News & Notes

Rare books enrich students’ classroom experience

Posted in Services, Special Collections Tagged with: ,

Love Digital, Live Analog. That was the theme of a recent class visit to Special Collections. Doctoral students in Music 7800 (Introduction to Research in Music) have an assignment to research something from our collections that relates to music.

Curator of Books Michael Taylor gave them a crash course on how to be “history detectives.” What can we learn by looking at different editions of the same book? What does a book’s size, format, and design tell us that its text might not? How can inscriptions and other evidence of reading change our perceptions of an author or text?

Can looking at historical objects side-by-side raise questions that we might not think to ask otherwise? For example, one group of students looked at two Mozart scores, a libretto for Don Giovanni, and a biography of Haydn. Discovering that all of the books were printed or used in the United States (including Louisiana) in the early 1800s, they realized they could write a paper about how European composers came to be known on this side of the Atlantic.

In the photo above, students are looking at a French gradual (sacred music book), printed in 1778, and discussing how it might have been used.

Object-based learning has been part of several other classes this semester, including Art 1849 (Introduction to Painting), which viewed Josef Albers’ The Interaction of Color. The class also studied a related recent acquisition, Who Stole the Tarts? This one-of-a-kind book of silkscreen prints is an artistic rendition of Chapter 12 of Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. It was made in Germany earlier this year by artists Anna Hellsgard and Christian Gfeller, who have ensured that their artistry exists on a global scale by not allowing any institution to purchase more than one volume of the multi-volume book.


Professor Darius Spieth has brought two of his classes, Interior Design 4741 (History of Interior Design) and Honors 2021 (Art and Colonialism), to view several gargantuan volumes of prints from the Description de l’Egypte.  Commissioned and funded by Napoleon Bonaparte, the book is a record of the scientific expedition that traveled with the French army in the Middle East in 1798-1801. The team of explorers is credited with, among other things, discovering the Rosetta Stone, later used to decipher Egyptian hieroglyphics. The book also set off a short-lived craze for Egyptian-themed design in Europe and the United States.

Students from Spieth’s honors course will each be researching one print from the Description de l’Egypte and presenting on it to their class later this semester.

To learn about how you can bring your class to Special Collections and make hands-on work with rare books and archival materials part of your students’ classroom experience, please contact us!

Michael Taylor is Curator of Books, LSU Libraries’ Special Collections

Posted in Services, Special Collections Tagged with: ,
One comment on “Rare books enrich students’ classroom experience
  1. Brett Boutwell says:

    Special Collections is such a wonderful resource for LSU faculty and students alike. Thank you for everything you do for us!

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Comeaux, Dave;  Emily Frank; and Mike Waugh. “Supporting Student Success: E-books as Course Materials,” CODEX: Journal of the Louisiana Chapter of the ACRL. Volume 5, Issue 2 (Fall/Winter 2019).

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Miles, John David. “The Loyalty of West Point’s Graduates Debated,” Civil War Book Review. Volume 21, Issue 1 (Winter 2019).

Miller, Marty. “Curriculum, Departmental, and Faculty Mapping in the Visual Arts Department,” Art Documentation, Volume 38, p 159-173 Issue 1 (March 2019).

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Ziegler, Scott; and Cara Key. “More Than a Pretty Interface: The Louisiana Digital Library as a Data Hub,” CODEX: Journal of the Louisiana Chapter of the ACRL. Volume 5, Issue 2 (Fall/Winter 2019).


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Miller, Marty. “Sacred vs. Profane in The Great War: A Neutral’s Indictment: Louis Raemaekers’s Use of Religious Imagery in Adoration of the Magi and Our Lady of Antwerp.” Catholic Library World, vol. 89, no. 1, Sept. 2018, pp. 20–32.

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Wilder, Stanley. “Selected Demographic Trends in the ARL Professional Population,” Research Library Issues, no. 295 (2018).

Ziegler, Scott; and Richard Shrake. “PAL: Toward a Recommendation System for Manuscripts,” Information Technology and Libraries, Vol. 37, No. 3 (2018).


Caminita, C.; Cook, M.; and Paster, A. (2017). Thirty years of preserving, discovering, and accessing U.S. agricultural information: Past progress and current challenges. Library Trends, 65(3), 293-315.

Dauterive, Sarah; John Bourgeois; and Sarah Simms. “How little is too little? An examination of information literacy instruction duration for freshmen.” Journal of Information Literacy, 11.1 (2017): 204-219.

Fontenot, Mitch; Emily Frank; and Andrea Hebert. “Going Where the Users Are: Three Variations on a Theme,” Louisiana Libraries, Fall 2017.

Hawk, Amanda K. “Highflying Crowdfunding: Creating a Successful Partnership with a Campus Donor,” Archival Outlook, July/August 2017: 12-13, 19.

Hebert, Andrea; and Marty Miller. (2017). Using FSA-OWI photographs to teach information and visual literacy. Louisiana Libraries, 79(3), 19–25.

Johnson, Hayley. “#NoDAPL: Social Media, Empowerment, and Civic Participation at Standing Rock,” Library Trends, Fall 2017.


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