A guide to having the ultimate libraries experience during Meliora Weekend
Author: Matthew Cook
Large letters spelling out MELIORA in the quad in front of Rush Rhees Library

In about a week, alumni, students, faculty, parents, and friends of the University of Rochester will come together for the annual celebration of all things “ever better,” Meliora Weekend.

From October 3 through October 6, weekend attendees will have more than 250 events—many of which are happening concurrently—across all University campuses to choose from. 

With so much going on, it would be easy to miss a libraries event or two. 

Not on our watch.

We’ve assembled a two-day Meliora Weekend itinerary that ensures you see every exhibition, hear every talk, and are in attendance for all library events. 

Now, we know you probably won’t attend every libraries event. But you could. So, to those who can’t get enough of the University of Rochester Libraries; who crave new collections; who equate the smell and ambiance of a library to a warm hug: You’re welcome. 

Friday, October 4

Henry A. Ward: 
A Pioneer of Object-Based Learning in the Natural Sciences

Carlson Science & Engineering Library (1st Floor), Computer Studies Building

If you have been looking for a chance to see a cast of a gorilla’s skull, this is it. Henry Ward was a professor of natural science at Rochester (1860–1875). He was also an explorer and amassed an extensive personal collection of natural specimens. Rochester aimed to recreate that inventory through The Ward Project. Ward played a vital role in the development of natural sciences in the US. Stop by this exhibit to learn why.

BONUS: On your way to see the Ward exhibit, you’ll pass a permanent exhibit featuring the library’s namesake, Chester Carlson, inventor of xerography.


Bringing Coherence to Light: 
The Life and Legacy of Optics Pioneer Emil Wolf
Physics, Optics, and Astronomy Library (3rd Floor), Bausch & Lomb Hall 

Meet one of the late giants in the world of optics. Longtime Rochester professor and former Wilson Professor of Optical Physics Emil Wolf (1922–2018) pioneered theories connected fundamental equations describing electromagnetism to the observable properties of light. Wolf’s Principles of Optics (1958), co-written with Nobel laureate Max Born at the University of Edinburgh, is the field’s most cited textbook. If you’re into physics, this is a must-see.


Inauguration BBQ
Meliora Village, Wilson Quadrangle

Get a dose of presidential inspiration—and a hot dog. By this time, you’re probably going to be hungry. There’s no better way to satisfy those hunger pangs than with a meal served, in part, by the honoree herself, President Sarah Mangelsdorf. She’ll also be saying a few words before she heads to Kodak Hall. All of this will have you primed for your next stop (assuming you’re not attending the inauguration at 2:30)

Statue of Martin Brewer Anderson surrounded by blue and yellow balloons
A statue of Martin Brewer Anderson overlooking Meliora Village
Meliora Weekend 2017

To Reach Our Farthest Star: 
Leading the University of Rochester, 1850–2019

Great Hall (2nd Floor), Rush Rhees Library

Learn what it means to be a University president. Martin Brewer Anderson, the University’s first president (1853–1888), described the role in a way that paints it as an exhausting feat of versatility. This exhibit uses Anderson’s perspective to highlight the many hats a president must wear and the varying ways our eleven leaders have donned them. 


What’s the Big Idea?!
Barbara J. Burger iZone, Rush Rhees Library

The closest you may ever come to being a judge on Shark Tank. Students will be pitching innovative solutions to problems in the developing world to a panel of experts. You will have the chance to provide feedback on nascent, and potentially transformative, ideas. Grab a drink from the cash bar, and hear from some of this generation’s aspiring world-changers.

Saturday, October 5

Studio Xperience
Evans Lam Square, Rush Rhees Library

Download the River Campus app you never knew you needed. In the fall of 2020, Rochester will open Studio X, an extended reality (XR) hub in Carlson Science and Engineering Library, where students, faculty, and staff can experience, explore, and experiment with augmented and virtual reality. Want a taste of what XR makes possible? Get the mobile app that allows you to fly around the Eastman Quad like Dwight Schrute in Second Life or interact with a digital groundboi or quad fox


Dissident Scholars
Rossell Hope Robbins Library & Koller-Collins Center, Rush Rhees Library

Explore the work of scholars targeted by McCarthyism. At a time when the country was on high alert for subversive or treasonous activity, people who thought differently became targets. This exhibit explores the life and work of radical-left medievalist Margaret Schlauch, as well as Rossell Hope Robbins, Helen Ann Mins Robbins, and Henry Felix Mins, Jr., during the McCarthyite "witch hunts" of the 1950s. 


Exhibit Tour with a Curator:
Victorian Life and Culture

Department of Rare Books, Special Collections, and Preservation

Use this time for a quick introduction to two royal exhibits you will visit later. About two hours from this time, you’ll get a rare glimpse into the Victorian era through Victoria: A Ruling Image and Arthur Sullivan & the Royal Family: An Exhibition. This 15-minute, guided-preview will provide the context you need to get the most out of your viewing. Questions are encouraged!


From Student to Alum to Collector to Donor:
Developing Special Collections

Plutzik Room, Department of Rare Books, Special Collections, and Preservation

Hear an expert explain how collections are born. Sometimes a simple college course could be the spark that turns into a passion, and eventually, a fully realized collection. Jessica Lacher-Feldman, assistant dean and the Joseph N. Lambert & Harold B. Schleifer Director of Rare Books, Special Collections, and Preservation, will share rare materials acquired through donations to highlight concepts such as preservation, education, and research, in relation to collections.

A pendant with an illustration of Queen Victoria on it
A pendant commemorating Queen Victoria's
ascension to the throne

Victoria: A Ruling Image 
Department of Rare Books, Special Collections, and Preservation

The greatest challenge your visual perception of Queen Victoria will ever face. Victoria’s rule coincided with a period of extraordinary social and technological change. The shift resulted in images of Victoria showing up everywhere, blurring the line between the real and symbolic Victoria. This exhibit chronicles the differences through illustrations, etchings, letters, photographs, and more.  

Arthur Sullivan & the Royal Family: An Exhibition
Seward Room

Imagine a Saturday night with Queen Victoria. Enhance your appreciation for current entertainment by looking at what the 19th-century Royal Family did for amusement. This exhibit—through photographs, theatre programs, and other entertainment ephemera—focuses on the connection composer Arthur Sullivan had to Queen Victoria and her family. Thanks to Harold Kanthor ’66 (MD), you get to see what captured the imagination of minds in England and beyond. 


What’s (Really) Old Is New: 
New Acquisitions and Collaborations in Medieval & Early Modern Collections

Friedlander Lobby, Rush Rhees Library

Visit the confluence of Rochester’s strengths in medieval studies and STEM. Get a close look at recent acquisitions, including a rare treatise on the structure of the universe and a “lover’s confession” in the form of a 33,000-line Middle English poem. The exhibit also highlights how students, faculty, and staff are using 21st-century technology and paleographic skills to shed light on medieval and early modern culture. 

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