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Rare Book & Manuscript Library
Summer 2016 RBML "E-News"
In this issue:
Valerie Hotchkiss Departs RBML to become University Librarian at Vanderbilt University
Valerie Hotchkiss, Andrew Turyn Endowed Professor & Director of the Rare Book & Manuscript Library The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign 
Valerie greeted many distinguished visitors during her time at the RBML. 

Dear RBML Newsletter Readers,

I am writing to say farewell.  On August 1, 2016, I will take up a new position as University Librarian at Vanderbilt University.

I came to Illinois nearly 11 years ago, eager for a challenge and ready to roll up my sleeves and work. Our magnificent collections inspired us to accomplish a great deal. We have cataloged over 80,000 rare books, rendering them accessible for the first time and making wonderful discoveries along the way. We have renovated our public spaces and our vault, bringing the latter up to museum-quality standards. We have been aggressive in our acquisitions with such impressive additions as the Gwendolyn Brooks papers and other modern poetry holdings, numerous incunabula, including our first Hebrew 15th-century book, monuments of scientific publishing, scores of Marcel Proust letters, and significant acquisitions in theatre history, geology, mathematics, cooking, and economics, to name just a few of the areas we have strengthened and deepened.

We have also organized and curated over 50 exhibitions, hosted over 350 public events, and served thousands of students, faculty, and researchers. RBML is a teaching library in two senses: we collaborate with faculty on about 200 classes each year; and we are educating the next generation of special collections librarians through intense apprenticeship programs.

These achievements would have been impossible without the support of our benefactors. Very little state funding comes to special collections, and what little we had has been reduced in recent years.  We are doubly grateful, therefore, for your unfailing support—both moral and financial—over the years. Thanks to your support and to the work of everyone in The Rare Book & Manuscript Library, we can truly claim to be No. 1 in the Big Ten, at least in the area of special collections!

It has been a privilege (and a joy!) to work with these great collections and with the wonderful staff of The Rare Book & Manuscript Library. Thank you, and farewell.

 -Valerie Hotchkiss

The Rare Book & Manuscript Library Welcomes Travis McDade as the New Interim Director
Travis McDade 

We welcome Travis McDade, who has been appointed Interim Director of the Rare Book & Manuscript Library. Travis comes to us from the Law Library, where he has served as Curator of Law Rare Books since 2004. Travis is an authority on the history of book theft—so we assume that the RBML’s security is in good hands!

Travis received his J.D. from Case Western Reserve University and his M.S.L.I.S. from the University of Illinois. He is the country’s foremost expert on crimes against rare books, maps, documents, and other printed cultural heritage resources. His first book on the subject, The Book Thief: The True Crimes of Daniel Spiegelman, highlighted the federal judicial recognition of books as cultural objects whose value cannot be adequately captured by market price. His second book, published by Oxford University Press, is called Thieves of Book Row: New York’s Most Notorious Rare Book Ring and the Man Who Ended It. It concerns the Depression-era theft ring operating out of lower Manhattan that pillaged libraries throughout the northeast. His most recent book, Disappearing Ink, details the decade-long looting of the special collections at Kenyon College, and its legal aftermath.

Travis also teaches Legal Research at the College of Law and Rare Books and Crime & Punishment at the Graduate School of Library and Information Science.

Welcome, Travis!!

Dennis Sears Retires - from all Six of His Jobs at RBML!
Dennis Sears 

The Rare Book & Manuscript Library said goodbye to one of its greats at the end of April.  Dennis Sears retired on April 30, 2016. Dennis was an amazing colleague.  He served as our public programs manager, registrar, rights and reproduction specialist, and exhibition and conservation coordinator. In addition, Dennis was an expert and curatorial consultant for our collections of Carl Sandburg, H.G. Wells, the Spanish Civil War, modern poetry, and radical literature. He was not a single staff member, but a one-man band who made many areas of RBML hum harmoniously. Dennis was also the person who made sure our visiting scholars from around the world received the best possible hospitality and research help.  His name appears in the acknowledgments of dozens of books from distinguished presses, and the RBML’s mailbox has received a steady stream of thank you notes each year in appreciation for the extra mile that Dennis always went to answer questions or provide images. We can never fill his shoes (that would take an octopus!), but we know that our readers, like all of us at the RBML, wish him a long, happy, healthy, and exciting retirement.

Undergrads Devise Their Own Semester of Discoveries
Undergraduate Chemical Engineering students 
Undergraduate Chemical Engineering students 

Undergraduate Chemical Engineering student Anesh Mohan and his friends, Nicholas Cantanvespi and Regev Trigalo spent every Monday during Spring semester in our Reading Room, pulling up treasures from our vaults or having the thrill of seeing new acquisitions as soon as they arrived.  The students enjoyed the history of engineering and science books, of course, but their tastes were eclectic and open.  We are proud of these undergrads for expanding their intellectual horizons—and serving as charming ambassadors for the Library.

Important Proust Acquisition at Recent Paris Auction
Proust letter 
Proust letter 

RBML was fortunate enough to acquire several valuable unpublished letters of Marcel Proust at an important auction in Paris this past May. Letters to his lifelong friend Lucien Daudet reveal a mix of personal considerations and insights in his writing process, as when Proust comments at length on a list of cake names supplied by Daudet, which he will use for a well-known essay on reading, and later, in Swann’s Way. Our winning bids also included rather scarce letters addressed to Proust by his brother Robert, his friend Georges de Lauris, and Jacques Copeau, a leading stage director and literary critic who played an active role in the publication of Proust’s novel. This important addition to our Proust collection was made possible through the generous support of the Library Friends.

Summer Exhibition Celebrates the 500th Anniversary of Erasmus's "New Testament"
Exhibition Closes on August 6th
title page to Erasmus's 1516 New Testament 
Title page; "Nouum instrumentum omne" (Basel: 1516) 

Erasmus’ contemporaries called him the best of teachers, the prince of humanists, and the most learned of men. His first edition of the Greek New Testament, published 500 years ago this year, changed Christianity forever. Martin Luther used it for his German translation and William Tyndall used it for his English version. Indeed, the text had an enormous impact on Biblical scholarship in general. The RBML exhibition is curated by the former Director of the University of Illinois Press, Willis Goth Regier, and features the major works of Erasmus's long career, including the two most important editions of his New Testament, those from 1516 and 1519.          

Upcoming Fall Exhibit: "H. G. Wells, Time Traveler"
Exhibition Opens on September 21st

No writer is more renowned for his ability to foresee the future than H. G. Wells. His writing foresaw the airplane, the tank, space travel, the atomic bomb, and the world wide web; his fantastic fiction imagined time travel, flights to the moon, alien invasion, and human beings with the powers of gods. Wells’s political writing argued for an end to war through the creation of a World State; at the height of his fame Wells was one of the world’s most significant public intellectuals, and, towards the end of his career, he became increasingly interested in universal human rights.

The RBML’s H. G. Wells holdings constitute one of the most significant literary archives in the world: this exhibition will use the Illinois collection to show Wells as a writer and thinker of global importance.

Website Redesign Underway - Stay Tuned!

The RBML staff has been busy all semester redesigning and rewriting our website. We will unveil a new, streamlined and useful web presence by the end of August.  When you see it, please feel free to offer comments.  We want to make it as helpful as possible for you.

Fall 2016 Events
  • September 21st, 3 p.m. in the RBML
    "H.G. Wells: Discoverer of the Future" a talk by Simon James, Professor of English Studies and Head of Department, at English Studies, Durham University.

    James is one of the world’s leading H. G. Wells scholars, and has edited for print publication five of Wells’s novels.  His much acclaimed monograph Maps of Utopia: H. G. Wells, Modernity and the End of Culture (OUP, 2012) was the first full-length study of Wells’s aesthetics. James is also a former editor of The Wellsian and the author of numerous books and articles on nineteenth- and early twentieth-century literature.

  • October 5th, 3 p.m. in the RBML
    “English Color Printing,” a talk by Joan Friedman, Treasurer of the Rare Book School, University of Virginia and member of the Council of the Bibliographic Society of America.

    Friedman is an expert on British printing. She was the curator of Color Printing in England, 1486-1870: An Exhibition at the Yale Center for British Art and the author of the accompanying book by the same title. 

  • November 2nd, 3 p.m. in the RBML
    "Trivial Pursuit for Medieval Monks: Bible Edition," a talk by Charlie Wright, Professor of English at the University of Illinois.

    Wright is the author of The Irish Tradition in Old English Literature as well as numerous articles on Anglo-Saxon, Hiberno-Latin, Manuscript Studies, and Apocrypha.

  • December 7th, 3 p.m. in the RBML
    Holiday Party/Book Brag

    Bring a book from your collection –with a proper exhibition label, please!  and enjoy some holiday cheer as we regale one another with tales of the bibliographic chase.