Donation Funds New Classics Library
Graduate students and faculty in the Department of Ancient Mediterranean Studies have a quiet new facility to conduct research thanks to a generous donation from Ferd and Ann LaBrunerie of Columbia, Missouri. On Saturday, the same day the department hosted the Missouri Classical Association meeting, the Ferd and Ann LaBrunerie Classics Library was unveiled on the third floor of Swallow Hall. Department Chair Annie Mori says the space originally had been a lab space for classical archaeologists, but since they were typically out of the country part of the year conducting research, an agreement was reached to turn the space into a “silent library” designated specifically for research.
“Professor David Schenker had been talking to Ferd about projects we would like to do, and then in September this check arrived in the mail, so we started the Ferd LaBrunerie Endowment Fund, and we matched that amount,” Mori says. “The endowment will generate money to provide new books and help us curate this.”
Library furniture constructed by Joe Marshall.
Mori says they contracted with Joe Marshall of Joe Marshall Woodworks in Columbia to build the shelving, display cabinet, and the tables in the new library, all of which are made of locally-sourced walnut. Marshall also constructed the wooden seating areas on the first floor of Swallow Hall.
The Foundation of Western Civilization
LaBrunerie was a classics major at Harvard and says he wanted to see classics promoted at Mizzou, and having a good library is part of that effort.
“Classics is the foundation of western education,” LaBrunerie says. “Greece and Rome basically founded western civilization. Their values are pretty much the values of western civilization.” LaBrunerie reads Greek every day to continue learning and says he is currently reading The Odyssey by Homer for about the tenth time. Mori notes that Ferd and Ann’s son Alex, BA ’83, is a member of the department’s new development board.
Ferd LaBrunerie talks to A&S Associate Dean Ted Tarkow at Saturday's unveiling.
Claire McGraw is a fifth year doctoral student whose research focuses on the divinity of the Roman emperor. She says she looks forward to utilizing the new library.
“My research involves a lot of different fields, so it’s wonderful to be able to go into one space and grab a book from a Greek author, grab a book from a Roman author, and then grab a book about art and lay them all out on the table and look at them to see how they piece together,” McGraw says. “I can’t do that at Ellis Library because I have to go to one floor for one thing and another floor for another and trek all over the place, where now I can lay it out in one space.”
Mori says the former Department of Classical Studies used to have the Walter Miller Library, named after Professor Walter Miller, an archaeologist and the first dean of the university's graduate school. After Miller died in 1949, much of his library moved with the classics department to Strickland Hall. When the classicists relocated to Swallow Hall in the summer of 2017, some materials were archived in Special Collections at Ellis Library, but the new library continues to house some of Miller¹s books.
“This space contains many volumes connected with archaeology and art history, and we are very much looking forward to expanding and updating the classics collection of standard critical editions, commentaries, and monographs,” Mori says.