Beginning Monday, November 30, curbside pick-up becomes book pick-up and moves from the back of Mullen Library to inside its front doors. Library borrowers will still need to follow the instructions in the Libraries COVID-19 Information Guide to request a specific book(s) and schedule a pick-up time, but we anticipate that this change will save staff time and enable us to fill more requests.
Book pick-up hours from November 30 through the end of the semester will be M-F, 11 AM – 1 PM and M, W, F, 3 – 4 PM.
Library borrowers will enter the library wearing a face mask. They will show their CU ID to the guard at the Welcome Desk and be directed to the opposite side of the Welcome Desk where they will pick-up their bagged item(s) and exit the library.
Most major institutional libraries have Special Collections, but what exactly are Special Collections and why are they so special? A special collection is a group of items that includes rare books, museum objects, or archival documents. They are irreplaceable or otherwise unique and valuable. Special collections are usually housed separately from the mainstream library collections and are secured in locations with environmental controls that enhance preservation. Special collections include rare materials that are focused on specific topics such as labor relations, social welfare, and military history. They benefit researchers by consolidating related items together in one repository that are distinguishable from the other libraries. At The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., our Special Collections consists of four distinct departments that have converged over the course of the last century and longer. These departments include the Museum, Rare Books, University Archives, and the Manuscript collection named The American Catholic History Research Collection. This current configuration was created in May 2019, though each department has its own unique history.
The Museum’s first donations arrived before Catholic University opened its doors in 1889 and were displayed in Caldwell Hall until 1905. Thereafter, items were housed in McMahon Hall, Mullen Library, or put into storage. Management of the Museum was placed under the University Archives in 1976 and was primarily kept in the Curley Hall Vault. Since then, some items are kept stored in Aquinas Hall while many others are loaned out to various campus offices to use for decoration. Today, it includes art works and artifacts representing different periods and genres which total over 5,000 pieces. They are broken down into three main categories: Art and Artifacts, History, and Anthropology. The first includes paintings, statues, terra cotta works, ivories, and triptychs, Asian objets d’art, a coin collection from the Classical World, lithographs, engravings, modern works by Gene Davis and S. Saklarian, as well as varied decorative arts and furniture. The second consists of portraits and busts of important religious figures, artifacts related to the university, and Catholic devotional objects, while the third is made up of Ancient Near East archaeological artifacts, Native American implements and pottery, and ethnographic items from Samoa, the Philippines, and North America. For additional information or to inquire about a loan, please contact email@example.com.
The Rare Books Department was created by donations from Arthur T. Connolly, the Clementine Library, and the Maryland Collections that converged from the 1910s to the 1950s. The holdings contain approximately 70,000 volumes, which range from medieval documents to first editions of twentieth century authors. Its primary holdings contain printed books and pamphlets dating back to the fifteenth century, over 100 incunabula, and 1,400 books from the sixteenth century. There are also over 100 manuscripts, spanning from the fourteenth to the twentieth centuries, and include papal bulls, books of hours, choir books and, in particular, the Quodlibeta of Godfrey of Fontaines. A significant section is the Clementine Library, acquired from the remains of the Albani family library, of which a member of whom was Pope Clement XI. Other collections include Connolly’s eighteenth and nineteenth century books and pamphlets, Richard Foley’s modern literature, the Order of Malta materials, Michael Jenkins’ Maryland Collection, pre Vatican II pamphlets, and American parish histories. For additional information, or to schedule a tour or class visit, please firstname.lastname@example.org.
The University Archives officially opened on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, December 8, 1949, with an impressive ceremony that included Wayne Grover, who was Archivist of the United States; Archbishop O’Boyle, chancellor of the university; Ernst Posner, archivist of American University and a seminal theorist of archives; and Philip Brooks, president of the Society of American Archivists. They spoke about the importance of archives in regard to the preservation of culture as well as the Catholic Church’s long tradition as a keeper of historical records. As the official memory of the University, the Archives acquires and administers non-current records, organized by office, department, or program, which document institutional activities. Materials often include minutes, reports, correspondence, photographs, or digital materials. The donating office controls access but may not destroy any records in the Archives. Any questions can be directed to email@example.com.
The Manuscript Collection, also known as The American Catholic History Research Collection, was founded in tandem with the University Archives in 1949. It has the separate function of collecting personal papers and institutional records beyond Catholic University which document the heritage and history of the American Catholic people. Areas of concentration are social welfare, philanthropy, labor relations, immigration, and international peace, in addition to Catholic intellectual, educational, cultural, and religious lives. These manuscript collections contain unpublished primary sources such as correspondence, meeting minutes, diaries, photographs, maps, oral histories, electronic records, and sound and video recordings. Consisting of over 400 collections, they range in size of less than one linear foot for the Josephine McGarry Callan Papers to major organizations such as the National Catholic Education Association equally nearly 700 linear feet. The index of collections lists them all alphabetically, with further links to more detailed descriptions including finding aids or inventories. To inquire about remote or in person access, please contact us firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our full-time professional staff, whether working remotely or on site, and assisted by several graduate student workers or volunteer interns, are here and happy to assist researchers and other interested parties as needed. We are happy to present on our materials to classes either virtually or in-house in the Rare Books space in Mullen Library or the other departmental materials in Aquinas Hall. These includemyself as University Archivist and Head of Special Collections;Dr. Maria Mazzenga, Curator of the American Catholic History Collections;Shane MacDonald, Special Collections Archivist; andBrandi Marulli, Special Collections Technician. Please see our ‘Contact’ page, our‘Come Visit Us’ page, and our‘Reproduction’ policies.
 An incunable, or sometimes incunabulum is a book, pamphlet, or broadside printed in Europe before 1501. Incunabula are not manuscripts, which are documents written by hand. As of 2014, there are about 30,000 distinct known incunable editions extant,
This Spring semester has been challenging in many ways that we could not have anticipated when 2020 started. The changes have been immense. Nevertheless, as a community we grew stronger together, adapting, facing and overcoming new obstacles in order to provide our students with the best of us. As we reach the end of the term and reflect on what we have done, I invited our graduate research assistant at The Oliveira Lima Library, Erin Mir-Aliyev, to share her thoughts on her experience .
Erin is a graduate student in the Library and Information Science Department at The Catholic University of America and the first recipient of the Flora de Oliveira Lima Fellowship for Graduate Students in Library and Information Science. The fellowship honors Manoel de Oliveira Lima’s wife, a bibliophile in her own right who took charge of the library after his passing and left an unequivocal imprint on it.
Reflections on my first semester as OLL Copy-Cataloger
Flora de Oliveira Lima Fellowship for Graduate Students in Library and Information Science – The Oliveira Lima Library
Working as a graduate research assistant for the Oliveira Lima Library this spring has been a rewarding experience. Not only have I started to apply first hand in my work what I have been learning in my classes; I have gotten to work in a special collection focusing largely on resources containing information about history and culture, something that allows me to incorporate my social sciences interests and undergraduate degree in anthropology into my library career.
There were many different tools and software programs I’d heard about in my Fall classes, but not having worked in a library since high school, I was not in a position in which I got the chance to use them. As a visual and tactile learner, I was concerned that I was not truly grasping what was being taught. Since beginning to assist the Oliveira Lima Library with processing its collection late last Fall, I have noticed there are three areas in particular where I have learned a lot already and begun to grow more confident: accessing and using OCLC Connexion and Alma, and understanding MARC21.
OCLC is a global library cooperative which provides a tool, OCLC Connexion, through which libraries can create and share their bibliographic records with other libraries. It allows copy-catalogers to find already-existing bibliographic records for their collection’s materials so that librarians don’t have to repeat work that has already been done. Before shadowing a cataloger, I had not realized how long creating one bibliographic record from scratch can take – often over an hour per record. OCLC Connexion has made it possible for me to discover and import into Alma bibliographic records for about 500 books since January, some of which are not very common. As a result, we have been much more efficient than we otherwise would have been at incorporating materials into the library. Going through this process has also allowed me to better understand which elements of a record are the most important for identifying it.
Alma is a cloud-based platform that allows libraries to manage their catalog by importing and editing bibliographic records found in OCLC. So far, I have completed this process for hundreds of books, as well as creating holding and item records for them. My understanding of the differences between a work, expression, manifestation, and item (as expressed by FRBR) has increased greatly as a result of going through this process. These differences are reflected in the differences between bibliographic, holding, and item records for a specific book.
MARC21 is a set of international standards for digital formatting of intellectual and physical traits of bibliographic materials, in my case, books. It struck me as very complicated and difficult to understand while in class, and I have been slowly memorizing the various field codes and formats for descriptions. Copy-cataloging for OLL is a more detail-oriented process than for a lot of collections due to the rare and unique nature of many of its materials, as individual books often contain inscriptions, signatures, or other markings and materials left by people significant to the history of the collection. The MARC fields most significant for cataloging of OLL resources are some fields also commonly used by general collections such as 100 (Main Entry – Personal Name), 245 (Title Statement), and 260 (Publication Information). However, culturally, historically, or biographically important information also needs to be included in the record; other fields like 561 (Ownership and Custodial History), 562 (Copy and Version Identification), and 590 (Local Note) focus on books’ rare and unique traits. This is where I am able to record details about who or what institution previously owned a book, or autographs and bound-in items like letters.
As I continue to work into the next semesters, I look forward to being able to learn even more, such as copy-cataloging for books written in other languages, how to classify and manage archival materials, and how to handle, categorize, and catalog artworks.
The University Libraries, teamed with Washington Research Libraries Consortium (WRLC), are looking for Catholic University students to take part in the SearchBox usability testing.
The testing should take 30-35 minutes. WRLC will award each participant a $10 Starbucks gift card.
What you’ll do
You’ll simply be asked to complete a few tasks by searching the library SearchBox and share your opinions and experience.
Where and When
Testing will occur completely online through Zoom on the following days:
• Monday, April 6, 11am – 4pm
• Tuesday, April 7, 11am – 4pm
• Tuesday, April 14, 11am – 4pm
• Wednesday, April 15, 11am – 4pm
• Thursday, April 16, 11am – 4pm
Undergraduate and graduate students are invited to take part.
If interested, please email to email@example.com with your name, year of study (e.g. Freshman, Sophomore, Graduate Student), and at least two available times on the above test days.
Through April 9, the University Libraries has a trial of Medici.tv, the largest online catalog of classical music, opera, and dance videos, including 3,500 musical works from the 1940s to the present day, 2,500 films (concerts, operas, ballets, documentaries, and master classes), and editorial content including synopses, casts, and performers’ biographies. Take a look and enjoy!
This week’s post is guest-authored by Mikkaela Bailey is a PhD student at CUA studying medieval history with special interests in women’s history, public history, and digital humanities. You can find her on Twitter: @mikkaela_bailey
Curation is a long, detailed conversation between individuals, offices, texts, and objects, as students from Catholic University’s History and Public Life class learned this semester.
It’s easy to evaluate an exhibit and poke holes in the choices made by its organizers. It’s far more difficult than I imagined to craft an exhibit.
With most of the logistics arranged long in advance by our professor for the class History and Public Life, Dr. Maria Mazzenga, our job as a class was focused on assembling and advertising the physical exhibit itself.
The first thing we had to do was break up the objects into thematic categories so we could decide what should be included in our display. Then, we had to plan how to best demonstrate the common themes between them and also establish continuity in the display. After that, we had to craft captions and marketing materials that communicated why our visitors should care about our work and choose to come see it.
One of the ideas about organizing the books rested on the idea that the Eucharist is a central and essential element of the catechism and one’s first Communion is an important life event. Since our audience is likely to be heavily Catholic, there is resonance with their own experiences in the exhibit here. This thematic approach connected well with the objects in the exhibit, and inspiration flowed from that idea as we assembled catechisms aimed at children and teens in the same display case. One thematic element of change over time was the implementation of more children’s catechetical education as the age for first Communion shifted from around 13 to around 7 years of age.
But, there were still two more cases to fill and many more objects to consider. In the first case, which we actually finished last, we installed the oldest books, including a Latin catechism from 1566. These 16th and 18th century books were connected by the vernacular languages in which they were printed. Printing educational materials in the vernacular was a very important emphasis of the Tridentine Catechisms, so grouping these non-English catechisms gave emphasis to the importance of the catechism worldwide, outside our own framework, and outside the Latin-based world of the church.
The central case features several interesting pieces, but it also provides context for the cases flanking it. This is where we chose to place the bulk of our textual engagement through questions we are asking the audience and a QR code linked to the digital exhibit.
At the end of this process, I am so thankful for teammates who were engaged from the beginning and expressed great passion for this project. I shudder to think of undertaking something like this alone! In fact, looking at the finished product, I feel as though no idea I had for the display was totally my own and I think almost every decision made was by committee. From the marketing materials to the captions and display case arrangements, this exhibit was completely collaborative and has benefitted from open communication and easy acceptance of constructive criticism. In public history, I think all of these qualities are essential for a successful, cohesive exhibit. This experience has been the highlight of my first semester as a PhD student at CUA!
From uniting a community to sparking imagination to supporting scholarship and lifelong learning, libraries change lives.
“Without libraries we have no past and no future.” – Ray Bradbury
“With a library you are free, not confined by temporary political climates. It is the most democratic of institutions because no one – but no one at all – can tell you what to read and when and how.” – Doris Lessing
“I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library.” – Jorge Luis Borges
“The very existence of libraries affords the best evidence that we may yet have hope for the future of man.” – T.S. Eliot
It’s not just the books that make libraries special–it’s the people. Librarians, scholars, teachers, and patrons of all ages make their mark on a library as much as it makes a mark on them. Here are a few examples from our own Mullen Library:
Professor Laura Daugherty loves libraries so much that she once accidentally almost spent the night in one; now she hopes to instill that same love in her National Catholic School of Social Service students. Ph.D. candidate Chris Suehr says that in addition to being a great place to study, Mullen Library has “the second-best water on campus.” And former liaison librarian Karen Berry not only studied for her master’s degree here–she also launched her career here.
What’s your library story?
This fall, Mullen Library is launching the “Humans of Mullen” campaign, an ongoing series of video vignettes. We’re highlighting the students, faculty, and staff who come to Mullen–to study, to browse, to help others do research, to view artwork or attend lectures, to receive tutoring or writing assistance, and more.
We were inspired by Humans of New York, a photoblog launched in 2010 by the photographer Brandon Stanton. Stanton’s intimate street portraits and brief interviews with ordinary citizens put a personal face on a huge and thriving city. We want to do the same for Mullen Library–a place where academic journeys are launched, where friends and classmates gather, and where a lifelong love of learning is instilled.
What brings you to Mullen Library? Perhaps:
you met your best friend here
you took a class in the Instruction Room or searched the Stacks to select research materials
you found inspiration for your first undergraduate research paper–or for your last university opus, your dissertation
you explored your career path or took the first steps toward a career in librarianship as a student worker
Whatever your Mullen Library story is, we want to hear it–and to share it with the rest of the Catholic University community.
Watch for our weekly videos on the CUA Libraries’ social media accounts: