Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Special Collections Exhibit: A 19th Century Tennessee Library

Snapshot of a Collection: A Tennessee Library in the 19th Century

People today take libraries for granted, but they were rare in 19th century Tennessee. Some readers had access to books through subscription libraries and most academic institutions maintained a library but public and school libraries are a 20th century phenomena. Most libraries that did exist in the 19th century are long gone, their collections dispersed or re-configured. One important record of an old library that still exists is the 1871 catalog listing the books held by the Tennessee State Library.

Special Collections at Walker Library holds copies of numerous titles recorded in this catalog, and these make up the core of this exhibit, re-creating in miniature a 19th century Tennessee library. By looking at a cross-section of titles represented in the State Library’s collection, we can glimpse some of the social, political and intellectual ideas circulating in mid-19th century Tennessee.

The exhibit can be viewed in Walker Library’s Special Collections area from February through April, 2009.

Hours are 8:30 to 4:30 Monday through Friday.

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