Although one of the university’s less popular resources, Stephen O. The Murray and Keelung Hong Special Collections hold many rare materials in the MSU Libraries.
The collection offers everything from comics to historical documents to students, administrators, and the public.
“We have a very broad collection, both in subject matter and in chronology,” said instruction and outreach librarian Ruth Ann Jones. “The second oldest material in our collection is about 800 years old, before the beginning of 2022. The oldest one is 3000 years old.
MSU’s Special Collections also hopes to preserve and promote history while keeping materials available to the public.
“One thing we try to make people aware of is that everyone is welcome,” Jones said. “At a number of universities, the Special Collections or Rare Book Room is not officially off-limits to undergraduates, but they are not invited to be there, and they do not feel welcome.”
Leah Welch, Senior Student Assistant for History and Special Collections, has been with the library for over a year. He found Special Collections to be an incredibly useful resource for learning, as well as playing a crucial role in historical preservation.
“Touching it and getting it – I think we should get it,” Welch said. “It’s really like a museum where you can touch things and it’s not behind glass.”
While materials must remain in the designated viewing space of the MSU Libraries when in use, Special Collections offers a rare opportunity to directly engage with history. Make an appointment to visit the reading room through the MSU Libraries website.
“It’s a different model of using library resources than what students automatically think about checking out a book,” Jones said. “This is rare material that is not available online or is very valuable. We have a number of things in the collection that are the only known copy, or at least the only known copy of a particular edition.”
In addition to offering early access to materials, there is also a series of pop-ups throughout the school year. Schedules of events are published by semester, with exhibits each day showcasing specific parts of the collection.
The most recent event took place on November 15th, featuring teen magazines throughout history. Magazines from the 1950s were available for passers-by to browse and enjoy.
“I don’t know how familiar students are with everything we have to offer,” said MSU Libraries Communications Manager Elise Jajuga. “We have teen magazines that can offer a lot of historical benefit to today’s trends.”
The final event of the fall semester will be held on Tuesday, November 29 in the MSU Main Library. The exhibit, titled Asian Americans Fighting Prejudice, is on view in the Special Collections Room from 12:00 to 2:00 p.m. Virtual tours are offered by registration from 2:30 to 3:00 p.m.
“(MSU’s libraries and special collections) help to broaden the overall perspective … What might be important for continuing education or beginning education?” Jajuga said. “We have such a wealth of (resources) that I don’t think most students or East Lansing residents really realize … There’s so much that can be tapped into.”
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