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Special Collections to host weekly pop-ups showcasing library archives

January 22, 2019

Special Collections — a division of the Michigan State Library that holds an accumulation of rare books for research purposes — is planning to host a series of weekly events that showcase various highlights of the archived collection.

Ruth Ann Jones, the special collections education and outreach librarian, is the coordinator and host of the events. Though these "Pop-up Fridays" will only be weekly occurrences, there are several other events and displays that Special Collections hosts. 

The first pop-up of the semester, called “How Big Should a Book Be," explored books of all sizes — ranging from an inch-long dictionary to a botany book standing at four feet tall. Future pop-ups will look at t-shirts from the radicalism collection, the Nuremberg Chronicle, which is one of the oldest books in the world and zine collections from transgender community organizations. 

“It's material that is rare, sometimes fragile, sometimes valuable,” Jones said. “Rare may not mean that it's 400 years old, but that it would simply be hard to replace if we let it be checked out, and somebody accidentally lost it or never returned it. And it's also areas where we are trying to build often. It's areas where we're trying to build a nationally or internationally unique collection.”

Jones hopes to host events appealing to a variety of students, staff, faculty and visitors. Past semesters have seen similar events hosted on Tuesday nights. This year, Jones chose to host them on Friday afternoons to make them more accessible, particularly for students who might be busy during the week. 

Tad Boehmer, the curator of Rare Books for MSU Special Collections, will host some of the future pop-ups. He sees the pop-ups and similar events as a way for library-goers to see more of what the library has to offer.

“I'm looking forward to this semester t-shirts is the radicalism collection. It’s creative because it really shows how the library doesn't have just books," Boehmer said. "And I mean, I love books. I live for books, but to show everybody else that we have all sorts of things in our collections. we have buttons, t-shirts, signs from protests — we even have a cowbell from when MSU was in the Rose Bowl.”

Collectively, Jones and Boehmer will be hosting 12 more Pop-up Fridays each week for the remainder of the school year from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. On top of the Friday series, the MSU Library will also be hosting many other events, such as film screenings, cultural discussions and various workshops. 

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