Classics Students: Welcome to a New Academic Year!

New releases of guides and tutorials this fall include:

  • “The Classics Library Guide” which in addition to highlighting the history of the Library and some of its works of art, offers a detailed description of the circulation policies in the Classics Library and advice on how to search the Library Catalog.
  • “A Virtual Tour of the Library” which offers a brief introduction to the physical layout, collections, and staff of the Classics Library. Because virtual tours are expected to be kept to a minimum length, there is much that had to be left out including additional physical locations and collections, but this virtual tour may at least offer some basic understanding of how the materials are organized as well as offer a somewhat lighthearted presentation accessible to classicists and non-classicists alike.
  • “A Research Guide for Classics Majors” is a tutorial chiefly directed at undergraduate students: however, beginning grad students may also benefit from learning something about the Library Catalog and some of the digital resources in the Library.

Following a survey conducted among classics grad students in the spring, the Classics Library has enacted a few additions and changes:

Several additional print monographs and journals have been acquired (the latter e.g., Facta: A Journal of Roman Material Culture Studies, Studies in Late Antiquity, Classics Ireland, Paideia: Rivista letteraria di informazione bibliografica, Journal of Ancient Egyptian Interconnections, Greek and Roman Musical Studies, etc.). Our aim is high, i.e., to maintain and build upon a world-class collection in the broadest areas of Classical Studies – Philology, History, Numismatics, Epigraphy, Papyrology, Law, Philosophy, Religion, Art, Architecture, Topography, and Archaeology spanning the Near East, Egypt, all corners of the Greek and Roman worlds as well as the Classical Tradition of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance.  We are also attempting to fill lacunae and have taken measures that will, hopefully, reduce them in the future such as expanding coverage with our main German, Italian, U.S., and French book dealers.

  • Number 2 on the list was a scanner. We acquired a Book Edge & Overhead Scanner, also in an attempt at better preserving the many valuable but brittle and damaged books. Since this is not a flatbed scanner or a copier, the books will not be pressed down flat, which is important. We also like to save trees. Please take care of our books (also in the Graduate Student Room)! If we have to replace them, we will not be able to purchase newly-published titles and often books go out of print and attempting to locate out-of-print titles on the antiquarian market is prohibitively expensive. We no longer allow food or drink in the library for this reason.
  • Number 3 on the list was the Library’s physical space. The Reading Room was felt to be “cold and sterile.” As a result, we have acquired flowers, table lamps, and moved art work with classical antiquity themes and warm colors in there in addition to introducing display cases with artifacts and books.

In the stacks we have discarded the many broken shelves, tables, chairs and all the garbage that had accumulated in the last couple of years. We have cleaned tables and even walls to improve the space in addition to buying flowers, table lamps, pencil holders, pencils, note paper, and wall images. We have further introduced more comfortable chairs on stack-level 5, which was also on the wish list.

We have further placed two “hospital tables” in the stacks, one by the elephant folios on S4 and another by the regular oversize books on S6. Because these tables have wheels and are very light, they are easy to wheel to the book you wish to consult without having to carry it three floors up or try to maneuver these often heavy and huge tomes to the east side of the floor and the tables there.  We have also placed a table by the north-east wall close to the folios. Someday we hope to move these books to a less awkward location.

Another, we hope, helpful step is that we have introduced subject headings (in addition to the earlier call numbers) in the Stacks to help orient you.

We have moreover taken steps to facilitate the use of the microform reader (please note that there are many out of print monographs that are only available on microfilm), so we moved it to room 415 off of the Reading Room to create a nicer space with a window, a comfortable chair, and close proximity to the circulation desk to also be able to offer assistance when consulting microfilm or fiche.

Another item on the list was the library catalog. Although we acknowledge the short-comings of the interface and the many issues with the actual cataloging of classics materials (for example, the curious separation of Greek and Latin in the cataloging of monographic series unrelated to how classicists actually use this material), it is not an easy fix as it involves other UC library departments. What we can do, however, is help navigate the catalog and stacks. We are always happy to help!

  • A last item on the list was the nuisance of having to run up and down the stacks to check references and the like. For this reason, we have introduced iPads on all the stack floors (by the staff elevator). Polytonic Greek is not yet available on them. They are set to the advanced search mode in the library catalog. Please note that any attempt at tinkering with the iPads or computers in the Library to disseminate sexist, racist, antisemitic, homophobic, speciesist, etc., words or images, or for any other purpose, will result in immediate suspension of all Classics Library privileges.

This fall, the following measures will be taken:

  • The tables in the Reading Room will be refinished. These beautiful tables, some of them as old as 100 years, have numerous marks on them from coffee mugs, deliberate pocket knife cuts, etc. The carpenters will remove one table to their shop, refinish it and bring it back, take another table and bring that back when finished, etc. The disruption will be kept at a minimum. Needless to say, we had hoped that this would have been done during the summer, but since we are dependent on the schedules of others, we have not been able to control this.
  • This is also the issue with regard to the shifting of books. The classics books in ARB will be transferred to the so called Palaeography cage for maximum security. However, since we are also intent on improving the physical conditions for these valuable books, we have asked that new book shelves be designed to be placed on top of the existing, for our books destructive, shelves (which cannot be removed because they form part of the structure of the building itself). Also, we have asked the Preservation Department to evaluate each book for possible future conservation treatment and to have them boxed temporarily while being moved.
  • The books currently in the cage will be transferred to the Stacks to join the palaeography books already there, to Reference if they are of a reference nature and suitable for that space, to a new Palaeography Room in 414 that will house a working collection of paleography, epigraphy, papyrology, and numismatics materials. Other rare and valuable palaeography titles will remain in the new Rare Books & Manuscripts Room (formerly the Pal. cage) and join the rare books coming from ARB. The new Palaeography Room will be open. You are welcome to study in there as well as in the Reading Room, both of which will be quiet spaces.
  • We will move the Loebs and the OCTs to the Reading Room, both to create a more “traditional” reading room, but also to make access to these sets as easy as possible since there will be no need to go up and down stairs (we are in general moving more reference type books from Stacks to Reference to reduce the need to use the more cumbersome stack stairs when carrying these often large and heavy tomes). We would have preferred a Teubner/Loeb combination or a Teubner/Budé one, but there is not enough bookcase space for the large Teubner or Budé series, the former of which will remain in Reference. We are moving the Budé and Mondadori series from the Stacks to Reference.
  • We are installing technology in room 412 (room accessible from the lobby) in order to introduce new students to the library’s digital resources. The new high tech room can also be used as a classroom by the department and as study and comp. exam space by individual classics students when not in use as a classroom by the department or library (to complement departmental offices and classrooms).

We are moreover working on an extensive subject guide for grad students which we hope will be ready to add to our website sometime this fall.

Together with the department we are also planning to curate new exhibitions in the Reading Room.

On the Library’s wish list is further to host the occasional event in the Library such as a reading and recital in cooperation with the CCM library, an ancient theater performance, or a lecture. In fact, the Library will host a Q&A event for classicists at 3:30 pm on September 7 in connection with the performance of “Theater of War: A Dramatic Reading of Scenes from Sophocles’ Ajax” in the CCM building later that evening (7-9 pm), see: .

Other news:

  • The newly acquired books and journals have been moved to one of the carrel tables in the Reading Room to make the consulting of them more convenient since you will now be able to sit comfortably rather than on the floor or bend over. For Harry Potter fans this month’s table features: ρειος Ποτὴρ καὶ ἡ τοῦ φιλοσόφου λίθος, Harrius Potter et philosophi lapis, and Harrius Potter et camera secretorum. Those who frown upon pop culture will have plenty of actual scholarship to peruse as well.
  • Another piece of news is that the UC campus, including outside of Blegen, went smoke-free on May 1.
  • Last but not least, by popular faculty demand, we have resurrected the old wall-mounted flip index which you can use to quickly and easily locate the call numbers of journals listed in alphabetical order. Unfortunately, the previous all-metal index had been discarded. This is what we could find to replace it. The principle is the same and it is located in the exact same spot as the previous one, on the north-east wall of stack-level 5.

Again, welcome all! We are looking forward to answer any library-related questions you might have and help make your library experience as productive as possible. This semester we will have several classics students, including from Hebrew Union College, helping out in the library in addition to our fabulous staff, Mike and Cade.

We hope that the coming year will be a productive and enjoyable one for all!

Rebecka Lindau, Ph.D.

Head, John Miller Burnam Classics Library

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