Rare Book Collection

Collection Development Policy Statement

Library's Collection Development Objectives

I. Statement of Purpose

The Rare Book Collection (RBC) is administered as part of the Special Collections division of the LSU Libraries. The primary mission of the LSU Libraries is to serve the teaching, research, and public service needs of the University and the scholarly community. The role of the RBC in accomplishing this mission is to collect, preserve, and make available for research printed materials in the areas listed below. Additional areas will be considered for collecting to accommodate increased or shifting research needs of the University's students and faculties. Current collecting areas are based on current use, as well as strengths of the existing collection as of 1997.

II. Types of Programs Supported by the Collection

A. Research

Materials will be collected and made available to further the research of LSU faculty, staff, and students, state residents, and visiting scholars in the fields outlined under IV.A., below.

B. Preservation and Security

Preservation of research materials is crucial to the ongoing operations of the RBC. The majority of the collection is housed in Hill Memorial Library, which features a temperature and humidity controlled environment and fire detection and suppression systems. The collection is non-circulating and is maintained in closed stacks. Security measures include security personnel and an alarm system that is monitored by the LSU Police Department.

C. Exhibitions

As part of the overall Special Collections program, materials from the RBC are featured, as appropriate, in exhibitions mounted in Hill Memorial Library and on the World Wide Web by Special Collections staff. Special Collections will consider requests to loan materials and reproductions for exhibition to other institutions when the policies and facilities of those institutions meet acceptable standards and proper credit is given to the LSU Libraries.

D. Outreach and Publications

RBC staff seek to further the use and development of the collection through an outreach program that increases public awareness of the nature and relevance of the collection. This program includes exhibitions, presentations by the curator, publications such as brochures, catalogs, press releases, and notification of new acquisitions to appropriate members of the University community.

E. Acquisitions

The RBC acquires materials through donation and purchase. Purchases are financed by income from endowment funds, in particular the Hauer Rare Book Endowment, and by cash donations; at present, no legislatively appropriated funds are used. Donations of materials and funds are essential to maintaining and developing the collection, and the support of donors is consistently sought. Grant funding for special projects will be sought when such projects do not diminish the level of routine care and service of the collection, and when they can contribute substantially to acquisitions, enhancement of bibliographic control, preservation and conservation, or servicing of the collections.

III. Clientele Served by the Collections

The policy of Special Collections is to make materials from the RBC available to researchers on equal terms, subject to the appropriate care and handling of the materials by the researcher. Researchers include faculty, staff, graduate students, and undergraduate students both from LSU and other institutions; independent researchers; and the general public. Individuals under age sixteen may use selected materials in RBC when accompanied by a parent or guardian. All researchers must produce proper identification (a picture ID such as a driver's license or passport) and must fill out or have on file a current reader registration form.

IV. Priorities and Limitations of the Collection

A. Present Collection Strengths and Collecting Levels

The RBC strengths and collecting levels are outlined below. Because of limited funding, collecting is selective in all areas. A premium is placed on selecting items that fulfill needs in more than one research area.

1. Eighteenth-century British Literature and History. To support upper-division undergraduate, graduate, and faculty research, acquisitions are selective to create a balanced collection of works representative of all facets of eighteenth-century British society, emphasizing literary and political aspects but not excluding science, theater, music, and plastic arts. Attention is given to acquiring lesser figures in the canon and people previously excluded from the canon, with the intention of providing materials for original research as well as background and context for major figures in the canon. Emphasis is also placed on acquiring items that are useful as exemplars or icons for undergraduate teaching, but that fit with the overall collection to support graduate teaching, as well as graduate and faculty research.

Preference is given for materials in good, usable condition. In general, no premium is paid for fine condition, but some fine exemplars will be obtained. Original bindings are strongly preferred. If an item has been rebound, it should retain its original structure (e.g., we will not purchase items that have been perfect bound or similarly mutilated, except under the most extraordinary circumstances).

Topics of special interest include: Economic and political theory; slavery; the social contract; status and treatment of women; education; lexicography and etymology; actors and theatrical life; landscape architecture and design; literary and political disputes involving Swift, Pope, Johnson, Smith, Malthus; exploration; sugar trade and technology; the history of printing and related book arts (papermaking, marbling, type design, binding). Reference tools and other supporting materials, including microfilm and digital publications, will be purchased as needed to support research use of the above.

2. Book Arts. Materials are acquired to provide support for graduate teaching of book history, and undergraduate and graduate teaching of book arts, including design and typography. Examples of historical and modern presses noted for quality of work and/or innovation are acquired. The aim is to create a collection with strength in its breadth rather than in comprehensiveness of coverage for a narrow area. However, several book designers, presses and/or publishers are collected comprehensively: book designer Bruce Rogers, Janus Press (Claire Van Vliet), Book Club of California, Limited Editions Club to 1992, Tragara Press. Other presses, such as the Arion Press and Circle Press, are collected intensively. In addition, good exemplars of book arts, as well as books about book arts are collected: design bindings, publishers' bindings, book illustration and printmaking, papermaking, marbling, fore-edge painting.

3. Victorian-era Literature. Books, serials, and ephemera of the Victorian era are collected to support upper division undergraduate, graduate and faculty studies in literary criticism, European and American history, and the history of the book. Emphasis is on Victorian-era poetry books, especially American, as they reflect cultural history, particularly relating to topics such as leisure time activities, fashions (see Textiles, below), roles of women, perceptions of race and immigration, class structure, and social and moral values. Materials are selected to illustrate and record the mechanization/industrialization of book printing and publishing, as well as for their textual content, thus serving a dual purpose. Original bindings are preferred.

4. European Mediaeval and Early Renaissance Manuscript Facsimiles. Materials are acquired to support interdisciplinary and specialized mediaeval and early Renaissance studies at the upper division undergraduate, graduate, and faculty levels, with emphasis on manuscripts that include material useful to musicologists, art historians, and literary historians and theorists.

5. Textile and Fashion History. Materials are acquired to support the work of upper division undergraduates, graduates, and faculty, especially in conjunction with research use of LSU's Historic Textile Collection. At present, collecting focuses on fashion aspects and handwork rather than industrialized manufacturing. Special attention is given to collecting materials that complement other collecting areas such as 18th-century British history and literature, Victorian literature, and holdings in the Louisiana and Lower Mississippi Valley Collections.

6. Music. To support upper division undergraduate, graduate, and faculty research, collecting focuses on early music facsimiles, pre-1801 opera scores, important music theoretical works, and 19th- century American music (especially Southern) that helps provide context for Louisiana holdings.

7. Geography and Anthropology. Selective collecting focuses on vernacular architecture of the South and Caribbean region; transfer of material culture technologies and styles between Old World and New World ethnic groups, especially in the Caribbean region and southern United States.

8. Women in Renaissance Literature. Highly selective acquisitions will be made in honor of the late Professor Josephine Roberts, a distinguished scholar in the field, to support graduate level study and teaching in the field.

9. Areas considered for future development:

  • Economics (especially land tenure)
  • Theater (especially set design, costuming, stage mechanics)
  • European history (Napoleonic era)
  • Bibles (already some exemplars in the collection, providing basis of strength)

10. Adjunct Collections within the Purview of RBC.

a. The Contemporary Poetry Collection was donated by Andrei Codrescu , who continues to add to its holdings. We do not currently add to it by purchase, but gladly accept donations of current material, especially from small presses. Emphasis is on American poets, but others are also accepted .

b. The Laughlin Collection comprises the majority of the personal library of Clarence John Laughlin (d. 1985). As such, it is a closed collection. However, reference materials are acquired to facilitate its use. In addition, when cataloging of the collection comes to completion, it may be appropriate to purchase materials complementary to the collection (for example to complete holdings of an author or illustrator) for the general RBC.

c. The Judge Warren L. Jones Lincoln Collection, Gladney Chess Collection, Judge Oliver P. Carriere Collection of Poker and Hoyle, and the Rendell Rhoades Crawfish Collection were all formed by the individuals whose names they bear. They are essentially closed collections, for which reference works are occasionally acquired.

B. Present Identified Weaknesses

The collection lacks some basic reference tools and resources (such as microfilm of 18th-century books) in the fields noted above, due to past levels of funding and staffing.

C. Desired Level of Collecting

Due to funding and staffing limitations, collecting must always be selective. The Hauer Rare Book Endowment will increasingly and significantly enhance acquisitions over the next several years. Although, due to the opportunistic nature of antiquarian book acquisitions, wide variations may occur within any given fiscal year, it is anticipated that funds will generally be allocated as follows: approximately 10 to 15% on reference and resource materials, 30% on antiquarian 18th-century materials, 20% on general antiquarian materials in other fields, and 20% on book arts. An additional 10 to 15% will be allocated for conservation work on materials already in the collections.

D. Forms of Material Collected

The RBC acquires primarily published materials. Manuscript materials are not generally sought, but may be acquired if they are of exceptional relevance to printed materials in the collection.

V. Cooperative Agreements Affecting the Collecting Policy

No formal cooperative agreements with other libraries are currently in effect. It is recognized that other institutions collect in the same or overlapping areas, and will seek to acquire the same rare resources for their own collections. In some cases, other institutions may be more appropriate repositories for rare materials. Opportunities to acquire such materials, as well as those not covered by the RBC development policy, will be referred to an appropriate repository. In cases where the legitimate collecting interests of the RBC and another repository directly conflict, the curator will use the best interest of the scholarly community as a criterion in pursuing a resolution.

VI. Statement of Resource Sharing Policy

The RBC curator will consider requests to microfilm, photocopy, or lend materials needed by other institutions, subject to specific limitations imposed by the terms of acquisition, and subject to the photoduplication policy of Special Collections.

VII. Statement of Deaccessioning Policy

Materials that do not fall within the collecting area of the RBC may be transferred to a more appropriate collection within the LSU Libraries or deaccessioned, subject to the terms of acquisition, University regulations, and state and federal laws.

VIII. Procedures Affecting Collecting Policy

A. Deed of Gift

The RBC will not accept materials without a legal transfer of title, deed of gift or deposit, or other official acknowledgment.

B. Deposits

The RBC does not ordinarily accept materials on deposit. However, materials deposited with the RBC will be accepted when the conditions for acceptance are favorable to the LSU Libraries, usually with the understanding that such materials will be donated at a later date. Materials on deposit will be properly housed but they will not be cataloged or otherwise processed. If materials are deposited, RBC will include as a part of the deposit agreement provisions for recovering storage costs for materials if they are later returned to the owner. Deposit agreements must be made in writing prior to acceptance.

C. Restricted Materials

The RBC will not accept materials that are not available to public access in perpetuity.

D. Deaccessioning

The RBC reserves the right to deaccession any materials within the collection, subject to the terms of acquisition, University regulations, and state and federal laws.

E. Exhibitions

The RBC reserves the right to include materials in exhibitions, in accordance with the normally accepted tenets of rare book librarianship.

F. Revision of Policies

The RBC reserves the right to change the preceding policies without notification to heirs of donors.

IX. Procedures for Monitoring Development and Reviewing Collection Development Guidelines

This collecting policy is designed to meet the goals of the LSU Libraries, the Special Collections division, and the RBC. On an annual basis, this policy will be reviewed, evaluated, and changed as necessary to meet these goals. The annual report of the RBC will be used as a source of information for this review, with collateral information being drawn from user surveys, budget information, faculty interviews, and other similar relevant information compiled by the curator.

Prepared: January 15, 1998