Welsh rare books arrive in SCOLAR
18 May 2010
A collection of Welsh rare books, secured by the University, has arrived in SCOLAR (Special Collections and Archives).
The collection of 14,000 rare and antiquarian books, which includes 175 incunabula (the earliest printed books from around 1500), around 500 rare Bibles, a comprehensive range of Restoration and Quarto drama volumes, 19th and 20th century British private presses and a rare set of early Shakespeare works, was transferred in mid-May to SCOLAR's centre in the Arts and Social Studies Library.
The works in the collection are currently being processed and prioritised for cataloguing, and titles are available to view by prior arrangement. Processing the collection is a time-consuming process due to the fragile nature of the works, and involves inserting paper slips with a brief title and date into each book. This will help to protect the collection from damage through excessive handling, and will also help to locate the items in the future as the spines of books of this age and condition very rarely feature their titles.
Janet Peters, Director of University Libraries, said: "The collection is a unique resource for researchers and students, as it features many items that are almost certainly not held in any other library collection worldwide. The collection will, I am sure, also inspire interest from the local community here in Cardiff and further afield.
"The complexities of dealing with a collection of this size and age are such that we are having to ask users to be patient and make prior arrangements to view the items", continued Janet. "We are eager to make as much of the collection available as soon as possible, but a degree of conservation work is first required, to ensure that this valuable collection will be safeguarded into the future."
Such is the academic and historical significance of the collection that, in time, digitised versions of some of the most interesting works will be accessible online. The SCOLAR team also plans to hold a series of exhibitions featuring some of the key works from the collection to increase its visibility and availability.