Reading Room Log: Classes at the Burns Library

Letter from Florence Nightingale to Mrs. Lewis, Josephine A. Dolan Collection of Nursing History, John J. Burns Library.  This letter is part of the exhibition "Notes on Nursing:  Past, Present and Future".

Letter from Florence Nightingale to Mrs. Lewis, Box 1, Folder 1, Josephine A. Dolan Collection of Nursing History, MS.1988.004, John J. Burns Library, Boston College. This letter is part of the exhibition “Notes on Nursing: Past, Present and Future”.

During this Spring 2011 semester, I’ve already received calls and e-mail’s from many professors who are using the resources available at the Burns Library in their classes.  Professor Stacey Barone’s “Introduction to Professional Nursing” class will be doing an extra credit assignment based on the Notes on Nursing exhibit here at the Burns Library.  Professor Rory Browne’s history class “Animals and Attitudes” visited to look at Athanasius Kircher’s Arca Noë.  And yet another option for classes here at Burns was explored by Professor Min Song’s Introduction to Advanced Research Methods class.  In this class, students are introduced to archival research through an assignment that asks them to study a particular item and produce their own “edition”, write a reception history using primary sources or write an analysis on the particular history of a certain item in the collection.  By undertaking these types of projects, students and professors engage in innovative and original research and also help to spread knowledge of the wonderful resources available here at Boston College’s John J. Burns Library.  We also have the opportunity to look at some amazing “stuff” during these sessions, including letters written by Graham Greene, books from Graham Greene’s library, W. H. Auden’s letters to H. A. Reinhold and the oldest item in the Burns Library’s collection, a Mesopotamian Clay Tablet from the third dynasty of Ur, 2100–2000 B.C.

Pictured here is an illustration from Kircher's Arca Noë, published in 1675 in Amsterdam. In this book, Kircher analyzes the dimensions of the Ark and also discusses the logistics of the Ark voyage, speculating on whether extra livestock was brought to feed carnivores and what the daily schedule of feeding and caring for animals must have been.

Pictured here is an illustration from Kircher’s Arca Noë, published in 1675 in Amsterdam, 02-26479 Jesuitica Oversize. In this book, Kircher analyzes the dimensions of the Ark and also discusses the logistics of the Ark voyage, speculating on whether extra livestock was brought to feed carnivores and what the daily schedule of feeding and caring for animals must have been.

If these examples give you any ideas for your own teaching or research, please contact us by e-mail at burnsref@bc.edu or by phone at 617-552-4861.  My colleague Kathleen Williams and I will be happy to work with you so that you and your students can discover new possibilities for scholarship here at the Burns Library.

  • Justine Sundaram, Reference Librarian/Bibliographer, Burns Library

About John J. Burns Library of Rare Books and Special Collections at Boston College

The University’s special collections, including the University’s Archives, are housed in the Honorable John J. Burns Library, located in the Bapst Library Building, north entrance. Burns Library staff work with students and faculty to support learning and teaching at Boston College, offering access to unique primary sources through instruction sessions, exhibits, and programming. The Burns Library also serves the research needs of external scholars, hosting researchers from around the globe interested in using the collections. The Burns Library is home to more than 200,000 volumes and over 700 manuscript collections, including holdings of music, photographic materials, art and artifacts, and ephemera. Though its collections cover virtually the entire spectrum of human knowledge, the Burns Library has achieved international recognition in several specific areas of research, most notably: Irish studies; British Catholic authors; Jesuitica; Fine printing; Catholic liturgy and life in America, 1925-1975; Boston history; the Caribbean, especially Jamaica; Nursing; and Congressional archives.
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