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 9 – 13
Monday, November 9th (4.5 hours):
My classes today went fantastic! It is such a wonderful feeling when you, as a librarian, are able to affect a few patrons. Today’s classes were made up of freshmen. They were taking this class as an introduction to the University’s resources, which obviously included the Lilly Library. I pulled a few treasures to represent our varying collections and showed them how they could conduct primary research. We started with a “tour,” and introduction to the Lilly’s collections and how to use the materials. I went over the history and described the size and scope, but then I took them into the Ellison Room where the materials were laid. That’s where the treasures were. I described the materials in a previous post, I believe, but the students interacted with me! Some of them were excited, visually, by what I was showing them! It’s nice having that connection with people; a mutual delight over old books.
This is why I want to be a reference/instruction librarian. I delight in showcasing the libraries materials and seeing others share in that joy. Books as objects are important. Seeing a digital representation of a page is a profoundly different experience than being able to touch it, turn the pages, notice the quirks of an individual item. I don’t discredit digital images or digitization… they just have a separate function. With these rare materials we are able to get closer to the source or original version of the text; we can see how materials were originally published; decipher marginal notes written by previous owners; understand size and color of an object; see the writing process of authors; and experience these materials as objects. The information about the object often speaks to and enhances the textual information found within the pages.
Wednesday, November 11th (6 hours):
Happy Veterans’ Day! A quick thank you to all who have or are serving in our armed forces!
Another side note… today is Kurt Vonnegut’s birthday… check out the Lilly’s Vonnegut collection here: go.iu.edu/Nbk.
Alright, now down to the nitty-gritty.
I arrived at the Lilly early today in order to booksit for a class taking place at 11:15. The materials pulled were really interesting: a Mercator map, Gesner’s Historia animalium with a rendition of Albrecht Dürer’s Rhinoceros, French encyclopedias, books on plants.
It really was an interesting amalgamation of items. The course was taught in French, but she slipped into English several times. I feel like I want to be open and welcoming during these sessions because I want students to be excited by these materials, but if I haven’t instructed them on how to handle the books I get a little anxious and feel as if I’m the overprotective-helicopter Mom. I don’t want to be a helicopter Mom… but I don’t want the materials to be ripped or mistreated either.
It’s a balancing act.
I continued working on more reference questions. They included more copyright/publication questions as well as regular counting/reproduction questions.
Friday, November 13th (4 hours):
Busy day today! I got in around 1pm and worked some on emailed reference questions; one issue that came up was photocopies of correspondence held at another institution. We have photocopies of the letters for continuity purposes intended for researchers physically at the Lilly; if a researcher emailing the Lilly wanted photocopies of these letters (as was the case here) we had to direct them to the institution holding the original copies.
That’s a lot of words to vaguely explain the situation, isn’t it?
Anywho… about twenty minutes before the tour was to take place two gentlemen arrived. They were wanting to listen to the tour, but wanted to get registered in the Reading Room first so their books could be pulled while on the tour. I helped the two and then walked them to the Main Exhibit Gallery to begin the tour. Well, wouldn’t you know there were three more women waiting for the tour?! That doesn’t usually happen. I was a bit flustered and just began. At the first pause, the women went to take their jackets off since they hadn’t yet… and another student walked in for the tour! There were six people on this tour! That sounds like a small number, but the Lilly (and I’d wager other rare book collections) never usually get that many people interested in the history of their collections all at the same time. I talked and answered questions for half an hour and then 5 of the 6 decided to come into the Reading Room.
The two gentlemen were covered, but I had a few treasures pulled for the women. I gave them a personal, short presentation on a 15th Century Book of Hours, J. M. Barrie’s Peter Pan manuscript, Shakespeare’s First Folio, Fruits of Philosophy, and the Oscar. One of the women began crying when she saw the First Folio! It makes me incredibly happy that other people are so affected by these books. A digital image of the First Folio is a very different experience than getting touch it and turn it’s pages.
Before I was finished showing the women these materials, another foursome became interested in them. When the women were finished I pushed my little truck over this group of two boys and two men. I went through my little spiel and they were super excited by the Peter Pan. It’s not a very visual piece, but it’s handwritten by Barrie… it’s physically touching history. (Check out my post on seeing Peter Pan as an opera in London!)
AND… today is the last day of one of my mentors! Dave Frasier is retiring from the Lilly Library today. I appreciate everything that he’s shown and taught me over the past year. Thank you, Dave!!