Wednesday, June 10, 2015

The Lure of the Past

Charlie Harris from the best-selling "Cat in the Stacks" series by Miranda James

If I hadn't been a librarian, I might have pursued a career as a historian. I always enjoyed my history classes in school; luckily I had great teachers who made the subject interesting, and not just an exercise in memorizing important dates. Perhaps the interest in history explains why I love cataloging old books. It's fun to imagine who might have owned a book that is two hundred years old, and the hands through the which the book passed through the centuries.

The interest in history probably also explains why I like the archival work that goes along with cataloging old books. Seeing documents and relics from the past, and playing a role in conserving and preserving them for posterity, is a job in which I take great pride.

My latest task in this vein is working with some Civil War-era diaries given to the Athena College Archives by the mayor, Lucinda Beckwith Long. The diaries were written by an ancestor of Mrs. Long's husband. I haven't read far yet, but I think Rachel Afton Long -- the author of the diaries -- is going to prove to be an interesting woman. Getting an eye-witness account of the Civil War from the perspective of someone who lived through it will be fascinating, no doubt.

As if that weren't enough, there is also that odd comment the mayor made as she departed after handing over the diaries. Something to the effect that the contents of these diaries could have an effect on a present-day political contest between her son and another young man.

I can't wait to delve further into these diaries.