Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Iraq III: 'It Got Lost In the War'

We get a lot of visitors during the summer from overseas in the rare book and manuscript library where I work.

For a bookish sort like myself, going to work is like going to heaven: Over 200,000 books, including preeminent collections of early scientific texts (we're talking 15th and 16th century), Irish literature, horticulture, science fiction. Over a million manuscript pages from W.B. Yeats, Ernest Hemingway, Tennesse Williams, Kurt Vonnegut and Arthur Miller, among many others.

Yesterday the vistors included a group of (all male) English professors from Baghdad who stopped by to see our current exhibit on poet Ezra Pound.

We chatted a bit.

Said one of the professors as he swept his hand across our climate-controlled, halon-protected, camera-surveilled exhibition gallery:
We don't have anything like this at university back home.
I couldn't resist asking if his university had ever had anything like this. His reply:
Oh, sir, yes. But it got lost in the war.

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