NEH Funds Columbia University Libraries Project to Study the Burke Library Rare Book Space
NEW YORK, July 13, 2010 –

The National Endowment for the Humanities has awarded Columbia University Libraries $35,900 for a planning project to analyze and recommend improvements the rare book and special collections area of the The Burke Library at Union Theological Seminary. This project focuses on the library's Brown Tower, which houses ca. 200,700 rare books and over 4,500 linear feet of archives.


Erected a century ago, Brown Tower was never designed to provide archival-quality environmental conditions for special collections. Important renovation work was carried out over the past decade thanks to generous funding from the Lilly Endowment, but the space does not yet meet national standards for rare books. The Libraries will engage Garrison & Lull Inc., respected experts on library and archival facilities, to analyze the current situation–construction of the building, maintenance practices, and equipment used for heating, ventilating, air-conditioning, and humidity control–and to make recommendations for improvements specific to the nature of the collections' materials.

"Scientific research has shown that housing books and documents at the recommended temperature and humidity can literally prolong their existence by centuries. Our project goal is to bring the Brown Tower conditions in line with national recommendations to provide the greatest possible protection for Burke's wonderful collection of irreplaceable books and manuscripts," said Janet Gertz, Director of the Libraries' Preservation and Digital Conversion Division.

The Burke Library at Union Theological Seminary is world renowned, containing rich collections for theological study and research with holdings of over 700,000 items including unique and special materials. Throughout its long history, the Burke Library has maintained its commitment to the needs of both teaching and research, serving the faculty, students, and staff of Union Theological Seminary and Columbia University, as well as a wide spectrum of national and international scholars and researchers.  For more information, please visit: /content/libraryweb/indiv/burke.html

Columbia University Libraries/Information Services is one of the top five academic research library systems in North America. The collections include over 10 million volumes, over 100,000 journals and serials, as well as extensive electronic resources, manuscripts, rare books, microforms, maps, graphic and audio-visual materials. The services and collections are organized into 22 libraries and various academic technology centers. The Libraries employs more than 550 professional and support staff. The website of the Libraries is the gateway to its services and resources: library.columbia.edu.  

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7/13/10 LMK