Inside the USC Libraries: Hoose Philosophy Library

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 07/09/10

The Main Reading Room of the Hoose Philosophy Library. Photo from University of Southern California University Archives Image Collection.

The second in a series exploring the many USC Libraries. The previous post looked inside the Cinematic Arts Library.

Eighty years old this year, the Hoose Philosophy Library is the oldest and, many say, the most beautiful library on USC's campus. Its main reading room, topped by a high cathedral ceiling and filled with original artwork and furniture from local artists, is the perfect space for the quiet study and solemn reflection required of the intellectual arts.

Circling the main reading room is a series of mosaics that depict the progression of philosophy from the ancient Far East to modern America. Twenty-two philosophers and thinkers are shown alongside a representative inscription from their works, from the Buddha ("To the man who does me wrong I will return the protection of my most ungrudging love.") to Ralph Waldo Emerson ("Great men are they who see that spiritual is stronger than any material force.") Other notable features of the reading room include intricate stained glass windows and a great stone fireplace.

As with any library, one of the Hoose Philosophy Library's most valuable resources is the one behind the counter. For librarian Ross Scimeca, helping students is "a major priority." Scimeca, who holds a Ph.D. in philosophy, says he is always available for directed research and can offer guidance on what to read on any area of Western philosophy or intellectual history.

The library also boasts one of the finest philosophy collections in the nation. A selection of the library's books are available on the main reading room's shelves (the rest are accessible within 24 hours from the Grand Depository), but its rarest holdings are housed in Special Collections. Combined, the impressive Gomperz and Flewelling collections comprise some 6,000 volumes, including:
  • First edition copies of all but one of Immanuel Kant's works
  • David Hume's Treatise of Human Nature (1739-40), with marginal notes by the author
  • Rare medieval manuscripts

An extensive journal and reference collection is also available in the Flewelling Reading Room, adjacent to the main reading room. Open this summer on weekdays from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., the Hoose Philosophy Library is located on the second floor of Mudd Hall.

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