Serving the UMN community since 1900

The Minnesota Daily

Serving the UMN community since 1900

The Minnesota Daily

Serving the UMN community since 1900

The Minnesota Daily

Daily Email Edition

Get MN Daily NEWS delivered to your inbox Monday through Friday!


UMN’s “smaller” libraries have lots to offer

With National Library Week ending Saturday, let’s take a look at the collections in some of the smaller University of Minnesota libraries.
Image by Gabrielle Erenstein
There are a dozen libraries spread throughout the University’s three campuses.

The University of Minnesota is home to a dozen libraries across the Twin Cities campuses. The largest libraries on campus are Wilson Library on West Bank, Walter Library on East Bank and Magrath Library on the St. Paul campus.

Among these larger spaces are smaller libraries throughout the campus, specializing in collections related to certain subjects or departments. All of the operating libraries on campus are open to the public.

“I think this sharing and open access is a big thing,” said Mark Engebretson, the director of advancement for University Libraries. “It’s not just for students and faculty.”

While anyone from the surrounding community can use the library spaces and computers, only students and faculty can check out books. Additionally, people not enrolled in the University have a limit of two hours of computer use per day.

However, the Friends of the Library program allows people outside the University community to check out books and have greater access to computer use for an annual fee of $80.

“If you’re not a member of the Friends, you have to go through InterLibrary Loan, which works slick too,” Engebreston said.

InterLibrary Loan is a program where libraries across the country send books to other libraries for their patrons to use and check out. People who are not students or faculty members at the University may request the book they want from the University through their local public library, Engebretson said.

The Borchert Map Library: a “pseudo-special collection”

The John R. Borchert Map Library is located in the sub-basement of Wilson Library on West Bank. The library contains atlases, maps and aerial photographs.

Additionally, the library has an agreement with the Minneapolis Archives to preserve old urban planning maps of Minneapolis, Ryan Mattke, the map and geospatial information librarian, said.

“We’re working through stuff that’s just been rolled and kind of stuffed in cubby holes in the clock tower for 100 years,” Mattke said. “A lot of them are hand-annotated maps from the early 20th century from the city planning department.”

The collection at the library is a unique mix of manuscript materials and published documents, Mattke said.

“We’re like a pseudo-special collection,” Mattke said. “We kind of straddle that line between regular and special collections.”

The library is also home to about 365,000 aerial photographs of Minnesota, Mattke said. About 125,000 of these photographs have been digitized and uploaded online through the Minnesota Historical Aerial Photographs Online (MHAPO), which anyone can access, according to Mattke.

Beyond his work in the library, Mattke is the program lead of the Big Ten Academic Alliance Geospatial Information Network, which coordinates with 14 other libraries to create a geo-space portal. He is also the co-founder and co-director of the Mapping Prejudice Project, which works to identify and map racial housing covenants.

Mattke said the library is useful for people beyond geography majors.

“I would say those students maybe are not the majority of students we have coming in because maps show space and lots of different places use space,” Mattke said.

Landscape architecture, history and English students have all utilized the map library’s resources, Mattke said. Local high school AP Geography classes also visit the library as well as people in the greater Twin Cities community.

Mattke said his favorite part about working in the library is the variety of questions he gets to help answer for students and other patrons.

“I don’t know where everything is, but I know how to find the information,” Mattke said. “I’m trained in how to search my own collection for things I don’t even know are there.”

The music library: more than just Mozart, Bach and Beethoven

Home to a collection of music scores, writings about music and composers, and more than 30,000 CDs available for checkout, the music library on West Bank has a wide collection of materials.

The library, located in Ferguson Hall, has a large media collection of CDs, LPs and VHS tapes, Jessica Abbazio, the music librarian, said.

“That’s not like anything else you can find on campus,” Abbazio said. “You would probably not see that many VHS tapes anywhere outside a Blockbuster.”

As the librarian, Abbazio curates the collection available at the music library.

“I have been working really hard to kind of represent a broader range of perspectives and identities in our collection,” Abbazio said. “There’s other things out there besides Mozart, Bach and Beethoven.”

Since Abbazio became the music librarian in 2018, she has worked to expand music collections from Latin American and East Asian composers and is currently working on expanding the library’s materials from Caribbean composers.

“I think it’s important that the library’s collections represent that broader perspective,” Abbazio said.

Along with curation responsibilities, Abbazio answers reference questions and helps students and other patrons with their research.

“I also get to work with students and faculty from other institutions if they’re interested in something we have at our library,” Abbazio said.

Abbazio said answering reference questions is her favorite part about working at the library, saying she “learns something new every time.” She said she also speaks at classes about research methods and ways to utilize library materials.

“I will also create digital guides to help students at 3 a.m. when they’re writing their paper,” Abbazio said.

This summer, she will be working with Hennepin County Libraries to curate music for MNspin, their worldwide free music streaming service that specializes in Minnesotan musicians, Abbazio said.

The music library serves more than just music majors, Abbazio said, as students of any major are welcome at the library.

“We have such a vibrant community and performing arts community in the Twin Cities, so I work a lot with community members as well,” Abbazio said.

More information about the University libraries can be found on their website.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Accessibility Toolbar

Comments (0)

All The Minnesota Daily Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *