Two Literary Lords Turn 60

This year marks the sixtieth anniversary of two modern literary classics, William Golding's Lord of the Flies and J. R. R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings trilogy. Staples of school reading lists and sources of blockbuster media adaptations, neither has ever gone out of print.

The Reference Services Department has been mounting a series of displays meant to highlight our rich collections and wide interests. Previous displays have showcased documentation of such landmark events as the establishment of the Peace Corps (1961), the Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education (1954), and the release of the Watergate transcripts (1974). Forthcoming exhibits promise to be equally intriguing.

Drawing from our vast archival magazine and newspaper holdings as well as one of the most extensive Federal government documents collections in the region, we've also illuminated pop culture revolutions (the musical "British invasion" of the 1960s) and homey pleasures (the U.S. Department of Agriculture's kitschy recipe booklets)--all with the aim of acquainting browsers with the depth of breadth of our offerings.

The idea of pairing the two literary Lords came from a reference book, Chronicle of the 20th Century, which lists newsworthy happenings month by month and year by year in every field of endeavor. The juxtaposition of Golding's dystopian fable and Tolkien's richly imagined epic was too delicious to pass up. We collected text and images from books, databases, and periodicals. We dressed up the two-dimensional material with artifacts that must be seen to be appreciated.

To assemble the material, we used standard print reference tools such as Book Review Digest and Reader's Guide to Periodical Literature, as well as databases including Academic Search Premier, InfoTrac, and the New York Times Historical Backfile. The bound indexes are available for consultation in the Reference stacks, while the online resources are available to any Denver Public Library cardholder with an Internet connection.

Library work is collaborative by nature. We tapped the creative genius of Fresh City Life's Chris Loffelmacher, whose ideas gave the display elements of wonder and whimsy. Senior Reference Clerk Clif Hoos lent objects from his vast personal collection of Tolkien memorabilia. This writer prevailed on his art teacher sister to donate a fabric backdrop. The Golding side of the case wouldn't have been complete without a scattering of realistic artificial flies, courtesy of Cherry Creek's Children's Librarian, who gave up part of her lunch hour to visit the Wizard's Chest and get the creepy props delivered to Central overnight.

The exhibit will be open for viewing through August 15. Please come visit us and learn what treasures the reference collections hold and what strange minds inhabit the department. The display case is on the right hand side as you enter the reference room. To learn more about the resources at hand, just ask us.


Written by Joe Cahn on August 4, 2014


ChrisL on August 4, 2014


Awww, shucks. Joe and Clif, that is a funnnn display! Great job!

FrankW on August 5, 2014


Great display! I love the idea of pairing two books, themes, etc.!

Amanda R. on August 6, 2014


Fascinating! I really would not have guessed that these two books were published in the same year. Thanks for the information and the beautiful displays.

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