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MSU Librarians Dust Off Rare Books for Exhibit

Librarians at Missouri State University have dusted off their rare books collection, and for the first time, have brought many of those old books out for the public to see. KSMU's Jennifer Moore has details.

Some are old, tattered European bindings dating back to the early 1500s.

We donned our library voices and took an audio tour earlier of the rare books on display.

The head of the Special Collections and Archives, David Richards, walked us through the exhibit, beginning with the British tomb rubbings on display, which date back to the Midieval period.

He says the brass rubbings haven't been out of the back storage area since the 1980s. They are rubbings from the tops of old, English tombstones.

He said the oldest book in the university's collection is also on display: it's a 1502 printing of Ovid's "Metamorphoses," which was a collection of re-printed classics, printed in Italy. He said this book was used by students in the 1600s and 1700s, and that is evidenced by hand-written notes in the margin of the book in various languages.

Richards said his favorite is a book from 1607 called "Historie of Foure-Footed Beastes," by Edward Topsell, in which the author is trying to write a reference book on all four-footed animals: mice, dogs, cats, etc. He says the book is a bridge between the Medieval period and the Renaissance period, so the author included both mythical animals like unicorns, and realistic animals like weasels. Also, Richards said, the book contains pictures of the four-legged creatures of the "New World," or America, such as the armadillo.

The “Treasures” Rare Books exhibit will continue through September 25th on the 3rd Floor of the Duane G. Meyer Library at MSU. Also on display are a first edition copy of Mark Twain’s Huckelberry Finn and a facsimile of the Gutenberg Bible.

Special Collections is open Monday through Friday, from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. For more information, you can call 836-5428.

For KSMU News, I'm Jennifer Moore.