RBML to Host Reception Celebrating the Arrival of a Rare 12th Century Manuscript

NEW YORK, April 14, 2005 - Columbia’s Rare Book and Manuscript Library (RBML) will host a reception honoring the arrival of a new manuscript on April 21, 2005 at 6:00 P.M. on the 6th floor of Butler Library. Robert Somerville, Tremaine Professor of Religion and Professor of History at Columbia University will give a brief presentation of the manuscript.

“The manuscript, copied in northern France during the early years of the 12th century, contains one of the earliest collections of canon law produced during the sweeping ecclesiastical reforms of the second half of the 11th century,” explained Somerville. “It is one of only six codices that transmit this text to us.”

The compilation probably originated in the church at Reims, and may have influenced Odo of Châtillon while he was in the cathedral school there. In 1088, Odo became Pope Urban II; he is regarded as one of the most influential Roman pontiffs of the Middle Ages.

Pope Urban’s roots in Reims offer the tantalizing possibility of linking our collection to one of the architects of the church’s elaborate system of scholastic canon law, a system that produced several official legal collections which remained valid in the Roman Catholic Church until 1917.

The presentation is free and open to the Columbia community and general public. A reception will follow the presentation. To respond, please call 212-854-4768 or e-mail mh932@columbia.edu.

The Rare Book and Manuscript Library owns over 600,000 rare books in some 20 book collections and almost 26 million manuscripts in nearly 2,600 separate manuscript collections. It is particularly strong in English and American literature and history, classical authors, children's literature, education, mathematics and astronomy, economics and banking, photography, the history of printing, New York City politics, librarianship, and the performing arts. Individual collections are as eclectic as they are extensive. For additional information about the Rare Book and Manuscript Library, please call 212-854-5153.

Columbia University Libraries is one of the top ten academic library systems in the nation, with 9.2 million volumes, over 65,650 serials, as well as extensive collections of electronic resources, manuscripts, rare books, microforms, and other nonprint formats. The collections and services are organized into 25 libraries, supporting specific academic or professional disciplines. Columbia Libraries employs more than 400 professional and support staff to assist faculty, students, and researchers in their academic endeavors. The Libraries’ website at http://www.columbia.edu/cu/lweb/ is a gateway to its print and electronic collections and to its services.

04/14/05 JD