Category Archives: Rare books

Virtual Reference, or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Local Note

One of the best privileges of being a staff member at a special collections library is free access to stacks closed to researchers. This is particularly helpful if, like me, you are terrible at remembering long Latin titles; I tend … Continue reading

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History of the Azores, or Western Islands

You don’t see many books on the Azores in Burns Library, so having traveled to the volcanic islands myself, once in 1995 and once in 2010, this particular book immediately caught my eye. I found it was a fascinating look … Continue reading

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Thomas J. Shamon’s mystery recommendations

While we’re most well-known for our our major collecting areas in Irish history, Jesuitica, and Catholicism, Burns Library also has a strong mystery collection. With over 5,000 volumes, our mystery collection ranges in date from 1827 to 2018, and in … Continue reading

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New Acquisition: Ioannis Petraloysii Praenestini Missarum Liber Tertius

Among the most eye-catching books acquired recently by Burns Library is this collection of masses by  the prolific and influential Italian composer Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina. Printed in 1570, in Rome, this is the first edition of the third collection … Continue reading

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The Young Ladies Instructor

What does it mean to be educated? How much knowledge, in what areas, are you required to have? The question changes drastically depending on time period, geographic location, gender and class. With such variable answers, books that are meant to … Continue reading

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A Rare Vellum Printing

A book may be interesting on the basis of its physical features, its intellectual content, or its history of ownership. Here we have the trifecta: a book of unusual, even beautiful, material construction, containing a text of scholarly interest, and … Continue reading

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Swift, Satire, and BC Students

Does Swift’s searing satire lose its keen edge as the story is re-represented over time, country and culture?  This was a question that arose last spring as students in Colleen Taylor’s English Literature class, Satire and Society, explored editions of … Continue reading

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Dreams of Art & Glory: Book Craft by the Roycrofters

One of the many advantages of working in a special collections library is the opportunity to browse in the stacks. I regularly browse while checking the climate control monitors throughout the building. During one such walk-through, a suede binding resembling … Continue reading

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Internal Context: A Look Into the Inclusion Files

One of the most rewarding aspects of rare book cataloging is seeing and decoding the various markers of history that make their way into the pages. Most of these markers are permanent – bookplates, sellers’ and binders’ tickets, annotations, and … Continue reading

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The many business endeavors of Pamela Colman Smith

You’ve probably encountered the artwork of Pamela Colman Smith before, even if you didn’t realize.  Colman Smith drew the images for the most well-known tarot deck, and these popular images are still commonly reprinted and used on tarot decks today. … Continue reading

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