The Alden Room: A Hidden Gem at SUNY Oneonta

Photography by Kento Igarashi, '25 Art and Design Major

Faith Logue, Contributing Writer

We’ve all had to go to the library for a variety of things; studying, researching material, eating at Argo, or talking with friends. On the third floor nestled behind large wooden doors is the Alden Room – an archive going all the way back to its beginnings in the late 1800s. You’ll never know what to expect when looking back on Oneonta photographs, documents, shirts, and even diaries. A wide variety of hidden gems exist in these archives. With a simple appointment reservation, you can bask in the wonders that await. 

The Alden Room is named in honor of Jessica Alden, the college’s very first librarian. What was once called Oneonta Normal School, Alden attended and graduated in 1906. After spending time teaching in Massachusetts and California, Alden returned to Oneonta Normal School in 1912 where she joined the faculty staff of twenty-six. 

Walking into the Alden Room, one would be overwhelmed by the amount of books and materials in its drawers. But have no fear, the dedicated staff are there to help you find what it is you’re looking for. With warm lighting and vintage furniture, the room invites you to grab a book and sit on the comfy couches. Its historical materials include student publications of the newspaper and yearbooks, notebooks from previous faculty members, old pins, and memorabilia from our sororities and fraternities. 

For those who have to do research for a class, a special collection of books are waiting for you to read. These include the New York State Verse Collection, which included NYS subjects in their verse published before 1920. The New York State History Collection, composed of books on local, county, and state histories. Diderot’s Encyclopedie, a pirated edition of Diderot’s  Encyclopédie, and much more. 

Professor Toke Knudsen brings his classes to the Alden Room to view various math-related artifacts. According to archives, and before digital media, students would come to the library to study and read early textbook collections used in common schools from the late 1700s to mid-1990s. Students in History of Math worked on a variety of projects using the same materials. Students would proceed to examine old textbooks to showcase how gender was presented and create a presentation based on it.

It’s also been rumored that the Alden Room may also include a ghost. Lucky, the Milne Library website cites that this ghost is friendly. This is known through a student worker who saw the ghost sitting in the room’s infamous blue chair. The student worker believed it to be the ghost of Jessica Alden. When going into the Alden Room knowing this information one could certainly feel some type of presence, especially near the blue chair. 

“Whether you’re a student seeking information about the establishment of your fraternity, sorority, or any general club, we’ve got it!” said Sophia Dunne, an Interim Scholarly Communications Librarian. “Professors interested in our resources or considering a class project on any topic, including those involving primary sources or hands-on experiences with materials, are encouraged to reach out. We would love to collaborate with you!” The Alden Room is a welcoming environment with many treasures.
For more information about the Alden Room, visit here. If you would like to make an appointment, please email [email protected].

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