HBLL exhibit highlights history of reading

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    By Kelli Urry

    Visitors to the new exhibit in the Special Collections of the Harold B. Lee Library will find that even something as simple as reading has changed dramatically over time.

    ?Wheels, Windmills and Webs,? shows the history of reading and how different materials and technology have affected reading practices. The display includes texts in cuneiform, papyrus, velum, paper and computer screens.

    Dale Pratt, assistant professor of Spanish and comparative literature, conducted research for the exhibit.

    As evidenced by the exhibit, technology used for reading has evolved from more primitive mediums like and papyrus to the present-day addition of the Internet.

    Pratt said he thinks technology has changed the way people read and has affected the amount of time people spend reading.

    ?People read on the Internet all the time, not necessarily for length or in-depth analysis,? Pratt said.

    Derek Jensen, curator of European texts in Special Collections, worked on the exhibit and said technology strengthens faculty and student research in the library.

    ?Digitization of texts makes it possible for students and faculty to view texts wherever they want to, but that doesn?t mean our reading room is empty in Special Collections,? Jensen said. ?The web is not a replacement, but an enhancement.?

    The exhibit also celebrates the 400th anniversary of the first printing of ?Don Quixote? written by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra. Pratt said his inspiration for the display came from the fictional library of the famed Spanish knight.

    ?Don Quixote?s library was symbolic of all the different ways we can read,? Pratt said.

    First printed in Madrid in 1605, the story follows Don Quixote as he seeks out the adventure he reads about in novels. His journeys consume his life and he begins to sells his possessions to buy more books.

    ?It?s one of the greatest novels in history, if not the first novel,? said Alvin Sherman, department chair of Spanish and Portuguese languages.

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