In the basement of Swem Library is a room used mostly for storage. Along two walls are machines and wooden cases full of drawers. The machines are printing presses and the cases are filled with type – individual letters cast in metal, designed to be set by hand and printed on the machines. The basic principle–of metal type used in a press–was a technology in use for five hundred years in the West, from the mid-fifteenth century until the twentieth. Now, however, our printing is done by different machines, with jets of ink replacing the metal letters of the past. An upcoming exhibition at Swem Library examines printing from the early days to the present, using some actual equipment, as well as early modern rare books and modern day private press books, all from Special Collections.
At Homecoming this year, Special Collections opened a new exhibit showcasing selected items from our holdings arranged from A to Z. In Alphabetical Order: A Selection of Materials from Swem Library’s Special Collections was developed through a team effort with several staff and student workers involved.
Each year, Swem Library displays W&M faculty scholarship from a selected department in its Bright Gallery. Previous exhibits have included scholarship from Psychology, Art and Art History, Geology, and Religious Studies, among others. “Scholarship on Display: Economics Department,” pictured right, is currently on display in the Bright Gallery, 2nd Floor Rotunda of Swem Library until September 30, 2015.
For the past few months, we have been working to translate the W&M Hip Hop Collection into an exhibit titled Re-Mixing the Old Dominion: 35 Years of Virginia Hip Hop History and Culture. In addition to selecting the “stuff” to showcase the collection and the history of Virginia hip-hop, a completely different set of skills are also needed to create a successful exhibit. The process of creating an exhibit entails a level of organization, public writing, and display techniques that are different from curating and archiving a collection.