If you’re anything like me, visiting the Rosenbach (or in my case working there) creates a burning desire to read (or re-read) some of the classics represented in our collection. I must confess to not yet having the courage to tackle Ulysses, but I have enjoyed reacquainting myself with Dracula, the Canterbury Tales, the poetry of Robert Burns, and many others.
Although I typically like to read my books in hard copy, my new favorite toy is the Stanza e-reader app for the iPhone/iPod. Although reading on a small screen is always a bit odd, the controls for this e-reader are pretty good. But what’s really great is that has over 25,000 books from Project Gutenberg to download for free. So I always have some great Rosen-reading at hand. It even has Ulysses, if you’re brave enough to tackle Joyce on a 3″ screen.
Another fun site for your iPod/MP3 player is Librivox. Essentially Librivox is to audiobooks what Project Gutenberg is to regular books–works in the public domain are read and recorded by volunteers and can be downloaded as MP3s. As one might expect, the quality of the recordings is somewhat uneven, but if you like to listen to your literature it is worth checking out.
And of course, long after all of the modern electronic gizmos go the way of the mimeograph machine and the VCR, the Rosenbach will still be here with the real books on our shelves. We are mostly definitely NOT going the way of Cushing Academy, which recently scrapped all of its library books in favor of Kindles. So after you refresh your memory of Sherlock Holmes or Alice in Wonderland on your iPod, you can come by and enjoy the real thing all the more.