The phrase “one-of-a-kind” was the official slogan for an exhibition organized by CSUN’s Special Collections and Archives team commemorating the thirty-seventh anniversary of the library’s Special Collections.
The event was held on Tuesday night at the C.K. and Teresa Tseng Gallery on the second floor of the Oviatt Library.
The featured speaker of the evening was Stephen Tabor, Curator of Early Printed Books at the Huntington Library. Tabor spoke about the importance of preserving original documents in today’s digitized world at the library’s presentation room on the first floor.
“What defines material as rare or special is its intellectual relation to a well-defined collection,” Tabor said. “To find the full value of any digital record, the user needs to know the circumstances of how it was created.”
Vartan Kerasimian, a 32-year-old business major, found Tabor’s message to be not only true but a persisting issue.
“I think his (Tabor’s) message was clear in balancing out how digital access of material is an on-going challenge but I think there’s a value in keeping original material,” Kerasimian said.
Stepping inside the Teresa Tseng Gallery, attendees had the opportunity to witness artifacts and works of art ranging from a 4,000-year-old Sumerian stone containing cuneiform to a 13th century European manuscript of the Bible.
The event was also a milestone for Tony Gardner, Curator of Special Collections and Archives. Expected to retire after this year, “one-of-a-kind” will be the final exhibition under Gardner’s remaining time as curator.
“Under Tony’s (Gardner) direction, Special Collections and Archives have prospered tremendously,” said Cindy Ventuleth, library director of development. “People have respect for him and realize their collections are in good hands.”
For Gardner, this event was an opportunity for him to display a wide variety of his favorite collections to the public.
“These are the pieces that I liked to show people and I think exhibits like this one raise awareness,” Gardner said.
Raising general attention of the archives is an obstacle that students like Kerasimian said they wish would happen to attract more students to come and check out what the Special Collections has to offer.
“There needs to be more effort to reach out and advertise this to the student population,” Kerasimian said. “I think a wonderful thing is that many students are sent here by their professors to see how the library works and that’s great.”
The collection included various types of donated pieces including books, letters, costumes, maps, sculptures, painting, engravings and manuscripts.
“I think there’s a lot of evidence showing that this is a state-of-the-art special collection,” Tabor said. “I don’t think people should be conditioned to just be going to the Getty to see interesting stuff.”
Those who continued on to the C.K. and Teresa Tseng Gallery directly after Tabor’s speech had the opportunity of not only seeing all the pieces up for display, but also were able to taste a wide variety of ethnic dishes catered for the event.
The legacy and further continuation of the Special Collections and Archives is something that Gardner and many others said they hope to see happen in the future.
“I sure hope it continues,” Gardner said. “When I first started working here, it was a small area and over the years we’ve had generous donations which have helped the Special Collections become what it is today.”
The exhibition is free of charge and is open to the public until July 22, 2011 at the C.K and Teresa Tseng Gallery in the Oviatt Library.
“It’s a good reason Tony Gardner’s last exhibition at CSUN is titled “One-of-a-Kind,” Tabor said focusing on Garder’s dedication and legacy to the Special Collections over the years.