Hogwarts and Very Old Books

On Tuesday, me and my peers had the once in a lifetime chance to see some extremely old books. Courtesy of the University of Reading, we were able to view books from the 18th and 19th century. These books contained original typographic forms from these years, leading us to understand how they evolved and developed into what they are today. Being in a room with books that were hundreds of years old was pretty crazy to comprehend. They were laying right out in front of us, and I felt that if I were to breathe on them, or get too close they would disintegrate. The idea of touching a page gave me anxiety, even though they mentioned that we were allowed to handle them in a specific way. 

They further explained to us the process of printing and image making for these books, and what it would’ve looked like in the past. Something I also found interesting was the use of “the long S,” in these books. I noticed in these books, in place of an ‘s’ were these elongated ‘f’ looking forms. In my head it made me read the word differently, as it resembled a modern-looking ‘f.’ I later found out that this was not an ‘f,’ but a secondary ‘s’ that was once used in text. This was to distinguish between a hard ‘s’ and a soft ‘s’. The ‘f’ represented the soft ‘s’ in text. By the mid 19th century the use of the long ‘s’ came to a halt.

After our time with the University of Reading, we made our way to the long-awaited tour of Hogwarts… also known as Oxford University. I was in awe of this over 400 year old exquisite campus, and could barely believe this is a place that students call their University. The architecture alone was breathtaking, and almost felt like a movie set. Which is no joke – as we were quite literally on the set of where the new Willy Wonka movie with Timothee Chalamet is being filmed. 

Our tour guide gave us a breakdown of what students’ schedules look like. I thought that a ten week term here at Drexel was rigorous, only to find out that Oxford students have eight week terms. They even have exams in January right after their Christmas break. 

While on our tour of the Oxford campus our guide had us guess just how many books are housed at the University library. I guessed 1 million, only to find out that the correct answer was 12 million.

A Message from the Office of Global Engagement:

The safety and security of Drexel students is a priority for the University. As part of the efforts to support Drexel students that are studying abroad during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Office of Global Engagement has conducted a rigorous review of programming and provided additional support to participating students with customized pre-departure orientations and regular check-ins during the required self-isolation period and the term.

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