Tufts Libraries: A Map and a Tennis Racquet

At Fletcher’s Ginn Library, the resources span the continents and the centuries
inside the Ginn Library reading room
Photo: Anna Miller
April 10, 2019

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Ray Bradbury once said in an interview, “Without libraries, what have we? We have no past and no future.” For a series on libraries at the university, we’ve asked the librarians at Tufts’ many libraries to tell us about their collections—their most unusual items and best-kept secrets. Read about Tisch Library, the SMFA Library, the Webster Family Library, the Hirsh Health Sciences Library, Digital Collections and Archives, and the Lilly Music Library, too.

At Ginn Library—housed at The Fletcher School—librarians did a deep dive into the collection to fill us in.

Focus of collection. The Ginn Library collection has an interdisciplinary focus on international relations and global affairs. It includes resources on both law and diplomacy, as well as international economics, business, and political science. There are many different flavors of resources represented within these areas, including government documents, multilateral treaties, reports and working papers, and career resources. 

Beyond our physical holdings, we have many specialized databases that range from international telecommunications survey data to databases of profiles and statistics on terrorist groups and armed conflicts around the world.  We have one database through which you can track the movements and meetings of the North Korean government cabinet and another that lets you track shipping and cargo movements throughout the globe.

Oldest item in the collection. We think the oldest item in the collection is an early edition of Hugo Grotius’ On the Law of War and Peace, from 1632. The full title: Hvgonis Grotii De ivre belli ac pacis libri tres. In quibus jus naturæ & gentium, item juris publici præcipue [!] explicantur. Find it here.

Most checked out book. The winner in this category at present is Principles of Economics by Gregory Mankiw, an economics textbook frequently used for classes and currently with the course reserves materials behind the circulation desk.

Most unusual item in the collection. By one account, the tennis racquets and balls we keep at the circulation desk to be checked out for use on the nearby courts may be the most unusual item we have in the collection.

Best-kept secret in the collection. This isn’t officially a secret, but many items in our non-circulating collections do in fact circulate with permission. For example, Fletcher students can check out reference materials like dictionaries from the reading room, but have to get permission from a member of the staff.  Another best-kept secret is the laptop locker station across from the circulation desk, where you can both store and charge your laptop at the same time.

Most interesting new additions to the collection. We recently received a donation of laminated historical maps previously published and printed in various atlases. The collection was a gift of Mr. and Mrs. Christopher Matthaei, under the auspices of W. Graham Arader III of Arader Art Galleries, and is currently housed in a locked case among our atlas shelves here at Ginn. Some of these maps already exist in digitized form, but the printed versions have their own appeal. To see the printed editions, make an appointment with one of the research and instruction librarians.