Come On and Touch This Rare Book - Rare Book Rooms Reach Out to Undergrads

It used to be that rare books and manuscripts were once restricted to scholars and graduate students in white gloves. Now they are more routinely being incorporated into undergraduate courses at institutions like the University of Iowa, Smith College, the University of Washington and Harvard. Last academic year, almost 200 classes and student tours visited the rare-books collection of the University of Pennsylvania. Dusty bits may fall off cracked leather bindings, but medieval paper made from discarded clothing, and parchment or vellum from animal skins, are remarkably durable. Gloves, it has been decided, make a reader paw at pages, with more potential to rip them (while diminishing the sensory experience). Now, dry, clean hands are the preferred tool, with no liquids or pens in sight. Read more about how rare book librarians are reaching out to their undergraduate students.