October 23, 2007
By Elisabeth Grant
To honor the Association of Research Libraries’ 75th anniversary, the ARL has created a book and web site to highlight “selected rare and special collections available for use in the major research libraries of North America.” The preface to the “Celebrating Research” web site stresses that the collections mentioned in the book and on the web site are not a “comprehensive view or a directory” but rather a way to sample the variety of collections available in research libraries. The collections profiled online span 118 research libraries, from University of Alabama to Yale (alphabetically). Each profile includes a “library overview,” which gives a comprehensive look at all the library as to offer, and includes the library’s address and web site URL. Accompanying each library overview is a “collection profile,” highlighting one of the library’s collections through the use of images of documents and artifacts from the collection, and descriptions of what makes this collection unique.
For example, the Boston Public Library’s profiled collection is the Personal Library of President John Adams. The site explains the collection “includes over 2,700 volumes” and is “one of the largest personal libraries collected in America during [Adams’s] lifetime.” Brown University’s overview is paired with information on its Ann S. K. Brown Military Collection, which, besides books and portraits, includes “6,000 miniature toy soldiers.” And for the University Libraries of Notre Dame, their Sports Research Collection is mentioned.