Last week, I had the pleasure of researching in the Folger Shakespeare Library’s special collections with one of my undergraduate students. Throughout the week, my student and I examined sixteenth and seventeenth-century narratives and plays about the Trojan War, a project which is sponsored by Wingate’s summer research grant program.
For those of you who have not been to the Folger Shakespeare Library, the space houses educationally enriching exhibits, a theater company, and best of all (yes, I am bias) a reading room for scholars. Researching at the Folger is heavenly. The librarians are incredibly friendly and knowledgeable — two qualities that don’t always coexist in archival librarians. While the Folger is a place for serious research, the librarians genuinely care about the researcher’s experience. Like most special collection libraries, the reading materials are restricted. If a reader is curious enough, when in the basement, she can crane her neck to see the vaulted door that safely secures all of the documents and memorabilia that have been collected and donated throughout the years. Yet the best space, in my opinion, is sitting underneath the stained glass rendering of Shakespeare’s seven stages of man at a corner table in the Gail Kern Paster Reading Room.
Gail Kern Paster Reading Room. Photograph by Julie Ainsworth. For more information on the library’s holdings and programs, go to the Folger Shakespeare Library’s website.