in the development of a series of classes and workshops carried out in the Special Collections.

Despite Julie’s dislike for our Midwestern winters, she was invariably the first person to arrive every morning. We expect her to send us regular notes about the warm temperatures in Arizona. And in return, we will send Julie pictures of any innovations we develop in the design of our reading room, because Julie taught us that there is an optimal way to arrange the classroom furniture for every class.

We wish Julie the very best in her new endeavor.

Week 3 of Special Collections and COVID-19

The lion above is featured in the second edition of Michael Bernhard Valentini’s Amphitheatrum zootomicum (1742), currently on display in the Spring ’20 exhibit.

A few thoughts from Julie, one of the curators stuck at home.

For our diehard fans who anxiously await 9:00am (EDT) to see what fascinating piece we’ve put up, I have some sad news. We’re a bit late today.

Being removed from our collections and separated into our remote offices—and for me, staring out the window at a gloomy gray sky—are posing some challenges such as keeping track of what day of the week it is.

I know all us at RBSC would prefer being back in the office, but for now we’re dong our best. Look for news in the not too distant future about a digital version of the exhibit Erika and I curated, Paws, Hooves, Fins, and Feathers: Animals in Print, 1500-1800. It’s underway. Here’s what I’m working from:

image of hand sketched layout for spring 20 exhibit

You’ll notice the image quality is not up to our normal standards.

Fortunately, I have a Word doc with the text for the exhibit labels and Sara’s been dealing with the joys (that is, the s-l-o-w-n-e-s-s) of accessing our archival images on the server.

So, please, I hope you find a bit of amusement in my morning musing as I drain another cup of coffee and deal with my cat being annoyed because I’m home when I’m normally not.

Keep in mind, we’re still functioning as a remote department, so if you have questions, feel free to drop any of the curators an email or one to our awesome front line staff at rarebook@nd.edu.

Special Collections COVID-19 Response

Rare Books & Special Collections will continue to provide service via virtual access to expertise and online/digital resources in support of teaching and learning. During this time, our expertise and services are just a phone call, email, or Zoom consultation away. We invite you to consult with us as often as needed.

All tours and in person classes are currently suspended.

We encourage you to visit our Library Service Continuity webpage for detailed information about how to access Hesburgh Libraries digital services and resources, or email us at rarebook@nd.edu.

Welcome Back

RBSC looks forward to an event-filled Spring ’20! As we welcome students, faculty, staff, researchers, and visitors back from the holiday break, we want to let you know about a few things to watch for.

Spring ’20 exhibit: Paws, Hooves, Fins & Feathers: Animals in Print, 1500-1800

This exhibit features mammals, sea creatures, and birds from our early modern rare book collection and is enhanced by images from our botanical collection as well as plant and animal specimens on loan to us from Notre Dame’s Museum of Biodiversity. We would like to extend our appreciation to Barbara Hellenthal (Curator) and Ronald Hellenthal (Director) for their help to make this possible.

Spotlight exhibit featuring works by and related to John Ruskin

This exhibit will open in February in conjunction with the Ruskin Conference at Notre Dame John Ruskin: Prophet of the Anthropocene, February 7-8, 2020. Guest curated by Professors Robert Goulding (History and Philosophy of Science) and Sara Maurer (English).

Monthly rotating spotlight exhibits

Drop in every month to see what new surprise awaits you in our monthly feature.

Special Collections’ Classes

Throughout the semester, curators will teach sessions related to our holdings to undergraduate and graduate students from Notre Dame, Saint Mary’s College, and Holy Cross College as well as from other local schools ranging from preschoolers to adults. If you’re interested in us doing instruction for your class or group, please contact Special Collections.

Italian Studies Research Seminar Series

The Spring ’20 series kicks off on Thursday, January 30 at 5:00pm. Join us for the first of four talks this semester.

Recent Acquisitions

Birds of Acid title pageWe acquire new material throughout the year. Watch for announcements about recent acquisitions. RBSC has already received new materials for our Irish, Latin American, Medieval manuscripts, Eastern European,  American, and European collections. We are awaiting the first installment of a new artist book, Birds of Acid by Parisian artist Didier Mutel some time this month.

Upcoming Events: December and early January

There are no events scheduled to be hosted in Rare Books and Special Collections in December 2019 or early January 2020.

Rare Books and Special Collections will remain open for our regular hours during Reading Days and Exams (Monday through Friday, 9am to 5pm). We welcome those looking for a quiet place to study.


The fall exhibit Hellenistic Currents: Reading Greece, Byzantium, and the Renaissance is open for just under three more weeks, closing December 19.

The current spotlight exhibits are Touchdowns & Technology: The Evolution of the Media and Notre Dame Football (September – December 2019), a display of selected materials from the University Archives, and Irish Art and Literature from Graphic Studio Dublin (December 2019 – January 2020) in conjunction with the Snite Museum’s exhibit “Looking at the Stars”: Irish Art at the University of Notre Dame.

RBSC will be closed during Notre Dame’s Christmas & New Year’s Break (December 21, 2019 – January 1, 2020) and will resume regular hours (Monday – Friday, 9am – 5pm) on Thursday, January 2, 2020.

Recent Acquisitions: The Historical Slave Trade of Christians

by Alan Krieger, Theology and Philosophy Librarian

Hesburgh Libraries has just acquired two important works (bound together) concerning the historical slave trade of Christians. The first, Dominique Busnot’s Histoire du regne de Mouley Ismael, roy de Maroc, Fez, Tafilet, Souz, &c. (Rouen, 1714), treats the reign of Moulay Ismail ibn Sharif, Sultan of Morocco from 1672-1727, under whom the Kingdom of Morocco reached the zenith of its power and influence. Ibn Sharif controlled a fleet of corsairs based at Rabat which supplied him with Christian slaves and weapons through their raids in the Mediterranean and all the way to the Black Sea. The work also includes accounts of three voyages undertaken by the Trinitarian religious order to Ceuta and Meknes in Morocco in order to redeem some of these slaves and a list of names of the redeemed captives, as well as the lengths of their respective imprisonments.

Illustration from Busnot’s Histoire du regne de Mouley Ismael, roy de Maroc, Fez, Tafilet, Souz, &c. (Rare Books Small DT 323.5 .B87 1714)

The second work, Busnot’s La tradition de l’Eglise, dans le soulagement ou le rachat des esclaves, also published at Rouen in 1714, offers a more general study concerning the church’s practice of redeeming Christian slaves through the centuries.

We have found only one other North American holding for these works bound together that features separate title pages for each.

Finnegans Wake and Other Books: James Joyce in the Special Collections

by Aedín Ní Bhróithe Clements, Irish Studies Librarian

Visiting scholar Enrico Terrinoni will contribute to a round table discussion here in our reading room. On this occasion, he will present the Library with a valuable addition to our James Joyce collection, the six-volume Italian translation of Finnegans Wake, which he, along with Fabio Pedone, completed and which was published on May 4 this year.

The event, ‘Finnegans Wake: On Infinite Translation’, will be held at 4:30 on Monday, November 18, and is sponsored by the Keough-Naughton Institute for Irish Studies and the Center for Italian Studies. It is open to the public. Beginning at 3:30, we plan to host a ‘pop-up display’ of books from our Joyce collection, so those who come early may enjoy seeing rare and interesting items from our special collections.

A decade ago, a professor enquired about the sixty-three volume James Joyce Archive, a major publication containing facsimiles of manuscripts by Joyce, edited and annotated by Joyce scholars. As this was published before the establishment of Irish studies at Notre Dame, the Hesburgh is not one of the libraries that had purchased the expensive collection in 1978, and it was next to impossible to find a set on the market at this stage.

Having followed a number of online bookseller descriptions advertising expensive publications described as the James Joyce Archive, only to find that the publisher’s prospectus alone was the usual item for sale (and highly priced), eventually a phone call to Ohio resulted in a conversation with bookseller Daniel Wenzel. Not only did Mr. Wenzel have a large number of these volumes for sale, he had been collecting books related to Joyce and particularly to Finnegans Wake for many years, and was ready to part with his collection. So a purchase was made, greatly enriching the Hesburgh Library’s collection of Joyce, with critical works, editions of Joyce, translations, and adaptations.

Translations acquired at that time include Finnegans Wake in Japanese, Korean and German, and a Czech translation of Anna Livia Plurabella.  There are also creative works based on Joyce’s books, including musical arrangements, drawings, and fine press productions.

1922 first edition of Ulysses with original slipcase (Special Collections Vault PR 6019 .O9 U4 1922).

The collection acquired from Daniel Wenzel complemented the Joyce collection already in existence. Highlights of this collection are the first edition of Ulysses, the limited edition of Joyce’s Mangan, and a Limited Editions Club printing of Ulysses with illustrations by Henri Matisse. This book was a gift of Donald and Marilyn Keough at the time the Keough Institute (now the Keough-Naughton Institute) was founded, and it currently features in the Snite Museum’s Irish art exhibition, Looking at the Stars: Irish Art at the University of Notre Dame. 

The Italian translation will be a very welcome addition to this collection, and we expect this collection to add to the enjoyment and inspiration of many scholars in the coming years.

Upcoming Events: November and early December

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

Thursday, November 7 at 5:00pm | Professor Ege. With the Knife. In the Library. Solving the Murder of 200 Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts in Twentieth-Century America” by Scott Gwara (University of South Carolina).

This lecture is co-sponsored by Rare Books & Special Collections and the Medieval Institute

Monday, November 18 at 4:30pm | Finnegans Wake: On Infinite Translation’. The event will include a roundtable on the issues of translatability and reading as a modality of “infinite translation,” featuring Enrico Terrinoni (Professor at the Università per Stranieri di Perugia and Visiting Faculty Fellow at the Keough-Naughton Institute for Irish Studies).

This event is sponsored by the Keough-Naughton Institute for Irish Studies and the Center for Italian Studies.

Thursday, November 21 at 5:00pm | Italian Research Seminar – ” ‘In arts it is repose to life: è filo teso per siti strani.’ The Role of Anglophone Culture in Primo Levi and His Times” by Valentina Geri (Ph.D. Candidate, Notre Dame).

The Italian Research Seminar is sponsored by the Center for Italian Studies.

 

The fall exhibit Hellenistic Currents: Reading Greece, Byzantium, and the Renaissance is now open and will run through the end of the semester.

The current spotlight exhibits are Touchdowns & Technology: The Evolution of the Media and Notre Dame Football (September – December 2019) and Knute Rockne All American (October – November 2019). Both spotlight exhibits feature materials from the University Archives.

RBSC will be closed during Notre Dame’s Thanksgiving Break
(November 28 – December 1) and will resume regular hours (Monday – Friday, 9am – 5pm) on Monday, December 2, 2019.