Thursday, October 31, 2013

Just in Time for Halloween: Tour of the Secret Room and Library Archives.

Something really exciting has happened--and it's even cooler because this story goes back to my freshman year.
February 18, 2012, I decided to do a post about some of the things I liked about Saint Mike's that I thought made it unique. In it, I included the secret room of the Durick Library, into which I had never been, and the possibility of going inside of which filled my imagination with mystery and intrigue.
Well, earlier this semester, I got an email from John Payne in the library (nice guy with the long pony tail) inviting me on a tour of said secret room, as well as the archives in the basement. As one might expect, I agreed enthusiastically, and a few weeks later I met both John and Liz Scott from Archives in the secret room.
In the secret room there is a collection of a variety of rare books--mostly published in the last 200 years, and many of these are of a religious sort. John and Liz told me, though, that decades ago, before it was acceptable to talk about sex at all in classrooms at SMC, biology students sometimes had to use this room to gain access to books about anatomy and any sex-related processes. They don't make you do that anymore, he explained with a smile.
Sermones de Patientia in Job. Johannes Chrysostom.

Cologne. Ulrich Zel. 1474. 
Photo courtesy of Saint Michael's College Archives.
John and Liz had also found something cool before I arrived. In a white box on a shelf waist-high was an old 45 vinyl, on which Alfred Lord Tennyson had been recorded reading from his own poems, at some point before his death in 1892. This is pretty darn rare, according to Liz.
After browsing about that room for a while, we moved down to archives, where it became even more apparent how much we mere muggles have to learn about the mysteries of the library. On a table, Liz had assembled the most intriguing variety of archived materials I would have imagined. Amongst the artifacts was the skin of St. Edmund, a piece of his cloak, a book of religious sermons from 1474 (brought by the Edmundites from France), and an *alleged* piece of the cross (emphasis on the alleged). It's been said that all the fragments of the cross in Europe would amount to enough wood to build a ship, according to John.
Most students use the archives and secret room for research, theses and/or internships, and one needs permission to gain access to these resources. It was kind of John and Liz to show me around, and I thank them once again for their kindness. I can now cross "scooby doo-like adventure in the library" off my bucket list.
Thanks for reading!

No comments:

Post a Comment