An iconic structure of Florida State’s campus, the gothic-styled Westcott Building was once threatened by a massive blaze on April 27, 1969. The fire started in the roof above the fourth floor, spreading beneath the sheetrock ceiling and causing intense damage throughout the fourth floor. The Westcott Building housed the University’s administration as well as the art department at the time and attention turned to not only saving the building and human lives, but the innumerable valuable documents and pieces of art stored within the structure.
As the April 28, 1969 edition of the Florida Flambeau notes, the art department was deemed a total loss but a painting by Reubens valued at $30,000 dollars, as well as work by FSU faculty member Dr. Karl Zerbe, valued at $50,000 were safely extracted from the inferno by brave students. Florida Flambeau editor Sam Miller details some of the more memorable moments from the scene:
“After the fire was out, students again poured in to try to salvage the paintings from the third floor. Perhaps the first comic relief of the evening came when two students carried out a bigger-than-life painting of a psychedelic nude.”
For those interested in taking a step into the University’s past, we invite you to view the linked 13 minute video that includes a variety of moments from FSU in 1969, including the Westcott Fire (skip ahead to 3:25). You can check it out here.
Our Research Center Reading Room and Norwood Reading Room have returned to their normal semester hours in Strozier Library. We’re open Monday-Thursday, 10AM to 6PM and on Fridays from 10AM to 5:30PM.
Wonder what Special Collections & Archives can do for you? Over the next two weeks, we’ll be highlighting our collections and services here on our blog to introduce you to what we do and have here in our division.
In addition to my work as a Graduate Assistant in the Special Collections & Archives Division, I’m a full time student studying for a Master of Science in Library and Information Science at The School of Information at Florida State University. As a Graduate Assistant, I’ve been able to apply the academic knowledge gained from my library classes to the different projects I’ve worked on as a Graduate Assistant in Special Collections & Archives. Additionally, my work in Special Collections & Archives has given me a richer, more practical understanding of the opportunities and challenges that librarians face today.
As a graduate student, I’m gaining the knowledge needed to succeed in the library profession. I’ve taken a number of great courses, but some of the classes that have been particularly relevant to my work in Special Collections are the following:
LIS 5703 Information Organization
This is a required course in the School of Information’s Master of Science in Information Science program, and for good reason. After taking this course, future librarians better understand the theoretical framework for organizing and accessing information. Much of the first half of the course focuses on the organization of various systems–such as article databases, like JSTOR, and the FSU Libraries online catalog. Understanding how records are organized in the library catalog means that I’m better able to help Special Collections patrons find the information they need. Sometimes patrons only have a vague idea of what they need, or a topic they’re researching and are not aware of all the resources Special Collections has to offer. And while I might not be an expert in every area that Special Collections encompasses, as a librarian, I am able to find you the resources that that you need.
This course also introduces the concept of metadata, or “data about data.” Understanding the administrative role that metadata plays in the access and retrieval of a resource was essential for the work I did with the Digital Library Center, in which I digitized 12 issues of The Girl’s Own Annual , and made those issues available to the broader community through FSU’s Digital Library. You can find out more about that project from this blog post.
LIS 5472 Digital Libraries
This is an elective in the School of Information, and provides students with the guiding principles behind the construction and management of a digital library. This course also provides students with some “hands on” experience. Using the open source platform Omeka, students in this class create their own small-scale digital library. There has been a lot of overlap between my classwork for Digital Libraries and the work I’ve done as a Graduate Assistant. For my second project as a GA in Special Collections, I created an online exhibit with the platform Omeka, which can be found at fscwscrapbooks.omeka.net.
HIS 5082 Introduction to Archives
Because it is my hope to continue working in a Special Collections & Archives department after graduating, I wanted to take the opportunity to take formal coursework in archival science. This course is offered through the History Department, and is taught at the State Archives of Florida. My work in Special Collections & Archives provided me with a solid foundation to start with, to which this course has given me a richer understanding of the principles that guide an archivist’s work.
LIS 5511 Management of Information Collections
One major focus of this class was the Collection Development Policy, the formal document which guides a library’s collecting policies. As a GA, one of my projects this semester has been to make an initial assessment of various rare book donations, according to FSU Special Collections & Archives procedures. Understanding the role and purpose of a Collection Development Policy has been helpful in understanding the process for donation to cataloged item.
This is just a sample of the coursework I’ve completed for my Master of Science in Library and Information Science. It has been a privilege to apply the knowledge I’ve gained in my classes to my work as a Special Collections & Archives Graduate Assistant. Moreover, working as a Graduate Assistant has given me a better understanding of the practical applications of the knowledge I’ve gained.
Rebecca L. Bramlett is a graduate assistant in the Special Collections & Archives Division. She is working on her Master of Library and Information Science at Florida State University.
In 1938, Mary Agnes Harding transferred to FSCW from Florida Southern College. Little did she and her family know that she would be the first in line of Harding siblings to attend Florida State – her four sisters Winnie, Doris, Lena, and Lucy, and her brother Edward, would also attend Florida State over a 17 year period. From 1938 through 1955, there was always a Harding at Florida State.
When Mary first moved to Tallahassee, she lived in an off campus house for college students. She recalled a time in winter, when it was particularly cold out, leaving a heater near the bottom of the stairs and a fire breaking out. Because the students weren’t able to go down the stairs to exit the building, they jumped out the windows or climbed onto tree limbs. Mary remembers that she jumped into a ligustrum that was just outside her window. After the fire, FSCW found room for everyone on campus, and Mary moved into Reynolds Hall. Aside from studying for her major in home economics, Mary enjoyed going to Camp Flastacowo on the weekends, and walking to see movies at the theatre with her friends.
The Harding family tradition of attending Florida State was carried on by Winifred (or “Winnie”) who went on to be a laboratory technician; Lena, who taught business education; Lucille (or “Lucy”), who taught physical education; Doris, the sister they all called “the brain” (Mary remarked that Doris “graduated Cum Laude – the rest of us just graduated”) worked for the U.S. Geological Survey; and Edward, the last Harding sibling to graduate from FSU studied industrial arts education.
After graduating in 1940, Mary married Ken Galbreath, and they started a dairy farm in Fruitland Park, FL, and also taught for over 40 years. She continues to live on the farm they started with her family.
Each issue is fully text searchable using Advanced Search in the FSUDL as well as browsable by year and month. We hope to continue to grow this collection over the following years. A larger collection of the Florida Flambeau is currently available in the Internet Archive as well.