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Realia Collection at the Jacob Burns Law Library

January 9, 2019

Why Does the GW Law Library Collect Realia?

Physical objects offer an unexpected and memorable dimension to the narrative of GW Law’s history and culture, and to themes and authors represented in the Law Library’s collections.  They bring to life aspects of an event, idea, or person with an immediacy that eludes written accounts.

Contemplating realia is a powerful complement to reading text.  Imagine if you could see that actual scale that hit poor Mrs. Palsgraf!

The Jacob Burns Law Library is one of only a few U.S. academic law libraries today with a realia collection.  Visit our exhibit in the library that showcases several examples from our collection.

Realia Display

Realia Display

What is Realia?

Realia comprise all non-documentary, three-dimensional objects.

Examples of realia include relics, artifacts, souvenirs, specimens, and other physical objects which do not fit into the standard documentary categories of books, sound recordings, administrative documents, and other records of the human experience.  They may be man-made or naturally-occurring.

Realia typically are primary sources: they are objects which provide direct evidence of past events.

“Realia” is the plural form of the noun, yet accepts verbs in both singular and plural form.

The Laws of Misfit Toys

December 20, 2018
Toy Safety

December is a time for magic, especially for the children among us. While they may wish for toys to come to life like Clara’s did in The Nutcracker, we sometimes find that toys take on a not-so-pleasant life of their own.

Our latest display, The Laws of Misfit Toys, explores toy safety issues that have come up in popular toys throughout the years. From Kinder Eggs to Slap Bracelets, take a look at some of the cases, laws, and recalls aimed at keeping our children safe. You’ll also enjoy a trip down memory lane with some of our librarians, recalling their own experiences with these products.

View the exhibit on the first floor of the Burns Law Library in the display case directly opposite of the Circulation Desk. It runs through January.

The Reinheitsgebot (The German Beer Purity Law)

October 31, 2018
Brewing from 1506

Fall is the season of Oktoberfest and beer festivals and to toast the season, the Burns Law Library has mounted an exhibit to commemorate the Reinheitsgebot, the German beer purity law adopted in Bavaria in 1516.  Considered to be the oldest in force brewing law, the decree issued by Duke of Bavaria Wilhelm IV limited the ingredients in beer to just water, barley, and hops.  The law also protected publicans from high prices and prohibited brewers from adding toxic or dangerous adjuncts to their brews.  While the law is still in effect in Germany, many craft breweries around the world proudly proclaim that they follow the letter of the law as an indication of the quality and purity of their beer.

The exhibit explains the development of the law and includes historical depictions of the brewing process.   View the exhibit on the first floor of the Burns Law Library in the display case directly opposite of the Circulation Desk. It runs through November.

United Nations Day, Oct. 24

October 24, 2018

Today celebrates the entry in force of the United Nations Charter.  The Charter is the foundation document for the international organization, reaffirming fundamental human rights of citizens and a commitment to equality for men and women and “countries large and small.”  The Charter was signed in San Francisco in 1945 by 50 of the original 51 convening nations of the United Nations Conference on International Organizations.

The Charter also included the Statute for the International Court of Justice.  The Court is the principal judicial organ of the United Nations.  It began its work in 1946 at the Peace Palace, The Hague, Netherlands.  It hears cases between the 192 member states.

Stop. Think. Connect.

October 4, 2018
National Cyber Security Month

October is National Cyber Security Awareness month, sponsored by the National Cyber Security Alliance.  Beware of theft, fraud and cyber crime, secure your key accounts and devices, and actively manage your privacy.

You can do your part for cyber security by protecting your online data and your identity:

  • Guard your identity
  • Secure your devices
  • Think before you connect

GW IT is hosting events during October to educate the GW community on cyber security.

Celebrate the Freedom to Read: Banned Books Week

September 26, 2018
Banned Books Week

Observe Banned Books Week this week, September 23-29.  Banned Books Week draws attention to attempts at censorship by restricting access to books across the country.  Sponsors for the week include the American Library Association, the American Booksellers Association, the Association of American Publishers and the Authors Guild.

Check out the list of 2016’s top ten most frequently challenged books.  You may be surprised what’s on the list!  The list is maintained by ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom.

2018 National Book Festival – Sept. 1

August 29, 2018
Girl Flying an Open book

Spread the Joy of Reading!

Join the 2018 National Book Festival on September 1 at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center.  Sponsored by the Library of Congress, the Festival includes visits with many authors.  A presentation by Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor at 11:25am is followed by a book signing.  Family events and activities for all ages is planned.