Rakow Library Collections: Out in the World

One of the fun things about working at a library with unusual collections is that you are continually surprised, delighted, and enlightened by discoveries you make in the stacks. Just the other day, while investigating the history of pipe making, we found some 1970s trade catalogs from a pipe distributor in Buffalo, NY. The groovy vibe made us smile and the catalogs provided a fascinating glimpse into pipe history.

Midtown Distributing Co. (Buffalo, NY). Wholesale Catalogue, 1973.  CMGL 125644

While we love discovering more about our collections, we also work to share them as widely as possible with everyone who wants to know more about glass. To that end, we are continually looking for new ways to make our collections more accessible.

Around the same time those groovy pipes catalogs were published, the Rakow Library became the first museum library in the United States to join the Online Computer Library Center (OCLC), a collaborative project to collect the holdings of libraries worldwide, so that libraries could more easily share information about their collections. Libraries rely upon OCLC’s vast “catalog of library catalogs” to borrow and lend materials between libraries on behalf of library users. Anyone with access to the web can also search OCLC, through its public interface, WorldCat.

And today, you will find more of our rare and special holdings than ever in WorldCat, thanks to a recent project to add over a hundred thousand more Rakow Library records to OCLC, including information about our prints and drawings, auction catalogs, photographs, ephemera, trade catalogs, and more. WorldCat records are also discoverable through Google searches, making it even more likely that people around the world can join us in discovering the surprising, delightful, and enlightening materials in the Rakow Library collections.

Here are a few gems from our trade catalog collection, now shared in WorldCat.

  • If you are searching for information on early lighting, you will find this colorful catalog on Mazda lamps from General Electric (1939) with images of products as well as photographs of installed lighting fixtures. One of the great things about searching in WorldCat is seeing all of the different libraries with materials on your topic. For example, along with our trade catalog on Mazda lamps, you will find a booklet held by the University of Chicago, also from 1939, that describes the engineering involved in creating these bulbs. http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/1304863329
  • Interested in more perfume bottles? This wholesale catalog from Apothecaries Hall Company entitled Christmas Gift Suggestions (1941) entices stores to use this catalog to “make of your store a bright center of Christmas activity” in “this uncertain world.” My favorite page shows perfume bottles from Coty displayed in fun displays, like the mini-Ferris Wheel with five rotating bottles. http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/1304854318
Wale Apparatus Co., Inc. (Hellertown, PA). Artistic Glassworking Equipment and Supplies, 2004. CMGL 79552

This blog post was co-authored by Regan Brumagen, Manager of Reference and Access Services, and Lori Fuller, Manager of Library Collections and Discovery Services. Both Regan and Lori work at The Rakow Research Library. If you have questions about the Rakow’s collections, you can contact them and the rest of the Library staff through Ask a Glass Question!

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