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Strathclyde Business School

Travelling Librarian: finding Strathclyde at Yale

By Lorna McNally - Posted on 2 May 2024

Business Librarian, Lorna McNally, discovered a bit of Strathclyde history on her recent travels to Yale University, USA, while there as current President of the European Business Schools Librarians' Group.

Who knew that attending a Business Librarians conference at Yale University would lead to a chance encounter with a letter from John Anderson to Benjamin Franklin? 

As the current President of the European Business Schools Librarians’ Group, I was fortunate to attend the Association of Business Library Directors conference hosted by Yale University from April 23-27. 

At the pre-conference tour of the Sterling Memorial Library, something caught my eye - it was a sign for the “Franklin Collection & Papers of Benjamin Franklin.” 

Before I delivered my talk to the conference, I explained to the audience about the history of the University of Strathclyde and the link between our founder, John Anderson, and Benjamin Franklin.  After hearing about my interest, the Business Librarian at Yale arranged for me to visit the Franklin archive.  The very next lunchtime I was standing at the door of the Franklin Collection at Yale: behind the door is a treasure trove of books, letters, papers, paintings and busts all related to Benjamin Franklin.

Whilst there I had the pleasure to meet Ellen Cohn, Chief Editor of the Benjamin Franklin Papers and Amy Jacaruso, Editorial Assistant. Amy showed me a copy of a letter sent by John Anderson from Glasgow College, 25th February 1788, to “His Excellency Benjamin Franklin in Philadelphia”. The original letter is kept at the University of Pennsylvania, but even seeing a copy with Anderson’s swirling penmanship was a very special moment. 

Ellen and Amy knew all about John Anderson: Ellen had visited Glasgow before, although she had not visited Strathclyde.  I have given them both a warm invitation to visit us in the Andersonian Library should they ever be in Glasgow!

Whilst at Yale I also had the opportunity to visit the Beinecke Library. The incredible building has semi-transparent marble ‘windows’ that allow some light through but protect the rare books and manuscripts inside from the sun’s harmful rays as the Beinecke Library website says: “The marble panels protect the collections from damaging direct sunlight while absorbing and diffusing the exterior light in warm hues on the interior.”  

Amongst the treasures in the Beinecke is a Gutenberg Bible, one of only 21 complete copies that have survived, alongside some of the oldest printed objects in the World! 

My trip to Yale was an experience of a lifetime and something I’ll never forget.  The theme of the conference was ‘Exploring the Digital Frontier,’ and delegates discussed the challenges and opportunities facing librarians in the 21st century.  Alongside this, I had a little brush with history through some of the oldest and most precious printed materials in the world. And a happy encounter with a copy of a letter written by Strathclyde’s founder - a little piece of Strathclyde’s history sitting quietly on the hallowed shelves of Yale University. 

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