Year in Review: Significant Acquisitions

As we close out 2023, we want to share some of our biggest achievements from the past academic year. The following is part of a series of highlights from our 2022-23 Library Year in Review. You can read the full report at LMU Digital Commons.

For more than a decade, the William H. Hannon Library has sought a greater variety of cultural artifacts, rare books, and other materials that help us understand history from a broader perspective. In particular, we recognize that the holdings of most special collection repositories, which traditionally emphasized Western values, have contributed to silencing the voices of marginalized peoples. Our efforts to amplify these voices through strategic collecting practices are resulting in more than just an expansion of collections that better support LMU’s curriculum and commitment to DEIA. They are creating a richer, more exciting dialog between objects made of different materials, created for different purposes by different communities.

Among the rare books we purchased are several which provide examples of the Catholic experience in colonial México, including the Cathecismo Romano of 1723, translated into Nahuatl by Augustinian friar Manuel Pérez for use among the indigenous people. It is also the first published Spanish translation of the Latin catechism. Joseph Eugenio Valdés’ Vida Admirable y Penitente (1765) is a hagiographical biography of Sor Sebastiana Josepha of the Convent of San Juan de la Penitencia, shedding light on a Mexican nun’s devotional life and writings.

board game and pieces
SMOG board game

We expanded our Asian holdings to support growing use by faculty and students. A fabulous copy of the Mahaprajnaparamitasutra (seen above), or Sutra of Perfection of Wisdom, printed in Nara, Japan, in 1383 makes this beautiful, silver-embellished book the oldest example of printing in the library’s collection, pre-dating our Gutenberg Bible leaf by seven decades. For our upcoming spring 2024 gallery exhibition, and in partnership with Eric Haruki Swanson (Theological Studies), we acquired volumes of Buddhist chants, temple deities, lives of important figures in the history of Buddhism, and other wonderfully illustrated works. Lovely Japanese scrolls, showcasing hand-applied brilliant colors, became instant classroom favorites beyond Asian and Theological Studies courses, engaging students in Costume History and Costume and Textile Conservation.

To recover cultural perspectives, we sought more ephemeral printed works as well as other artifacts. These newest additions included Chinese restaurant menus, activist zines promoting a variety of 21st century social justice causes, and a late 19th century magnetic board game, L’Oracle de Moustachu Ebenassi, that combines geography education and divination play with Western colonizer overtones. For our upcoming fall 2023 gallery exhibition, we acquired a late 19th century–early 20th century Chinese traveling tea set and a late 18th century–early 19th century Persian traveling lady’s mirror. We also added another vintage board game, SMOG, created in 1970 to educate players on the crucial interconnections between political decisions and pollution of the environment.

We honored the retirement of two library staff members this year, Carol Raby and Reggie Melonson, with special acquisitions. Carol’s long association with children’s books, including her work with the LMU Children’s Center, gave us the opportunity to acquire a signed first printing of Mei Li (1938) by Thomas Handforth. This beautiful work was the second winner of the Caldecott Medal. To recognize Reggie’s over 40 years of service, we established a new archival collection, the Loyola Marymount University Early Black Cinema Collection. The initial materials date from 1926 to 1973 and include posters, lobby cards, promotional photographs, and film press kits.

Flying Ace movie poster
“The Flying Ace” movie poster

Our John August Swanson Collection grew this year thanks to the continued generosity of the John August Swanson Trust. Co-trustees Andrew Shimmin and Christopher Romano worked with Luther Seminary to transfer the Trust’s Swanson materials to LMU. They also donated a vast collection of digital files from John August Swanson’s studio database, to be added to our Swanson digital collection.

Finally, LMU community members contributed oral histories and other digital materials to the University Archives for two digital collections, the Inclusive History and Images Project and Cura Personalis: Lions with Disabilities digital collections, the latter in partnership with Amanda Apgar (Women’s and Gender Studies).