Featured Library: Milner Library, Illinois State University

Milner Library at Illinois State University (ISU) in Normal just finished hosting the “John Adams Unbound” traveling exhibition, which focuses on Adams’ 3,500-volume personal library that his family donated in 1894 to the Boston Public Library. The exhibit takes visitors on a journey through Adams’ life from 1735 to 1826 as a student, lawyer, revolutionary, diplomat and as America’s second president from 1797 to 1801.

Events at the library included an opening reception featuring period music and refreshments, and two lectures: “John Adams, the Cautious Revolutionary,” with Robert McColley, and “John Adams, Lawyer and Political Scientist” with Susan Westbury. The library also offered “Teaching with Primary Sources,” a Library of Congress program that allowed middle and high school students to use primary sources from the Library of Congress to gain a better understanding of the enormous contributions he made to the founding of our country; the programs provided participating teachers and media specialists with a primary source set related to John Adams for use in their classrooms as well.

The library partnered with local organizations for more Adams-related events. Lectures included “John Adams and the Origins of American Diplomacy,” with W. Michael Weis at Ames Library, Illinois Wesleyan University; “John Adams and the Illinois Country: The Influence of a Gentle Nationalist,” with Junius Rodriguez at Melick Library, Eureka College; and “Presidential Coins and Coin Collecting” at the Bloomington Public Library community room.

In addition, “John Adams: Brilliant Bibliophile,” featuring the Twin City Tale Spinners’ anecdotes on Adams, was hosted at both the Milner Library and the Normal Public Library community room.

"John Adams Unbound” marks the third major traveling exhibit for which ISU has won grants. In 2007, ISU hosted an exhibition focusing on Abraham Lincoln, and a year later, it hosted another exhibit about another Founding Father, Alexander Hamilton. A fourth traveling exhibition, “Pride & Passion: The African-American Baseball Experience,” will be at Milner Library from March 28 to May 11, 2012.