The Library is in the upper floors of Our Lady Queen of Peace Chapel, built in 1938 on the eve of World War II, in the Romanesque architectural style.
The Library was originally on the first floor with the Chapel above. A major renovation occurred in 1986 where the Chapel and the Library exchanged places. The tall ceilings of the Chapel were divided into three floors.
It is very intentional that the chapel and library share a building. As Sister Joan Braun is quoted as saying at the Library’s renovation dedication on September 25, 1986, “Medieval libraries were housed near the Church; St. Scholastica's library is now housed above the place of worship. I would like to suggest to you that this location has a rational relationship as well as a symbolic one. In the library, we seek knowledge; in the chapel we seek wisdom which builds on knowledge.”
The first floor of the Library has the circulation and reference desks and is for group study with research resources and public access computer terminals.
The second and third floors are quiet study floors and house the majority of the books.
Our unique Library retains much of its original old-world craftsmanship after the renovation. Marble pillars, leather studded doors, embossed ceilings, exposed wooden beams, and stained-glass windows made by Emil Frei, Inc. in St. Louis, Missouri can be seen throughout the Library.
The library is honored to display two signed serigraphs by Sister Corita Kent (1918-1986). Sister Corita, whose work merged sacred and secular themes, has been noted by the New York Times as "a cult icon of sorts, whose life and work suggest a kind of alternate history of Pop Art."
Sister Corita's work with serigraphy (screen printing) began in 1952, and later became associated with social justice issues related to Civil Rights and the Vietnam War. For example, the 1966 serigraph New Hope (pictured above, and hanging in our own Adams Room) has been regarded as a message of support for Mildred and Richard Loving, the inter-racial couple who were sentenced to a year in prison for defying Virginia's anti-miscegenation statute. Art historian Susan Dackerman believes this serigraph "stands at the crossroads of protest and sacred art. In this work, on account of the exemplary nature of their struggle and the evocative power of their surname, Mildred and Richard Loving come to represent all those who act out of love, whether profane or divine."
Sister Corita was born in Fort Dodge, Iowa on November 20, 1918. After attending Catholic Girls High School in Los Angeles, she joined The Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary where she served over 30 years. Our two prints by Sister Corita were given by the artist to Sister Monica Laughlin (1922-2014), former chair of the CSS Music Department, who lived with the Sisters of Immaculate Heart of Mary when she was a graduate student at the University of Southern California during the late 1960s. In recent years, the serigraphs were kept in Sister Monica's workroom in the CSS Music Library before being passed on to us earlier this year by Dr. LeAnn House, Sister Monica's colleague and successor as chair of the CSS Music Department.
"It is a huge danger to pretend awful things do not happen. But you need enough hope to keep on going. I am trying to make hope. And you have to grab it where you can."--Sister Corita
Corita Kent, new hope, 1966, image courtesy of the Corita Art Center, Immaculate Heart Community, Los Angeles.