Wall Street Journal Article Documents LSU Libraries’ Audubon Day Exhibition

Monday, June 13, 2011 - 8:28pm

BATON ROUGE, La  – The Wall Street Journal documented LSU Libraries’ annual Audubon Day exhibit at Hill Memorial Library in an article published in the newspaper’s Arts & Entertainment section on May 19.

The event, organized by LSU Libraries’ Special Collections Division and held May 14, showcases one of only 119 surviving copies of famed author John James Audubon’s four four-volume book, “Birds of America (1827-38).”

In the article, titled “The Joys of Slow Looking,” arts writer Willard Spieglman describes the exhibit itself, and the effectiveness of its simplicity.

“In an age of hyperkinetic, multimedia, extravagantly priced productions on Broadway and at the Metropolitan Opera, with people flying through space or crawling up and down colossal steel girders, it comes as a pleasantly atavistic shock to watch white-gloved attendants do nothing for four hours but turn the pages of a book. Very slowly. No bells and whistles, no strobe lights, and free admission for the 200 curious, lucky observers,” Spieglman wrote.

“Such was the scene here last Saturday, during the annual Audubon Day, held at the Hill Memorial Library at Louisiana State University. The event could hardly have been simpler or more moving.”

Spieglman wrote that he felt “the pleasure of looking at these books, however, was matched by sharing the experience with others.”

“Here we had a good representation of American society. Everyone, from the smallest child to the oldest grandmother, was curious, polite and spoke in what our mothers refer to as ‘indoor voices,’” he wrote. “Everyone asked questions; many knew their subject. This audience could tell a cedar waxwing from a black-billed cuckoo. There were birders aplenty, as well as bibliophiles, gardeners, hikers, naturalists of all stripes.

“Like over eager schoolchildren, several ardent viewers identified the Ivory-Billed Woodpecker before the assistant librarian had finished turning the page. These folks were interested in everything: the birds, the colors, the printing, Audubon’s shadowy history, and the economics of art.”

To read the entire article, visit http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703421204576327750299277440.html

To learn more about LSU Libraries’ Special Collections, visit http://www.lib.lsu.edu/special.

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