Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Arthur Schlesinger Jr.'s Library

There's an article in the Chronicle of Higher Education this week about the personal library of Arthur Schlesinger Jr. (this link should work for a few days; the permanent link for subscribers is here). Andrea Foster reports on the interesting journey of Schlesinger's 13,000-volume library from the historian's Manhattan apartment to a South Boston warehouse and then back to CUNY's Graduate Center in New York.

John Wronoski of Cambridge's Lame Duck Books retrieved several hundred of the books last summer to sell on consignment, and had another bunch shipped to Boston for storage until a colleague of Schlesinger's at the CUNY Graduate Institute, David Nasaw, arranged for their acquisition by the city university library system. In December the books (in 400 boxes weighing 50 pounds apiece) returned to New York City. Now the CUNY librarians are going through the collection to determine which titles they'll keep - unfortunately the books will not be kept as a discrete collection but will be used to replace existing copies ... if they're kept at all. Foster notes "The books that nobody wants will probably be offered for sale on the campus ... or given to an online book dealer who supports literacy programs worldwide."

I'm going to do some checking around just to see if some sort of inventory of the collection was created - Schlesinger's collection would make a fascinating one for LT, and it's a real shame to see it so mercilessly divvied up like this. Nonetheless, quite a neat story of a man and his books; I recommend it.


Tim said...

Can we intervene somehow—ask them to let us catalog it?

JBD said...

Sounds like it might be too late. I heard back from Prof. Nasaw this afternoon, he said there wasn't a list, but suggested I email the librarian, which I have done. Hopefully I'll hear back from her.