Earlier this Fall, The Burke Library proudly reopened its doors to the Columbia and Union communities after being closed for eighteen months due to the Covid-19 pandemic. It has been wonderful to see so many new and returning friends use Burke’s study spaces, stacks, and general collections. Our staff is particularly proud to provide renewed access to Burke’s fabulous collections of rare and archival materials, which were mostly inaccessible during the extended period of closure.
Almost immediately after reopening, we installed a new exhibit in the Seth Kasten Memorial Exhibit Case on the first floor of the library. This exhibit, devoted to new rare and archival materials acquired by Burke in the last year, provides a small window into the diverse array of special collections that are available for individual research and teaching purposes. Among the items on display are an Early Modern edition of a medieval theologian’s letters; a twelfth-century passion play with roots in Classical Greek literature; a sixteenth-century program of theological education by Erasmus; a manuscript theological dictionary from the eighteenth century; the travel narrative of a female itinerant evangelist in the early 1800s; and a notebook from the archival papers of Union’s own James H. Cone. We hope you will stop by and have a look at these exciting items!
We were also delighted to welcome our first special collections class back into The Burke Library! On Friday, September 24, Susan Boynton, Professor of Historical Musicology at Columbia, held her class on medieval liturgical manuscripts in our conference room. Students spent three hours examining several of Burke’s wonderful liturgical manuscripts, brought to Union Theological Seminary in the mid-nineteenth century as part of the collection of Leander Van Ess. It was such a pleasure to welcome this group of students back into the library, and we look forward to many more special collections visits in the near future!