We were talking about libraries last week, and I am so excited about them today! I work as an intern at the Map Library and I spend a lot of time researching in Special Collections. I was sent to look at the book "Journal of sentimental travels in the southern provinces of France, shortly before the Revolution; embellished with seventeen coloured engravings, from designs by T. Rowlandson, Esq." I love it when titles are that long! Plus, it starts:
If thou delightest to trace the human heart through its secret workings and windings, and through all the devious paths into which it is led by a thousand vagaries, thou wilt perchance find this tome suited to thy taste, though its title-page be not graced by the name of any honourable, right honourable, or right celebrated author."
I feel like we are that courteous reader, fellow English 420 students! So I wanted to read it and hold it forever even though I'm only supposed to be looking for pictures. In Special Collections, though, it's always a production where they wheel the rare book out to you and place it on a stand after you request it, complete a survey, and leave your ID with them. They really put it on a pedestal. I feel like I could never see the book again after my internship. BUT! Google books has it!
I went to lecture recently where a paper conservator for the Clements library spoke. She got very emotional about how physicality is what we are losing with the technological age. She made me excited about rare, primary source objects and the idea of working with your hands. She was so angry about twitter! HATES twitter. I think this way of thinking is incredibly seductive. But now everybody can be a courteous reader, not just interns! I am glad to be excited about information again, and Google Books and devious librarians and digital space.