Durick: A Special Collection at SMC

My suitemate Monica is always talking about Durick Library because it’s where she goes to get all of her homework done. I frequent the library fairly often, too; three days a week I work in The Writing Center, and I trek over at least another two times to do my own homework.

When Monica told me about taking phone calls in the “secret stairwell” and that she had counted eight different staircases throughout the entire library, I knew I’d have to explore more than just the basement of this campus resource.

Together, we went on a library tour with John Payne, Library Director. This week’s First Time Friday is visiting the Special Collections room.


Monica directed us around Durick’s three floors, pointing out her favorite study space, the secret stairwell and the hidden nooks she has discovered. We got to peek into the staff lounge and even walk through the Archives, which houses every piece of history the Edmundites brought with them from France when they founded the college in 1904.

The entire time I was eager to get into the vaulted Special Collections room. Although I’d seen pictures of the inside and had noticed the lights on at night a handful of times, I had never set foot in it before.


After my first step in, I couldn’t figure out what was unique about the room that made it so private. There are two large tables and lots of books — what is so special about this room compared to the rest of the library?

That’s where John came in. He informed us that this room houses all of the library’s rare books and materials. It also stores a copy of every book published by a St. Michael’s College faculty or alumni.

We explored the room and spent some time looking through old school newspapers. What is now The Defender was formerly called The Michaelman, as the college was originally open only to men.


In a 1966 issue, Monica found a great ad for a beard contest:


My library tour wouldn’t be complete without a picture to prove I was in the Special Collections room. To change things up, I decided to include Benjamin Franklin in my selfie.


The library is a great place with a plethora of history. Although I now know all the ins and outs of Durick, I’ll probably still gravitate toward the basement to do my homework.


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