Navigation

    Roger Crum

    Roger Crum

    professor of art history

    ‘Incalculable value for scholars’

    From his first visits to the Marian Library in the early 1990s, University of Dayton art history professor Roger Crum recognized the international stature of this seemingly humble, out-of-the-way repository of art, printed materials and visual culture on the Blessed Virgin Mary.

    “The Marian Library is a resource of incalculable value for scholars, far outsized in its value and contributions to scholarship than its location at UD might suggest,” Crum said. “Were it better known and more accessible, it would be of great value to many more scholars, especially those in the humanities. It’s of immense value to me as an art historian of the Medieval, Renaissance and Baroque periods.”

    Since the opening of the Marian Library in 1943, its librarians and resident scholars have cast a wide net for materials pertinent to the study of the Virgin Mary. “The Marian Library has a narrowness of focus, but a remarkably broad, ‘catholic’ approach to collecting Catholic materials,” Crum said. “We are fortunate as an institution that we have never seen a contraction of this ambitious and unrestricted collecting sensibility. Because of that, our Marian Library is a library of the first order, not unlike the Frick Art Reference Library or the Hertziana in Rome (the Bibliotheca Hertziana/Max Planck Institute for Art History) when one thinks about the depth of the collection and the seriousness of its mission. We are of a major league here with other signature collections that have longstanding commitments to specific scholarly missions.”

    But, he said, we do have a need for a more ample facility with adequate climate control and suitable space for reading and dialogue, not to mention permanent and changing display of some of the library's key treasures.

    “Like any great library, the Marian Library could, without proper attention, experience a kind of frightening fragility,” he said. “We must be attentive and very prescient to preserve the historic importance of what we have and jealously protect and unabashedly promote its continued relevance.” “At some point, the University of Dayton really ceased to be the mere owners and became stewards of an invaluable international scholarly resource. Yes, we may own it, but fundamentally it belongs to the world.”