By Grecia Álvarez, MLIS, Guest blogger
When we started sifting through our collection to cull our rare books from the regular shelves and put them into their new home in “the cage” we never imagined we would find books dating from 1572, or even a parchment signed by King Philip II of Spain (Philip I of Portugal). In fact, we started out by pulling books dating from 1920 and earlier and soon found that our cage was overflowing, so that we had to cut back to books printed before 1911. Previously, these books were intermingled with our regular collection, which focuses mainly on Morocco, but it was decided that these books required special protection, and thus the cage, a small room with an iron gate, was born. Our rare books cover a breadth of topics, from early accounts of European exploration of the region, to government treatises, geographical studies, books signed by illustrious figures (including a book belonging to former Prime Minister of Spain Antonio Cánovas del Castillo). We even have copies of an 1889 edition of Washington Irving’s The Life of Mahomet and a first edition of Mark Twain’s The Innocents Abroad.
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