The Secret Life of the Marriott Library: It's Time to Visit the Fourth Floor

The fourth floor of the Marriott library… Ever wondered what’s up there? Maybe while cramming for midterms you took a study break and made your way up there… It looks so intimidating I always wondered; “Am I even allowed up here?” so I decided to take a look and see just what this floor had to offer.

While there I met Luise Poulton, the Managing Curator at Rare Books, she is anything but intimidating. She loves what she does and I strongly encourage collegiettes to make time and make their way up to the Rare Books office and talk to her. She told me there are over 80,000 rare items here at the library and if collegiettes are interested in one they can simply find the call number and have a look with her. These items are more than just a collection of pieces from the past. They’re a way for students to connect with the past. The students at the U are so lucky to have some of these items in their midst, items that have changed the course of world history! Some students have loved making their way through the Rare Books so much that it inspired them to major in history and spend hours traveling to the past through these books.

What books could inspire a major? Or be worth climbing up all the stairs of the library to see? Let’s try the first editions of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland (1865) and Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There (1872). These items were donated to the library anonymously and are worth over $30,000. How about the first edition of Marie Curies Traite de Radioactivite from 1910? If you’re a history buff this place is your heaven. There is a leaf from the Guttenberg Bible which was printed over 500 years ago! This is just one of the many item in Rare Books that has changed the course of history forever.

There are a lot of books here which have had huge influences in the way our country was formed. Think the first edition of Uncle Tom’s Cabin and Common Sense by Thomas Paine one of the most influential written works of the Revolutionary War. Consider visiting the Rare Books collection while taking American Institutions or signing up for a class on the Reformation where you can learn more about these awesome pieces of work. Make it a roomie date and pick a book you all really want to see. Don’t be afraid to nerd out over first editions of your favorite books. Take advantage of what our library has to offer collegiettes these pieces are priceless!