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The Archives and Collections of the B. Davis Schwartz Memorial Library

By Pete Barell
Arts and Entertainment Editor

Special Collections 1-1
Rare books included in the library’s Special Collections

The Archives and Special Collections located in room 345 (second floor) of LIU Post’s B. Davis Schwartz Memorial Library serves as a large, dynamic resource for students, faculty, and the public. With more than 35 distinguished rare book and archival collections, from books, manuscripts, and journals, to photographs, drawings, and posters, a great deal of history can be found. Senior Library Assistant and Juvenile Collection Curator, Jarron Jewell, spoke about the Special Collections mission.

“We have a mandate to serve the academic community, but special collections also serve the local community in a very special way,” said Jewell. “We have a lot of patrons from the local community that come and use the collections.” Jewell works closely with Special Collections Secretary Heather Hesse and under Valeda F. Dent, Dean of University Libraries.

“Everybody says ‘oh, all the rare books are in special collections! Those old, musty books,” said Jewell. “But in fact, special collections
is a very dynamic place.” The majority of materials are from an accumulation of donations from the collections of generous individuals, as well as directly from the school, like every issue of The Pioneer newspaper and the Opticon yearbook ever printed.

“It’s not a museum,” continued Jewell. “We are continually taking in new materials that are donations either in individual items or [as] collections. We exhibit. We can share in exhibitions. We do presentations. We collaborate in classroom activities with different disciplines, like graduate interns.”

Most interns are from the Palmer School of Library and Information Science, part of the LIU network, with courses at LIU Post, Brentwood, and NYU’s Bobst Library, as well as online. “I train [these students] throughout the semester, and then they go off to become archivists or librarians,” explained Jewell. Interns develop hands-on learning, caring for new materials, digitizing the collection, and working with Jewell and Hesse in expansions.

Vintage posters preserved in Special Collections
Vintage posters preserved in Special Collections

The American Juvenile Collection, which Jewell directly manages, houses thousands of research materials, such as illustrations, photographs, correspondences, and first edition copies of 20th century children’s books. Jewell stressed the importance of preserving materials within a historical context, and that one may be hard-pressed to find the same books they read as a child in a modern bookstore. “If you went back now, unless it’s a longtime classic, you wouldn’t find [the same] book now, because children’s books turn over very quickly these days. They’re harder to find,” she said.

“[The collection is] tremendously great for deep research,” said Jewell. “Last year we got an additional 1,500 book donation from [the] Suffolk County Library Association, and two retired librarians who were curating our collection. Now we are building a 20th century collection of children’s books [with those contributions].”

Another collection is the Original Movie Poster Research Collection, composed of some 6,000 posters, mostly from the years between 1940 and 1962. The posters were hung in theaters, and are exhibited on a yearly basis. “We have a lot of activity with the movie posters,” said Jewell. Graphic art students are often given assignments to design their own movie posters, and reference the collection to inform their work. Displays are currently held in the hall outside of Special Collection, showcasing Shocktober Thrillers like “The Werewolf” (1956) and “The Pit and the Pendulum” (1961).

Other highlights from the Special Collections include the Archives of George Bernard Shaw Theatre Programs, the Joan and John Digby Private Press Collections, the Cedar Swamp Historical Society Collection, the Winthrop Palmer French and Irish Literature Collection, the Karl Otto Paetel Beat Generation Collection, the Theodore Roosevelt Association Collection, and more.

There are necessary restrictions for those who wish to view materials, including a policy of only being able to view them in the Rare Book Room under departmental regulations. A phone or email ahead of time is advised. “It is an area where you can’t take materials out,” said Jewell. “It’s called closed stacks, downstairs [in the main library] they’re open stacks. Here you come and we have a reading room. That’s where people do their research.”

For more information, Jewell can be reached at at 516-299-3407, or at her email jarron.jewell@liu.ediu to schedule an appointment.

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