BC Libraries Honor Monan’s Legacy

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j. donald monan

Hundreds of students filter in and out of O’Neill Library everyday at a staccato pace, fueled by caffeine and impending deadlines. Immersed in the business of their lives, these same students may have not noticed a rare gem planted on display in the middle of the third floor O’Neill lobby: the millionth book acquired by the Boston College Library, a copy of the Decretals of Pope Gregory IX printed in 1473.

The late Rev. J. Donald Monan, S.J., the 24th president of BC, was integral to the library’s quest to acquire and purchase the book and offered his support throughout the process. During his combined 45 years as president and chancellor, he worked extensively to improve BC Libraries. After his passing, BC Libraries has put together a commemoration to the life and legacy of the president who did so much to build BC.

The commemoration does not stop at O’Neill. The second floor of Bapst Library features an exhibit dedicated to Monan’s legacy called Si monumentum requiris circumspice, which translated to English means “If you seek his monument, look around.”

Staff from various departments browsed through University Archives in order to find documents and photos that accurately represented Monan’s great contribution to the University. The pictures and documents featured illustrate the accomplished and knowledge-hungry life of the man they commemorate. The display will be featured in Bapst throughout the week in order to honor Monan’s memory.

“We wanted to show off all he did for the libraries and demonstrate all he did for the campus as well,” Carli Spina, head librarian for assessment and outreach, said.

Along with working to purchase BC’s millionth library book, Monan played a crucial role in the construction of O’Neill, the renovation of Bapst, the establishment of the John J. Burns Special Collections Library, and the construction of the Law Library on the Newton Campus.

“We know through his comments published by BC magazine that he enjoyed seeing the libraries in use,” Amy Braitsch, head archivist at the Burns Library, said in an email.

In terms of choosing what exhibits they want to display, sometimes the staffers will choose articles centered around a theme of commemoration. Often, however, the exhibits are planned out and organized far in advance in order to give the staff an opportunity to make sure that it has the right amount of materials and necessary components that will make up the displays. Interpretive texts are included in all of the displays that the library showcases, which take additional time to write. University Archives and Burns Library staff often are the authors of these interpretive texts depending on the exhibit.

The BC Libraries physical exhibits at O’Neill and Bapst Libraries draw from our collections, using available published works, artifacts, correspondence, ephemera, and photographs to convey a message,” Braitsch said. “In this case, that message was documenting Fr. Monan’s profound impact at Boston College and sustained support for the Libraries.

Featured Image by Amelie Trieu / Heights Editor

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