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Diocesan News

Books still a critical part of our world

By Donna Brockmeyer

02/18/2015

SASKATOON — St. Thomas More College is home to one of the best Catholic college libraries in Western Canada. The collection of the Shannon Library at STM is a community resource designed to support classes taught at the college and is also an excellent resource for the Catholic community.

“Coming from many years of working at the STM library, I know what a valuable resource the library is for the wider Catholic community. We are pleased to help those who are looking for Catholic materials on topics such as liturgy, sacraments, encyclicals, church documents, apologetics, ethics, the saints, devotions, art, and many other religious topics,” says longtime library administrator Dorothy Abernethy.

Shannon Library is an excellent home for materials in the many disciplines taught at STM in the humanities and social sciences. Subject areas include English, history, political studies, philosophy, religious studies, sociology, psychology, French, and economics. Of particular interest to the Catholic community are holdings by and about literary figures such as G. K. Chesterton, Evelyn Waugh, C. S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien, and church scholars such as St. Thomas More and St. Augustine. There are also materials related to local and regional church history.

STM’s Shannon Library welcomes members of the community, with access not limited to faculty and students. Free library cards are available at the library, or if one is a University of Saskatchewan alumni, cards can be obtained from the U of S Alumni office. The STM collection is in the same online catalogue as the U of S, and can be viewed online at www.stmcollege.ca.

In addition to loaning materials to the broader community, the Shannon Library has served as an important resource in relocating materials owned by religious groups as they change residence or downsize. STM recently received a donation from the Oblates residing at Mazanod House following its closure last December.

“As the Oblates moved to a new home, they were pleased to know that many of the library resources no longer needed by them would be made available for scholarly use by others,” said OMI Archivist Margaret Sanche.

STM’s Library also received a significant donation of 20th-century literary materials from Dr. John Teunissen, at the passing of his wife, Dr. Evelyn Hinz, both of whom were professors at the University of Manitoba. They previously lived in the Saskatoon and Humboldt area. This collection has proven to be a valuable original research resource, and an exhibition of it is being curated by library director Dr. Donna Brockmeyer, scheduled for the fall of 2015.

For all of this, we might ask: do we still love books? Well, yes actually, we do! Books are still being published in exponential numbers. The official book depository of Canada, where one copy of all books published by and about Canada are sent, is the National Library. It ranks among the top 10 libraries of the world, with 19 million books. As an example of North American publications, the national American library receives approximately 10,000 new publications daily. Books are still a critical part of our world, and libraries are still charged with stewardship of maintaining this important cultural record.

After decades of concentrating on technology in libraries, the library is again being recognized as an important aesthetic and cultural information centre, offering a place for both community engagement and quiet, independent study. STM’s Shannon Library is a warm and welcoming sanctuary, with handsome oak bookshelves, built with funding provided by Evelyn and Isabelle Burkitt. Tall windows flank each side of the Reading Room, filling it with natural light, perhaps to illumine the minds and souls of those who read and study here. Generations of STM students have long found home and companionship as they study, think, and write in a community of like-minded scholars. The library has been described as a sacred space, as a catalytic environment where learning and change occur that can result in feelings of freedom, liberation and empowerment. King Ramses III had a sign above his library door calling it a “house of healing for the soul.” It is still that.

Members of the local Catholic community also seek such a house, and they come on a daily basis with a specific purpose in mind or simply to peruse the new books, magazines and newspapers found there. All are welcome. For more information, see www.stmcollege.ca.

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