Baylor University Poage Library

Exhibit Commemorates 30th Anniversary

Oct. 20, 2009

Shanna Taylor | Staff Photographer
Photos and memorabilia from the opening of the W.R. Poage Legislative Library fill a display case in the library's exhibition room Monday.

By Jenna Thompson

The W.R. Poage Legislative Library will feature unique political memorabilia throughout the semester in celebration of its 30th anniversary.

The memorabilia includes old presidential campaign buttons and a $10,000 hat which once belonged to former President Lyndon B. Johnson.

An open house was held on Thursday as part of the anniversary of the library and offered tours of the Hightower Book Vault, a vault designed to preserve books and prevent aging.

The main function of the library is to house political papers and other documents for public use.

"What we do is we get congressional papers and we file them," said Honduras senior Leisel Walters, a student worker at the Poage Library. "[We] put them up on the Baylor Web site so that students can access them and even people outside the library and Baylor can come and research here."

The political exhibits display old photographs, signed pamphlets and a campaign button collection.

One exhibit with personal effects from former President Johnson features a button of his that was valued at $7,000.

Visitors were given the opportunity to set foot in the Hightower Book Vault, a glass-paneled room kept between 58 and 65 degrees to help preserve the materials. Items preserved in the vault include donated books and papers from former U.S. Rep. Jack Hightower. Hightower is a Baylor alumnus who also served as a Texas Supreme Court justice.

Poage Library has been expanding its collections over the years and has acquired donated materials from all over the United States.

One expansion project involved a cooperative effort with Moody Memorial Library in which more than 24 newspapers published the day after Sept. 11 were saved and digitized for future viewing.

"We've sort of evolved from being congressional collections to adding more political materials: the JFK materials, Sept. 11, 2001, materials, the editorial cartoon materials," said Ben Rogers, director of Poage Legislative Library.

Many materials in the library are for in-library use only and students may come and request to view them.

"They aren't exactly allowed to walk where we do the processing because it's fragile material and it's years old," Walters said. "If they need a book they can come and check one out. There are other books only for library use. They can come here and read it or research it."

Poage Library has also worked to make its materials available to viewers online.

"We are putting almost everything that the library has on the Web site," said India graduate student Guarau Gupta, a Poage Library worker. "We make a lot of photo pages. We upload a lot of pictures [and] videos."

The past few years the library has tried to put emphasis on becoming more of a presence on campus.

"At the 25th anniversary in 2004, we started doing more open houses and we started a lecture series," Rogers said. "We've had more opportunity to put a face on the library with the exhibit."

Poage Library, a building attached to the west side of the Moody Memorial Library, is a little-known resource to most students.

"It's just been in quiet seclusion," Rogers said. "[It is] the secret library."

It is the hope of the workers at the library that more students will begin to take advantage of the resources the library has to offer.

"I think that the biggest contribution that this library makes to campus is giving accessibility to students to papers they wouldn't otherwise have," Walters said. "For example, not everyone can go to D.C. and look around and have all these papers at their disposal. They're available to students and most of the time they're not taken advantage of, which is a shame."