With the advent of e-readers and iPads, it’s hard to tell what the future holds for the paper book. We do most of our research online and use Kindles instead of carrying around 700 page books. However, there is still something magical about reading old paper books and learning about the history behind each page. 

Most people don’t realize that we have the opportunity to see and learn about rare books at McMaster. The William Ready Division of Archives and Research Collections, in the basement of Mills Memorial Library, has a large collection of rare books and manuscripts. It takes you through the earliest forms of the book, from scrolls to books handwritten on vellum. There are many books written prior to 1800, beginning with Boethius’s De consolatione philosophiae written in 1150 CE.

What’s most striking to me about these books is how beautiful they are: the intricate artwork and beautifully written text on each page must have taken years to accomplish.   

More relevant to recent news, the McMaster archives hold a correspondence from Alice Munro, who just won the Nobel Prize in Literature! 

The archives are somewhat of a hidden treasure at McMaster, and they are open to McMaster students to visit and explore! Here’s a link to more information: