ASSOCIATES (vol. 10, no. 2, November 2003) - associates.ucr.edu
Jean Turner Weiss
University of California, Riverside
Twelve beautiful photographs of library interiors capture the essence of erudition. These views, virtually devoid of distracting patrons, invite you to feel the architectural wonders that house impressive collections of books, manuscripts, scrolls, codices and even theatrical costumes. Every year librarians and information professionals nominate their favorite libraries and the twelve winners appear in the calendar, now in its fourth (2004) edition.
Although titled, "The Renaissance Library Calendar", the architecture stretches from 527 AD with the stark monastic Library/Sacristy of St. Catherineís Monastery in Sinai, Egypt to the 1932 Folger Shakespeare Library, Washington, D.C. that resembles an Elizabethan great hall. These decoratively quiet spaces are a contrast to the lavish baroque Library of the Benedictine Monastery of Admont, Austria and the John Rylands University Library, Manchester, England where the radiant frescoes, glittering gold molding and light airy vaulting adds elegance to the palatial rooms.
Throughout the calendar skillful photographers have invited us into ecclesiastical libraries, research libraries, academic libraries and even a law and parliament library mostly in the western world. Even with the wide range of architectural styles, the most prominent elements are walls and walls of books. Some are stately tomes embossed and bound in leather while Vassarís visible spine labels are indicative of a working collection. The red, blue and green volumes encased in cast iron at the Riggs Library, Georgetown University seem intentionally selected to brighten a storage facility doubling as a special event locale.
When I finished relishing a picture of the past, I glanced at the text below and suddenly felt fast forwarded to the present. I could actually visit these libraries! The street address and opening hours were listed. A brief historical description enhanced my appreciation and finally under "Special Interest" I learned about the unique holdings and future plans such as making electronic versions of ancient Greek manuscripts. On the date portion of the calendar the week, starting with Sunday, is highlighted in red and has blocks large enough for brief notations and easy-to-read numbers, boldface for the current month.
The calendar is reasonably priced at $11.95, less for bulk orders, plus shipping and handling. It would make an ideal gift for bibliophiles, library staff and art historians. Renaissance Library greeting cards, prints and posters are also available. These items are published by ISIM, Torsvägen 7B, SE-192 67 Sollentuna, Sweden. Tel: +46 8 754 15 55. Tel/fax: +46 8 754 13 33. E-mail: email@example.com and details at www.renaissancelibrary.com.
The publisher welcomes comments about the Calendar and nominations of favorite old libraries for next year.
Click here for a sample page of the calendar.