Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Found in the Stacks

Many people liken Mount Holyoke College's library to Hogwarts, the "mythical" school of witchcraft and wizardry from the Harry Potter series. This may be because of the high, arched ceiling in the reading room (modeled after that in Westminster Hall) or the LITS staff's sense of humor.

One of the more magical things I've discovered in the last week has been the collection of notes tucked into various books in the LITS stacks. Ethan Powers, the Night/Weekend Supervisor for Access Services, has found and gathered these notes for the past few years. We at the Archives love anything that helps us document Mount Holyoke's rich past, and these certainly qualify! They range from little doodles and notes to photographs of family members from the mid twentieth century. I've put a few from each category below with some commentary.  

One of my favorite parts about these notes is the material on which they are written- many are scrawled on loan notices, cards, old photographs and even a brown paper bag! It's as if the person picked up whatever was handy and drew what was on their mind. The hand, for example, is written on the back of a loan slip from Western New England College School of Law.  It's smudged and unfinished, but strangely more beautiful for it.

Others are clipped from larger drawings or were scribbled in the margins of notebook paper. One of the common themes in the doodles is life advice. A miniature shark threatens to eat you if you don't return your library books on time, a forlorn puppy encourages you to adopt, or a quote surrounded by silver stars tells you, "I either find a way or I make one." The notes are timeless, nearly all of them undated. Many are recent (apparent from the paper utilized) but many could date back to the mid 1900s.

In addition to drawings, a few of the notes contain greetings to friends and old postcards. One says, "Dierdre: If I'm asleep when you come: 1. Knock loudly 2. Give that up and come in and wake me...Sandie."  The note looks pretty old, but situations like this play out during finals to this day!

To see the highlights of the collection of notes, please visit this page and this one.

We'd love to hear your comments about the mysteries in the library stacks, notes you've found, or reasons why Mount Holyoke is secretly Hogwarts.

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