Have you always wondered just what is at the Burns Library that makes it so special? Do you wish that someone at Burns would just show you something they love? On Tuesday, February 15, 2017 – when love was still in the air – Burns Library Staff picked beloved items from the collections and played matchmakers, introducing Boston College Libraries staff to a wide array of special collections items in short, three-minute sessions. It was a diverse group of things almost as unique as the Burns staff: from Dante to Spiderman, whale teeth to beard hair, and canned fan mail responses to record carrying cases. Visitor turnout was high, and Burns staff enjoyed the chance to share the items they love and demonstrate a little bit more about why we love them.
The Boston College Libraries Employee Growth Group (EGG) co-sponsored this event.
Below is a sampling of the well-loved items selected, information on why the staff chose them, and search strategies to help you discover more about these items or similar items.
Lynn Moulton (Processing Archivist): St. Elizabeth’s Hospital School of Nursing collection
I chose a St. Elizabeth’s Hospital School of Nursing “cupcake” style nursing cap, complete with hatbox, for the recent matchmaking event. In processing the St. Elizabeth’s records (MS.2000.018B), I saw much of substance, as well as of charm. Their records include a complete run of yearbooks and graduation programs, many course descriptions, faculty committee minutes, and photographs of student life, but, for me, there was something about this little pleated and starched cap that really evoked the care that the students took in their attire and in their training. The careful preservation of this one cap, with the color of its velvet ribbon showing that its owner had achieved graduate status, made the pride the students felt on completing their rigorous training tangible for me.
- Tip: Learn all about the nurses at St. E’s School of Nursing through the finding aid http://hdl.handle.net/2345/9381
- Tip: Find other nursing collections at the Burns Library through an advanced search by changing “Anywhere in record” to “Local Collection Name,” and entering “nursing” as your search term.
Christian Dupont (Burns Librarian & Associate University Librarian, Burns Library): Dante’s Divine Comedy
I selfishly chose a copy of Dante’s Divine Comedy as a representative “old book” to see whether I might find other readers of Dante in the BC Libraries. A couple people said that they had read a bit of Dante at one time or another, but only one got into a sustained conversation with me about him. This person followed up with me afterwards, allowing us to compare translations, and provided me with the names of two BC professors who taught and published on Dante.
- Tip: Compare editions of Divina commedia at the Burns Library through an advanced search by changing “Anywhere in record” to “Title” and entering “Divina commedia.” Then change the search scope (lower right) from “BC Collections” to “Burns Library.”
Katherine Fox (Head Librarian, Public Services & Engagement): Anansi Company
I have loved the 13 unique, screen-printed and wire puppets from this artist’s book since I first discovered them soon after arriving at Burns Library. Not many people realize the strength of the Caribbean related material at Burns, and this piece adds a new dimension to them. In fact, the poetry by Roy Risher is based upon a title we have in the collections: Walter Jekyll’s Jamaican Song and Story, 1907. I find it fascinating that this story of a trickster spider moved from West Africa to the Caribbean to a Caribbean neighborhood of London, where this fine press just happens to be located.
- Tip: Find more fine print book at the Burns Library through an advanced search by changing “Anywhere in record” to “Local Collection Name,” and entering “fine print” as your search term.
- Tip: Find more Caribbean related material through an advanced search by changing “Anywhere in record” to “Local Collection Name,” and entering “Williams” as your search term.
- Tip: Must see the puppets again? Do an advanced search by changing “Anywhere in record” to “Title” and entering “Anansi Company: A Collection of Thirteen Hand-Made Wire and Card Rod-Puppets Animated in Colour and Verse.” This is a unique piece, so you don’t have to change the search scope (lower right) from “BC Collections” to “Burns Library,” but you could.
Shelley Barber (Reference & Archives Specialist): John Boyle O’Reilly Papers
To John A. McGowan, son of Father’s old friend, this whale’s tooth brought ashore by Father when he landed from the bark “Gazelle.” Mary Boyle O’Reilly, 1928
I chose the souvenir of a daring adventure that connects to the history of both Ireland and Boston. Among the “papers” of John Boyle O’Reilly at the Burns Library is the tooth of a sperm whale. An Irish nationalist, O’Reilly (1844-1890) was arrested and imprisoned by the British and transported to Australia’s Fremantle Prison from which he escaped with the assistance of a local Catholic priest in 1869. The Gazelle was the New Bedford whaling vessel that rescued O’Reilly off the coast of Australia. After his escape, he came to the United States and settled in Boston, where he became the editor of the Boston Pilot and a well-known author, sportsman, poet, and lecturer.
- Tip: Must see the whale tooth again? Do an advanced search by changing “Anywhere in record” to “Title” and entering “John Boyle O’Reilly papers.” This is a unique piece, so you don’t have to change the search scope (lower right) from “BC Collections” to “Burns Library,” but you could.
Kathleen Williams (Senior Reference Librarian, Bibliographer for Irish Studies): The Tain (Táin bó Cúailnge)
I chose this special edition of Táin bó Cúailnge (The Cattle Raid of Cooley) because I love dipping into the mythological tales that seem to spring from the mists of the distant past. The tale, which scholars date to the 8th or 9th century, is translated here by the poet Thomas Kinsella to portray the characters as they might have been in that distant past. It features King Conor, his hero Cuchulainn (the Hound of Ulster), and the invasion of Ulster by Queen Medb of Connaught in an attempt to capture the brown bull of Cualaigne. I love that the artist, Louis le Brocquy, impressed upon my mind the characters and scenes of fantastic feats, bloody battles, spells, curses, and mythical creatures in unforgettable, stark, black and white brush drawings. Lastly, I love that publisher, Liam Miller of Dolmen Press, fused all of these elements to produce a remarkable book!
- Tip: How do I see more illustrations like in The Tain? Do an advanced search by entering “Louis Le Brocquy” in the “Anywhere in record,” then change the search scope (lower right) from “BC Collections” to “Burns Library” or “Bapst Library.”
- Tip: To compare editions of Táin bó Cúailnge at the Burns Library, do an advanced search by changing “Anywhere in record” to “Title” and entering “Táin bó Cúailnge.” Then change the search scope (lower right) from “BC Collections” to “Burns Library.”
- Tip: Find more Dolmen Press books at the Burns Library through an advanced search by changing “Anywhere in record” to “Local Collection Name,” and entering “dolmen press” as your search term.
Amy Braitsch (Head Archivist): Graham Greene Papers
The correspondence between Ray Bradbury and Graham Greene found in the Graham Greene papers has always thrilled me, and, so, they were my selection. They are a single file of 11 letters (box 12, folder 48) in a collection that includes thousands of letters exchanged by Greene with many interesting and notable people. Most of these letters are by Bradbury, who begins the correspondence in 1979 exuberantly thanking Greene “for being my companion in writing, my helper, and my introducer to Carol [Reed]” and begs for Greene to write “another novel, please! or, God, more stories!” Their exchange continues pleasantly over years, with each seemingly interested in the other’s writing and whereabouts, but never connecting for a face-to-face visit despite their overlapping worlds of fiction and film. Bradbury’s lively letters are on his unusual stationary and include his large, legible signature; in contrast, Greene’s letters are faint carbon copies that lack personality and make him seem less present. I love the physicality and dichotomy of these letters — each typewritten and corrected, with ink or tape; one set so “real,” and the other a mechanical shadow.
Do you have a favorite thing at Burns? What is it? Let us know, and we can help you find more material related to it.