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Behind the scenes with unexpected guests

by Beth Farwell, Associate Director for Central Libraries

Procedures and process can be boring, but important to communicate. So, I invited some campus personages to help. I hope you enjoy this rare exploration behind the scenes with our rare collections in the Central Libraries.

The NoZe Brothers and rare books? It makes perfect sense to me. Both are steeped in Baylor history and tradition.

What are rare books and primary resources?
The Library of Congress defines primary resources as the raw materials of history, original documents and objects which were created at the time under study. Use of these resources supports a more personal engagement to events of the past, develops critical thinking skills and builds knowledge when faced with contradictions, differing points of view and complexities of the past.The Central Libraries' Special Collections contain rare manuscripts, facsimiles (copies), archives (letters and other documents), photographs and more.

Who are the NoZe Brothers?
I have no idea.

Who better to introduce you to our complex, contradictory treasures than this group of unique, complex, contradictory and inquisitive students?

Let’s begin our tour.

How do I start?
Whether you have identified a specific resource or have a general topic, you will need to set up an appointment to view these materials. Rare materials are not open to the public and are housed in “closed” stacks.

Serious cataloging discussion
Serious cataloging discussion

Library staff will pull requested titles and have them ready for use in a reading room. Most of the special collections can be found in the online catalog

You can schedule an appointment online or call me (Beth Farwell) at (254) 710-3679.

Appointments can be made Monday-Friday, 8am-5pm.
We have several librarians with subject expertise that can assist you in your research of these materials if needed.

Where do I go?

skipping in
skipping in

The Central Libraries' Special Collections are located in Moody Library. Skipping is the preferred mode of transportation for the NoZe Bros., but not required to view the resources. Once your appointment is scheduled, we will meet you in the Riley Reading and Digitization Presentation Room on the third floor of Moody Memorial Library.

What do these collections contain?
The combined collections hold over 10,000 volumes dating from the 12th century to the present. Collections include rare books, manuscripts, book arts, scholars' libraries, archives, early printed music, and more. Covering a broad range of subjects, the collections are particularly strong in rare Bible versions, hymnals, early American popular sheet music, and significant American imprints.

Medium Rare Search
Medium Rare Search

Let’s check in with the brothers and what they discovered as they began their tour in the medium rare collections (there is really no better description). Medium rare collections include scholars’ libraries, individual archives, and the Sue Margaret Hughes Collection that houses rare materials published after 1801.

The brothers passed over a facsimile of the first edition of Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species, some older government documents which may have included the Roswell report, the library of Dame Kathleen Kenyon a leading archeologist of her time who directed the excavation of Jericho in the 1950s, and many other first and signed editions.

Getting closer
Getting closer

While the brothers did linger over these medium rare titles, they were looking for something more. Something more rare. So off they skipped to the Polk Rare Book Room.

The Polk Rare Book Room houses the libraries’ most rare materials including titles published or printed before 1801. Currently the room houses almost 2,000 items.


Popular titles viewed by NoZe Bros. were the collected works of Jonathan Swift from 1751, a first edition of the Hobbit, Gutenberg Bible facsimile bound with 15th century techniques, 18th century parables, Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales (Ellesmere facsimile), and a facsimile of the Gospels written in about 1035.

The brothers chose this beautiful full-color facsimile from 1035 “Codex aureus Escurialensis” for more research in the Riley Reading Room. The facsimile is in Latin with Carolingian minuscule (a type of font) in gold ink originally created in a scriptorium of a Benedictine monastery at Echternach, Luxembourg. Echternach was known for producing elaborate luxury editions.


Full of 12th century interpretation and new knowledge of all the treasures available for research, the NoZe Bros. wrapped up their tour. We hope you enjoyed this quick skip through the rare collection procedures and a glance into the types of materials available for your use.

For more information, please visit our webpage:

We look forward to working with you!

Many, many thanks to the Noble NoZe Brotherhood for their time, respect for primary resources, and help in highlighting Baylor’s rare collections. In addition, a huge "thank you" to Ben Johansen for his time and creative photography skills!

5 thoughts on “Behind the scenes with unexpected guests

  1. Ellen Palmer

    Kudos to you Beth Farwell for highlighting some of the greatest treasures on Baylor campus! Proud to be a Baylor alum with great traditions and even better resources behind our school! Love it!

  2. Karl Nicholas

    As a complement to your treatment of Ulysses, you might move on to Finnegans Wake. I feel certain that the NoZe Brothers could make excellent sense of it.

  3. beth_farwell

    Great idea! You've made an insightful match - and inspired me to go look for a first edition.

  4. Veronica Nicholas

    Beth, Thank you so much for your wonderful tour with the NoZe Bros through the gorgeous collection of Rare Books in the Baylor Library. I would never have gotten past the Darwin facsimile to explore the other rarities in the collection, since after reading "Song of the DoDo" I am stuck in reading about that era of exploration!
    Please keep up your imaginative and informative blogs, and your continuing great work in introducing all of us to the wondrous collection at Baylor's Library!

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