My doctoral dissertation began with an incredible find from the Belchertown Clapp Library’s booksale: a complete collection of all the editions of Strunk & White’s The Elements of Style, found in boxes, on shelves and in the “writing section.” It was handed to me as a rubber band bound stack of books about five inches high by my advisor, Dr. Anne Geller (whose mother Joan Geller was a booksale volunteer for the Friends for many years). The thrill of holding in my hand the historical span of this most iconic of writing handbooks was part of what I wanted to examine in my dissertation: the fetish for books as objects and the fetish for The Elements of Style as a guide to “the best” written English. I love the stack of Belchertown book sale Strunk & Whites that sits on my desk. Each book has its own physical features and signs of wear that speak of where it began and the circulation of its body through the years until landing in the basement of a historic library in a small western Massachusetts town. Who owned these books? How were they used? These are questions that a well-worn book always brings to mind. It is the history of the material travels of another cultural object--Standard English--that I want to document through the story of The Elements of Style. My little collection of books with their common stop in Belchertown and their offering as a gift from a mentor feels charged with the radical sharing of knowledge that underlies the institution of the library.
Comments are closed.
The Friends group sponsors several events at the library throughout the year. The best known are our Spring and Fall Book Sales, but there are some other great ones that you don't want to miss!
Check out the Calendar for an overview of all current and upcoming events.