Thursday, September 3, 2015

Get Lost in the Library

My name is Paul Scherry, younger brother of Rejoice Scherry who is DSU’s very own archivist.  Today I was browsing through the shelves of the archival office, (which by the way are open to the public) and I discovered a hidden treasure!  I play this little game, where I go to a shelf and look for the oldest possible book.  I don’t care what the book is about, who wrote it, or what kind of shape it’s in.  The only thing that matters is how old it is. 

Well this time I hit the jackpot.   I found a book dated to the year 1694! To put that in perspective, the pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock in 1620.  Imagine holding a piece of history that was printed only 74 years later.  Its leather binding is in surprisingly good shape, with an unsurprising amount of “red rot” (dried and crumbling leather).  The pages on the exterior have been heavily browned with age, but when I opened the book, I found the paper to be only slightly yellowed.  Just over three centuries old and this book is in better condition than some books currently sitting openly in DSU’s collection! 

I can honestly tell you that at this point my heart was pounding.  Then I looked at the title which read Hudibras, written by Samuel Butler.  Even though I had no knowledge of this piece of literature, I immediately began to feel as if this artifact, older than the United States themselves, was talking to me.  I looked at the first few blank pages and I found the owners signature!  He or she, signed “J. Green” and dated the year, 1758.  Now I was ecstatic!  Someone in 1758 bothered to signify ownership of this book about two decades prior to the American Revolution.  Little did that person know was that I, a junior in college at Del Sate, would crack open this book three hundred years later and see the personal touch they left behind.  

It gets better.  On page 320, I found something else a reader left behind.  Tucked into the spine of the book was a dried out and flattened four leaf clover.   To think I stumbled upon someone else’s good fortune made my day. 

As I sit here writing out this little highlight, I think this book was sending me a message.  In today’s modern world, we have access to unlimited sources of knowledge.  With the swipe of a phone screen, we can find anything.  But let me ask you this: would you find a signature? Would you find a hidden treasure?  Would you be able to physically hold an artifact made over three hundred years ago?  There are still discoveries like the one I just had yet to be found in libraries.  The next time you have a few minutes to burn in between classes, instead of staring into your cellphone, get lost in the library. You might be surprised by what you find!

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