By Jada Butler
Tucked away on the second floor in the south wing of the B. Davis Schwartz Memorial Library is a vast array of historical, educational, and artistic collections. The Archives and Special Collections department, located in LB 345 and 346, is home to more than 30 rare book collections and 75 archival collections. Collection formats include illuminated manuscript facsimiles, rare books, rare manuscripts, archives, original correspondence, original movie posters, journals, periodicals, original photographs, broadsides, maps, original watercolors, drawings, theatre programs and multimedia.
“In the library, I think special collections is the department with the most interest,” Paul Kim, adjunct professor of music history and piano, said. “A resource like special collections – it’s such a treasure for students.”
Kim teaches several music history classes and utilizes the collections to accompany his lesson plans. On Thursday, March 1, his “Music and Western Civilization” class, which covers 20th and 21st century music history, studied over 20 different movie posters from the 6,000 in the archives.
“We tie in the study of movies and visual aspects of the posters with the music and general culture,” Kim said. “The students study music of that period in history, but then they get to see visually the representation of the artworks. That kind of education just jumps out of the pages into the students’ imagination.”
Classes are held in the special collections department regularly, according to Jarron Jewell, acting director and senior library assistant in the department. Last month, she held an education class with the head of the gifted class. “There is serious research and some very beautiful materials [in the department],” she said.
Some of the collections include the pre-eminent American Juvenile Collection, the Archives of LIU and LIU Post, the Original Movie Poster Research Collection, the Theodore Roosevelt Association Collection and Cedar Swamp Historical Society Collection (Long Island), the Eugene and Carlotta O’Neill Personal Library, and the Winthrop Palmer Collec- tion: French & Irish Literature.
There are 12,000 first edition children’s books in fiction, folklore, fairytale and poetry in the American Juvenile collection. “All donations – it took 40 years to get those donations and we’ve had quite a few exhibitions on them in the past,” Jewell said.
How can students use the collection? “Well, say I want to study the changing role of women between 1910 and 1950 – really big changes sociologically, historically and psychologically – from a standpoint of art, and so forth,” Jewell said, demonstrating the benefits of the collection. “There are North American imprints, and we also have archives which are letters, drawings, and so forth, that go with this collection that are priceless,” she said.
The staff of the archives and special collections department is in the process of digitizing and cataloging the collection for the university’s Digital Commons webpage. The Digital Commons is a platform students can use to display their work. “Students could write a paper, and with
a professor to sponsor them, could publish the work in the digital commons and put that on a resume,” Jewell said.
Access to the materials in the archives and special collections by faculty, students, and guest scholars is encouraged, but comes with necessary restrictions, according to the website. These items can only be used in the “Rare Book Room” under departmental regulations. Those interested can call 516-299-2880 or email Jarron.Jewell@liu.edu to set up an appointment.