Five facts about the Rakow Library

Just over five months have passed since I joined the Rakow Research Library staff. As a glass newbie, I’ve learned a lot (and I mean a lot) about glass. But I’ve also learned a few key facts about the Library.

  1. We have more information on glass and glassmaking than one person could read, watch, or listen to in several lifetimes. The collection has grown from 500 items in 1951 to almost 500,000 items in 2014, including 75,000 books and periodicals, thousands of design drawings, archival collections, photographs, maps, databases, films, oral histories, and more.

    Take a peek at out secured stacks!

    Take a peek at our secured stacks!

  2. When the library first opened in 1951, we had two part-time employees. Today, we have more than 20 staff members working to collect, preserve, and provide access to our collections. Collectively, the current Library staff has over 350 years of experience working in libraries, archives, and museums.

    The Rakow Research Library in the 1950s.

    The Rakow Research Library in the 1950s

  3. The Library is named in honor of Juliette K. and Leonard S. Rakow, who were Museum Fellows, friends, and benefactors of the Museum. Rakow is pronounced “ray cow.” I know – that wasn’t my first guess either.
  4. We regularly assist researchers from all over the world, and have materials in 58 different languages, including Azerbaijani, Macedonian, Papuan, and Welsh. Our amazing bibliographer, Peter, speaks nine of those languages and is working on a tenth.

    We have materials about glass from all over the world, which we think is as cool as Josh Simpson's Megaplanet (2006.4.154)

    We have materials about glass from all over the world (Josh Simpson’s Megaplanet, 2006.4.154)

  5. Our collection spans hundreds of years. Our oldest item is the Mappae Clavicula – a recipe book from c.1150 that includes a recipe for making colored glass; our newest items include books and articles published this year.

    Page from the Mappae clavicula (72720)

    Page from the Mappae clavicula (72720)

Want to learn more? Stop by Monday-Friday, 9-5 — we’re free and open to the public. Can’t visit in person? Explore our library online or ask us a question.

Don’t forget to celebrate National Library Week next week, April 13-19. Visit your local library to check out something fun, join a program, or tell your librarians how much you appreciate them!