Archives & Research Collections
Flooding in Mills Library last week caused much scrambling, but little permanent damage to valuable rare periodicals in the William Ready Division of Archives and Research Collections. At about 5am Thursday, May 12, workmen cleaning carpets in the building discovered that a pipe fitting had leaked on the 1st floor. When Security Services was notified, an officer discovered that water from the leak had seeped through the 3-foot concrete floor to the area below where the Library's rare journals and maps are housed.
Quick action by staff from Security Services, the Library, EOHSS (Environmental and Occupational Health Support Services) and Physical Plant ensured that damage was minimal. Research Collections Librarian Carl Spadoni arrived on the scene at about 6am and rushed water-soaked 18th century journals to the Library’s Preservation lab, where he fanned them all out to dry. Dave Ouellette, a Library staff member and freelance conservator, was called in to manage the drying process. Smaller journals were placed between paper blotters to soak up the water and many fragile journals were hung on strings to dry. Several volumes were placed in a freezer to arrest paper damage. As the paper in the larger books began to dry, they were put into presses to minimize distortion. Amazingly, only a few volumes have sustained permanent water-staining and warping. "We really dodged a bullet on this one", said Spadoni, "the damage could have been extraordinary. In another few hours we could have lost all our journals and rare maps". Spadoni points out that important journals such as the
, the primary reviewing journal of the 18th century, would be next to impossible to replace, since they are rarely available for sale. Some 300 to 500 volumes were affected by the flood, which was the most severe flooding incident in the Library in more than ten years.
Have you ever lain in bed at night and asked yourself whether the present King of France is bald? Perhaps not, but Bertrand Russell addressed this question in his paper "On Denoting", published in Mind, the foremost journal of English philosophy, in October 1905. Russell's paper concerns the distinction between names and descriptions. It is considered to be a classic of analytic philosophy and a major contribution to the philosophy of language. George IV wanted to know whether Scott is the author of Waverley, but he did not wish to know whether Scott was Scott.
On Wednesday, April 20 CH TV's News at Six will feature a story about Sir Edwin Leather and his archives, which were donated to McMaster's Library in 1996. Sir Edwin Leather, a native Hamiltonian, died on April 5th in Bermuda, where he had retired after serving as Governor and Commander-in-Chief from 1973-1977. Previously Leather and his wife Sheila, who died in 1994, had lived in England for many years.