The 10:30 a.m. program to bless and rededicate the library will be followed by a light reception and tours of both the historic building and the new Holy Name Library for the Franciscan Institute, which houses St. Bonaventure’s remarkable collection of rare books.
Members of the community are welcome to attend.
Attendees can expect remarks from Paul Spaeth, M.L.S., library director; Dr. Michael Fischer, provost and vice president for academic affairs; Bill Heaney, representing state Sen. Catharine Young; and Sr. Margaret Carney, O.S.F., S.T.D., president of St. Bonaventure University.
The library opened on March 7, 1938, and was built from money donated by the foundation of Col. Michael Friedsam, who became president of New York City’s B. Altman Co. in 1913. Friedsam had the majority of his fortune set aside to form a foundation that donated money to institutions that promoted the betterment of youth and the human condition.
Friedsam Memorial Library replaced Alumni Hall, which had housed the college’s library for more than 50 years but had become too small to handle the size of the collection.
The books were transferred from Alumni Hall to Friedsam by a “book brigade.” Led by college President Thomas Plassmann, O.F.M., the seminarians and the student body passed the books hand to hand, forming a human chain.
Today, the library has more than 375,000 titles, and more than 35,000 periodical titles in print or digital form. Friedsam, which has two computer labs, also houses the university’s Archives, as well as several special art, poetry and journalism collections.
The most impressive collection is located in the Holy Name Library for the Franciscan Institute, a new wing of Friedsam that protects the university’s collection of rare books. The collection is described by the National Endowment for the Humanities as “a unique national asset of great value to American humanistic scholarship.”
Holy Name Library includes the most important collection of Franciscana in North America, more than 9,000 rare books and manuscripts dating from the 12th century up to and including the seminal journals of renowned monastic Thomas Merton, who taught English at St. Bonaventure in the early 1940s.
“From the printed page to cloud computing, by remembering and honoring our past, we can build a firm foundation for the future,” said Paul J. Spaeth, M.L.S, director of the library.
St. Bonaventure alumni are invited to share their memories of Friedsam Library at http://friedsamlibrary75.wordpress.com/.
Pictured, Fr. Irenaeus Herscher, O.F.M., who was librarian at Friedsam from 1938 to 1970.
Photo courtesy of St. Bonaventure