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What do a Qur’an manuscript, a tiny book of sandwich recipes, a 1990s photograph of Black Middlebury students, and a gauze page inspired by Renaissance Herbals have in common? Someone who works in Middlebury’s Special Collections and Archives loves them (and wants you to learn about them)!

tiny book with "sandwiches" in gold lettering on cover
The tiny book on sandwiches, selected by Liefe Temple ‘25.5

There are so many special things in Special Collections!

This exhibit is an expansion of one Mikaela Taylor, Public Services and Outreach Specialist, put together last fall – currently on display in the Special Collections lobby and reading room. In its current iteration, the exhibit has grown a bit (bloomed, some might say). It now includes more favorites from the Special Collections staff, as well as picks from the Student Associates, and is on display in the Davis Family Atrium. 

woven and embroidered page with illegible text and image of a flower
The unicorn and the date palm, selected by College Archivist Kaitlin Buerge, ‘13

Each person who works in Special Collections was asked to pick a handful of favorite items from our collections and write up a short description about why they picked it. Folks picked objects that were their absolute favorites (but how could you ever really pick?), objects they recently discovered, objects they’d recently worked closely with, or objects that they think deserve more love.

I then took those lists and began to make the hard cuts. What would fit in the display space that we have? How can I tell the biggest and most varied story about Special Collections and the people who work here? I researched, and I formatted labels, measured objects, and decided how I wanted to group and arrange them in the display cases. I took pictures, I edited more labels and created signage, and prepared social media posts. I interviewed my fellow Student Associates, and I wrote a blog post.

a group of three students standing near mailboxes in McCullough student center
Black students in McCullough, selected by Yvette Fordjour ‘26

Throughout this process of design and curation, I felt really supported by Mikaela Taylor. I am thankful for her guidance and direction! I am grateful to Yahya for taking the lovely headshot photographs of all the Special Collections staff that appear on our social media and in signage throughout the exhibit. I am thankful for the rest of my Student Associate cohort for their eager participation.

brown leather saddlebag with flap and strap
Qur’an manuscript, selected by Yahya Rahhawi ‘26

Are you curious about the Staff Picks that didn’t make the exhibit? Make an appointment at go.middlebury.edu/specialvisit/ to see jewelry made from human hair, the Megilat Ester manuscript, an Ethiopian Manuscript Psalter, or to discover something totally new! We’re looking forward to hearing about the favorites you find in our collections! 

student standing in front of library exhibition showcases with group of people in background
Exhibit curator and designer, Liefe Temple ‘25.5, in the library atrium
Liefe is a joint English and Dance major from the class of 2025.5. Her passion for librarianship extends to her current work for Middlebury Library’s Interlibrary Loan department and summer work for the Bixby Memorial Free Library in Vergennes, Vermont. 

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