Just before the holiday break here at Virginia Tech, I received a large book donation from one person, an inquiry about another sizeable donation, and an email about a short list of four items. When I returned to my office early last week, there was a cart waiting for me with a box, a bag, and two more books. ALL of it was culinary related. I’m working my way through the large donation that was delivered in December (8 boxes of books!) and it’s reminded me to write post about acquisitions (though I promise to keep it short).
Here’s what the two carts outside my office currently look like (don’t even ask about the table in my office!), as I’m sorting and organizing:
There two main ways we acquire materials for the History of Food and Drink Collection (and, indeed all of our collecting areas): purchase and donation. (There’s a bit of transferring that goes on with university materials, but that’s a topic for another blog.) Our department receives an acquisitions budget from the library each year to spend on new materials. We also have a number of endowments, most of which are restricted to purchasing certain types of publications and collections. For example, you may not know that we have an endowment to support the acquisition of children’s cookbook and nutrition literature, established by Ann Hertzler in 2001. With it, we’ve been able to add more than 30 titles to the several hundred books donated by Ann Hertzler herself.
Which brings me to my point for today–donations are what we rely on, when it comes to new acquisitions! A budget only goes so far. In the last two years, we’ve done a bit of refocusing and I’ve talked about that in various ways before on the blog. But the main idea is that we’re moving away from thinking about types of materials and toward considering things thematically. We’re interested in a number of themes for the History of Food and Drink Collection: early American cookery; local/community cookery from Virginia and southern Appalachia; social, domestic and economic history; gender roles and relationships; household management; food preservation/technology; history of cocktails and entertaining; children’s cookbooks and nutrition; and materials that help document how people did and do interact with food (i.e., advertising pamphlets, ephemera, handwritten recipe books, and compiled recipe collections).
If you have something you might like to donate to the History of Food and Drink Collection (or one of our other collecting areas), I encourage you to contact Special Collections. We’d love to know what you have and see if it’s right for our collections. We do our best to add relevant books and manuscripts. However, space is always at a premium, so we try not to add second copies of publications we already have on our shelves. Some items may not quite fit in with our collecting policies. But that’s okay! We can also help you to find an institution that may be the better home, if that’s what you need.
I’ve written more generally about acquisition for Special Collections on our other blog, “In Special Collections @ Virginia Tech.” So, if you’re curious, you might want to check here. Or, post your query in the comments and I’ll reply. It’s what I’m here for!