Monday, 19 January 2009

Auckland City Library: Once upon a time exhibition

Once Upon a Time
Although I have a strong professional interest in public libraries - seeing them as key institutions of civil society, etc etc, I also regularly turn up at my local library, Auckland Central, as a good old fashioned punter/member.

Which is why I ended up last Saturday pouring over the glass case exhibits from Auckland City Libraries latest Special Collection exhibition, Once upon a time - an exhibition of fairy tales and fantasies for children

The Exhibition
The exhibition is just lovely. I really enjoyed looking at some of the splendid first editions that Auckland City has of some of the great children's classics, including, Lewes Carrol, Charles Kingsly , A.A Milne et al. There is also a lovely section on the Grimm Brothers.

Going even further back I was entranced to see on display Vol 36 of 48 vols] 1786 of Le Cabinet des Flees, the original French collection of "fairy tales, from which we get the likes of Cindarella, Little Red Riding Hood, Sleeping Beauty, and Puss in Boots. The exhibition also connects these to the work of Charles Parrault who some people credit with the creation of the whole fairy tale genre.

There are also some lovely examples of the great illustrators, including Richard Doyle, Edmund Dulac, Ernest Sheperd, and of course Beatrice Potter herself. On the latter they have an original Jemina Puddleduck. The colours still look fresh and vibrant.

In short totally worth going to see if you can get to Auckland.

I would have liked to have seen a bigger effort to get to "kids eye level" - "lower down" cases - or display cabinets at small person height - feels a pity that the kids have to be picked up to be able to see the books. I'd also have liked to see some signage - integration, or whatever with the children's area down on the ground floor.

Web integration
As for the web integration - well lets just say I was disappointed not to be able to find a parallel virtual exhibition with ongoing links to some of the other great heritage resources online around this subject. I haven't checked, but I suspect the likes of Lewis Carrol, Beatrice Potter and the Grimm Brothers have a very large web presence.

For sure, there will be good reasons for this - but , as I say , I was disappointed to not find anything.

As for the exhibition itself - total big ups - I thought it was lovely. Thanks!


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