Monday, April 01, 2019

JP Morgan Library

The rooms are certainly impressive.
The bookcases are certainly impressive

The rarity and beauty of the books is certainly impressive.

What's not impressive is the loss of the ability of these books to ever teach anyone anything again.  They were not acquired to teach anyone anything, they were acquired to be displayed. They are less antique cookware or antique musical instruments, which can at least still show us how people played music and cooked even if they are no longer used for the purpose.  they are far less useful that antique works of art, which can at still be viewed and appreciated.

That the books are behind bars is grimly symbolic. These books are imprisoned, and I found it a sad place.

4 comments:

Grim said...

Well said.

Frank de Jonge said...

Look at it this way: those books found refuge from the cultural marxists that currently rule universities and museums. They stand a better chance of being preserved for future generations.

Unknown said...

Medieval chained libraries did not chain the books to punish them, but to keep them accessible. Likewise, rare books libraries restrict access only to people who have been approved by the curators – not to hide the knowledge from others, but to protect it from fat fingers, greasy fingers, careless fingers, etc. Some of the stuff has lasted 5 centuries, it would be truly a shame of someone who didn't appreciate how it needs to be handled

Details of using the stuff here:
https://www.themorgan.org/research/reading-room

Detailed index so you know if what you want to see is there, is here:
http://corsair.morganlibrary.org/

Assistant Village Idiot said...

@ Frank - literally laughed out loud.
@ Unknown - a fair point. I suppose if only deeply caring readers access each book 2/year that is still a valid model. Yet I remain not fully convinced. The books collected were clearly valued for their collectability. You could see it by what had been acquired. My wife is a librarian - not an archivist, true - but I do have some appreciation of the general principles of preservation and remaining aloof from the merely popular. I had an aunt whose Newbery-nominated books are long out of print and hard to find now, despite their popularity in the 50s and 60s. Much is held in reserve, even for centuries, awaiting its time of renewal. Yet if that truly is tthe point, analogous to the Svalbard Seed Collection, then you don't show it off that way.

Not fair, I think. Good projects sometimes have to raise money in whatever way they can. Insisting that the Morgan Library adhere to some higher standard is rather silly of me.