By Matthew Muir | Staff Writer
Baylor Libraries’ Rare Business exhibit featured historic and hard-to-find texts on business and economics, including a first edition of Adam Smith’s “The Wealth of Nations.”
The first edition copy from 1776 was one of 21 historical works on display at the Foster Campus for Business and Innovation. The exhibit showed off rare books on business and economics from the Central Libraries Special Collections, with “The Wealth of Nations” as its centerpiece.
Beth Farwell, director of Central Libraries Special Collections, said Baylor’s rare copy of “The Wealth of Nations” took an unconventional route to become part of the Special Collections.
“It was a gift, but it actually started out in the general collections stacks, and then at some point someone noticed, ‘Hey, this might be a first edition,’” Farwell said. “This was a long, long time ago, so it has been in the collection for many, many years.”
Farwell said roughly 80% of the works in Special Collections were gifted to Baylor Libraries, including most if not all of the books on display at the Rare Business exhibit. The goal of the exhibit, Farwell said, was to bring these rare works to students and faculty who would find them interesting, but might not otherwise get to see them.
“We knew we had some very valuable business rare books and we thought it would be nice to do a pop-up exhibit here in the [Foster] atrium to catch people that don’t normally come over to the libraries,” Farwell said.
Round Rock sophomore Gavin Whyte said he was drawn to “The Wealth of Nations,” but that he thought all the works on display were interesting in different ways.
“I liked ‘The Wealth of Nations’… I’m just starting economics now and it’s [a book] I knew about before going into it, and just to see an original copy… to be looking at it right now… is just interesting,” Whyte said. “But all the books have their own wonderful uniqueness.”
Whyte said one his favorite books on display was a copy of the United States’ seventh Census from 1850.
“They took into account many different things we wouldn’t think about today like insanity and inventory and stock of animals,” Whyte said. “It was just different to see how we [did] things in the past versus how we do things now.”
Other than “The Wealth of Nations,” Farwell said some of the books she found most interesting involved the economics of slavery.
“We have three books here that are about slavery, like the actual value of slavery from a business perspective,” Farwell said. “This isn’t just a bookkeeping book; it’s actually a historical book about how people valued slavery… so that’s very interesting to me.”
For more information on the Central Libraries Special Collections, view the Baylor website’s web page.