"Words. Words. Words."
Where to begin? Stratford-upon-Avon's Shakespeare Centre Library & Archive was a plethora of information and any Shakespearean fans dream come true. The Deputy Head, Clare Maffioli gave us a brief overview of the Library's history and collection and then led us Jo Wilding, User Services Librarian.
Wilding was as giddy as a child as she uncovered and discussed the numerous items that covered the large conference table in front of her. And I am certain that her enthusiasm was fed by our amazement and absolute awe at the items spread before us. The Library owns three of the known 228 first edition folios which were published in 1623, seven years after Shakespeare's death. Two of the three are imperfect copies, some having bits missing and facsimiles added in. Nevertheless, it was breathtaking to view a first edition of Shakespeare's 36 plays. To complement the folio we beheld, Wilding displayed source books such as a Bestiary dating to 1658, playbills, prompt books and photographs of early Royal Shakespeare Company performances.
And if this was not enough, Wilding suggested bringing us down to the stacks to view a myriad of additional treasures. The stacks themselves were impressive. Each stack was a separate 'vault' with a heavy steel door perhaps 5 inches thick. The doors had heavy steel cross beams that slide into place as the key turned. In addition, many of the rooms were temperature and humidity controlled to protect the books and items.
Since I left the Library, I've been trying to formulate some coherent resemblance of an emotion to describe the experience. Unfortunately, all I can say is that words simply are not enough.