Monday, September 5, 2011

AFCU-SBU Liberal Arts Conference 2011: Rare Books Collection

By the third day of the conference we are all attending breakout sessions. That took us to another part of the campus. It also helped us individualize our training. We were learning a lot. In the morning I attended a talk by Sister Carney the president of SBU. I went to her talk because I was interested in Clare. I also went because Margaret had been one of our guides on our pilgrimage to Assisi and Rome. It was good to see her again.

Still, as interesting as the talks were the campus kept calling us to her. After lunch we had one of our most interesting tours. We got to see the Rare Books Collection. The library is a beautiful, formal library. There are stacks, alcoves to read in and pillars at the entryway. The Rare Books Collection is in a separate but connected building that is climate controlled.

AFCU 2011 Liberal Arts Conference: Father Joe and the Library

The following is a collection of video clips from the tour. Two things are clear, it is an impressive collection and I am not a movie maker! I should edit and remove some of these clips however, the tour was important to many of the members. I have no idea which clip best illustrates what the participant wanted to see or remember. So for better or worse here are all of them!

When we began the tour we did not know we were entering a separate building. The books on display would have been enough to keep many of us happy. However, that was just the beginning.

AFCU 2011 Liberal Arts Conference: Entering the Rare Book Collection

The books were from different centuries and even different collections. When a college with a Franciscan book collection had to close it ‘s doors it would send its collection to SBU. They knew the books would be cared for and valued. The result is one of the largest collections in the United States and a center of scholarly research whose reach is worldwide.

AFCU 2011 Liberal Arts Conference: Rare Book Collection and Still More Books

The climate control, the security precautions and the restoration programs all reflected just how important and special this collection was.

AFCU 2011 Liberal Arts Conference: Rare Book Collection Climate Control

AFCU 2011 Liberal Arts Conference: The Stacks of the Rare Books Collection

AFCU 2011 Liberal Arts Conference: Rare Books and Dr. Spath

Dr. Spath provided a casual and yet useful tour. It was clear he was a man who was happy with his job. Joseph Campbell would have described Dr. Spath as a man who followed his bliss.

AFCU 2011 Liberal Arts Conference: Rare Book Collection Tour

I think we all left the tour wondering if we would ever have occasion to use the resources the collection had to offer. I suspect we were trying to find a way to integrate and apply the treasures of this collection to our own disciplines.

AFCU 2011 Liberal Arts Conference: Rare Book Collection

So, that was our tour. It was wonderful and yet it was just a pause in the conference. It was time to go back and learn more.

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