There are no pirates in this tale, but there is plenty of treasure. Hidden deep within the Cleveland Public Library’s main building downtown are books, documents and maps that mark our collective history. Next month, Clevelanders can view these historic artifacts first-hand as the institution unveils “Treasures ~ Experience the Magic” Oct. 1.
Some might refer to the event as “The Return to Treasures,” since last year’s fundraiser proved so successful. The decision to open more collections for viewing was made soon after that event. But, to many, the treasure chest opened last year resulted in much more than the showing of previously hidden collections.
“The staff ’s love of the materials was so apparent,” Joan Clark, Head of Main Library, said in reference to last year’s
Treasures event. “It was like seeing the librarians with their toys.”
Clark is not alone in her assessment. What she refers to as a “synergy” between the staff and the materials was apparent to many. Anne Marie Warren, president of the Friends of the Cleveland Public Library, describes the staff ’s involvement as “dynamic.”
“The most unexpected surprise about creating and planning this event was how enthusiastic the staff would be about showing it,” she says. “The librarians busted the stereotype right open. The staff was so dynamic, so engaged. I remember the sparkle in one librarian’s eyes. Their involvement made the event so much more engaging. This is a phenomenal opportunity for the profession to be highlighted.”
As “Treasures” succeeded beyond everyone’s expectations, the realization soon came that “Treasures ~ Experience
the Magic” should be planned for 2005. This time, a new dimension has been added. While the first year relied solely on the magic of collections, this year offers more drama and showmanship.
Magicians and fortunetellers will weave through the crowd, mystifying guests with magic tricks and their knowledge of alchemy.
“This year we wanted something more appropriate for the space and magic theme,” says Warren. “It’s about finding
a little space to explore, finding little experiences all around. It will be a big event but very individual in how each person experiences it.”
Cleveland Public Library Director Andrew Venable Jr. believes “Treasures” enriches Clevelanders, who see too much negativity. “The library is such a beacon of hope,” he says. “We have to keep lifting it
up. The public library is a good barometer of the quality of life of a community.”
This year, 10 special collections and one case on the magic of preservation will be on display for guests to explore.
“The importance of preservation is that it summarizes the knowledge of the development of our society,” Venable
says. “It’s classifying, recording, collecting and cataloging the history of civilization. It gives us background in the context of what happened before.”
Long before today’s trend in scrapbooking to preserve family memories, people have tried to document their history.
“Human beings have been compelled to leave records any way they could,” Clark adds. “There are such exciting examples of this in the collection — a tree bark book of magic spells and potions from Asia; palm
leaves that look like a fan, with text and drawings. This is about saving something in your history or it will disappear.”
Clark finds magic in all of the featured collections. The magic of baseball, alchemy, foreign literature, success,
children’s literature, performing arts, time and place, folklore and mythology and the camera all have a component that she discusses with a smile.
“There is magic in all of this,” she says.
Even the building itself has a bit of magic. The ceiling in a corner room on the fifth floor of the Louis Stokes Wing features a design taken from a book on alchemy. And then there’s the influence of the ever popular "Harry Potter” books, displayed in 12 different languages, each depicting the magic of language in today’s world.
Fortunately for those who hope to experience the magic, the collection will not disappear after the event ends. According to Warren, it will be on display for about four months for public viewing. And once this event is over, the Friends will meet again, around November, to put their thoughts together and discover even more treasures to explore.
To learn how you can experience “Treasures,” call the Friends at (216) 623-2821.