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About Special Collections

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4th floor of the Terrell Main Library, in the Goodrich Room (shared with OC Archives)


The primary mission of the Special Collections Department of the Oberlin College Library is to collect, preserve, organize, and promote the use of historically and artistically significant books and subject-based collections in order to support teaching, learning, and individual research within the framework of the undergraduate curriculum of Oberlin College. The department carries out this mission in a variety of ways, including liberal patron access, collection development, collection description and digitization, individual and class instruction, exhibits, and other forms of pedagogical outreach.


Special Collections was formally organized in 1974 with the opening of the new Mudd Center building and the creation of a secure storage space and reading room. Rare and special collections were drawn together from numerous locations in the former Carnegie Library.

Dina Schoonmaker was appointed Special Collections Librarian in 1982, followed by Whitney Pape (1998-99) and Ed Vermue has been Special Collections Librarian since 2000. The Goodrich Room, the Special Collections and Archives reading room was extensively renovated in 2012, adding an electronic classroom to facilitate teaching with special and archival collections.

Jeremy Smith was appointed Conservatory Special Collections Librarian and Curator of the James and Susan Neumann Jazz Collection in 2011. Music special collections were moved to the Kohl Building in that same year. A separate reading room for patrons was added in 2015. Art Librarian Barbara Prior has responsibility for the primary art special collections, which are housed in the Clarence Ward Art Library. In 2017 a separate teaching collection consisting of slides and study prints was incorporated into the library system as the Visual Resources Collection overseen by Heath Patten.

Holdings are distinguished by the Anti-slavery Collection, the Frederick B. Artz Collection in the History of the Book, The Violin Society of America / Herbert Goodkind Collection on the history and making of stringed instruments, the Neumann Jazz Collection, and the Thomas Jefferson Architectural Books collection.


Last updated:
December 17, 2018