Southern Oregon University's Hannon Library will open the Lily Hearn History of Writing and Printing Collection with a dedication at 3 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 1.

Southern Oregon University's Hannon Library will open the Lily Hearn History of Writing and Printing Collection with a dedication at 3 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 1.

The event showcases the new, permanent exhibit of manuscripts and artifacts. It begins with an opening ceremony at the exhibit on the library's second floor, followed by a reception in the Meese Room. Refreshments will be provided, and all are welcome to the free event, organizers said.

The Hearn Collection includes 19 pieces of rare and valuable examples of early writing and printing from cultures around the world. One of the oldest is a 4,000-year-old clay Sumerian tablet inscribed with Cuneiform writing, dating from 2039 BCE. A piece of Egyptian statuary with hieroglyphs dates from circa 1785-1660 BCE. Other pieces include medieval illuminated manuscripts, Sanskrit texts, and a rare Coptic scroll from Ethiopia measuring seven feet in length.

Lily Hearn and her husband, Joseph, acquired the collection over several decades while both taught at San Bernardino Valley College. Lily Hearn developed a popular course on the history of writing, printing and libraries, and shared her collection with students there. After moving to Ashland, she wanted to make it again accessible to students.

The Hearn family donated the collection in 2009. Over the summer, the collection was re-housed in a new, custom display located on the library's second floor near Special Collections and the Margery Bailey Shakespeare and Renaissance Collection. Each piece is in a clear display offset from the wall for maximum visibility. Items are arranged by age, and the exhibit begins with a world map showing their geographic origins.

Teachers are encouraged to bring their classes to the Hannon Library to view the collection.

For questions about the Lily Hearn History of Writing and Printing Collection, call 541-552-6836 or e-mail cedarface@sou.edu.