Rare books divisions in some American libraries

In this report, compiled in February 1979, following a one month tour of the United States, are described more than a dozen important rare books divisions belonging to large libraries in Chicago, Cambridge, Boston, New Haven, New York and Washington. These Divisions reflect in their nature and structure the diversity of the institutions in which they are located, mostly private institutions. The report is centered on printed documents and enlightens some aspects such as acquisition criteria and methods, cataloguing and classification systems, specialized catalogs, readers services. Some information is also given about preservation and about specialized courses at Yale and Columbia. It is of special interest to note that in each library, there is a central sector which is developped: acquisition procedures and a mutual awareness of collections, together with numerous publications, enable opportune purchases. Moreover, adequate maintenance of files, particularly of the shelf-list, gives a good overall knowledge of collections. In most cases, buildings, materials and conditions are adapted to the collections. All preservation problems are examined from a mass viewpoint, leading to prompt and positive results, for example the use of non-acid materials or special cases for precious bindings and folders of loose leaves. In these divisions, due to a certain number of difficulties, automated cataloguing is not yet implemented