Dean Smith’s fan mail, a Qur’an small enough to fit in a locket around your neck, 17th century French novels embossed in gold – all these items and more will be on display on Thursday, April 4 from 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at Wilson Library’s Recent Acquisitions Evening.
The event, which is free and open to the public, will feature more than 100 items that have been added to the Wilson Library collections in the past two years. The items will be on display in the Fearrington Reading Room.
This is the first year that pieces from all five of the library’s collecting areas will be featured. The collections include Rare Books, the North Carolina Collection, the University Archives, the Southern Historical Collection and the Southern Folklife Collection.
Elizabeth Ott, the Frank Borden Hanes Curator of Rare Books, said this year's display will be the most diverse one yet.
“A lot of the times people think that in Wilson Library we’re only interested in the far distant past, that it’s really old books,” Ott said. “As the curator of the ‘really old books collection,’ I like that, but also it’s not true. We collect all the way up to the present day and we collect all sorts of historical materials.”
Some of these materials include 2017-2018 editions of La Conexión, a Spanish-language newspaper published in Raleigh; hand-printed lecture posters created by biology professor Bob Goldstein; and a copy of American Studies professor William Ferris’ Grammy-winning album, “Voices of Mississippi: Artists and Musicians Documented by William Ferris.”
“We’ll have some interactive displays that will be available at the event that will also show not just how we collect the paper past, but also how we're collecting the electronic future,” Ott said.
In addition to the present-day materials, historical artifacts will also be on display, like a 16th century Czechoslovakian notebook featuring a hand-copied transcription of Aristotle’s “Ethics.”
“We will have material in so many different languages, Latin, German, French, Cherokee, just across the board,” Ott said. “We’re gonna have everything from art and artists books to some of the commercial-type records. There will be music, there will be video, it’s gonna be fun.”
Library staff will also be available during the event to answer any questions attendees have about the acquisitions.
“The table I’ll be helping to staff is the one highlighting recent acquisition of the Dean Smith Papers,” said Jason Tomberlin, head of research and instructional services at Wilson Library. “We got his papers a few years ago, so I’ll be at that table working and greeting individuals who will be coming by to see material.”
North Carolina Collection Gallery Keeper Linda Jacobson said the acquisitions event will provide alumnus with an opportunity to reminisce on their times at UNC.
“We are going to have a chief marshal sash which was worn by the 1969 Beat Duke Parade chairman. There was a Beat Duke Committee and parade that they planned and so this is from '69,” Jacobson said. “As far as women’s history, we have a lot to show for women’s history, women here at UNC. The earliest women students here were in the UNC School of Nursing and we happen to have a uniform and a cape from 1950 students there. We’ve got a 1950's women’s class jacket or blazer and a makeup compact.”
In addition to providing people with a glimpse into University history, Ott hopes the event will show people that the Wilson Special Collections are available for anyone to explore, whether they be dedicated researchers or curious students.
“I really hope that people will have a new understanding of Wilson Library and what’s behind the scenes, and I hope they’ll have fun. It’s really a fun event,” Ott said. “So often I think this building seems like it’s very intimidating and that you can’t learn more about the collections unless you’re going to be a serious researcher. And we love serious researchers, we do, we cater to them, but every student at Carolina, these resources are here for you to enhance your learning and your understanding of the world around you.”
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