Fairfield University and Pequot libraries host book history exhibition, reception


Image: DiMenna-Nyselius LibraryWonder how we got from the exquisite beauty of the Book of Kells to the convenience of the Kindle? Find the answers at "From Codex to Kindle: The Art and History of the Book," an exhibition/reception of rare book "biographies" created by Fairfield University students at the campus library and Pequot Library in Southport.

The traveling reception, which will take place at both libraries on Thursday, March 22, is free and open to the public. It begins at 4 p.m. at the DiMenna-Nyselius, which will exhibit several internationally important volumes on the art of natural history, and continues at the Pequot, where visitor can enjoy the exhibition and light refreshments.

"From Codex to Kindle" stems from a Fairfield University class of the same name taught last semester by Dan Snydacker, executive director of the Pequot Library. Taught through the Art History program, the course surveyed the history of the book as a work of art from cuneiform to incunabula; through early moveable type to eBooks. It focused on the beauty of the printed page, the increasingly rapid rate of change in the technologies used for producing books and the images they contain, along with the economics and markets for books.

"It helped students see the book as a lens through which to observe the changes in the world of art, literature, and society as a whole," Snydacker said. "It used Pequot Library's internationally important Special Collection to illustrate the themes of the course and as the primary sources for the main assignment the students had to complete."

As the final project for the course, each student was responsible for selecting and researching a set of books chosen from Pequot's special collection, and preparing a "book biography," a life story for each book explaining when, where and how it was produced. Those selections and biographies form the basis for this exhibit, which is on display at both libraries through Saturday, March 31.
 
There are a total of 17 rare and beautiful books on display - six at the University and the rest at the Pequot. In addition, there is an interactive computer station at Pequot where visitors can explore in-depth information and add their own comments.

Curtis Ferree, reference and electronic resources librarian at the DiMenna-Nyselius, took the course, and embraced the exhibit as an extension of the entire class's learning experience. He was assisted by Library Assistant Hayley Battaglia, who did the supplementary photography.

At Pequot, Victoria Konopka assisted with many aspects of the exhibit, and is working on a web-module of the library's special collection cataloguing program so the exhibit will continue to be available on the library's website after it comes down.

Visitors are welcome to view the exhibition during regular hours at both libraries. The Pequot, at 720 Pequot Avenue, in the Southport section of Fairfield, is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Check the DiMenna-Nyselius website, www.fairfield.edu/library, for current hours.

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Media Contact: Meredith Guinness, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2950, mguinness@fairfield.edu

Posted on March 13, 2012

Vol. 44, No. 214