Campus popular culture library lends out history to students

Reporter and Reporter

The fourth floor of the University Library has one of the largest popular culture collections in the nation, used by about 150 students each week.

The library contains nearly 2,000 DVDs — from old classics to modern TV shows like “True Blood” — the only things that circulate in the collection, said Nancy Down, chair of the Browne Popular Culture Library.

All other items can be checked out as long as they are kept on the fourth floor.

Only students with a valid University ID can check out DVDs for up to 72 hours at a time, Down said. There is no limit to the number of DVDs a student can check out.

After the 72 hour check-out period is over, there is a fine of 25 cents everyday until the item returned.

Mike Cirino, junior, was sent to the Browne Popular Culture Library for a scavenger-hunt created by one of his freshman year professors.

“I thought it was really cool,” Cirino said. “[The library] could be really sweet, but no one knows about it or how to use it.”

The floor holds 190,000 catalogues that date back to the 1870s, Down said. Some of the most popular genres from the catalogues include science fiction, mystery and romance.

The library has rows of shelves filled with boxes of comic books from floor to ceiling and books so old they are made with pulp paper, she said.

“Even if the student doesn’t know exactly what they want, we can help them find it,” said Mary Zuzik, a library associate.

The library also helps students find help for papers and research topics.

The Browne Library gives students primary sources from scripts, literature and old and modern materials for their papers, Down said.

“There are things here that are not usually available in academic libraries,” she said.

Each material in the library “shows what everyday culture was like for different times in world history,” Down said.

The Browne Popular Culture Library has the third-largest collection of comic books and is the Depository for Romance Literature of America, Zuzik said.

“There are also lots of history things from underground sources like Alternative Press, dating back to when it was uncommon for people to be coming out,” she said.

Matt Donahue, Instructor of Popular Culture, said he takes students to the library early in the semester to introduce them to the University’s assets.

“I bring my students in my courses to the Popular Culture Library to take a tour of the library so that way they know what is available to them in regards to working on their research papers for my course,” Donahue said. “Of course I encourage them to use the facility for other courses that they are presently taking and for their courses in the future.”

Donahue stressed the importance of the library and acknowledged how lucky students were to have them on campus.

“The Popular Culture Library and the Music Library Sound Recordings Archives are really two very important jewels that we have on campus,” he said.