Davidson Library’s Special Collections Dept., which preserves rare and antique books, was recently rejuvenated by new acquisitions.
Open until the end of October, the showcase will feature unique materials such as mail art, sound recordings and original materials from one of President Truman’s speech writers that have been donated to the library throughout the year. Even though students cannot check out any of the resources in the collections, all content is available for viewing and research purposes.
Although most libraries are interchangeable, Assistant University Librarian Brian Mathews said Davidson stands out as a research institution.
“Special Collections are a closed collection and are what distinguishes research libraries,” Mathews said. “There are items that we have in there that no other library or very few other libraries in the world have in their buildings. It’s one thing to read about history, but it’s a totally different experience when you actually get to touch it.”
Some of the department’s most unique possessions include Alfred Hitchcock’s original film scores, the second largest collection of French cylinders in a public institution, limited first editions of Chares Darwin books and World War I artifacts. It also contains open reel tapes of live coverage during the Isla Vista riots, photographs of campus and academic life from the 1890s and early news articles.
Lucia Snowhill, co-acting university librarian and associate university librarian for the Collection Development, said the exhibit speaks volumes about the department’s diversity of materials.
“It is important to know that the library collects information that is not just the books and journals we all know about,” Snowhill said. “It is also for the cultural heritage and preservation of materials for people down the road.”
According to Mathews, Special Collections is striving to create a digital collection of its books, manuscripts, photographs and cylinder recordings.
“Before records, this is how people shared sound recordings,” Mathews said. “What’s really cool is that we’re digitalizing these and putting them online for free. You can add military marches and Polka songs to your iPod right now.”