Even though they are identified in IUCAT, many people remain unaware of the “special collections” hidden in the Geosciences Library. Therefore this semester the staff have identified a couple of unique items to highlight in their small exhibit space. The current special collections exhibit Fly Me to the Moon, a celebration of pre-lunar landing photography and scholarship of the Moon prominently featuring the work of William Henry Pickering, is set to go down. Another astronomically themed show will quickly take its place, although with a character that is both more fantastical and more grim. Comet! The Doom of Atlantis showcases some of the earlier writings of Ignatius Loyola Donnelly, a late 19th century Minnesotan senator whose dabbling in pseudo-science have gone on to influence writers in a wide variety of subjects including comparative mythology and science fiction. The showcased work, Ragnarok: the Age of Fire and Gravel, proposes an alternative explanation for the glacial drift: a comet hitting the Earth. Donnelly goes on to suggest that this impact destroyed the legendary civilization of Atlantis and draws on disaster stories form the mythologies of several cultures as evidence. While Donnelly’s thesis is certainly wrong, he is among the first authors to suggest a comet or meteor caused extinction event and his synthesis of disparate mythologies is elegant and inspiring to the imagination.
Next fall, we will pull other items from the special collections to highlight. Until then, come by to visit. The Geosciences Library houses many items from the U.S. Federal Depository from the U.S. Geological Survey, NASA and NOAA. It is open M-TH 8a.m.-5p.m. and Friday 8a.m.-5p.m. Visit our website for additional information.
Michael Truan, Geosciences Library Assistant.