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Meetings In The Margins: Encounters with Readers and Owners in Rare Books examines select items from the rare book collection to consider the question, what can we learn from what people leave in their books? The exhibit explores various traces readers and owners have left behind in books. These range from signatures and handwritten notes to plants and flowers pressed between the pages to small pieces of fabric, receipts, notecards, and so much more. In some cases, the marks or materials we find provide enough information for us to reconstruct the story of the relationship between the book and the person who left something behind. In other cases, as in a scrap of fabric, we are left with more questions than answers. Did this scrap just serve as a handy bookmark? Or was it torn from something – an item of clothing or a blanket perhaps – that made the scrap an object of meaning in and of itself? In many cases we will never know the full story, but examining and reflecting on what people leave behind in books provides an opportunity for us to think about our own interactions with books and other objects in our lives. How do we leave our mark? What do we want our descendants or future researchers or just curious students to know about us?

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  • Elizabeth Shiller
  • Courtney Kessel

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