The Edward W. Said Reading Room is now open in Butler Library, Room 616. The room, dedicated to the memory of internationally renowned author, educator, and public intellectual Edward W. Said, houses a mixture of books from his home and office libraries and showcases a reproduction of his 1976 Lionel Trilling Book Award, a prestigious distinction awarded to a Columbia faculty member whose work exhibits the highest level of intellect and scholarship, which Said also won in 1994.
The eclectic collection, numbering nearly 3,000 volumes, serves as a reflection of Said’s expansive range of intellectual pursuits. Selections from classic literature, music and fine arts share shelves with texts on politics, religion, and history. The collection grew as fellow scholars, such as Noam Chomsky and Cornel West, sent their own work to Said, often dedicating copies to him with personal inscriptions.
Said was a member of Columbia’s faculty from 1963-2003 and was the author of more than 20 books, including his most influential, Orientalism (1978), an in-depth examination of how the West perceived the East.
At the intersection of his roles as literary critic, author, and intellectual, Mariam C. Said said her husband believed, "it was the critic's responsibility to reveal the complicit link between culture and power and to develop alternative modes of analysis to resist injustice." The reading room includes the literature that underscores Said’s work in the realm of democracy and justice.
“The reading room bearing his name will continue to make his intellectual presence magnetic to students and scholars from all over the world,” said Akeel Bilgrami, Johnsonian Professor of Philosophy and Director of Heyman Center for the Humanities at Columbia University.
A selection of books with Said’s notes and marginalia will be housed with his papers in the Rare Books and Manuscript Library and made available for scholarly research.
In conjunction with the room opening, tonight features the Sixth Annual Edward W. Said Memorial Lecture, a series started in Said’s memory and maintained by universities around the world. Author and political commentator Ahdaf Soueif will speak on “Notes from an Egyptian Revolution.” For more information on the event, please visit The Heyman Center for the Humanities.
The Rare Book & Manuscript Library owns over 500,000 rare books in some 20 book collections and almost 28 million manuscripts in nearly 3,000 separate manuscript collections. It is particularly strong in English and American literature and history, classical authors, children‘s literature, education, mathematics and astronomy, economics and banking, photography, the history of printing, New York City politics, librarianship, and the performing arts. Individual collections are as eclectic as they are extensive. For more information, please call (212) 854-5153 or see: /content/libraryweb/indiv/rbml.html
Columbia University Libraries/Information Services is one of the top five academic research library systems in North America. The collections include over 11 million volumes, over 150,000 journals and serials, as well as extensive electronic resources, manuscripts, rare books, microforms, maps, and graphic and audio-visual materials. The services and collections are organized into 22 libraries and various academic technology centers. The Libraries employs more than 500 professional and support staff. The website of the Libraries is the gateway to its services and resources: library.columbia.edu.