I thoroughly enjoyed myself at the Book Traces event. This was my first time at Columbia University, which has one of the most beautiful campuses I have ever seen. The library assistants guided us to the book racks focusing on American and British Literature pre-1923 where we were supposed to find books which had old annotations, dedications and so on. Initially, I had no luck. I searched for the oldest books on the shelves but none of them held any significant markings. I was just beginning to lose my enthusiasm when finally after an hour of searching, I encountered a seemingly plain book that contained a heartwarming dedication:
Soon, I encountered another interesting book which contained a rather unusual marking:
This was the highlight of the day. I am unsure whether this illustration is from the 19th century, but apparently I was the only one who discovered a drawing in a book.
The event was quite an enlightening experience for me. These books contain not only stories by the authors but also of the readers themselves. Every marking reveals the thoughts and feelings of the reader and gives us a glimpse into their mind. It felt like I had time traveled to the 19th century. To say I enjoyed the event would be an understatement.
I believe that Book Traces is an essential project that must continue and spread all over the country and even the world because these books need to be protected. They contain so much history and so many memories that it would be cruel to destroy or discard them. I am especially prejudiced to this cause because I am an avid reader who worships books. Nonetheless, these books need to be preserved, studied and admired.
My one suggestion to improve the project would be to expand to other genres of books as well. May be the project could be stretched to include not only American and British literature but also literature from other nations as well. But for this to occur, the cause must be spread internationally.