Dan Cormier – BPL Reflection

Our trip to the Boston Public Library was such an eye opening experience for me. Aside from Stonehill’s own library, I hadn’t actually been to a library since high school simply due to the fact that most research materials and articles are stored in digital warehouses and databases. Physically going into Boston, our state’s capital was a fun journey because it brought me back to the days in which people had to travel to ideological centers and places that housed this type of knowledge. This is especially relevant to the age we are studying when print materials were just starting to be generated which made the sharing of these works that much more difficult.

Additionally, just being in the BPL was a great experience in itself. It represents this physical mecca for knowledge and history which society seems to sometimes forget about due to the move towards digital archives. We forget as a people that actual places that house the physical copies of this intellectual production exist in the world and not just in some intangible cyber space.  The Rare Books and Manuscripts room was very interesting to explore because one realizes that it houses books that were handled, read, and touched hundreds of years ago. Prior to the field trip I didn’t necessarily see stark differences between viewing a document in person versus through a digital archive, but after experiencing this field trip I definitely can see huge benefits in this work. For one, my group explored Tamburlaine the Great and found that the EEBO file differed from the physical book in that the BPL book contained a very important piece of marginalia on the title page. “C. Marlowe” was hand written in on the title page. This was a huge discovery for my team in that we began to make so many questions of what this could mean for the printer in his decision not to print the author’s name in the first place, as well as who wrote the name on the page to begin with, etc. This was enlightening for me to discover that actually handling the hard copy of the text can illuminate so much more than a digitally archived version can begin to do.

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