Some of you may have had the opportunity to visit Special Collections and see an exhibit in person. I’ve also posted photographs from a culinary-related exhibit or event on the blog before. If you’re lucky, you may have also had a chance to come behind-the-scenes and see parts of the collection in its natural habitat. Once in a while, we have visitors who ask “can I see the culinary collection?” It certainly won’t fit in the reading room, but if that question really means “can I see the books the shelf?” I’m usually happy to oblige. Although our goals here are about preservation, they are also about access. While you can’t hang out in our closed stacks to browse, a guided tour of Special Collections is a great way to better understand what we do and how we do it. This week, I’ve put together a slide show mini-tour of the History of Food & Drink Collection, in case you’re curious to see books and boxes on shelves. 🙂
Our rare book collection is cataloged according to Library of Congress Call Numbers. Most (but not all) materials in the TX sections from about the 600’s to the 900’s. We further divide books based on size, in order to maximize shelf space. We have “small” books (under 22cm), “large” books (22-28cm), and folio books (over 28 cm). Our manuscript collections are assigned a number based on the year in which they are processed. Currently, manuscripts are housed in various places in the department, but we’re in the midst of a reorganization that will help us find things more easily. That being said, let’s take a short “walk!”
If you’re in the area and would like the behind-the-scenes tour in person, let us know. We’re always happy to share our materials, whether it’s culinary history, or one of the other areas in which we collect!