Woodcut from Aurello Marinati,
Somma di tutte le scienze, Rome,
1587 Eric Selch Collection
The library seeks $1 million in endowed and current use funds to support the purchase of special collections and archival materials in all fields.
LP from the James and
Susan Neumann Jazz Collection
As any student who has examined a medieval manuscript, an original edition of a Dickens’ novel in parts, or a handwritten letter from a 19th-century abolitionist can attest, it’s exciting to learn by working with original materials dating from a time and place under study. Oberlin’s curriculum is shifting toward more active and experiential learning, including the use of unique and rare physical collections. A particularly exciting development in this regard is faculty interest in Book Studies, which is being proposed as an interdisciplinary curricular concentration. The library’s special and archival collections are central to these developments.
Ruth’s Journey, unique artists’ book
by Dolph Smith
The Ruth Hughes
Artists’ Book Collection
The library has historically had strong special collections (such as its renowned Oberlin Antislavery Collection and the Frederick Artz Collection in the History of the Book) and it has been fortunate to have acquired several notable special collections as recent gifts (such as the Eric Selch Collection in American Music History, the James and Susan Neumann Jazz Collection, and the Ruth Hughes Collection of Artists’ Books). A major estate gift has enabled the library to renovate its special collections and archives reading room while creating the Margaret Forsythe Classroom designed specifically for teaching with special materials. Existing special collections, curricular innovations such as Book Studies, and the Forsythe Classroom are generating new faculty interest in acquiring special materials that meet specific teaching and learning needs. The recent acquisition of a single-leaf medieval manuscript fragment for $8,000 is an example of the costs involved in maintaining the distinctive aspect of Oberlin’s educational experience.
Virgil, works in Latin, Venice, 1544
Gift from the estate of Thornton Wilder
The library also seeks gifts of rare and special materials that support specific curricular goals, including courses that focus on the history of the book and the book arts. Examples of materials that would be especially valuable for teaching and learning are books that illustrate the history of printing, especially in non-Western countries; private press books; author manuscripts and related papers; and archival materials that convey Oberlin’s history and impact.