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Archbishop Ireland Library, Kudos, News & Events, Science, Special Collections and Archives

Chemistry Department & Libraries Work Together to Preserve Books

More Books with Spew

We all know that UST Libraries have a wonderful collection of rare and archival materials. Sometimes, however, taking care of so many old books can be a challenge, especially when they are discovered to be growing things they’re not supposed to. Who knew that we had a real-world chemistry problem sitting right here on campus!? 

Books with SpewBooks with SpewWhen Mr Curt Le May, Director of the Archbishop Ireland Memorial Library, approached the Chemistry department for help in identifying white film forming on the surface of leather bound 300-year-old books, Meghan Talbot, chemistry major and a research student under Dr. Marites Guino-o, was glad to help.

Meghan Talbot

Meghan collected the white film/powder by using a spatula and carefully scraping off the residue found on the surface of the leather bound book, “Histoire des variations des églises protestantes.”  Through a combination of three characterization techniques (FTIR, Mass and NMR spectroscopy), she deduced that the white film/powder is a spew (or speu). A spew is a combination of carboxylic acids that originated from the leather itself, and leather dressing used to increase the leather’s preservation and flexibility.

“Being able to work on a project such as this was a great honor. It was a very interesting experience to be able to work with a book that was evidence of a time in which I had learned about in previous history classes. I am glad that the work that I was able to do has the ability to help the library preserve books, such as this one, as they are such a crucial connection to our past.” ~Meghan Talbot

We at the library are grateful to Meghan for helping us find out what the white substance was, so we could find a way to safely remove it and keep these books for future Tommies. Cooperation across the campus can certainly be a great thing!  

Charles J. Keffer Library, Libraries, News & Events

Keffer 2.0 – Under Construction!

For those of you who haven’t heard, in the next few months Keffer library will be undergoing some renovations.  Later this spring, we will be reopening as “Keffer 2.0.”

Keffer staff have been working hard to prepare for this change.  Throughout it all, our main goal is to keep library services and staff available as usual. This has meant moving books, the circulation desk, reference desk, reference collection, and more to temporary locations within the library.

But most importantly, we’re still open!  Library access  is still available through elevators moving between the first and second levels. Once you reach the lower level, we are ready and waiting as usual to help you with whatever research or other help you may need.  We’re extremely grateful for your flexibility as all the construction goes on around us!

To satisfy your curiosity about what’s going on as you work around us, this week has been the start of the more major moving and demolition.  Carpets have been lifted up, walls knocked down, and in general, the space is being prepped for Keffer 2.0.

You may also have noticed how the reference desk has been relocated to room 130.  It and many other materials have moved into nooks and crannies around the library; feel free to ask any library staff if you are having troubles finding anything.   

When construction is finished, we will reopen with the majority of library services located on the second, skyway level. Plans are underway for the lower level to contain the book and periodical stacks as well as a quiet reading area.

Again, we’re  extremely grateful for your flexibility and patience as we stay open for business throughout construction!  Despite all of the change, our focus continues to be providing quality services and research help to the UST community, and we at Keffer are happy to help you with whatever you need.

In the meantime, please feel free to stay tuned for future construction updates; we’ll try to post updated photos to our Facebook page as they’re available.

We look forward to reopen as the “new” Keffer library later this spring!

Archbishop Ireland Library, News & Events

Advent Notes

adventskranzHistory of the Advent Wreath

The Advent wreath is a fine example of domestic rituals which while outside ecclesial practice are nonetheless – by their widespread adoption – sometimes interpolated into Church services even though clearly not part of ordinary rubrics.

As with the Christmas tree, the Advent wreath appears to be this kind of broadly adopted Germanic custom. At least on the web, there is considerable variety in representing its origins. Wikipedia has a fair summary (some detection reveals that most ‘data’ below originates from less than authoritative sites).

The ring or wheel of the Advent wreath of evergreens decorated with candles was a symbol in northern Europe long before the arrival of Christianity. The circle symbolized the eternal cycle of the seasons while the evergreens and lighted candles signified the persistence of life in the midst of winter. Some sources suggest the wreath–now reinterpreted as a Christian symbol–was in common use in the Middle Ages, others that it was established in Germany as a Christian custom only in the 16th century, and others that the Advent wreath was not invented until advent309o845the 19th century. This last theory credits Johann Hinrich Wichern(1808-1881), a Protestant pastor in Germany and a pioneer in urban mission work among the poor, as the inventor of the modern Advent wreath. During Advent, children at a mission school founded by Wichernwould ask daily if Christmas had arrived. In 1839, he built a large wooden ring (made out of an old cartwheel) with19 small red and 4 large white candles. A small candle was lit successively every weekday during Advent. On Sundays, a large white candle was lit. The custom gained ground among Protestant churches in Germany and evolved into the smaller wreath with four or five candles known today. Roman Catholics in Germany began to adopt the custom in the 1920’s, and in the 1930’s it spread to North America[1]. In Medieval times advent was a fast during which people’s thoughts were directed to the expected second coming of Christ; but in modern times it has been seen as the lead up to Christmas, and in that context Advent Wreathserves as a reminder of the approach of the feast. More recently, some Eastern Orthodox families have adopted an Advent wreathwith six candles symbolizing the longer Advent season in Orthodox tradition.

For this out of the ordinary instance of East adopting a Western tradition,

Those cursed with wanting to know more, in an appreciably more academic vein, may feel compelled to consult the folllowing:

The People’s Work: a Social History of the Liturgy. Frank C. Senn. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2006.
Irland Library BV178 .S46 2006

The Liturgical Year. Prosper Guéranger. Wesminster, Md: Newman Press, 1948-50. 15 volumes.
Ireland Library BT4207 .G7. Volume 1 (Advent)

Original French edition: L’Année liturgique (Paris, 1841-1901), completed by Lucien Fromage. T.1 L’Avent.

Archbishop Ireland Library, News & Events

Holy Card exhibit at Ireland Library

Holy cards are small, devotional pictures mass-produced for the use of the faithful. They typically depict a religious scene or a saint in an image about the size of a playing card or collectible card. The verso typically contains a prayer, some of which promise an indulgence for its recitation. The circulation of these cards is an important part of the visual folk culture of Catholics. [Wikipedia]

cards999999For the next couple of months, Ireland Library will be highlighting our (growing) collection of holy cards. Both display cases in the Reference Room are exhibiting selections, from different eras, countries, and styles, of some of the interesting holy cards that have come to the library (or were found in returned books) over the decades.

Since this essentially uncollected collection was written up in the UST Daily Bulletin and especially the St Paul Pioneer Press in February and March, several dozen more cards have been given to the library, many of them fine examples from the 19th and early 20th centuries. Some of these choice “new additions” are in the display cases right now — the rest will eventually become part of the online exhibition mounted on the web (a way of displaying the cards that has turned out to be quite popular).

To find out more about holy cards, we recommend this fascinating web article (from the Religion News Service) about collecting the cards. It presents a concise, informative “survey” of this popular pious art form as well as profiling one of the serious collectors.

Be sure to come by Ireland Library and enjoy seeing the cards “in the flesh.”