Did you know?  Check our Rare Books Page

San Francisco's Rare Book Scene

Do you live in the Bay Area, and are you just starting to put together a rare book collection? Are you traveling to San Francisco at any point in the near future? The Bay Area is truly an antiquarian and rare book treasure trove. From rare bookstores to antiquarian book fairs to rare book archives, you couldn’t ask for much more than everything the Bay Area has to offer. While our title centers in San Francisco, we want to introduce you to the rare book scene in the Bay Area more generally, and to encourage you to plan several days of book hunting in San Francisco, Berkeley, and Oakland. And, quite frankly, several days probably won’t be sufficient. You’ll want to keep coming back for more.

     
Read more...


The Library of Congress and Rare Books

By Audrey Golden. Oct 6, 2020. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Libraries & Special Collections, Libraries

Have you ever looked into the resources held by the Library of Congress? Are you interested in a wide variety of archives and exhibits dedicated to rare books, materials, and related ephemera? Washington, D.C. obviously has a number of notable attractions for anyone interested in history—and book history in particular. Yet you’d be crazy to visit Washington, D.C. without making a stop into the Library of Congress. And if you’re interested in conducting research into a specific writer or thinker, there’s a good chance the Library of Congress has some holdings that could be of specific interest to you. We want to tell you more about the history of the Library of Congress, information about conducting research there, and some of the specific items and collections that are housed there. When it comes to rare books and objects, the Library of Congress has one of the most amazing collections you’ll ever find.

     
Read more...


A Look Inside Presidential Libraries

Today is the anniversary of President Abraham Lincoln's birthday. In addition to having been an exceptional statesman, Lincoln, like many of America's forefathers was also a prolific reader, amassing an impressive personal library. In honor of the late, great president, we've put together a post to give you a look inside presidential libraries.

     
Read more...


Chicago’s Rare Book Scene

Planning a trip to Chicago anytime soon? Like a number of other major cities in the U.S. and across the globe, Chicago has its own vibe, its own pizza, and its own rare book scene. We want to tell you more about all the city has to offer for buying rare books at stores and fairs, and for delving into rare book research at some of Chicago’s special collections libraries.

     
Read more...


Questions to Ask When Visiting a Special Collections Library

By Audrey Golden. Apr 25, 2020. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Libraries & Special Collections, Libraries

Whenever you are in search of a particular rare book that you know a special collections library owns, or when you are seeking out information about a specific author and are hoping to find something exciting and new in that author’s papers, you’ll need to be prepared. Some special collections libraries require you to get permission in advance of your visit to conduct research in a particular writer’s papers (or in the special collections library more generally). Sometimes, especially if a library has recently acquired a collection, it won’t yet be open to researchers. You could really find yourself in a bind if you travel to visit an archive only to learn that you can’t access the materials within it. To prepare for a visit to a special collections library, we have some key questions you should consider before you go and while you’re there.

     
Read more...


Beinecke Rare Books and Manuscripts Library

By Audrey Golden. Mar 17, 2020. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Libraries & Special Collections, Libraries

Whether you’re an academic researcher, an archivist, or simply someone who has an interest in rare books, you should visit the Beinecke Rare Books and Manuscripts Library at least once in your life. While the collections at the Beinecke, like those within other special collections libraries, are open only to researchers, there’s still a lot to see even if you’re just passing through New Haven, Connecticut on a weekday afternoon. Indeed, the Beinecke keeps a variety of items from its collection on display within its incredible building at Yale University. And don’t get discouraged by the idea that you need to be a researcher in order to view any of the collections. While academics certainly visit the Beinecke with frequency, researchers do not have to be affiliated with a college or university to access the collections. To be sure, researchers come from a variety of backgrounds to engage in work related to the papers held at the library.

     
Read more...


Visiting Ralph Ellison's Papers at the Library of Congress

Are you interested in learning more about the life and literary work of Ralph Ellison? If you find yourself in Washington, D.C., there are many reasons to plan a visit to the Library of Congress. One of those reasons, though, should certainly be to explore the Ralph Ellison papers, which include materials from 1890-2005. There are a total of 74,800 items in the collection, such as correspondence, drafts for essays, short stories, novels, lectures given by and about Ellison, a wide variety of resources documenting his literary career, and Ellison’s final unfinished novel, Juneteenth.

     
Read more...


Is Book Collecting a Dying Art?

Is book collecting a dying art? The scores of collectors, young and old, who travel long distances and scour the internet for new additions to their collections would certainly tell you, quite vehemently: No! Book collecting is not a dying art. Despite the fact that we’re now in the third decade of the twenty-first century and everything seems to have gone digital, the physical book—and the desire to collect it, to preserve it, to archive it—remains alive and well. From the rise of new rare and independent bookstores to book collecting prizes and coursework in rare books and ephemera, new collectors are springing up every day.

     
Read more...


Celebrating the (Literary) History of America's Presidents

Presidents are famously men of letters: educated, erudite, and charismatic. John Adams (whose birthday we celebrate today), Thomas Jefferson, and other founding fathers established their reputation by contributing to beautifully written documents like the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.      
Read more...


The Founding of the Smithsonian Institution: Increasing & Diffusing Knowledge

By Katie Behrens. Jul 13, 2018. 9:00 AM.

Topics: American History, Libraries & Special Collections

Imagine you wake up one morning and discover that a mysterious benefactor left you a small fortune, stipulating that the funds be used to help others. How would you spend it? Now imagine that you have to make that decision with 293 other people without splitting the money. This is the task that the 24th Congress of the United States faced when it created the Smithsonian Institution

     
Read more...


About this blog

How can I identify a first edition? Where do I learn about caring for books? How should I start collecting? Hear from librarians about amazing collections, learn about historic bindings or printing techniques, get to know other collectors. Whether you are just starting or looking for expert advice, chances are, you'll find something of interest on blogis librorum.

Get blog notifications per email:

Download the James Bond Dossier

Recent Posts

Book Glossary
Get your free Guide to Book Care

Blog Archive

> see older posts
A Guide to Historic Libraries Part I