Feb. 1, 2007

This library is more than just books: How about Sinatra, wax fruit or antique slide rules?

Cornell Library has a wealth of books, online resources and scholarly materials, but it also offers several hidden treasures.

The Sidney Cox Library of Music and Dance in Lincoln Hall has a Frank Sinatra Collection, which includes memorabilia and a number of Sinatra recordings not widely available. Recordings by such artists as Bobby Darin and Vic Damone are also part of the collection.

If you missed the Americans in Paris 1860-1900 exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, visit the Fine Arts Library in Sibley Hall and check out the exhibition catalog. The library has catalogs from all major U.S. and European exhibitions in art, architecture and design, as well as exhibition catalogs from university museums, smaller museums and artist galleries.

The model train used at "The Scottsboro Boys" trials of the 1930s is at the Law Library in Myron Taylor Hall. The case involved nine black youths, ages 13 to 19, who were accused of gang raping two white women on a Southern Railroad freight run from Chattanooga to Memphis in 1931. They were convicted and sentenced to death by all-white Alabama juries despite weak and contradictory witness testimony (but, after years of trials, all survived, either through paroles or prison escapes).

The Kheel Center Labor Photos Web site of the Martin P. Catherwood Library at the School of Industrial and Labor Relations has hundreds of photos chronicling the history of the International Ladies Garment Workers Union. The images are available at http://www.laborphotos.cornell.edu.

If you're planning a hike or want to identify wildlife in your back yard, the Adelson Library at Cornell's Lab of Ornithology has a collection of field guides covering birds, butterflies, beetles, fish, mammals, shells, lizards, amphibians, snakes, minerals, trees, flowers and mushrooms.

A Fuller calculator and a Thacher slide rule can be found at the Math Library in Malott Hall. Until the advent of the electronic calculator, these cylindrical slide rules were the only easy way to obtain highly accurate calculation results. If the helical scales of the Fuller calculator were unwound, they would stretch to about 42 feet.

Be careful before you eat the fruit at the Frank A. Lee Library at the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva. It might be part of the station's rare wax fruit and vegetable collection, which was created for teaching purposes in the 1930s and 1940s.

The Severinghaus Asia Reading Room in Kroch Library has archives of about 100 newspapers from 19 Asian countries. The six most recent issues of each newspaper are available in the reading room, along with a large selection of scholarly and popular periodicals.

At Mann Library, in addition to the latest issue of "Cell Biology," you can also find "The Candid Confessions of Mothers Living in the Real World." In a reading corner on the second floor, visitors will find the Edith A. Ellis Collection, a carefully curated and constantly updated collection of engaging nonfiction.

The Entomology Library in Comstock Hall has the desks of John Henry Comstock, the founder of Cornell's entomology department, and his wife, Anna Botsford Comstock, a naturalist, artist and scientific illustrator. The library also has a rare book collection.

Information about patient care in the 19th and early 20th centuries can be found at the Medical Center Archives Web site, http://med.cornell.edu/archives. The archives, which also have an image catalog, contain patient records from New York Hospital and other institutions.

A vibrantly colored painting of Cornell physicist Hans Bethe, who received the 1967 Nobel Prize in physics, hangs in Clark Hall's Physical Sciences Library.

Think one of your houseplants is making your cat sick? The veterinary library has a collection of about 30 plants that are poisonous to house pets and a comprehensive list of poisonous plants.

The newest collection at the Africana Library features works by such well-known authors as Gwendolyn Brooks and John Henrik Clarke, the library's namesake. The collection of Third World Press books was donated by Haki R. Madhubuti, founder and publisher of Third World Press, who became Cornell's Poet in Residence in 1968.

Can't remember what you had for dinner at the restaurant you went to for your 16th birthday? The online restaurant menu database created and maintained by the Nestlé Hotel Library contains 7,886 rare and current menus. See http://www.nestlelib.cornell.edu/research/specialcollections/menus/search.html.

In the basement of Olin Library, the Maps and Geospatial Information Collection houses more than 240,000 maps, 3,200 books and atlases, 500 compact disks and other related research materials. The collection is a full repository library for federal government maps and digital spatial data.

Take a quiet moment at the 9/11 origami memorial hanging in Sage Hall's Johnson School library, which comprises more than 1,000 delicate paper cranes made by students, faculty and staff. The project was inspired by a Japanese legend that folding 1,000 paper cranes brings good fortune.

The A.D. White Library is also a beautiful place for reflection or study. With its stained-glass windows and wrought-iron stacks, it is the embodiment of the archetypical 19th century library. Located in Uris Library, the library was specially designed to hold the private collection of Cornell's first president. Most of White's collections are no longer in the stacks, but many of his personal possessions are still on display.

While many of these treasures fall outside the realm of what might be considered scholarly, they enhance and foster the strong culture of instruction, research and scholarship at Cornell. Perhaps the library itself is Cornell's hidden treasure.

Chris Philipp is a staff writer and editor with Library Communications.