Thursday, February 11, 2010

Foraging in Firestone: Introductions

For most Princetonians, the vision of the stone building of Firestone Library and its shadowy caverns underground conjures up the memories of sleepless nights and half-finished papers. I have a love-hate relationship with the library. I have spent countless hours trapped in the Trustees’ Room or the Atrium making my way through piles of reading or toiling away over a research paper. On the other hand, I have a sort of grudging affection for the library. It’s my domain, the place where as a history major, I conduct the majority of my research.

I have worked at the library since my freshman year. As a result, I know the library. I understand its crazy cataloging system, a mixed-up hodge podge of letters and numbers. I take a secret sort of pleasure in the fact that I can find books within the library without a map. Faced with a book whose call number starts with B, I know to head to the philosophy section on the third floor, whereas a book whose call number begins with a C is deep below ground with the other books on history. I also know its secret spaces, from the graduate study rooms on the C floor to the professor’s office lodged in the tower above the third floor.

With special access to the collections through my job at Rare Books, I can go behind the scenes to take advantage of many of the library’s special collections. It doesn’t take much digging to find that our library houses everything from 3000-year-old coins to an original first folio. Throughout the semester, I’ll share some of what I come across on the Prox.

Find out more about Firestone's ancient coin collection on the next installment of Foraging in Firestone.