Internship – Week 13

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 16 – 20

Monday, November 16th (4.5 hours):
Today is the first day without Dave. I definitely feel his absence… the librarians left have to take a bigger workload in order to maintain. I’m just trying to help with anything they need.

So, I spent the beginning hour answering a few emailed reference questions. The rest of my time was spent finding and choosing interesting Lilly books on fairy tales. Rebecca has a class coming up this week on fairy tales, but doesn’t have notes on most of them. She has a large list of great books to show on Cinderella and Bluebeard. I was to look up the origins of Beauty and the Beast, Rapunzel, Sleeping Beauty, The Little Mermaid, and The Snow Queen. That’s not as easy as it sounds. Most modern fairy tales had been passed down orally for centuries before being written down. What would you consider original, then? The oral stories or the first written down version? What if multiple cultures had similar stories? What if Perrault and the Grimm brothers both took inspiration from the same story? I love this kind of research! If I hadn’t have gone into Library Sciences I probably would have studied folklore and fairy tales.

Most of us, if you’ve looked up the origins of fairy tales, know the big ones: Charles Perrault, a Frenchman famous for Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty; Hans Christian Andersen, a Danish gentleman famous for The Little Mermaid, Thumbelina, The Ugly Duckling, and The Snow Queen; and the brothers Grimm, German brothers famous for tellings of Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Rapunzel, Hansel and Gretel, and Snow White.

Beauty and the Beast was interesting because it WASN’T one of the big three. The modern, popular representation of Beauty and the Beast is attributed to Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont from France.

Now, let’s take a moment to recognize the original titles of these tales:
Beauty and the Beast = La Belle et la Bête (French)
Bluebeard = La Barbe bleue (French)
Cinderella = Cenerentola (Italian); Cendrillon, or, La Petite Pantoufle de verre (French); Aschenputtel (German)
The Little Mermaid = Den lille havfrue (Danish)
Rapunzel = Rapunzel (German)
Sleeping Beauty = La Belle au bois dormant (French); Dornröschen (German)
The Snow Queen = Snedronningen (Danish)

Illustration of Cinderella bent down in the kitchen with pots around her
Charles Robinson illustrated Cinderella in the kitchen (1900), from “Tales of Passed Times” with stories by Charles Perrault. (via Wikipedia)

Wednesday, November 18th (4.5 hours):
I walked in and they were completely caught up on reference questions! It was amazing! So, I spent some time preparing for my class on Friday. It’s a home schooled group ranging in age from elementary to junior high studying ancient Rome to  early printing. To keep everyone’s attention we’re making this relatively hands-on and fairly short, only 30 minutes per small group. I’ve gathered some visually stimulating objects that won’t damage easily:

  • Roman tombstone
  • Large Antiphonal, with illumination
  • Gutenberg Bible fragment
  • Paper molds with deckle
  • Composition stick
  • Paper-making machine figurine
  • Vellum roll

I’m excited for it! I want it to be educational and interesting, but obviously straightforward and not above their heads.

Friday, November 20th (4 hours):
The home-school group of elementary kids was amazing! They were fewer than anticipated, so we talked as a single group. We talked in the main gallery for a little while and looked at the Adubon, checked out the Lincoln Room with the Gutenberg Bible, went into the Ellison Room to look at the objects I pulled, and then back to the Main Gallery to see how the printing press might work. It was a lot of information and a long hour for the kids, but they were great! Several of them had strong questions and were able to answer mine easily. They were super inquisitive and I was glad to have helped show them what the Lilly collected!

Group of children around a table with a woodblock
Homeschooled class visiting the Lilly to see early printing materials (via @IULillyLibrary on Twitter)

The rest of my time was spent on reference questions. Wouldn’t you know we were relatively quiet all day Wednesday and Thursday, and even Friday morning… but when I arrived at 1pm we had 7 simultaneous emails! Isabelle, Rebecca, and I got to most of them. I had another copyright question, where someone wanted an entire book digitized. The book, a miniature, was published in 1987, but the text was originally written in the 1700s. Interesting little problem, heh?

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