VOLUME 15 NUMBER 2
SUMMER 2014

More Teaching and Learning at the Burns Library

During the 2013-2014 academic year, over 1,000 students in eighteen different classes from the History, English, Music, Fine Arts and Political Science departments visited the John J. Burns Library for instructional sessions and/or exhibits that focused on teaching students how to do research while utilizing the Burns collections. This article highlights a few of these classes. If you are interested in scheduling a session, please read the "Using Burns Materials in Classes" box on the Burns Libguide and contact the Burns Library at 617-552-4861 or burnsref@bc.edu.

In Spring 2014, Professor Sylvia Sellers-Garcia's "Making History Public" course, titled "Early Maps and Distant Places", studied atlases and many other books containing maps in the Burns Library's collections. The final assignment for this class was to write text and select images for an exhibit, which will be installed in the History Department (Stokes 3S) in Fall 2014. At the beginning of the semester, I met with the class several times to explore pre-1800 maps in the Burns Library's collections. I also taught the students how to use Holmes to search for the relevant books and how to do research in the Burns Library Reading Room. History Librarian Elliot Brandow and Exhibits Specialist Kevin Tringale, among others, also contributed a significant amount of time to this class by respectively supporting the historical research and exhibit design, layout and installation aspects of the class. Featuring maps from all over the world, including Russia, the Middle East, Ireland and the America, the "Early Maps and Distant Places" exhibit promises to be a highly original piece of work. Since Fall 2012, this "Making History Public" class has been taught every semester. The current exhibit emanating from this course features the Edward J. Kane Collection of Comics.

Figure 1: Seat of war between the Russians, Poles, & Turks from the best authorities, from the Burns Library's General Collection Figure 1: Seat of war between the Russians,
Poles, & Turks from the best authorities,
from the Burns Library's General Collection

While the "Making History Public" class engages with Burns Collections throughout an entire semester, many other classes schedule a one-time session at Burns to explore a particular collection for an upcoming assignment or research paper. This was the case with Instructor Rowena Clarke's Fall 2013 First-Year Writing Seminar. Rowena contacted me initially because she wanted to give her students a better understanding of how to use Holmes. She also wanted to focus on a particular University Archives Collection, the Boston College Buildings and Campus Images Collection, as a resource for her students' research papers. Using the Holmes Libguide, Senior Reference Librarian Kathy Williams instructed the students in how to use the library catalog. Then, I explained the basics of research at Burns to the students, and after defining what a finding aid is we looked briefly at the Boston College Buildings and Campus Images finding aid. Next, we asked the students to examine old campus photographs, many available on the Burns Flickr site, and then to try to guess the approximate dates of the photos by using their knowledge of Boston College. By examining these photographs closely, the students engaged in an activity that helped them think critically. At the end of the session, we reminded the class to use the Digital Library tab on the University Archives LibGuide which links to many online sources about the history of Boston College.

Figure 2: Devlin Hall, Gasson Hall, and St. Mary's Hall from the Lawrence Basin, Photograph by Clifton Church circa 1924  28, Boston College Buildings and Campus Images Collection, John J. Burns Library, Boston College. Many students in the FWS class were confused by the presence of the Figure 2: Devlin Hall, Gasson Hall, and St. Mary's Hall Boston College Buildings and Campus Images Collection, John J. Burns Library, Boston College. Many students in the FWS class were confused by the presence of the "extra reservoir" or the Lawrence Basin in this photo. They were surprised to learn that this small reservoir was filled in and is now the site of the "mods."

Professor Robert Savage's Fall 2013 History Honor Thesis class engaged in a similar analytical exercise, but with archival documents and correspondence rather than photographs. Prior to the session, Professor Savage sent Senior Reference Librarian Kathleen Williams a list of topics related to the class. Based on these topics, Kathy selected relevant Burns Library archival and manuscript materials for the students to examine. First, the students looked at the finding aid for the Thomas P. O'Neill, Jr. Congressional Papers. This helped the students to understand how this enormous collection (428.25 linear feet or over 400 boxes) is organized. In this case, a finding aid is certainly a "thing of beauty" because it saves researchers from examining countless boxes and folders. Using the finding aid, Kathy showed the students documents from the O'Neill Congressional Archives related to the post-WWII rebuilding of Europe. In addition, the Walter Hyland, S.J. Papers gave the students a look at newspaper clippings during WWII which provided interesting quotes, stories and attitudes of the time. The class also looked at a letter to his home from Walter Hyland which described the day the Allied forces freed him and other prisoners from a Japanese internment camp in the Philippines. In addition to finding which Burns collections would be relevant for their research, students also had the opportunity to learn about older forms of communication, changing political and religious beliefs in U.S. history and economic and business endeavors during the post-WWII era.

Figure 3: The bulk of the Tip O'Neill Congressional Papers are stored in one physical location in fairly uniform boxes at the Burns Library. Figure 3: The bulk of the Tip O'Neill Congressional Papers are stored in one physical location
in fairly uniform boxes at the Burns Library.

Last, but not least, two music classes visited for single sessions to examine the Burns Library's wonderful early music and Irish Music resources. Michael Noone's MU 201 Renaissance Music class enjoyed looking at several books and manuscripts, including a 1546 volume titled Missarum Liber Primus. This volume is a collection of early Spanish liturgical music for voice and is also available online as part of the Boston College Libraries Digital Collections. This particular copy is a second edition of the first volume of a two-volume set originally published in Rome in 1544 and is bound in contemporary blind-tooled morocco. The book itself is large — 43 cm to be exact — and it is clear that it was meant to be used by a group of people singing various parts.

Folio 31 verso from Christophori Moralis Hyspalensis, Missarum liber primus, published by Jacob Moder in Lyon, 1544, John J. Burns Library, Boston College Figure 4: Folio 31 verso from Christophori Moralis Hyspalensis, Missarum liber primus, published by Jacob Moder in Lyon, 1544, John J. Burns Library, Boston College, available online.

Irish Music Center Librarian Beth Sweeney and Irish Music Center Audio-Visual Archives Assistant Jack Kearney hosted Instructor Donald James and his MU300 "Introduction to Irish Folk Music" class. The class learned about resources available in the Irish Music Archives of the Burns Library. Audiovisual resources that were mentioned included audio recordings in the Seamus Connolly papers, dance videos in the Gaelic Roots festival collection, and oral history interviews of fiddle players in the Boston College Irish Fiddle Festival collection. The students seemed particularly interested in looking at books from the Burns Library's collection, including O'Neill's Music of Ireland (1903) and Bunting's Ancient Music of Ireland (1796) since both of these historically significant publications had recently been discussed in class. To wrap up the class, the students watched a video clip from the 1990 Boston College Irish Fiddle Festival Collection of Mícheál Ó Súilleabháin interviewing Johnny Cronin.

These are only a few examples of how Burns Library Special Collections, Rare Books and University Archives are being integrated into the Boston College curriculum. If this article gives you an idea for a potential class or if you have any questions, please contact us at 617-552-4861 or burnsref@bc.edu. Also, feel free to contact me at justine.sundaram@bc.edu or my colleagues Kathleen Williams at kathleen.williams@bc.edu or Elizabeth Sweeney at elizabeth.sweeney@bc.edu. We look forward to hearing from you!

Justine Sundaram
Senior Reference Librarian, John J. Burns Library