Upcoming Events: May 2024 and through the summer

Currently there are no events scheduled to be hosted this summer in Rare Books and Special Collections.

The exhibition Mapping the Middle Ages: Marking Time, Space, and Knowledge runs through the summer and closes in late July. Learn more about the exhibit in this video, and plan your visit this summer.

The current spotlight exhibits are Scripts and Geographies of Byzantine Book Culture (February – May 2023) and The Book Beautiful: A Selection from the Arts & Crafts Movement (April – May 2024). Towards the end of May, we will install a double case spotlight exhibit highlighting Special Collections items relating to the early modern history of mathematics.

Rare Books and Special Collections is open
regular hours during the summer —
9:30am to 4:30pm, Monday through Friday.

RBSC will be closed Monday, May 27th, for Memorial Day and Thursday, July 4th, for Independence Day.

Upcoming Events: March 2024

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

Thursday, March 27 at 5:00pm | “The Actor’s Mind in the Russian Modernist Theater” a lecture by Alisa B. Lin (Ohio State University).


In the spring exhibition, Mapping the Middle Ages: Marking Time, Space, and Knowledge, primary objects bring to the fore the tension between literal and figurative arrangements of space, time, and knowledge during the Middle Ages.

This exhibition is curated by David T. Gura, PhD, Curator of Ancient and Medieval Manuscripts.


The current spotlight exhibits are Scripts and Geographies of Byzantine Book Culture (February – April 2024) and A Medieval Nun’s Choir Book (February – March 2024).


Special Collections is open regular hours during Notre Dame’s Spring Break (March 11-15), Monday through Friday, 9:30am – 4:30pm.

We will be closed on March 29, in observance of Good Friday, and open regular hours on Easter Monday.

Mapping the Middle Ages: Marking Time, Space, and Knowledge — RBSC 2024 Spring Exhibition is now open

Rare Books and Special Collections’ spring exhibition, Mapping the Middle Ages: Marking Time, Space, and Knowledge, is open and will run through July 31st. 

The tension between literal and figurative arrangements of space, time, and knowledge during the Middle Ages is brought to the fore through the primary objects that remain. Geography, whether real or imagined, manifests on the page to convey a variety of spatial arrangements: topography, pilgrimage, peripatetic liturgical procession, diaspora, and boundary marking. The materiality of medieval manuscript books expresses a similar reality: geographic colophons mark time and space, prayers localize devotion, and the communal memory of a journey commingled with hope and desperation survives in liturgical readings. Even the scattering of manuscript leaves through biblioclasty creates the boundary of what a book once was and what it has become.

Detail of a T and O Map, a world map based on Isidore of Saville’s description of the physical world. The O represents the earth and the T marks its three divisions: Europe, Asia, and Africa.
(cod. Lat. d. 7, f. 157v)

To map the Middle Ages is to journey through the space created by the objects and the individuals who used them. If we embrace a manuscript in the totality of itself, we form a new bond and continuity with those who have come before us. The manuscripts in this installation are drawn from the collection of the University of Notre Dame’s Hesburgh Library.

This exhibit is curated by David T. Gura, Ancient and Medieval Manuscripts Librarian. This and other exhibits within the Hesburgh Libraries are generously supported by the McBrien Special Collections Endowment.

All exhibits are free and open to the public during business hours. Exhibition tours may be arranged for classes and other groups by contacting David T. Gura at (574) 631-6489 or dgura@nd.edu.

Upcoming Events: February 2024

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

Thursday, February 1 at 5:00pm | Italian Research Seminar: “Leonardo da Vinci’s Way of Seeing Water. Wetlands, Mapping, and the Art of Painting” by Francesca Fiorani (University of Virginia).

Thursday, February 29 at 5:00pm | Italian Research Seminar: M.A. Students Presentations (University of Notre Dame) — This semester’s speakers are: Fabiola D’Angelo and Peter Scharer.


In the spring exhibition, Mapping the Middle Ages: Marking Time, Space, and Knowledge, primary objects bring to the fore the tension between literal and figurative arrangements of space, time, and knowledge during the Middle Ages. Geography, whether real or imagined, manifests on the page to convey a variety of spatial arrangements: topography, pilgrimage, peripatetic liturgical procession, and boundary marking. The materiality of medieval manuscript books expresses a similar reality through geographic colophons, regional markings of book production, devotional locals, and even the dispersing of manuscripts through modern-day biblioclasty.

To map the Middle Ages is to journey through the space created by the objects and the individuals who used them. The manuscripts in this installation are drawn from the collection of the University of Notre Dame’s Hesburgh Library.

This exhibition is curated by David T. Gura, PhD, Curator of Ancient and Medieval Manuscripts.


The current spotlight exhibits are Football and Community at Historically Black Colleges and Universities and A Warning Against Rum in Early America. Both spotlights will change out in February, check our website for more details in the near future.

Upcoming Events: December 2023

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

Thursday, December 7 at 5:00pm | Italian Research Seminar: “Desire, Anxiety, Shame: Transatlantic (Re)Mediations and ‘Italian Culture'” by Loredana Polezzi (Stony Brook University).


The exhibition Making and Unmaking Emancipation in Cuba and the United States is now open and will run through the fall semester.

Tours of the exhibit may also be arranged for classes and other groups by contacting Rachel Bohlmann at (574) 631-1575 or Rachel.Bohlmann.2@nd.edu.


The December spotlight exhibits are Football and Community at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (August – December 2023) and TBD (December 2023 – November 2024).

Rare Books and Special Collections will be closed for Notre Dame’s Christmas and New Year’s Break
(December 22, 2023, through January 1, 2024).

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

On the Retirement of Aedín Ní Bhróithe Clements

by Erika Hosselkus, Associate University Librarian for Scholarly Resources and Services

Aedin Clements, Irish Studies Librarian

Aedín Clements joined Hesburgh Libraries in 2005 as the organization’s first dedicated Irish Studies Librarian. During her tenure, Aedín has developed world class research and special collections in Irish literature, history, and adjacent fields. These include the near-comprehensive Irish Fiction Collection, the Jonathan Swift collection, a large Irish broadside ballads collection, and the Captain Francis O’Neill Irish music collection, among many others. A native speaker of Irish, Aedín has also envisioned and developed Hesburgh Libraries’ substantial Irish-language holdings. 

Along with her collection development activities, Aedin has worked extensively to support students, faculty, and visiting researchers and dignitaries interested in Irish Studies and Irish Language and Literature. As part of her broad outreach, Aedin has curated exhibitions on the writings of the Irish diaspora, Irish children’s literature, the Easter Rising of 1916, and Irish book arts. In 2018, she developed the Keough-Naughton Library Research Award, a partnership between Hesburgh Libraries, the Keough-Naughton Institute, and Notre Dame International offering research fellowships that enable external scholars to utilize the Libraries’ rare Irish collections. Most recently, Aedín collaborated with Hesburgh Libraries’ and Irish Studies colleagues to develop an app-based tour of Dublin featuring connections to materials in our Irish collections.

Aedín has built Hesburgh Libraries’ Irish collections and forged critical connections with campus partners and a global network of researchers. In anticipation of her retirement, we asked colleagues to reflect on her impact and the importance of her work at Notre Dame.

Sarah E. McKibben (Associate Professor and Chair, Department of Irish Language and Literature, University of Notre Dame):

Aedín was a simply marvelous colleague and we will miss her so much! She was so responsive and helpful whenever I located a text I thought we should acquire. She was always full of ideas for my own or my students’ research. She was eager to show my students around the library or teach a research methods session with them, or to help them find the perfect text for their final presentations. In fact, she was so enthusiastic, creative and inspiring that I know she helped many students fall in love with their topics and even pursue further work in Irish Studies.

Since she retired just a week ago, I keep thinking “oh I must email Aedín about this”…I must say, I’m a bit lost without her. She was one of the best hires ND has ever made in Irish Studies.

Aedín receiving a tune written for her by Seán Doherty, a lecturer Dublin City University and one of the recipients of the Keough-Naughton Library Research Award in Irish Studies in 2023.

Natasha Lyandres (Curator, Rare Books and Special Collections, Hesburgh Library, University of Notre Dame):

Almost a year ago, Aedín Clements, our dear colleague, started an epic countdown to her retirement. At the end of October she left the Hesburgh Libraries after serving as Irish Studies Librarian for almost twenty years. Aedín has had an incredibly successful career at Notre Dame. It’s been a real honor to work with her over the past ten years in Rare Books and Special Collections. 

Aedín contributed to the significant growth of Irish Collections by bringing major acquisitions and expanding the reach and impact of her collections through fruitful collaborations with the Keough-Naughton Institute, Notre Dame International, and with the Department of Irish Language and Literature. From teaching numerous classes and supporting graduate and undergraduate students, to installing exhibits and writing blog posts, to launching the Library Research Award in Irish Studies, to welcoming numerous visitors, to assisting scholars from all over the world with their research on campus, Aedín has been the driving force behind the Rare Books and Special Collections’ success and wide international recognition of our Irish collections.

We will miss Aedín’s infectious enthusiasm for Irish Studies, her cheerful personality, her dedication to the Libraries and the University, and also the beautiful sound of the Irish language echoing through the department. Congratulations, dear Aedín, on your retirement. You will always hold a very special place in our hearts.

We thank Aedín for her service, contributions, and collegiality and wish her the best in retirement.

Upcoming Events: November 2023

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

Thursday, November 2 at 5:00pm | Italian Research Seminar: “The Dilemmas of Friendship in Dante’s Italy” by Elizabeth Coggeshall (Florida State).

Thursday, November 9 at 5:00pm | Book Presentation: La vita dell’altro. Svevo, Joyce: Un’amicizia geniale by Enrico Terrinoni (Affiliate of the Center for Italian Studies). Terrinoni will be joined by Sara Boezio, Charles Leavitt, and Clíona Ní Ríordáin for a roundtable discussion of his book. This event is co-sponsored by the Center for Italian Studies and the Keough-Naughton Institute for Irish Studies.

Thursday, November 30 at 4:30pm | Making and Unmaking Emancipation in Cuba and the United States: A Panel Discussion.

A tour of Hesburgh Libraries’ Fall 2023 exhibition, Making and Unmaking Emancipation in Cuba and the United States, precedes the panel discussion (4:30 – 5:00pm). A reception will follow the panel discussion, in the Hesburgh Libraries Scholar’s Lounge.

Free and open to the public; no tickets required.


The exhibition Making and Unmaking Emancipation in Cuba and the United States is now open and will run through the fall semester.

A curator-led tour, open to the public, will be held noon–1:00pm on the following upcoming Friday: November 17. Tours of the exhibit may also be arranged for classes and other groups by contacting Rachel Bohlmann at (574) 631-1575 or Rachel.Bohlmann.2@nd.edu.


The November spotlight exhibits are Football and Community at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (August – December 2023) and Path to Sainthood: Brother Columba O’Neill (October – November 2023).

RBSC will be closed during the University of Notre Dame’s Thanksgiving Break, November 23 – 24.

Upcoming Events: October 2023

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

Thursday, October 5 at 5:00pm | Italian Research Seminar: “The Archival Turn and Network Approach: Examining Evolving Translation Practices and Discourses in the British Publishing Firm Complex, 1950s-1980s” by Daniela La Penna (University of Reading, UK).

Thursday, October 24 at 5:00pm | McBrien Special Collections Lecture Series: “Chief O’Neill in Ten Tunes” by Dr. Seán Doherty (Dublin City University).

Captain Francis O’Neill’s collection 1001 Gems: The Dance Music of Ireland (1907) is so important to the world of Irish traditional music that it’s sometimes called the Bible or simply, ‘The Book’. Starting as a pandemic project, the Irish composer and musicologist Seán Doherty analyzed all 1001 tunes in this influential collection. In this lecture and performance, Seán will discuss the music along with O’Neill’s biography and will play tunes linked to key moments in Chief O’Neill’s life.

Captain O’Neill donated his personal library to the University of Notre Dame, where it is held at the Hesburgh Library. Dr. Doherty’s research visit is supported by the Keough-Naughton Library Research Award in Irish Studies.


The exhibition Making and Unmaking Emancipation in Cuba and the United States is now open and will run through the fall semester.

Curator-led tours, open to the public, will be held noon–1:00pm on the following upcoming Fridays: October 13 and 27 [tour on 10/27 cancelled], and November 17.

Tours of the exhibit may also be arranged for classes and other groups by contacting Rachel Bohlmann at (574) 631-1575 or Rachel.Bohlmann.2@nd.edu.


The October spotlight exhibits are Football and Community at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (August – December 2023) and Path to Sainthood: Brother Columba O’Neill (October – November 2023).

RBSC will be open regular hours (9:30am – 4:30pm) during the University of Notre Dame’s Fall Break, October 16 – 20.

Making and Unmaking Emancipation in Cuba and the United States — RBSC’s Fall Exhibition is open!

Rare Books and Special Collections’ fall exhibition, Making and Unmaking Emancipation in Cuba and the United States, is open and will run through December 15th. 

This exhibition explores the fraught, circuitous and unfinished course of emancipation over the nineteenth century in Cuba and the United States. People — enslaved individuals and outside observers, survivors and resistors, and activists and conspirators — made and unmade emancipation, a process that remains unfinished and unrealized. 

Materials from Rare Books and Special Collections’ Latin American and U.S. collections are paired together to reflect on the history of enslavement and freedom beyond national borders. The show features books, manuscripts, maps, and prints, illustrating the array of formats held in RBSC and how they each shed light on historical experience. 

Making and Unmaking Emancipation in Cuba and the United States is curated by Rachel Bohlmann, Curator of North Americana and American History Librarian and Erika Hosselkus, Curator of Latin American Studies and Iberian Studies, and Associate University Librarian for Scholarly Resources and Services. 

Curator-led tours will be offered at noon on September 22, October 13 and 27 [tour on 10/27 cancelled], and November 17, 2023. They are free and no reservations are required. Exhibition tours may also be arranged for classes and other groups by contacting Rachel Bohlmann at (574) 631-1575 or rbohlman@nd.edu.

Please mark your calendars and join us on Thursday, November 30th at 4:30 pm in 102 Hesburgh Library for a panel program that delves more deeply into questions about enslavement and emancipation raised in the exhibition. The program also speaks to the challenges and opportunities in connecting broad audiences to new scholarly findings in the study of transatlantic slavery. A curators’ tour will precede the program; a reception will follow. 

This exhibition and related programming are generously supported by the Florence and Richard C. McBrien and Richard C. McBrien, Jr. Special Collections Librarian fund.

Upcoming Events: September 2023

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

Friday, September 1 at 2:00-4:00pm | Spotlight Exhibit Tour and Open House, Football and Community at Historically Black Colleges and Universities, with curator Greg Bond.

Brief remarks by the curator about the exhibit will begin at 2:15pm, but visitors will be able to see the exhibit and browse the additional historical material on display for the open house at any time between 2:00pm and 4:00pm.

Tuesday, September 19 at 4:00pm | Centering African American Writing in American Literature – American Studies Professor Korey Garibaldi will draw on his new book, Impermanent Blackness: The Making and Unmaking of Interracial Literary Culture in Modern America (Princeton, 2023), and on recent library acquisitions to discuss how, during the middle of the twentieth century, modern American literature and its production were interracial. He will explore multiple aspects of American literary creation, including how African American content has been embodied in dust jacket and cover designs, illustrations, the style of type and bindings, and the overall production quality.


The exhibition Making and Unmaking Emancipation in Cuba and the United States is now open and will run through the fall semester.

Curator-led tours, open to the public, will be held noon–1:00pm on the following Fridays: September 1, 15 and 22; October 13 and 27 [tour on 10/27 cancelled], and November 17.

Tours of the exhibit may also be arranged for classes and other groups by contacting Rachel Bohlmann at (574) 631-1575 or Rachel.Bohlmann.2@nd.edu.


The September spotlight exhibits are Football and Community at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (August – December 2023) and Centering African American Writing in American Literature (August – September 2023).

RBSC will be closed Monday, September 4th,
for Labor Day.