Monday, August 24, 2009

The Dunedin Library Heritage Collection

Last Thursday a number of our local Otago Southland NZSA Branch were treated to a tour of the Dunedin Libraries Heritage Collections. Tour guide was Rare Books Librarian Anthony Tedeschi who was both entertaining and knowledgeable, in fact his enthusiasm for his work was infectious.

What treats are lurking in the walls of the Dunedin Public Library? Courtesy of the generous donations of collections by a number of notable New Zealanders there is a veritable treasure trove of glorious old books and documents. Benefactors have been AH Reed, Robert McNab, Esmond de Beer, Eleanor Farjeon, Hector Bolitho and William Trimble.

So what sort of treasures did we see, you may ask. Ah, there were so many, but ones that stood out for me were...

A first edition King James Bible.

A page from the Gutenberg Bible.

A couple of incredibly ornate Books of Hours.

A hand written draft of one of Charles Dicken's stories. (His hand writing was minute, and messy)

Seeing the original serialised version of Charles Dicken's Bleak House, complete with advertising.

William Bligh's own copy of the narrative of the Mutiny on the Bounty, including his hand written notes in the margins.

The application form of Janet Frame for a library card.

One of AH Reed's hand written, or I should say, hand calligraphic journals, containing hand written letters from all sorts of noteables, like Florence Nightingale, Charles Darwin, to name a couple.

In fact I found it hard not to overwhelmed by the enormity of looking at some of the medieval manuscripts and thinking about the time and effort involved in creating them. Some of them looked so fresh, you would have thought they were only made last week. I am not ashamed to admit I got a little bit teary about it all, although, naturally, I was careful not to cry over the books!

Sigh, a wonderful morning.

1 comment:

Hugh Macmillan said...

All of the above.

I must admit I like the real letters. There was one from a man written the night before a duel from which encounter he had no expectation of survival. He was most accepting of his situation. Que sera, sera.

A wonderful hour and a half.