Syracuse University offers an amazing library collection. A few weeks ago my intro. class was lucky enough to see select items from the special collections, some not available to the public. I had no idea what to expect, and I’m sure my classmates were in the same boat. The first item that was presented to us, by the first-rate rare collections and preservation professor Dr. Lavender, were clay tablets containing cuneiform writings. Ancient material like this is normally found in pictures or behind glass casing at a museum. Seeing the earliest forms of writing, close enough to breath it in, is like witnessing the dawn of man. Even though these brick documents comprised of sheep data and the like.
Presented to us were many books that showcased amazing art and really detailed the story of various print and cultural worlds. Explaining these materials is difficult and digital collections prove lacking. Our research center does excellent work, especially in historical particulars. However, digital archives cannot capture the brilliant colors and facets of print collections. They make images drab and the colors faded, moreover the physical dimensions of the work are ungraspable.
Ancient libraries housed and protected information. Over the centuries that basic role hasn’t changed. Libraries still protect and preserve information. Learning about cultural heritage and history from primary sources is invaluable.