2:17 PM, March 24, 2011

SPECIAL COLLECTIONS AND ARCHIVES DEPARTMENT OF AUBURN UNIVERSITY LIBRARIES ESTABLISHES NEW COLLECTION OF ARTIFACTS LEFT AT TOOMER’S CORNER OAKS

 AUBURN, Ala. – In the days following the Feb. 16 announcement that the 130-year-old oaks of Toomer’s Corner had been poisoned and were unlikely to survive, the entire Auburn family engaged in a spontaneous outpouring of grief, well wishes for the health of the trees, and an affirmation that this senseless crime would not break the Auburn spirit.

In the wake of that outpouring of emotion, many personal articles, signs and other artifacts were left at the historic trees. As efforts began in earnest to do everything possible to save the trees that have been the site of so many Auburn celebrations, these artifacts were removed from the trees and gathered in a new collection established to preserve this trying chapter in Auburn University history.

Auburn University Libraries’ Special Collections and Archives Department has undertaken to preserve this new collection - some of which falls well outside the norm for the average archival artifact.

“I’m not sure anyone has ever tried to archivally preserve a roll of toilet paper with writing on it,” said Greg Schmidt, special collections librarian at Auburn University Libraries. “Toilet paper is meant to break down and is a very delicate medium for the written word. We have many such rolls collected from the Toomer’s Corner oaks, and ensuring they last in our archives is going to be a challenge.”

Artifacts gathered at the trees range from get-well wishes for the trees from small children to touching tributes from current and former students.

The public will have an opportunity to view many of these newest pieces of Auburn history at a special exhibit that will be housed in Ralph Brown Draughon Library during A-Day activities on Saturday, April 16, 2011. Details about the exhibition will be announced in early April.

Auburn University Libraries serves the more than 24,000 students and faculty of Auburn with a collection in excess of 3.2 million volumes. The Special Collections and Archives Department collects, preserves, and houses rare and unique items relating to the histories of Auburn University, the state of Alabama, the southeastern region, the Civil War, Native Americans and aviation. The Auburn University Digital Library develops accessible digital collections of materials that support the teaching and research of Auburn faculty and students, and that, in turn, further the mission of Auburn University.  These collections are made available to educators and students in the state, nation and the world.

Auburn University has provided instruction, research and outreach to benefit the state and nation for more than 150 years, and is among a distinctive group of universities designated as Land, Sea, and Space Grant institutions. Auburn University makes a nearly $5 billion economic contribution to the state each year, has more than 250,000 graduates and provides 130 degree programs to more than 24,000 graduate and undergraduate students.

(Contributed by W. Jayson Hill)

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