University Library Hosts Diverse Exhibits For Fall Semester

Treasures from the Vault 

Sheet Music

Medieval musical notation

Writing quills, missal leaves, rabbit skin glue, agate burnisher, medieval music and notation, illuminated manuscripts—are by all means a rare glimpse of a fascinating moment in history. 

SJSU Special Collections & Archives celebrates the rich and beautiful legacy of medieval history with a new exhibit, Treasures from the Vault: Medieval Manuscripts and Beyond, that is on display on the fifth-floor exhibit gallery of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Library from Aug. 15 through Dec. 9.

The exhibit showcases illuminated manuscripts and incunabula made in the late middle ages that draw from a fascinating array of subjects like medieval music, personal devotional books and religious scholarship.

Two SJSU students from the MLIS program Jacob Rabinowitz and Fiona Du Brock, came upon these illuminated manuscripts while working on a cataloging project, and decided they should be shared with others. 

“These beautiful handmade documents were sitting in the vault without having any indication that they exist,” said Rabinowitz. “I like the idea of getting them available to the public. The archives and special collections exist for people so they can use our materials for research.”

The exhibit is a unique opportunity for people to witness handwritten documents that go back hundreds of years. 

“These are the oldest materials we have in our archives,” Du Brock added. “It should be noted that all of the manuscripts on display are fragments, we don’t have any complete manuscripts.”

Both Rabinowitz and Du Brock thought a cool display of this kind would pique general interest as well as make people engage more with the archives. 

The special collection library figures prominently in the university map as it supports diverse teaching and research needs of students, faculty and the larger community. 

The Art of Remembrance

The University Library hosted an opening reception for the Art of Remembrance exhibit. Photo by Lesley Seacrist.

The University Library hosted an opening reception for the Art of Remembrance exhibit. Photo by Lesley Seacrist.

The Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Library often displays exhibits curated from its special collections, from other departments on campus or from arts organizations that enrich the community and appeal to a diverse audience.  

This month the library is holding its 13th Annual Art of Remembrance Altar Exhibit in collaboration with the San José Multicultural Artists Guild. The exhibit features traditional and contemporary visual arts and altars by local and Bay Area artists, in the tradition of Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead). 

This visually vibrant Mexican tradition offers a space for the community to pause, reflect and remember the spirit of their loved ones by celebrating their legacy. Altars are elaborately decorated with flowers, photos, mementos and food for their departed loved ones.

The exhibit, which opened for the public on Oct. 10 with a reception featuring tamales, pan de muerto and hot chocolate, is curated by SJSU Librarian Kathryn Blackmer Reyes and BFA student Nanzi Muro. The reception also marked the official launch of $50k & Beyond, a campaign for the Africana, Asian American, Chicano and Native American (AAACNA) Studies Center Endowment to support the Center’s important work. The exhibit is open through Nov. 8.

Bay Area Pride

In addition, the Bay Area Pride: 50 Years of LGBTQ History, Politics, and Culture Exhibit will be on display through Dec. 20 in the Special Collections Exhibit Hall on the Fifth Floor. The exhibit includes original photos from the Ted Sahl Archives, Billy DeFrank LGBT Silicon Valley Community Center Papers and much more. A reception will be held in the Schiro Room on Oct. 17, from 4 to 6 p.m.


University Scholars Series Features Craig Simpson Talk on Kent State Shootings

Craig Simpson

Craig Simpson

The University Scholar Series for fall 2019 will continue on Oct 9. The event will be held from noon to 1 p.m. in the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Library Room 225/229. The series is free and open to the public, with a light lunch provided.

The Kent State Shootings at 50: Rage, Reflection and Remembrance

Director of Special Collections and Archives at SJSU Craig Simpson will present his work on Oct. 9. He is the co-author of Above the Shots: An Oral History of the Kent State Shootings, which was nominated for a National Council on Public History Book Award. Simpson and his co-author examined how the detailed, varied and at-times contradictory accounts challenge and deepen the understanding of the events on May 4, 1970, when four Kent State University students were killed and nine others were wounded by members of the Ohio National Guard.

Simpson will explore how their methodology led to both obstacles and opportunities, resulting in a text departing in some ways from its original conception, yet one that fulfilled their objective to show how “The Long 1960s,” and the conflicts from that era that still rage in our own, can be illuminated at the intersection of individual and collective memory. He will also discuss potential avenues for further research as we near the 50th anniversary of this pivotal event in contemporary American history.

Simpson has a master’s of Library and Information Science from Kent State University and a master’s in history from Marquette University. He is a certified archivist and an oral historian. Before joining SJSU in 2018, he served as a special collections librarian at Kent State University Libraries and led the Kent State Shootings Oral History Project, a digital collection of more than 100 interviews about the events that occurred on May 4, 1970. He has also served as the Lilly Library Manuscripts Archivists at Indiana University.