Thursday, March 19, 2015

Cache of old books found in Catholic parish basement in New Brunswick, Canada

Did you ever read or see some news article and think- hmm I had trouble following that. That story is not quite as complete as it could be. What am I missing?

Here's a story that is interesting, but not as informative as it could be. A Catholic parish had a busted pipe and, as a result, discovered lots of books (how many?) in their basement. Either they were buried under stuff or somebody forgot about them, who knows. I assume someone was trying to bail the basement and move boxes simultaneously, and they finally looked in the boxes. The books are described as "ancient" by the youthful reporter, but date from the late 1500s forward. Ancient to me is a time when togas reigned as the fashion of the day, but I think that is a matter of perspective. Some people think the 1980s were the good old days.

The older books, are all from Europe, and include many published in Greek and Latin, the language of the educated at that time, and some are bound in vellum. I assume they are mostly Catholic and ecclesiastical in nature, but that is not specified.

What is their provenance? The current staff believe they belonged to an early priest of the parish, perhaps the first priest, and sailed with him from France to Canada and eventually came to New Brunswick. It is a nice collection of early works. But, the article states that some of the materials are quite new, so they did not all come from Europe.  Maybe they are from an accumulation of general reading material of  parish priests over time.

I think they need the help of a diocesan records manager and a good rare books specialist. I hope they catalog them so they can be used by people who could benefit from their knowledge. My favorite part of the news story is that the reporter takes images via her phone to the local historical society and the archivist there is really impressed. Archivists rock in New Brunswick! See it here http://www.cnn.com/videos/world/2015/03/18/pkg-ancient-discovery-basement.cbc-news

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