While most students go to the Leatherby Libraries in search of an empty table to study, they can also find exhibits with historical items, art and more throughout.
When it opened in 2004, the Leatherby Libraries aimed to be a space that showcased artwork, using visuals to enhance the typical services and resources of a library, said Charlene Baldwin, the dean of the Leatherby Libraries.
“We wanted it to be a gathering place, a marketplace for ideas, and a crossroads of information,” Baldwin said.
The library hosts permanent and temporary exhibits, as well as various works of art displayed in open spaces throughout the library.
“We have over 300 items in our art inventory, defined as a permanent part of the Leatherby Libraries collections,” Baldwin said. “A portion of them are on permanent display, many are in permanent storage.”
Starting in the basement is the Center for American War Letters Archives, which was converted from a classroom into the gallery after historian Andrew Carroll donated his collection of war letters to Chapman in 2013.
The room is currently displaying “Threads of Utopia,” the personal collection of Capt. Mark T. Voss, featuring German military memorabilia. Military jackets and flags line the back wall, as artifacts preserved in a glass case are displayed on the right wall. The exhibit opened Jan. 30 and will end May 18.
Across the hall is the California’s Gold exhibit, which chronicles the life of journalist and television personality Huell Howser. The exhibit contains Howser’s personal library, one of his old cameras and a large map of California on the ground that details 600 sites that Howser visited for his show. According to the Leatherby Libraries’ annual report, 7,920 visitors came to see Howser’s archive between June 1, 2014 and May 31, 2015.
On the outside wall before entering the exhibit is a quote by Howser, “A hundred years from now, long after people have forgotten me and my television show, … the words ‘California’s Gold’ will mean those students who are the future of the world.”
The library also includes a wide variety of photographs along the walls of the building. One of the larger, newer collections is “The Last Hurrah II,” a series of photographs taken by Abe Ordover.
“I admired Abe Ordover’s work so much that I reached out to him,” Baldwin said.
She explained that the library sometimes reaches out to artists and will subsidize their work, and that Ordover’s collection is a temporary display.
Featured on the second floor of the library, “The Last Hurrah II” contains some new work as well as a reprise of Ordover’s earlier works. The photographs are mainly landscapes taken from a number of different countries such as Namibia, Kenya, Mexico, Costa Rica and the U.S., primarily California. The series even includes a piece entitled “Wet Wall,” which is a photograph of the reflection of the Lastinger Athletics Complex through the Global Citizen’s Plaza Fountain.
On the fourth floor is a temporary exhibit from guest curator Chris Jepsen, titled “Tiki in Orange County.” The exhibit offers insight into the origins of the Tiki culture, and its revival in Southern California during the mid-century mark. There are a number of Hawaiian shirts on display, which have become popular articles of clothing in modern day. The exhibit also contains a number of artifacts, documents and images that explore the Tiki culture.