Photo courtesy of D. Higley in the SBU construction office.
Library Rare Books Wing is a state-of-the-art facility designed to
preserve the Friedsam Library's vast collection of rare books. St. Bonaventure
University has a long history of collecting rare materials, dating back
to the first librarian of the college, Joachim
Guerrini, O.F.M. Father Guerrini collected many rare material for
the library during his tenure as the first librarian at St.
Bonaventure's College, and he continued to donate materials to the
library after he left. The facility
currently houses about 10,000 books printed in the 1500s, 1600s, and 1700s, 100
late medieval manuscripts, 100 modern manuscripts, approximately 300 incunabula--books
published within the first 50 years after the invention of printing--and the
facility has much room for the collection the grow.
A member of the Rare Books collection.
Planning of the building was initiated by Paul and Irene Bogoni, who also
provided the initial funding for the building's construction. Additional funding
was provided by Leslie C. Quick III and the estate of John R. McGinley, Sr.
Construction was completed in August 2008. Shortly thereafter, all of the rare materials, which had been housed in
the old Boehner
Room, the vault, cabinets in the Reading Room, and other storage facilities in the
library, were moved into the new wing. It took student workers about two weeks
to relocate approximately 10,000 items. After the move, the wall that separated
the Boehner Room from the Franciscan
Institute collection was torn down in order to give the Institute badly needed space.
||The entryway that connects the Rare Books Wing to the rest
of the library is part of the library's original structure. This large
room was originally split widthwise into two smaller rooms. The room in
the back was the library's original vault, and the room in the front was
the vault's antechamber, known as the Fr.
Pamfilo Room. Named for the first
president of St. Bonaventure University, the Fr. Pamfilo Room was the
favorite space of Father
Irenaeus Herscher, the Library Director of the Friedsam Library from
1937 until 1970. He also played a role in securing many donations to
the Rare Books Collection. Father Irenaeus kept materials that he
enjoyed showing to patrons in the Pamfilo Room, including a page from
the Gutenberg Bible and a collection of miniature books.
Before being renovated for its present use, the entryway went through
several different manifestations. After the rare books materials were
moved to the newer vault in the basement of Friedsam, the wall between
the two rooms was opened up to create a lounge area and copy room.
Later, the room was converted into a conference room. Today it serves as
a display area for some of the rare materials housed in the Rare Books
Father Irenaeus standing in the Pamfilo
room looking into the vault. The portrait of Father Pamfilo was recently
rediscovered in the Quick Center for the Arts. The University is looking
into having it restored.
Father Irenaeus in the original vault
behind the Pamfilo Room, showing rare materials to Olean schoolchildren,
Father Irenaeus standing by the door to
the vault in the Pamfilo Room with Olean schoolchildren, 1972.
|On the left side of the entryway to the Rare Books Wing,
there stands a set of ornate wooden bookcases and an archway. This
woodwork was originally part of the Theology Room in the Old Library
that was housed inside Alumni Hall before the construction of Friedsam
Memorial Library in 1938. Upon the completion of the Friedsam
Library, all of the library materials were moved from Alumni Hall to the
new building. This included the wooden bookcases and archway, which were
relocated to the Pamfilo Room. The bookcases were used to house books
proscribed by the Church, that could not be housed in the main
collection. Today the shelves and their contents serve as decoration.
The archway as it stood in the Theology
Room of the Library in Alumni Hall before being moved to Friedsam
The archway and bookcases as they stand
in the entryway to the Rare Books Wing today.
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Inside the Rare Books Wing
||The Rare Books Wing itself sits inside an enclosed glass hallway. Access to
the wing is highly restricted due to the rarity and value of the materials
inside. The first room one enters in the wing is a study room, which allows
scholars to have a rare item brought out to them for examination, as well as
allowing certain classes to have a special session using some of the
materials. For many people at St. Bonaventure, this is the farthest that
they will be allowed to enter in the Rare Books Wing.
The Study Room in the Rare Books Wing
The main room inside the Rare Books Wing houses the Rare
Books Collection. A number of high-density, movable shelves sit inside
this room. These shelves, designed to hold the maximum amount of materials
while using the least amount of space, are ten feet high and twenty-one
feet long. The shelves move along a set of tracks, allowing one aisle
between the shelves to be open and the rest of the shelves to be
compressed together. This greatly reduces the floor space required to
house such a large volume of material.
High-density shelving safely houses the
materials while conserving space.
In order to conserve space, the books are grouped by general
size in addition to the cataloging system. The oversized and the smaller
books are shelved separately from the "medium-sized" books that
make up most of the collection. In addition to the main room in which the
books are housed, the Rare Books Wing also contains a workroom that provides
the space and the climate-controlled environment necessary for working to
preserve the materials in the collection.
Due to the size, rarity, and value of the Rare Books
Collection, the Friedsam Rare Books Wing was designed with a number of
state-of-the-art features to preserve to collection. The facility is kept
locked at all times, and the entire wing is monitored on closed-circuit
television. The Wing also has state-of-the-art, electronically controlled
environmental controls that maintain the safest temperature and humidity
levels in the facility. This prevents the growth of harmful molds and the
deterioration of the materials. A gas-based fire suppression system
ensures that in the event of a fire, the surviving materials would not be
damaged, as would be the case with a water-based sprinkler system.
The collection is protected in seemingly simpler ways as
well. For example, the upward-reflecting light that hangs from the
facility's ceiling has a purpose. Direct exposure to light is incredibly
harmful to books, as can be seen on faded copies of older books in the
Friedsam Library's main collection. By directing the light in the Rare
Books Wing upward and reflecting it off of the lightly colored ceiling,
the threat of light damage to the Rare Books Collection is reduced.
The upward-reflecting light in the Rare
Books Wing reduces the threat of light damage to the collection.
Friedsam Memorial Library
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updated: 03 December 2012