Episode 18 of Cloister Talk Welcomes Listeners into a Unique Library of Philadelphia’s Ethnic and Linguistic History
Few library spaces glimmer with the sense of historicity and culture that the Horner Memorial Library at the German Society of Pennsylvania exudes. In this episode of Cloister Talk Live!, join historian and former German Society of Pennsylvania Library Committee Chair Dr. Maria Sturm, along with Society Librarian Bettina Hess, for an introduction to the historic library, its collections, and its work to make German-American history and culture accessible to all. Sturm and Hess highlight some of the fascinating holdings of the Library and reflect on the significance of the Library to understanding Philadelphia’s ethnic heritage. The episode provides a fascinating insider’s look at what it takes to keep a small, centuries-old independent library full of wonderful treasures running in the twenty-first century, and what scholars and the general public have to gain from engaging with collections at niche institutions, like those of the German Society of Pennsylvania Library.
Guests on this episode are well-situated to offer these perspectives. Dr. Maria Sturm, who spent nine years as Chair of the Library Committee and currently serves on the German Society’s Board of Directors. She is a native of Germany, with a PhD in American History from the University of Cologne. She first encountered the German Society of Pennsylvania and its magnificent library in the 1990s, during the initial project to renovate the space and bring the collection online. From 2011 to 2020, Maria served as the chair of the Library Committee while also being on the Board. Bettina Hess, the Society’s Special Collections Librarian who oversees daily operations of the collection. Bettina holds a B.A. from Bryn Mawr College and an M.I.L.S. from the University of Michigan and has attended Rare Book School and the German Script Course at the Moravian Archives. She began her career at the German Society in 1994 on a cataloguing project and currently runs a weekly German script transcription group at the Library.
Listen to the episode here: