For immediate release | June 17, 2014

A landmark examination of rare books and special collections

CHICAGO — From cuneiform, coins and codices to prints, drawings, photographs and maps, departments of rare books and special collections are the premier repositories of significant printed and manuscript works and artifacts. Entrusted with the responsibility of preserving the records of history and culture, these institutions enable access to millions of source materials. “Rare Books and Special Collections,” published by ALA Neal-Schuman, offers a landmark examination of this field. Sidney E. Berger, a veteran of rare book and special collections, presents a meticulous and systematic understanding of this growing area, aimed at practitioners in the library field, instructors teaching courses on the subject, booksellers, private collectors, historians, bibliophiles and others involved in rare and unique materials. Showing readers everything they need to know about rare books and special collections, this wide-ranging book offers coverage of such key topics as:

  • the profession’s history and its relevance in the face of an increasingly digital world;
  • archives’ relationship to the special collections department and their role in the wider institution;
  • collection development, cataloging, processing, physical layout and other operational functions, with coverage of acquisition sources and methods;
  • what everyone needs to know about the physical materials in their care, including preservation, conservation and restoration, storage, handling and security;
  • reference and outreach services, including a look at exhibitions and tours;
  • fundraising and financial management;
  • legal and ethical issues;
  • forgeries, fakes, and facsimiles;
  • bibliography and its impact on the rare book world, including a look at booksellers, donors, and auctions;
  • the present state of books in our digital environment;
  • the vocabulary of the trade.

Berger is currently the Ann C. Pingree Director of the Phillips Library at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Mass. It is the third-largest library in an art museum in the United States. He is co-proprietor of the Doe Press, which hand-prints books of poetry and other works, some by Pulitzer Prize winners. Since 2002, he has been an English, Communications, and GSLIS professor at Simmons College in Boston, where he teaches Editing Copy and Proof, History of the Book and Rare Books and Special Collections Librarianship. He is also an adjunct professor in the Graduate School of Library and Information Science at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, and has published and lectured widely on literary, bibliographical, and library subjects.

ALA Store purchases fund advocacy, awareness and accreditation programs for library professionals worldwide. Founded in 1976 by Patricia Glass Schuman and John Vincent Neal, Neal-Schuman Publishers, now an imprint of ALA Publishing, publishes professional books for librarians, archivists, and knowledge managers. Contact us at (800) 545-2433 ext. 5052 or

Related Links

"Rare Books and Special Collections"

"Scribes, Script, and Books: The Book Arts from Antiquity to the Renaissance"

"Archives and Recordkeeping: Theory into Practice"


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