MURRAY, Ky. — The Murray State University Department of English & Philosophy collaborated with University Libraries to bring students into Pogue Library for an in-depth tour of the archives and special collections in late September.

It all began when Ashley Ireland, dean of University Libraries, and Dr. Carrie Jerrell, professor of English, wanted to do something to entice more students to explore Pogue Library and the resources it offers.

“Archives After Dark connects curiosity with creativity,” Ireland said. “It showcases just a few of the treasures in our collections at Pogue Library and allows our visitors a space to create with using them as inspiration for something new.” 

The ultimate goal was to engage students in history and maybe spur creative works — but this was not a requirement, only an opportunity.

Murray State’s archives and special collections have produced interesting works in the past, such as alumna Rachel Wood’s multimedia presentation detailing the travels of Mary Roark. The presentation was a senior project for Wood’s information studies minor and was featured in the fall 2018 edition of the Murray State University Blue and Gold Magazine.

“Artists of all mediums have been engaging with history in their work for centuries,” Jerrell said. “Studying history, reading archival materials, looking at photos, listening to recordings — all of that can be incredibly inspiring, giving artists whole new subject areas to explore and incorporate into their work.”

Senior sociology student Shannon Adington of Stanford, Kentucky, fully recommends that other students interested in history, art, unusual books and objects or even just exploring old buildings attend next fall’s Archives After Dark. 

She described Pogue Library as mysterious and intriguing.

“[It was] like you could pull out the right book on a bookshelf and it would trigger a secret passage or something,” Adington said.

Adington also found some “incredible” independent Murray State student newsletters and newspapers from the 1960s and 70s that detailed a number of topics.

“They were not officially sponsored or supported by the school,” Adington said. “The main purpose was to provide a space for students to write about, discuss and strongly protest the controversial topics and events that were affecting them.”

Art, history, creative writing, journalism and mass communications students interested in exploring the past and telling stories through technology should be on the lookout for similar kinds of opportunities through the information studies minor as library sleuths are perfect for this field of study.

Information Studies is the interdisciplinary study of the role of information in modern society. The minor complements any major program and teaches students to discuss timely issues about the creation, use, ethics and public policy of information. 

Pogue Library holds the University’s special collections and archives. The special collections unit was established in 1968 to serve the needs of its patrons by acquiring and providing access to information about the cultural history of the Jackson Purchase area of southwestern Kentucky and northwestern Tennessee. The archives unit at Murray State was also established in 1968 to act as the repository for the official and unofficial records that document the history of the University. 

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