ARLIS/NA Collection Development SIG Blog

For ARLIS/NA members interested in collection development issues.


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Collection Development in two complimentary formats for Special Collections: print holdings and electronic resources / Susan Flanagan

Building special collections is always predicated on availability of resources, timing and funding. As materials come to market, a single library is able acquire a unique item or a few libraries may add a rare publication to their collections. These special resources allow a library to grow and develop into a valuable research collection.

With the advent of special collection electronic resources, more libraries are now able to offer rare collections to a wider audience. These resources may supplement an existing collection or open doors to a new topic or idea.

I’d like to share an example of an electronic collection recently acquired by the Getty Research Institute to complement our extensive print holdings in special collections on world’s fairs and expositions. By searching “world’s fairs” in our catalog Primo, users can now discover our print holdings, which include items from some of the following fairs:

Additionally the Primo results display the recently acquired database compiled by Adam Matthew Digital: World’s Fairs: a global history of expositions. Access to the database is available to on-site Readers, Getty Staff, and Visiting Scholars.

This database provides digital access to primary source material collated from thirteen archives in North America, the U.K., and France. Material includes pamphlets, guide books, official catalogues, periodicals, minutes, and correspondence. There is also a selection of visual material including maps, photographs, postcards, and illustrations.

Opening of the Great Exhibition, London, May 1, 1851. 1851.
© The Victoria and Albert Museum

While over 200 hundred fairs are represented, most material relates to the following fairs:

  • 1851 Great Exhibition, London
    • 1876 Philadelphia Centennial International Exhibition
    • 1889 Paris Exposition Universelle
    • 1893 Chicago World’s Columbian Exposition
    • 1904 Louisiana Purchase Exposition, St. Louis
    • 1915 Panama Pacific International Exposition, San Francisco
    • 1933/34 Chicago Century of Progress International Exposition
    • 1939/40 New York World’s Fair
    • 1967 Expo ’67 Montreal

By adding this database, we are now able to expand our coverage of world’s fairs and expositions.

Do you have similar examples to share with the group?

-Susan Flanagan, Collection Development Librarian for Electronic Resources (SFlanagan@getty.edu)