By Marah J. Morrison
Students may want to reconsider what lies in the vaults of Maag Library the next time they enter. On the fifth floor of the library, students will not only be able to get a little piece of Youngstown State University history, but will be able to observe rare, hard to find things including sacred words and religious, historical artifacts right before their very eyes.
Cassie Nespor, the curator of the YSU’s archives and the Melnick Medical Museum, is a current staff member at Maag Library. Nespor said that Maag Library has some very interesting collections and spend a great deal of time taking care of it.
“These are not books you are going to run into during your classes,” Nespor said. “I think it’s important to broaden your horizons and to realize that books have been around for a very long time.”
Nespor said the archived books remind people of how books were made 800 years ago before machinery. Nespor said that people had to paint the pictures on every page, mix the paints, make the paper and bind it all together.
Kevin Whitfield, the catalog librarian at Maag Library, said that the sacred words exhibit makes college students more aware of the collections in the library and that sometimes people are not aware of the extent of the information that the library has.
“It showcases a certain type of material that we might have in the collection that’s a particular interest,” Whitfield said. “The rare books definitely are something of particular interest because they might not be able to find them anywhere else in the state or in the country.”
Whitfield said college students that are in religious studies in particular can benefit from the sacred words exhibit because it can show them different viewpoints. Whitfield also said students can never really know enough about what is going on in the library and that they can never know enough about how the library can serve them.
Brian Brennan is an assistant archivist at Maag Library and has been employed at YSU for 31 years. He said that in general, students can benefit from the archives on the fifth floor, the university community and the Youngstown community because it’s showing an aspect of culture that is being preserved here in the archives.
“In this case, religious publications that are going clear back to clay tablets that have always been important in society,” Brennan said. “Our little biblical collection here promotes that cultural interest.”
Brennan said he has always been interested in history and said when they created the archives in the years of 2003 and 2004, they were asking for volunteers and Brennan jumped in on it and has been at Youngstown State ever since.
“We preserve the history of the university,” Brennan said. “We’re like grandma’s attic and whenever people are interested in some historical aspect of the university, they are looking at primary material. They’re looking at material as it was written.”
Brennan said that quite a few people check out the exhibits on the fifth floor of Maag Library. He said they are there if it’s needed and that preservation of the history doesn’t necessarily require utility.
“It’s a cultural thing that we are doing and that we are preserving the history whether anyone uses it or not,” Brennan said. “It’s still an important thing in case anybody wants to see it and we’re preserving our little bit of local culture here.”