Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Dateline: Bowling Green, Kentucky

Desk of Robert Penn Warren
Special Collections Library
Western Kentucky University
Bowling Green

This morning in reviewing our Grand Southern Literary Tour, I discovered that we had not visited a single library. I decided that since we would pass through Bowling Green, Kentucky's third largest city and the home of Western Kentucky University, that maybe there would be something for us in this college town.

There is. The Kentucky Museum and Special Collections Library. We found the building on campus easily. We started at the top of the three-story building with the quilt gallery and then rambled through a furniture exhibit. On the second floor we hit pay dirt. The elevator opened to a large room with long tables, bookshelves, filing cabinets, and wooden card catalogues - a joy to behold.

I looked to the left and saw a room with the large words "Robert Penn Warren Library" over the door. I practically accosted Allison, the librarian at the desk, in asking what was in this room.

Turns out Mr. Warren donated his entire library, his desk, typewriter, desk lamp and other items to this Special Collections Library. Nothing was mentioned about this on the web site and was quite a surprise. Allison unlocked the door and I nearly swooned. Like a giggly schoolgirl I gushed over the items displayed on his wooden desk, photographs of him and his wife, the writer Eleanor Clark, and his library books. I was so impressed by the intellectual range of the man. Here were Tacitus Histories, short stories, French authors, plays and poems, reference books, and biographies. His interests had no limits, it seems.

I was glad that I had purchased Warren's Pulitzer Prize-winning All the King's Men just the day before. It seemed to close the circle of the tour.

We talked with another librarian, Sue Lynn, and then made our way to the first floor with its Civil War exhibit which we unfortunately had to rush through.

We left wanting more, but the Grand Southern Literary Tour had to end sometime and we headed north to home.

And so to bed.

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