Columbia Library columns (v.9(1959Nov-1960May))

(New York :  Friends of the Columbia Libraries.  )



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  v.9,no.3(1960:May): Page 21  

Capturing the Passing Show:

Columbia's Resources for

Theatrical Research


^H.ADO^^'S of the passing world," is the familiar trans¬
lation of the Japanese word "Ukioye," signifying the
Japanese printed pictures, a vast number of which docu¬
ment the theatrical arts of Japan. There is a special fitness in this
word in reference to the theatre, for the theatrical arts are them¬
selves among the most elusive as well as the most splendid of
human achievements; only by strong and ingenious efforts can
the passing show be captured and an adequate record of it at¬
tained. Theatres accumulate an enormous amount of ephemeral
printing and physical contraptions, as witness posters and stage-
sets. Libraries are faced with a unique task in preser\'ing some of
the products of this ever-flowing river of accomplishment and in
organizing them for use. By many devices, considerable progress
has recently been made. Various ambitious projects between col¬
lections ate afoot to list materials on an international scale, to
photostat important items, to film productions and record their
sound-tracks. These are new means to serve old functions. (There
is a popular story that the great actor, Richard Burbage, when the
Globe Theatre, of London, was afire and doomed to instant
destruction, rushed from its stage-door with manuscripts of Shake¬
speare's plays under his arm. In a peculiarly dramatic sense this
supplies an analogy for the services of any library in behalf of the
living theatre or the drama as a presentational art.)

The Columbia Libraries have an extensive and well-balanced
program covering this exceptionally diversified and difficult area.
  v.9,no.3(1960:May): Page 21