Brooklyn-based book artist Brian Dettmer transforms books into art pieces, carving into them to uncover new meaning in the pages and to redefine the book’s role as an cultural object and knowledge repository.
Pictured above, and on display in the Special Collections Reading Room are The Smaller Big Fun Book, 2012and Manual of Engineering Drawing, 2010. Come take a look!
Disclaimer: While we appreciate these works of book art, we do not endorse such work with any Library materials.
In special collections, visitors often ask us, “What’s your most expensive item?” Or sometimes: “What’s the oldest thing you have?”
In late November, we acquired our newest, oldest thing: a baked clay tablet that originated in ancient Mesopotamia (current-day Iraq), from roughly 2,000 BCE. This small tablet (measuring just about 1 inch x 1 inch and pictured here) is incised with cuneiform script, considered to be one of the earliest forms of writing.
With the help of Middlebury alum Seth Richardson, Class of 1990, a historian of the ancient Near East at the University of Chicago, we’re learning more about our new acquisition. Likely in British and American hands since the early 20th century, our tablet is essentially a beer coupon. That’s right. Based only on preliminary examination, Dr. Richardson translated the first line: “3 liters of first-rate beer.”
And as it turns out, the Western tradition of beer brewing began in Mesopotamia between 3500 – 3100 BCE. How do we know? Largely from cuneiform tablets like ours, which contain detailed records around beer production, the delivery of raw materials (barley, yeast, bread, flour), and the trading of beer products. Like apple cider production in colonial New England, ancient Mesopotamians lacked clean water, but had an abundance of grains and the know-how needed to ferment them. And they had the earliest known written alphabet to boot.
Funds for the purchase of this item were gifted by Jeri Bapasola, French School, 1978.
After a very successful trial, we have decided to subscribe to foreignpolicy.com, providing access to current students, faculty, and staff at both Middlebury College and the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey.
Two new exhibits have cropped up in the library this week – “Old Friends and New: Writers in Nature, 1847-2000” in the atrium and “Reading Nature” in the lower level Harman Reading Room. Both feature books that explore literary and scientific human interaction with the environment to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Environmental Studies at Middlebury College.
“Reading Nature” on the lower level of the library features books by scientists, botanists, naturalists, artists, and poets from the beginning of the 18th century to the 20th century. Each captures nature in a new way, redrawing the frames through which we understand the natural world.
Middlebury College now has subscribed access to the Dictionary of Natural Products on CRC’s CHEMnetBASE platform. The DNP is a comprehensive database of 170,000 natural products. The wealth of data provided includes:
names and synonyms,
formulae and chemical structures,
CAS Registry Numbers,
extensive source data,
uses and applications,
physical state, melting point, boiling point, pKa,
key literature citations.
In addition a comprehensive type of compound classification scheme brings together compounds that are biogenetically related. All this information is readily searchable by text or by substructure, using flexible and intuitive software.
The International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) eLibrary simplifies analysis and research with direct access to the IMF’s periodicals, books, working papers and studies. In addition to nearly 14,000 of the IMF’s publications, the E-Library includes access to data and statistical tools such as International Financial Statistics, Direction of Trade Statistics, and more – click the “IMF DATA” link at the top: