College Visit at UNC Charlotte — A Rare Find

UNC Charlotte view from the libraryI can’t count the number of times I’ve told students to keep their minds open as they visit college campuses.  Living in the Houston area, I’ve had hundreds of students over the years close their minds to the University of Houston because it is the local school.  A lot of people tend to assume that state universities must all be the same, but if they spent a few hours learning about a school they’d find a number of unique qualities. On my tour of North Carolina colleges last summer I was surprised at every school I visited.  Most of the students I work with aren’t interested in out-of-state universities unless they are well known or highly ranked.  So when I arrived at UNC Charlotte, I had to remind myself to keep an open mind.  I’m glad I did. As our tour guide took us on an unofficial detour through the library I happened upon a rare find, the highlight of my visit.  We had gone to the top floor of the library to see the full view of campus.  That floor housed the rare book collection.  As the group admired the view, I entered the darkened rare book room and started talking to the librarian.  I asked about the collection and discovered they had many first editions of well-known American authors’ works including “Moby Dick” and “Leaves of Grass.” I asked about the oldest works in the collection.  They have a 1471 copy of the sermons of Job.  But my eyes lit up when I heard about the Sumerian clay tablets from 2000 B.C.  I don’t know if it is my undergraduate degree in Art & Art History or my interest in ancient cultures, but the idea of ancient clay tablets in the collection of this state university captured my interest.  I asked if I could see them.  Without any form of identification or scholarly need for information, I got to see the Sumerian tablets!  They weren’t much larger than the tip of my thumb, but the carvings were clearly visible. I left the library on cloud nine.  I hadn’t expected to see rare works on my tour of UNC Charlotte.  But I was reminded once again to keep my mind open.  You never know what you might find on a campus tour and it doesn’t hurt to ask questions! Sumerian clay tablets from 2000 B.C]]>

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