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Re: [BKARTS] Islamic Texts Crumble in Africa

Benefactors? To whom? Of what? For what end? Is the book more useful in a
wealthier person's home, stored on the shelf for all eternity, than it is on
the shelf of a family in Timbuktu who reads it and values it? What is more
important, that the book last forever, or that a poor family cherishes it?

Alex Appella

Alex brings up a good point. This is a fascinating question to me, and one
that I personally wrangle with on a fairly regular basis. There are very
few very old books in the Jaffe Book Arts Collection, but the ones that we
do have are mostly from distant lands, and though they were purchased
legitimately, they are here mainly due to the various misfortunes of the
people they were originally made for. Being here, of course, they are in
the perfect atmospheric conditions in regard to light, humidity and
temperature. They are handled properly and are actually used often when I
teach visiting classes about the book arts. So I've got hundreds or
thousands of Florida college kids and other folks seeing these books each
year... books they'd most likely never see otherwise in their lifetimes,
and so the books are serving a great purpose. But I almost always feel a
sharp sense of guilt and regret when I show them, too, over how far these
books are from home.

No point other than it's a difficult question, sometimes: this pondering
over what's most important when it comes to artifacts. There are probably
quite a lot of artifacts that slip through the cracks into oblivion, and
though it's sad in some aspects, in other ways it's probably just as well.

John Cutrone The Arthur and Mata Jaffe Collection Florida Atlantic University Wimberly Library Boca Raton, Florida

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