Thursday, May 3, 2007

BPL - Encounters with History

Wow! Ancient books that belong to you!

Earle Havens, Acting Curator at BPL talked about the greatest technology, the book, and held up some rare specimans for the audience, including a page from the first printed Bible, the originals of Shakespeare's works, and a book that saved a life in the Civil War (the gunshot hit the book in the soldier's pocket).

Adams gave his library to the country, Jefferson sold his 6,000 books for $25,000 to refurbish the Library of Congress after a fire. Beth Prindle, Manager of the John Adams Library sees this as a testament to John Adams, the farmer's kid from Braintree, as a true founder of democracy. The Adams Project shows Adams permanent record of his interaction with the book. Hundreds of these books have the mark of the owner: underlining, prices, ownership, and "interpretive commentary" Adams argued with his books. "John Adams never saw a piece of paper, he didn't feel compelled to write on it."

Beth Prindle says: BPL is about access, so they developed two websites:

On the Timeline: Personal context in a chronological order with links to his works and artifacts; His face ages asyou precede on the timeline. World history is also linked to the site to give a framework.

When you hold the book, Beth says, you have a powerful experience of holding the book that Adams held, but by putting these books online, the access and research capibilities are harnessed by the Internet. BPL is offering both experiences. Beth also spoke of exhibitions in other locations and unique things that mark early American history. and how this added curatorial content adds to the enjoyment of history and more research possibilities.

Beth said passionately: If no one knows you have it, what purpose is it?

I had a chance to do a bus tour to BPL this spring so I encourage you to visit the exhibit soon, but for digital excellence also check out the website.

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