As part of the coursework, interns have to keep a weekly journal of our experiences. Blog entries are acceptable and I thought this would be a great way to keep everyone updated on my library activities at the Lilly Library!
November 2 – 7
Monday, November 2nd (4.5 hours):
I answered a couple of questions via email, and funnily enough, they all had to do with copyright in some way. We had a couple questions had to do with the Sylvia Plath collection. This collection had a few stipulations attached to it when we acquired the materials. Any poem or work of fiction intended to published and/or successfully published by Sylvia Plath can be reproduced and sent to a patron for personal research. If a patron wants any of the works not intended for publication (correspondence, diaries, personal poetry), he or she must obtain permission from the publishing house that holds the rights. And let me tell you, I don’t think that mission is very easy to accomplish. But… I am just the middle-man.
The rest of my time was spent being a booksitter for a French poetry class. I laid out the materials for the class, quickly went over the rules of handling, and then sat back to observe. The French professor spoke in, well, French. Obviously. I unfortunately know very little French and was unable to keep up with the discussion. It was very interesting, though! Regardless of not know the spoken language, I am able to read body language and facial expressions. When a student bends over a work, intently looking at a page, and a smile creeps across her face… I know that this book just spoke to her on a deeper level. She may have already read the passage in a modern edition, but to read the same words in the author’s hand… it’s touching history. Literally. The author’s hand moved across the very same page you are touching. I don’t need to know French to hear an excited tone to a student’s voice. Those are feelings that rare books and special collections bring out in patrons.
Wednesday, November 4th (4.5 hours):
I pulled the items for my Lutheran-centered bible class on Saturday. I had to write all of the call slips and retrieve them (mainly from the vault). I wanted to spend time looking at the items… getting to know them. I wanted to see if I had questions about the materials (and get them answered now instead of later) or see if anything can be marked. I want Saturday’s class to be relaxed and interactive – the study group knows more about the Bible and Lutheranism than I do. I can present the books and the information that I know, but I want them to share what they’ve learned and what they know.
At one point while I was looking over and organizing the books Joel Silver came into the room. He’s the director of the Lilly Library and curator of the Books; he is the fount of knowledge in the Lilly and a wonderful, wonderful instructor. He’s very sweet and willing to answer any question you have, but his expansive knowledge can be intimidating… a little. He asked what items were on my cart (because he knows the vault items quite well) and I froze up a little. Not really a good sign since I’m to be teaching these materials, but I answered things pretty well I think. I just don’t want to disappoint him! I know he knows that I’m just starting out, that I don’t know the materials as well as he does, and he’s just asking questions to be polite. Honestly I wish I could take more classes from the man – he’s that good.
Friday, November 6th (4 hours):
I arrived at the Lilly and went to work on a few email reference questions. Nothing too extravagant… mainly counting pages for a few people. I was able to register a couple of patrons in the reading room today – a simple process that just takes a little bit of time. I conducted the 2:00 Friday tour of the public spaces. It was lovely talking to one woman about the Lilly; we had more of a conversation that the normal tour relationship.
I also pulled some materials for the Monday class. I will be showing freshmen undergraduates how the Lilly can be used for primary research purposes. Boy, did I pull a few great things! I had to edit some of my originally intended items since other librarians were using them, but that’s the nice thing about the Lilly. There’s always something just as interesting to pull! I can be flexible. This also gives me a chance to look at items I haven’t before. Alright, now to the list of items…
- The Canterbury Tales, written by Chaucer, printed by William Caxton
- The Pickwick Papers, written by Charles Dickens
- Six Pickwick Papers toddy ladles, issued by publisher
- Laws of the United States, owned by Thomas Jefferson
- A fifteenth century Bible owned by a former Duke of Sussex
- A miniature album of recreated illuminations
- Sylvia Plath’s drafts of The Babysitters
- Ian Fleming’s Goldfinger drafted novel
- A sixteenth century German surgery book
- 1st English translation of Euclid’s Elements of Geometrie…
- 1st issue of The Fantastic Four comic book
- John Ford’s Oscar
I think it’ll be a nice little class.
Speaking of classes, tomorrow is the class on Lutheran materials! I’m super excited for it!
Saturday, November 7th (4 hours):
The class went great! The Trinity Lutheran group from Ellettsville came in about 10am to the Slocum room where I had everything set up. One of the gentlemen was a pastor, meaning he went to seminary school, meaning he knew a lot more about Lutheran history than I did. I started out by showing examples of 15th Century French Books of Hours; these manuscript books were very decadent, filled with beautiful illustrations and illumination, showing a lot of wealth. There was as English primer called the Wycliffe Bible that seemed to have Reformation sentiments before the Reformation. Next were a few interesting types of Bibles from the 16th Century, contemporary with Martin Luther: a comic-esque, picture bible called the Pauper’s Bible, and polyglot filled with multiple languages. Then were the Martin Luther things: one of his tracts from 1520 in German, the first Lutheran hymnal, a miniature hymnal, the first German Bible published in America, and a book claiming to having Martin Luther’s signature. I showed Henry VIII’s tract against the Reformation that earned him the title “Defender of the Faith” as well as Luther’s response. The final few Bibles were interesting Bibles that I thought they needed to see: the Great Bible printed on yellow pages showcasing King Henry VIII more prominently than Jesus, the original King James Bible from 1611, and the Wicked Bible. I kept my talk to just over half an hour, which seemed to be just enough for this class; enough information without going overboard.
I thank them for coming in on a Saturday morning to help with my internship!