Tucked away on the fourth floor of the USF Library lies what Melanie Griffin, anassistant librarian in the Special and Digital Collections, calls the greatest kept secret on campus.
To some it may be the greatest kept, but the collection exhibit wasnever meant to be a secret. The collection is home to thousands ofextremely rare books,assorted documents and maps and even a cuneiform tablet dating back to 3000 B.C. that are not in circulation but still open to students.
In the front of the room a chest with large flat drawers contains maps ofFlorida, the Tampa Bay area and Hillsborough County, which date as far back as 1846. Students can study the maps or go through an expansive collection of genealogical information to find a glimpse of their familys past.
There is a vast amount of Floridana Literature,including everything from family documents to texts on the histories of localbusinesses are available for specific research.
Andrew Huse, an assistant librarian, calls it a local Google.
The collection contains boxes of newspapers anddocuments outlining thehistory of the Tampa Bay area. Just past this section is thecollections assortment of USF lore. Old documents andphotographs are on file along with every edition of The Oracle dating back to the 1970s.
The collection alsohouses science fiction journals from 1939, books older than the country and a few of theoriginal hand drawn sketches from Disneys Dumbo.
It really runs the gamut, Huse said.
The collection alsocontains a section of 19th century American Literature from some of our countrys first American printers as well as a section of antiquetextbooks.
Huse said the textbooks are especially interesting andnoted that while math and grammar has remained the same, the way we teach
history has changed.
In the back of the room that houses the collection lies the vault. a small separate room that contains the oldest and most valuable books in the collection, such as secular and religious texts from the 1400s printed on vellum, theLibrarys copy of Brevis Narratio by Le Moyne, a text about Florida and its original natives from 1591, and thecuneiform tablet. They are kept together for evacuation purposes.
It wouldnt matter if you had millions of dollars,Griffin said. They cant bereplaced.
Peter Cannon, agraduate student pursuing a masters degree in library andinformation science, said books are a part of history.
Theyll be here when were gone, he said.
Use of thecollection is notlimited to students alone. Anyone can visit the library and study the texts. Many of the worksincluded in the
Special Collection areprotected by copyright laws and cannot be digitized and can only be viewed in person. Whilevisitors are unable to
physically browse through the collection on their own they can access any of the works from the reading room.
The special collectionis open Mondayto Friday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Students can walk in or make anappointment if they want to look through the collection forresearch or for fun.