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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.

     
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Libraries and Special Collections: The Geisel Library at UC San Diego

By Katie Behrens. Mar 21, 2017. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Libraries & Special Collections

Everyone loves a beautiful, old library with oak desks, cozy chairs, and tall windows. Libraries built during the economic boom of the mid-20th century, however, were often used as a playground for architectural experimentation, particularly on college and university campuses. Sometimes the result was instantly regrettable; at other times, it was intriguing and other-worldly. The Geisel Library at the University of California, San Diego falls in the latter category.

     
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Researching in the J.M. Coetzee Papers at the Harry Ransom Center

In 1969, the Nobel Prize-winning South African novelist J.M. Coetzee received his Ph.D. from The University of Texas at Austin after writing a dissertation on the early work of the Irish writer Samuel Beckett. That same year, Beckett was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. More than forty years after earning his Ph.D.—and after having written nearly a dozen novels and numerous works of criticism—in 2011 the University of Texas at Austin acquired the author's papers to be held in the Harry Ransom Center. The archive contains nearly 160 boxes of material, including drafts of his novels and of his autobiography, personal and business correspondence, family photographs, and recorded interviews. While the novelist was born in South Africa and recently has become an Australian citizen, it seems to make sense that his literary archive would be housed at the location that helped to shape his understanding of literature and its role in politics.

     
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Visiting the Newberry Library in Chicago

By Audrey Golden. Feb 18, 2017. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Libraries & Special Collections

We love visiting many different libraries in the United States and across the globe, but one of our favorites might be the Newberry Library in Chicago. With its diverse collections, fantastic exhibits, and emphasis on public programs, we believe the Newberry has something to offer to anyone and everyone. The library’s collection of manuscripts is vast, housing more than 800 Modern Manuscript collections that make up, in total, about 15,000 linear feet. The manuscript collection ranges in time from medieval works to those of the twentieth century. The Newberry has numerous other core collections, including those on local Chicago histories and American Indian and indigenous studies. Yet the reach of the library goes far beyond its research collections. To be sure, the Newberry also hosts exhibits and presentations, all open to the public. What else should you learn about the Newberry Library?

     
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The Obama Presidential Library

By Brian Hoey. Dec 28, 2016. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Libraries & Special Collections

“(A Nation) must, above all, believe in the capacity of its own people so to learn from the past that they can gain in judgement in creating their own future.” - Franklin D. Roosevelt, June 30 1941, at the dedication of his Presidential Library

For the bookish, there is something incredibly charming about the fact that the nation’s preferred mode of commemorating presidents as they leave office is the construction of a library.

     
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Toni Morrison Papers Now Open to Students and Researchers

For students, faculty members, and scholars across the globe, the papers of Nobel Prize-winning novelist Toni Morrison are now open at the Princeton University Library. Morrison won the Pulitzer Prize in 1988 for her novel Beloved (1987), and she was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1993. Morrison taught at a number of colleges and universities during her career, including at Howard University, Bard College, and Rutgers University. From 1989 until 2006, Morrison taught at Princeton University as the Robert F. Goheen Professor in the Humanities. Since 2014, Princeton has owned the writer’s collected papers, and archivists have been working to organize and catalogue them. Now, if you’re interested in exploring drafts of Morrison’s eleven novels, along with other significant materials, the Manuscripts Division of the Department of Rare Books and Special Collections at Princeton has what you’re looking for.

     
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Primacy and Rare Book Collecting: The Value of Being First

As the old saying goes: ‘It pays to be first.’

In the world of rare book collecting, this is also a well-known fact. First editions. First printing. First drafts of manuscripts. These are usually the kinds of 'firsts' book collectors are on the look-out for when evaluating a book’s worth and value, and it’s these elements that factor largely into how much rare books fetch at auction and how sought-after they become.

However, the concept of primacy, or being recognized as the first incarnation of something within the literary canon, goes well beyond the simple notion of first editions or first printings. First mentions of a character, a setting, a theory, an idea, or even the first location where a book was printed all factor into the primacy of a book and are important elements book collectors and evaluators must weigh when determining a book’s worth and value.

     
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Visiting the Nadine Gordimer Papers at the Lilly Library

Are you interested in doing more than just reading the works of Nadine Gordimer? If you’re ever visiting Bloomington, Indiana, you might consider scheduling a visit at the Lilly Library to explore the materials contained in The Nadine Gordimer Papers. As most lovers of Gordimer’s fiction and South African literature in general know, the Nobel Prize-winning author was born in Springs, South Africa to Jewish immigrant parents in 1923. She wrote fiction for much of her life, with her first short story published in the Children’s Sunday Express when she was 15 years old. The New Yorker published one of her short stories for the first time in 1951, introducing world readers to Gordimer’s work. Now, researchers at the Lilly Library at Indiana University can have access to Gordimer’s correspondence, lectures, speeches, notes, and drafts from 1934 to 2001.

     
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Book It: Five of the Most Interesting U.S. Libraries

Let’s face it: Visiting a library while traveling to a new city is not always atop everyone’s must-do list. Even for the most bookish or literary-minded traveler, libraries as destinations often get lost in the fray when whipping up itineraries or sightseeing spots. Museums. Parks. Skyscrapers. Food markets. Sporting events. These activities more times than not reign supreme over buildings of archaic texts and decaying books where most travelers feel ‘You’ve seen one library, you’ve seen them all.’

But there are a number of libraries across the country that not only warrant serious investigation but also reward visitors with insight into our nation’s history and heritage. Whether simply marveling at the architectural wonders of these buildings or getting lost in the sheer number of volumes they offer, the U.S. plays host to some of the most aesthetically stunning, comprehensive, and interactive libraries the world over.

     
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Interview with Mónica Montes at the Library of David Alfaro Siqueiros

By Audrey Golden. Sep 28, 2016. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Libraries & Special Collections, Literary travel

In May, we had the opportunity to visit the Sala de Arte Público Siqueiros, the former studio of the famous Mexican muralist David Alfaro Siqueiros, located in Mexico City. In addition its continuing function as a gallery space, the Sala de Arte Público Siqueiros also contains the archives and personal library of the painter. We were thrilled to get a chance to visit the muralist’s preserved library and to examine some of the books contained within it. We also had the opportunity to speak with Mónica Montes, one of the primary archivists at the space. She agreed to an interview with us about Siqueiros’s library, and we are excited to share her knowledge, thoughts, and insights. 

     
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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.

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