Welcome Back! Fall 2021 in Special Collections

Rare Books and Special Collections welcomes students, faculty, staff, researchers, and visitors back to campus for Fall ’21! We want to let you know about a variety of things to watch for in the coming semester.

The University of Notre Dame, Hesburgh Libraries, Special Collections, and the current COVID situation

Due to the spread of highly contagious variants of the COVID-19 virus, and our inability to verify the vaccination status of those outside our highly vaccinated campus community, masks will be required (except when eating and drinking) of both vaccinated and unvaccinated faculty, staff, students, and visitors in some campus spaces during times when those spaces are generally open to the public. The first two floors of the Hesburgh Library (including Rare Books and Special Collections) are among the spaces where masks are required in public areas, including for those who are fully vaccinated.

Up-to-date information regarding campus policies is provided at covid.nd.edu, and a complete list of these campus spaces will be updated regularly here.

New Leadership at the Hesburgh Libraries

K. Matthew Dames

K. Matthew Dames, previously university librarian at Boston University, has been appointed the Edward H. Arnold University Librarian at the University of Notre Dame by University President Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., effective August 1. Dr. Dames succeeds Diane Parr Walker, who has retired after serving 10 years as librarian.

Read the full press report online.

Fall 2021 exhibit: “Bound up with love …” The extraordinary legacy of Father John Zahm’s Dante Collection

This year, the 700th anniversary of the death of Dante Alighieri, we are celebrating the legacy of the Zahm Dante Collection and the remarkable accumulation of rare Italian material acquired at the University of Notre Dame over the past century. 

Highlights of the exhibition include rare printings of the three crowns of Italian literature – Dante, Petrarch, and Boccaccio – as well as verse anthologies of poetry and other tools such as grammars and dictionaries that would have assisted 16th century readers of vernacular literature.

Fall 2021 Spotlight exhibit featuring the Ferrell Manuscripts

The Fall Spotlight Exhibit features six medieval manuscripts donated to the University of Notre Dame by James E. and Elizabeth J. Ferrell. The collection features a diverse group of manuscripts from the thirteenth through fifteenth century including a historiated Bible, book of hours, a tarot card, and illuminations. The Ferrell Collection can be discovered digitally.

Monthly rotating spotlight exhibits

Despite the challenges of the last academic year and thanks, in no small part, to the generosity of our donors, Special Collections’ holdings continued to grow. This spotlight exhibit celebrates one recent gift: the three-volume limited edition photo album of the Sistine Chapel. An anonymous donor presented this magnum opus to the Hesburgh Libraries in February 2021.

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

Special Collections’ Classes & Workshops

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. Curators may also be available to show special collections to visiting classes, from preschool through adults. If you would like to arrange a group visit and class with a curator, please contact Special Collections.

Archival Research Lab I: Locating Materials and Preparing to Go
Wednesday, October 6, 10:00am to 11:15am

Archival Research Lab II: Inside the Archive
Wednesday, October 13, 10:00am to 11:15am

This two-session workshop provides an introduction to advanced archival research. In session one, you will learn strategies for finding and evaluating relevant archival collections and steps you’ll need to consider before you go to an archive. In session two, you will “enter the archive,” completing the registration process and handling and examining different archival materials and formats. This workshop is designed to introduce those who have not previously done archival research to the world of archives and special collections, and also as a refresher and skill-building opportunity for those planning to visit archives again in the post-COVID environment.

Events

Fall 2021 Lecture Series: Dante in America — In commemoration of the 700th anniversary of Dante’s death, in 2021 the Center for Italian Studies and Devers Family Program in Dante Studies are hosting a series of lectures on the topic “Dante in America.” During the Fall Semester, the lectures are open to the public and will be held in person and streamed via Zoom, with the first lecture Thursday, September 2, 4:30pm to 6:30pm.

Learn more about the series. 

Recent Acquisitions

Special Collections acquires new material throughout the year. Watch our blog for announcements about recent acquisitions.

Special Collections Summer 2021 Visitors Policy

by Natasha Lyandres, Head of Special Collections and Curator, Russian and East European Collections

We are excited to announce that Notre Dame’s Rare Books and Special Collections will once again be open to researchers from both on and off campus during the period May 23 to August 20, 2021. We will continue to operate our reading room by appointment only, from 9:00 a.m. to 4:45 p.m., Monday to Friday. To schedule an appointment, please email RBSC staff.

Patrons are encouraged to send their requests at least two business days in advance so that materials will be ready upon arrival. All visitors must wear a face covering and comply with the University’s health and safety protocols.

Find more information about access and services at the Hesburgh Libraries Service Continuity page.

Great Expectations for 2021

Happy New Year!

We look forward to working with students, faculty and other scholars in 2021, and we look forward to a time when visitors may wander in on a whim rather than by appointment.

Our new year’s resolutions include making more of our collections accessible digitally as well as adding finding aids to the Archivesspace tool, making it easier to learn about manuscript and other collections from afar.

Easter 1916: The Irish Rebellion — only one of a number of digital exhibits that curators plan to complete in the coming year.

Curators will continue their plans for this year’s exhibits, and we hope that later in the spring it will be possible to visit and enjoy the suffrage exhibition, “Men and women should stand as equals: American Women and the Vote”.

But for the moment and for the foreseeable future, we have the same protective conditions in place that we had in the fall semester.

The Hesburgh Library remains open to current students, faculty and staff of Notre Dame, St. Mary’s and Holy Cross College. Please see the Hesburgh Libraries Service Continuity Page for up-to-date information on access and hours.

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.

We are happy to work with students and faculty to find solutions to access problems during this pandemic.

Teaching During COVID

Last week, a group of librarians participated in a large history class on Global Catholicism taught by Professor John McGreevy. Ideally, the fifty-five students would have visited the Special Collections and seen artifacts relating to different aspects of Catholic history throughout the world.

This year, students assembled on Zoom, and our preparation for the class included making digital images or identifying online digital surrogates. We also organized our selection of artifacts in an online library guide so that students could explore at their own pace. Each student is expected to write about one of these items.

Some items in our selection were already available digitally in different platforms.

For examile, our digital exhibition, “Preserving the Steadfastness of Your Faith”: Catholics in the Early American Republic, allows readers to explore American Catholic history.

“Preserving the Steadfastness of Your Faith”: Catholics in the Early American Republic. Digital Exhibition, Hesburgh Libraries.

In the case of the Chinese Catholic posters, Hye-jin Juhn complemented the digital exhibit of our own collection with a link to a digital collection at another library.

In some cases, we identified another copy on a platform such as Hathi Trust or the Internet Archive.

In presenting to the class, we assembled on zoom and each shared a screen and introduced our selections to an attentive class. While students missed the opportunity to see the physical items, as compensation, all fifty-five students could simultaneously view each item without peering over one another’s shoulders.

In other adventures in the online world, Rachel Bohlmann and  Erika Hosselkus offered a workshop for students working on primary source-based projects through the Nanovic Institute. Five of the six people who registered were graduate students. This is one indication of an increased interest among our young scholars in finding primary sources online.

Teaching during COVID has meant an understandable and practical focus on finding primary sources online. I’ve appreciated having to double down on primary source databases and realize that we’ve all probably taken them for granted more than a little. Still, while this is in general a fine reminder of how far online primary source databases have come in the last decades, I miss using physical collections in my library classes, and getting students excited about examining a source right in front of them. 

 One theme I’ve noticed is that I think students and faculty are certainly more interested in hearing about online resources. I feel a slight shift toward more attention, especially to hearing about how to do more than just basic keyword searches. 

– Rachel Bohlmann, American History and American Studies Librarian

Besides our adventures in screen-sharing, Monica Moore bravely taught an online class where she staged a selection of rare French books in our seminar room, speaking, showing books and turning pages beneath an overhead camera, all on Zoom — a kind of double-level filmed class. This was the closest simulation we have tried so far of a physical class in which students and librarian interact with the materials.

Frank Duff. Edel Quinn. This is an example of a Catholic pamhlet in our collection of Irish Pamphlets, where we identified a surrogate on the Internet Archive.

From our experiences, we have learned that once we understand what a professor hopes to gain by introducing students to our special collections, we can work together to develop a successful, and dare we say stimulating, class.


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.

Happy Holidays and a COVID-19 update

This year, we have no special announcement about closure for the Independence Day holiday, as the Hesburgh Library remains closed to the public due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We continue to serve our community remotely, drawing on digital images and other resources while working offsite, and we expect that the continuing challenges of limited in-person visits will demand more digitization.

As we move gradually back into our workspace, we look forward to working creatively with faculty and students to make the next semester successful for all and to figuring out how we can best serve our Notre Dame community in these different times.

For up-to-date information on the Hesburgh Libraries’ services at this time, please see the Hesburgh Libraries COVID-19 Continuity page. University plans are subject to change based on our evolving understanding of COVID-19 and its impact. Check the Notre Dame “Return to Campus” website often for the latest information.

Wishing you and yours a happy Canada Day (July 1) and a festive Fourth of July!

Bald eagle from Studer’s Popular Ornithology : the Birds of North America (1881).

Moose from William Ross King’s The Sportsman and Naturalist in Canada (1866).

 

New Digital Exhibit: Paws, Hooves, Fins, and Feathers Digital

In this digital exhibit, the curators, Erika and Julie, recreate the physical exhibit, including the unaltered text from the information cards as well as the accompanying rhino cards geared towards kids. They also offer a candid statement about their intent for the exhibit and how the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted it. Paws, Hooves, Fins, and Feathers Digital documents this project in its entirety, from conception through planning, installation, and outreach.

Erika and Julie welcome questions about their original intentions and about how they made adjustments in light of the restrictions created by the COVID-19 outbreak. They would also like to hear from others who have undergone similar experiences or who are interested in doing something similar.

 

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.