True story: At my archives room, we’re allowed to basically handle everything with our hands. I was a little surprised, given the nature of some of the documents - Civil war letters are to be handled with extreme care if they get taken out of their sheaths for scanning - but it’s pretty cool. I guess one of the French professors likes to brag that you can’t handle original Diderot Encyclopedias in Paris, but you can here. I don’t know if that’s true or not, but since patrons and guests have to be monitored for help, I had a great time showing some prospectives’ parents the set.
They were staring pretty intensely and curiously at the Diderot’s and I said: “Those are original French Diderot Encyclopedias from the 1700s. Would you like to see them?”
And the mom just looked rather startled and pleased - “Can we? I mean, I’d hate to break it!”
These things are pretty big and heavy, and while you could ruin them in several ways, I took a random one off the shelf and let her view some pages while I explained what they were and why they’re so cool. (You can learn about that all here, if you’re curious about the Encyclopédie, ou dictionnaire raisonné des sciences, des arts et des métiers!)
The mom was way more excited than the daughter was, but still! It was fun to show it.