Oct 20, 2021

"While We Were Out: Building Special Collections while Working from Home!"

By: Jessica Lacher-Feldman, Exhibitions and Special Projects Manager

The team in RBSCP and the Robbins Library rose to the occasion, with the challenges we faced during the pandemic lockdown. One of the biggest challenges for all of us was being away from our friends and colleagues as we navigated our world from our homes. It was also tough to be away from our collections, as so much of the work we do in RBSCP directly connects to handling physical materials. Of course, that work with the actual collections cannot be done from outside of the department and library.


We were able to do a great deal of important work, including identifying and acquiring some important materials to add to our holdings, allowing us to further our mission to support teaching, research, and creative endeavors in the University of Rochester community and beyond. While We Were Out, a small exhibit that borrows a design element from the classic office message pad, “While You Were Out” highlights some of the items that we acquired during the pandemic to share with visitors to the library now that we are back in the building and working (while masked!) with faculty, students, and visitors of all kinds.


Robbins case

The exhibit case in Robbins Library includes an interesting cross-section of materials including two artists’ books by Dmitry Sayenko of St. Petersburg and an Ethiopian Missal ca. 1860, a decorated parchment volume with musical notation and diagrams used for the performance of the Mass for either the Ethiopian Orthodox or Ethiopian Catholic Church. The physical structure of the manuscript is the same as those from the early Christian, or Coptic, church (4th–7thcenturies).


Steam Turbine drawing

Le machine. Rome: Giacomo Mascardi for Giacomo Manuci, 1629.​ First edition of this rare treatise on machinery. Among the fine series of 77 woodcuts is the first printed representation of a steam turbine, first described by Leonardo in the Codex Leicester, and it marks the earliest depiction of the use of steam as motive power. Numerous other machines are shown, including a reversing hoisting engine.

If you are on campus and in the Rush Rhees Library, please be sure to stop by RBSCP (2nd floor) and Robbins (4th floor) to get a sampling of what we have acquired recently. Items are on display in the Hilfiker Gallery, and in Robbins, and we will be featuring select items as well on social media throughout the fall 2021 semester.


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