An Evaluation of a Rare Book Special Collection: Preparation for a Large-Scale Renovation Project
DATE: Tuesday, June 13, 2023 at 2:00 pm CT
PRESENTERS: Alex (Elisandro) Cabada, Leah DiCiesare
The Mathematics Library at the University of Illinois conducted an evaluation of its rare book holdings in preparation for a large-scale renovation project of its stacks facilities. This evaluation was also part of a larger project for the preservation of the collection to help stabilize and ensure the longevity of rare print items.
We will share our preliminary findings for the specific condition concerns of the print volumes, what environmental factors may have contributed to those issues, and what criteria was utilized to determine next steps for those items and finally how the overall evaluation was formulated.
When universities began to close departmental libraries as scholarship was increasingly borne-digital and budgets were under strain soon after the 2008 financial crisis, the primary focus was on expediency. This limited the opportunity to collect sufficient data to evaluate and document the process in an effort to provide a case study for peers to employ at their institutions. While we are very much in the digital age of scholarship, there is still an emphasis on print collections, particularly for the humanities, arts, and for mathematics. Even without the pressure to reduce print stacks, it is our hope that participants will understand the benefit of evaluating their physical collections to determine how it is special and distinctive, as well as what a process would look like and what partnerships and steps might be necessary.