We’ve all seen a movie or two that has a scene set in the Archives or a Special Collections Library. Movie magic can really show our work off well. The silver screen is notorious for exaggeration and over generalizing certain tasks and this is even true for the depictions of the world of Special Collections and Archives. Below are a few myths circulated by some of our favorite (and most dreaded) films.
We do not wear kid or cotton gloves for everything we handle:
First of all, kid gloves are made from baby goat leather and we don’t use those anymore – though the expression does mean to handle something with extreme care and that is something we do make sure to do. As for cotton gloves, we do have them but we only use them for certain items; like when handling photographs or film. You may also come to an archives that uses latex free nitrile gloves. Gloves do help keep the oils in our hands from staining or reacting with certain materials; but we do not use gloves for paper and books. Wearing gloves reduces your ability to feel what you’re handling and that puts you at a higher risk of tearing a page. Clean, dry hands is the best option when handling our paper materials so just remember to wash your hands on your way in to our reading room and to be gentle with what you’re working with.
We don’t have a Restricted Section:
Sorry Harry Potter fans, you won’t get the rush of sneaking into the restricted section here. Special Collections and Archives shelves aren’t physically browsable, but all of our materials are available for anyone and everyone! We would LOVE to have you. Just stop on in and we’ll gladly help you find what you’re looking for and bring it out to you. The only “restrictions” we have is that you won’t be able to check our books out to take home, but we’ll have it here whenever you want to see it.
Our vaults aren’t set up to suck all of the oxygen out of the room:
This is probably for the best for all involved, unless you’re one of the directors of The Da Vinci Code. We keep our storage areas in a specific, controlled climate range and honestly sucking all the air out that rapidly would probably be a bit aggressive for our materials. Some libraries do have a suppressant system that releases other gasses into the air to stop the combustion process, but we would not remove all of the oxygen from the air! We would never want to risk someone getting trapped inside when that happened. Our materials are indeed important to us, but nothing is more important than making sure our patrons and fellow staff are safe!
At the end of the day, fire suppressants are better than a fire and loss of life is never an exchange for our collections, no matter how much we love them.
We don’t use lemons to see invisible ink.
Dear Mr. Cage, please keep your very acidic lemons away from our awesome stuff! We can see invisible ink through other means. Thanks to different light spectrum cameras, we are able to look at all types of invisible additions to pages, paintings, and more. No need to add chemicals like lemon juice or heat to our materials to see those hidden gems. Think back to those invisible pens you can buy that have a black light on the end to use to see the ink when you shine the light on it, different colored lights can illuminate things that may have faded, or were originally written in hard-to-see or invisible inks. It’s all much more gentle long term than acid and heat!
We cannot let you summon a daemon, or raise any mummies from the dead in our reading room:
You will definitely find a lovely collection of religious books in our collection, as well as plenty of Latin, and even some books referencing possible magics in our herbalists collection. However, for the safety of all involved we cannot and will not allow anyone to summon a daemon in our library. Sorry Buffy, thank you for your understanding.
Thanks for joining us for this fun movie myth busting blog. Are there any myths we missed? Let us know in the comments.