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Fan letters from fourth-graders
I received dozens of wonderful thank-you letters from the fourth-grade students of Ridge Road Elementary School in North Haven, who visited on April 22, like the one pictured here from Chandler. I read every single one of them. Judging from the letters, the Supreme Court Bobbleheads were a huge hit, as were the medieval manuscripts in our exhibit, "Reused, Rebound, Recovered: Medieval Manuscript Fragments in Law
Chandler was one of several students who asked questions in their letters. Good questions from good students deserve good answers.
Chandler asks: "Do the old books need to be in hot or cold temperature?"
Cooler temperatures are better for old books, Chandler. Cooler temperatures slow down chemical reactions that cause the materials in books to deteriorate. Warm temperatures, combined with high humidity, can also cause mold spores to wake up and begin reproducing. It is also important to keep old books at an even temperature, because changes in temperature can cause the books to change their shape. In the Law Library's Rare Book Room, we keep the temperature at a steady 69 degrees Fahrenheit, and a relative humidity of 45%. You can learn more from a leaflet titled Temperature, Relative Humidity, Light, and Air Quality: Basic Guidelines for Preservation, from the Northeast Document Conservation Center.
Sydney writes: "I never thought the sun could destroy or ruin all those beautiful books! So, what sort of things do you put in the exhibits while the sun is out in summer?
Sunlight cannot reach our exhibit cases, Sydney. In addition, we have taken several steps to limit the chance of damage from light. The plexiglass on the exhibit cases filters out almost all of the ultraviolet light. We also have sleeves on the flourescent light tubes, to cut down the general level of light. For more information, see Protection from Light Damage, a leaflet from the Northeast Document Conservation Center.
Ever writes: "I still can't believe that the Yale students get to touch, hold and read the books. Wouldn't the books just break into little pieces?"
We have special rules for handling the books, Ever. The books must stay in our reading room, under my supervision. The readers use special foam cradles to support the books, they must use pencil instead of ink to take notes, and they must handle the books with care. However, we want students to use our books. The books come alive when they are used. Our job is not only to collect and protect these treasures, but also to share them with students and teachers.
Finally, to all the Ridge Road students who said they wanted to come visit again: Please do come back!
Rare Book Librarian
4th-graders from North Haven tour our exhibits
On April 22 the Rare Book Collection hosted 84 4th-grade students from Ridge Road Elementary School in North Haven, CT. They toured our current exhibit, "Reused, Rebound, Recovered: Medieval Manuscript Fragments in Law Book Bindings." They posed plenty of perceptive questions. It was a delight to have them.
They also got a kick out of our display of Supreme Court Bobbleheads...
Thanks to Ridge Road Elementary's librarian, Lydia Westerberg, for organizing this visit, to the other Ridge Road Elementary teachers and parents who accompanied the students, and to my library colleagues Cesar Zapata and Kathy Eow for their help.
Rare Book Librarian
Medievalists are set loose in the Rare Book Room
Over 40 members of the Medieval Academy of America attended our open house on March 19, as part of the Academy's 2010 Annual Meeting at Yale. The occasion was our current exhibit, "Reused, Rebound, Recovered: Medieval Manuscript Fragments in Law
After a brief presentation from the exhibit's lead curator, Benjamin Yousey-Hindes, we set them loose to the exhibit, and an additional 40 volumes in our reading room. We provided forms for them to contribute information about the fragments; a parlor game for medievalists. One of them used his iPhone to show us where a musical fragment fits into the medieval liturgy. Several told us "you should email Professor X about this fragment."
Those who generously contributed information included Elizabeth Brown (CUNY), George Brown (Stanford), Lisa Fagin Davis (Simmons College), Consuelo Dutschke (Columbia University), Dennis Dutschke (Arcadia University), Joseph Dyer (University of Massachusetts-Boston), David Ganz (King's College London), Susan L'Engle (St. Louis University), William Mahrt (Stanford University), Hope Mayo (Harvard), Richard Rouse (UCLA), Matthew Salisbury (University of Oxford), Alison Stones (University of Pittsburgh), Rod Thomson (University of Tasmania), Linda Voigts (University of Missouri-Kansas City), and Mary Wolinski (Western Kentucky University). I am adding the information they provided to the online version of the exhibit.
Thanks to all who attended for making the open house a resounding success. One senior paleographer said, "I won't remember a single paper that I
hear at this conference, but I'll remember this event."
Rare Book Librarian
Benjamin Yousey-Hindes, the exhibit's lead curator, introduces the exhibit to Medieval Academy of America members.
Medieval Academy of America conferees studying our exhibit, "Reused, Rebound, Recovered: Medieval Manuscript Fragments in Law
Let the games begin! Medievalists examining some of the additional volumes with medieval manuscripts in the bindings, set out for them in the Paskus-Danziger Rare Book Reading Room.
Photographs by Ty Streeter, Office of Public Affairs, Yale Law School.