Pacific Library Gains Muir Collection
By Diana Medina
As campus began to bloom and pollen began to fly, the university celebrated the addition of another
resource to remind us of nature’s wonders: the John Muir collection, a seroes of documents that have
immortalized the California of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The university has
enjoyed a long-lasting partnership with Muir’s descendants, who allowed the library’s Holt-Atherton
Special Collections to borrow some of Muir’s papers beginning in the 1970s. Pacific has honoured
that contribution with the institution of its John Muir center in 1989, as well as by teaching all
incoming freshmen about Muir and offering whole classes devoted to his works.
“We feel the deepest privilege to be entrusted by the Muir family with a loan of the papers and now to
be entrusted by the Muir family with a gift of the collection.” said President Pamela Eibeck. “Into the
next 50 years and into perpetuity, Pacific will continue to lift up John Muir’s legacy and partnership
with the family and with so many in our society that believe deeply that his message of conserving
and loving our natural resources—we will partner to keep that message alive.”
Saturday the thirteenth saw the gift of these papers being celebrated with a full afternoon’s worth of
events that honoured Muir’s legacy while disussing the impact the collection would have on Pacific’s
student body and how to carry out the goals Muir set forth over a hundred years ago. President Eibeck
described the purpose of the celebration as being arranged “to ensure that John Muir’s values continue
to be on the forefront of our social conscience and continues to shape our nation’s actions.” Strangely,
this meant constant promotion for congressman Jerry McNerney, an environmentalist who is not
known to have sponsored the event.
The celebration began in the Janet Leigh theatre with a screening of a film about Muir’s life, before
moving on to an open fair which featured students’ environmental projects, conservation societies
from all around the community, and virtual reality demonstrations courtesy of the library itself.
Copies of the Muir papers were also on display for guests to examine. The celebration concluded with
speeches given by the President, regents, a student specializing in Muir’s works, a representative from
the Sierra club, and an actor who provided a live re-enaction of Muir.
These speeches followed one or two themes. One, which focused on the learning advantages afforded
by the university having access to the papers, can be summarized by Regent Berolzheimer’s statement
“Our mission is to preserve John Muir’s works forever. The Muir papers are and continue to be an
institutional priority at Pacific.”
Others, such as the Sierra Club, an organization that seeks to expose youn people to nature and elect
politicians that they believe will help protect the environment, talked about the importance of the
messages Muir hoped to convey through all his writing, especially that of inspiring people with awe
of nature. It was suggested that this is a goal that Muir and Pacific have always had in common, and
will continue to strive to achieve.
Jo Ann Kirby
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