New York State Grant Supports Columbia Libraries Preservation

NEW YORK, October 30, 2007 Columbia University Libraries has received a grant for $32,450 from the New York State Conservation Preservation Program for the New York State Coordinated Project to Create Custom-Fitted Boxes for Rare Books. The university libraries of Columbia (project sponsor), New York, Rochester, and Syracuse; the State Universities at Albany, Binghamton, Buffalo and Stony Brook; the New York Public Library, and the New York State Library will participate in the project.


The project will provide custom-fitted clamshell boxes constructed of archival-quality materials for 400 rare and special volumes. All of the titles to be preserved in this project come from special collections at the participating libraries. Columbia’s portion of the project will come from the Rare Book & Manuscript Library’s Book Arts collection. Representative titles include the Ashendene 1927 Don Quixote, the Plantin polyglot Bible (published in 1569-73), four works by Bodoni, a Virgil printed by Didot in 1798 and bound by Bozarian, another work printed by the Ashendene Press (a 1930 Thucydides), two works by the Bremer Presse of Germany, and the Oxford Lectern Bible printed by the Oxford University Press in 1935 to the design of Bruce Rogers.

“Not only are these works monuments in the history of fine printing –the Don Quixote and the Plantin polyglot Bible are considered by some to be the finest works by their respective presses, for example – but they are works of art,” said Janet Gertz, Director of the Preservation Division.

“These items are objects of study not only for their texts but for their bindings and other physical characteristics. Their intellectual as well as their financial value rests with their physical integrity, which the new boxes will help to preserve.”

Protective boxes provide a crucial means of preserving rare books by giving structural support and shielding volumes from light, pollutants, dust, and sudden temperature or humidity changes, further explained Gertz. The project will begin in November 2007 and run for one year.

Columbia University Libraries is one of the top ten academic library systems in the nation, with 9.2 million volumes, over 65,650 serials, as well as extensive collections of electronic resources, manuscripts, rare books, microforms, and other nonprint formats. The collections and services are organized into 25 libraries, supporting specific academic or professional disciplines. Columbia Libraries employs more than 400 professional and support staff to assist faculty, students, and researchers in their academic endeavors. The Libraries’ website at is a gateway to its print and electronic collections and to its services.