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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Texas A&M pitcher Ryan Prager (18) delivers a pitch during Texas A&M’s game against Kentucky at the NCAA Men’s College World Series at in Omaha, Nebraska on Monday, June 17, 2024. Prager went for 6.2 innings, allowing two hits and zero runs. (Chris Swann/The Battalion)
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Texas A&M outfielder Jace Laviolette (17) robs a home run from Florida infielder Cade Kurland (4) in the top of the ninth inning during Texas A&M’s game against Florida at the NCAA Men’s College World Series at Charles Schwab Field in Omaha, Nebraska on Sunday, June 15, 2024. (Hannah Harrison/The Battalion)
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Treasures of Cushing Library

Cushing+Library+opened+in+1930+and+it+was+the+first+building+on+campus+constructed+soley+as+a+library.%0APhoto+by+Cody+Franklin.
Cushing Library opened in 1930 and it was the first building on campus constructed soley as a library. Photo by Cody Franklin.

The first time I visited the quiet halls of Cushing Memorial Library and Archives, it was by accident. It was the first day of the spring semester. I was looking for my music class that happened to be held in Evans. Confusing the fact that Evans and Cushing were seemingly joined together, the realization hit that they are in fact not connected.
Deciding to learn more about Cushing, I contacted the front desk to set up an interview — but after spending an afternoon looking through a WWI exhibit and picking up random books, it was obvious that I hadn’t understood originally the significance or value of what lay inside its walls.
Upon arriving at the Library Monday, several interns were perusing old textbooks, some students reviewing their class materials and several professors wandering around its halls.
Even though many people see Cushing as a mere reminder of Old Army, it is far from being a relic and is very much alive and relevant. My general perception though, is that many students are not aware the library even exists.
“I heard there were photos of people studying put up on a social media website, and one of the photos was taken in Cushing,” said Lawrence Mitchell, interim director and University Archivist. “Somebody said, ‘That place doesn’t even exist.’ Lots of people have never even been here.”
Functioning as both a research facility and the University Archives, Cushing Library contains more than 250,000 volumes of books — nearly 5 million total individual copies with thousands of feet of paper.
Cushing also contains rare copies of books and documents from Shakespeare anthology penned in the 17th century, to diaries of the original families who settled the Brazos Valley.
Cushing’s repository of knowledge is not limited to print media — the building houses photographs, slides, audio records and other items that are unique to A&M. As Mitchell spoke more about the contents of the library, I asked him if there was anything that was particularly unique that was stored here. He told me of an object nearly 100 years of age that stays in a climate-controlled chamber.
Hanging on the basement wall is a 26-foot by 12-foot service flag created — according to campus lore, Mitchell said — in the students’ tailor shop in the basement of the Academic Building. This particular service flag was able to capture the spirit of the fighting Texas Aggies in a way peculiar to the A&M College of Texas.
“Traditionally service flags have a red border with one blue star for each person who serves in the conflict,” Mitchell said. “And if a person has died in the conflict, the star changes from blue to gold. However, here at Texas A&M we have maroon stars for each serviceman,” Mitchell said.
Although it is very rare to see the original flag, a replica is currently on display in the WWI exhibit.
Cushing, which opened in September 1930, was the first free-standing library on campus. Construciton of a new library gave the space a new role. Cushing hasn’t always been a library though.
“After Evans was built in 1968 and before they had converted this into the archives and special collections, they were using this as library storage and extra office space for some departments,” said Greg Bailey, University Archivist and Clements Curator.
A popular misconception, Mitchell and Bailey said, is that curators will force anyone who walks into the doors to wear the ubiquitous white gloves found in many other archives around the U.S.
I also held this misconception upon entering, but Cushing Library is actually far more hospitable in all aspects than any other archive I have visited. In fact, the only times you will wear gloves will be when working with photographs and their negatives. For all other paper-based records, Bailey will ask visitors to use their bare hands. This is due to the loss of dexterity when using gloves, and the fragile nature of the papers.
There are internship opportunities that allow students access over research that may cover anything from translating ancient languages to discovering uses for plants that have been lost for ages.
Cushing can be used for nearly many purposes. It’s a place where students can study among quiet rows of books and will hold secrets likely no matter how many times you visit.

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