Special Collections and University Archives serves as the main repository for collections of rare books at the Rutgers University Libraries1. This administrative unit manages a modest rare book fund from which it purchases items that complement its collections. (See: Addendum A). In addition, some other collections may periodically be enriched by subsequent rare purchases and/or gifts. Generally speaking, these items are accorded rare book treatment when they are expensive, when their demand exceeds their supply, when the information they contain is unavailable elsewhere and of general scarcity in this form. Gifts and purchases become candidates for rare book treatment according to the following criteria, some of which can be determined in consultation between the bibliographer and the rare book librarian, and others at the discretion of the rare book librarian, alone.
It should be noted that, since artifactual value is not fixed, items that are badly damaged or present other countervailing conservation problems may be precluded from receiving rare book treatment.
COST: Materials costing or valued at more than $500 per volume.
EDITION:Limited editions of 500 copies or fewer. First appearance in book form of collected literary writers; also, seminal theoretical or critical studies, when deemed of sufficient cultural value and actual scarcity.
Unusual Formats: manuscript books and sheets, broadsides, miniature books, artists' books, etc., having a demonstrable relevance to scholarly communication, New Jersey, or the Rutgers community.
Distinctive elements: Items containing historically significant, scarce and exemplary elements such as are enumerated and described by the Bibliographic Standards Committee of the Rare Book and Manuscripts Section (ACRL/ALA), such as bindings, illustrations, typography, and paper. In accordance with the principles underwriting their published thesauri, an item will be qualified for rare book treatment for the following reasons. If its binding is unique and distinctive, or an edition binding of note--widely regarded or studied; if its illustrations are printed in limited quantity, exemplify an historically important print technology, or possess extraordinary artistic worth (e.g. prints by artists); if its typography is the work of a historically interesting press or typographer, or of extraordinary singularity; if its writing surface is unusual, noteworthy, or valuable (i.e. vellum, fabric, wood, metal, certain hand-made papers).
DATE: Date of imprint reflects the latest date of what the Library of Congress considers 'early printing' for a particular geographical location: through 1600 for continental Europe, 1640 in Great Britain, and 1700 in Latin America. Because printing spread gradually in the United States with westward expansion occurring over a long period of time, dates will differ from region to region, and state to state. All American imprints should be considered for given rare book treatment if printed before 1820; materials published in the Midwest may be considered if printed before 1860. Materials printed in some southwestern states as late as 1875 may still be considered as 'early printed,' a cut-off that moves upward to 1890 for some northwestern states: all of these 'early printed' materials are candidates for rare book treatment and inclusion into Special Collections and University Archives. Because of Rutgers nationally recognized commitment to Jerseyana, books printed in New Jersey before 1850 will be given rare book treatment. (See: Addendum B for a more detailed examination of the date parameters of early printing.)
ASSOCIATION COPIES and INSCRIPTIONS: Items from the libraries of notable persons (significant or understudied writers, artists, printers, publishers, collectors, scholars or notable historical figures) that bear manuscript notations. Also, items containing unique genealogical information. Items signed by collectable or important authors, or containing ownership stamps or manuscript marks deemed significant enough to record in a catalog record or other finding aid, and to preserve.
Final report of the Rare Books Collection Development Policy Statement subcommittee.
May 14, 1993
Joseph P. Consoli (chair)
Charlene Shults Edited 1996-09-09
Amendments suggested by Michael Joseph, June 20, 2003; February, 2006
The following is a global division based upon the spread of printing. The date beside the geographical region represents the conventionally accepted end date of early printing in that region. Early printed books should be given rare book treatment. (For books printed in New Jersey, prefer Part 1 of document.)
Continental Europe through 1600 Great Britain 1640 Canada 1850 Latin America 1700 West Indies 1820 Alabama 1840 Alaska 1840 Arizona 1890 Arkansas 1870 California 1875 Colorado 1876 Connecticut 1820 Delaware 1820 Florida 1860 Georgia 1820 Hawaii 1860 Idaho 1890 Illinois (but Chicago 1871) 1858 Indiana 1850 Iowa 1860 Kansas 1875 Kentucky 1830 Louisiana 1840 Maine 1820 Maryland 1820 Mass. 1820 Michigan 1850 Minnesota 1865 Mississippi 1840 Missouri 1850 Montana 1890 Nebraska 1875 Nevada 1890 New Hampshire 1820 New Mexico 1875 New York (N.Y.) 1820 New York 1830 North Carolina 1820 North Dakota 1890 Ohio 1840 Oklahoma 1870 Oregon 1875 Pa. (outside of Phila.) 1830 Philadelphia (Pa.) 1820 Rhode Island 1820 South Carolina 1820 South Dakota 1890 Tennessee 1840 Texas 1860 Utah 1890 Vermont 1820 Virginia 1820 Washington (state) 1880 Washington, D.C. 1820 West Virginia 1830 Wisconsin 1850 Wyoming 1890 Confederate imprints (1861-1865 for the following) Alabama Arkansas Florida Georgia Kentucky Louisiana Mississippi North Carolina South Carolina Tennessee Texas Virginia
1 There is a collection of facsimiles of manuscripts, and some authentic manuscripts, in the Music Library, in New Brunswick, and the Art Library manages a collection of rare books pertaining to art. At the Dana Library in Newark, the Institute for Jazz studies includes a large archive of many kinds of rare and unique items. The Dana Library also houses rare books pertaining to the history and material culture of Newark in its rare book room, and many valuable wall-works including graphic art, to which it adds from time to time. Besides the library budgets spent on acquiring rare books by Special Collections librarians, there are budgets for collecting valuable early printed books (which are housed and processed in Special Collections), to support Medieval and Renaissance studies managed outside of the department.