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Photo essay: Exploring the Special Collections archive


Photos by Zeynab Ghandour

Special Collections is an archival section of the University of Iowa Main Library, located on the third floor and open to students and the public. The goal of Special Collections is to create a bridge between a library and a museum, a place where visitors can interact with the media. Little Village photo intern Zeynab Ghandour recently visited the library department with her Introduction to Printmaking class.

Special Collections includes the Iowa Women’s Archives, Dada International Archive and The Hevelin Science Fiction Collection.

With over 200,000 books ranging from books from the 15th Century to contemporary books, Special Collections focuses on collecting a wide range of historical and contemporary books. They have a wide collection of culinary and contemporary artists’ books (1960’s-present) along with different types of binding, letters, diaries, maps and zines. -— photo by Zeynab Ghandour
With over 200,000 books ranging from books from the 15th Century to contemporary books, Special Collections focuses on collecting a wide range of historical and contemporary books. They have a wide collection of culinary and contemporary artists’ books (1960’s-present) along with different types of binding, letters, diaries, maps and zines.– photo by Zeynab Ghandour
One of Special Collections’ most famous collected books is The Nuremberg Chronicle, which is a book from 1493, and one of the first books that combined text with illustrations. All the text and illustrations were done by individually carving into wood and printing with ink, a type of printmaking called relief printing. -—  photo by Zeynab Ghandour
One of Special Collections’ most famous collected books is The Nuremberg Chronicle, published in 1493, which is one of the first books to combine text with illustrations. All the text and illustrations were done by individually carving into wood and printing with ink — a type of printmaking called relief printing. — photo by Zeynab Ghandour
Colleen Theisen, one of the librarians working in Special Collections, works on coordinating class sections that visit the archive. Many of the books the Special Collections team chooses to buy are based on the university classes and the materials that are being covered. — photo by Zeynab Ghandour
Colleen Theisen, one of the librarians working in Special Collections, works on coordinating class sections that visit the archive. Many of the books the Special Collections team chooses to buy are based on the materials covered in university classes. — photo by Zeynab Ghandour
Colleen Theisen unravels The Bad Sparrow, a scroll printed by Jessica White at the University of Iowa Center for the Book. — photo by Zeynab Ghandour
Colleen Theisen unravels The Bad Sparrow, a scroll printed by Jessica White at the University of Iowa Center for the Book. — photo by Zeynab Ghandour
Although Special Collections’ focus is to allow access to historical and contemporary books (as many of the books were intended), they start to take on damage. An ongoing dilemma is finding a balance between access and safety. -— photo by Zeynab Ghandour
Although Special Collections’ focus is to allow access to historical and contemporary books (as many of the books were intended), they start to take on damage. An ongoing dilemma is finding a balance between access and preservation. — photo by Zeynab Ghandour

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