Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Louisville Presbyterian Seminary

The Ernest Miller White Library

One of the locations we visited during the ATLA conference this June was the Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary. Believe me, when librarians go places..., well, they end up going to other libraries! Saturdays at the annual conference usually involve visiting one of the host institutions, and we always visit the libraries! So, this time we pay tribute to the Ernest Miller White Library. E.M. White was the librarian at the seminary from 1945-1985, a rather lengthy and distinguished time. As we took the tour, we were treated to a fine library, complete with a great collection, resource and computing labs, space-saving serials, rare books, and an antiquities display, among other fine items. The images below are in the reading room near serials (and I believe reference), as well as the computer lab.

This was one of my favorite spots: the Bob Benfield Alcove (for) Practical Theology. Who knew that there were alcoves for such things!? Heck, I want my own alcove for Practical Theology!

Above, in the same room. I found these windows to be rather attractive. They turned out to be faux stained glass, which folded out and revealed a clear window--but I was somewhat entranced by their design!

This may be a first for our blog--cuneiform texts! Tablets and Biblios! Certainly, these are relevent precursors to the book, the codex, the scroll. They needed to write somehow in ancient times, and what a way to preserve! I recall once being in a seminar in Jerusalem, in a class in Akkadian studies, and the professor told us about the new technologies used to read these tablets. You see, some of these are actually "letters." And the slightly "bulkier" ones (see second image below) are clay letters wrapped in clay "envelopes." Prior to the modern technology of scanning, these outer envelopes had to be destroyed in order to see the contents of the letters. Now, scientists simply scan the object and get layers of information, protecting the antiquity from destruction.

The immediate image below is Sumerian, and older language than Akkadian.

Near the compact shelving on another floor, there was a fine display of pottery and other items from the ancient world. And at the end of the hall...a rare book room. The E.M. White Library was a fine collection. If you're in the area, take a tour. I can't promise the world to my readers, but I'm pretty sure that you'll find a few curiousities along the way, and maybe a few good ideas. Who knows, maybe one of you will put your morning coffee down, and say, "ya know, I think I need to re-arrange my living room, and finally put up that alcove of practical theology!" You never know.

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