A&M joins rare books world as major player
COLLEGE STATION — Most of t he 4 million volumes in the Texas A&M University Libraries are readily available to students, faculty and staff on campus and elsewhere, but a g row ing number of book are quite rare. These volumes attract scholars and researchers from throughout the nation — a nd requ ire specia l ha ndling.
Such is the two-volume acquisition that prompted Nicholas Basbanes, an award-winning author, jour nalist and rarebooks specialists to declare the university has joined the rare books world as a major player.
Basbanes spoke at Texas A&M’s celebration of its 4 millionth volume, which focused on what he called “the exceedingly rare copy” of the almost 400-year-old Barcelona edition of Don Quixote de la Mancha by Miguel de Cervantes. The 1617 edition is the first to include both parts of Don which Basbanes describes as “the world’s most consequential work of fiction.”
The two-volume Don Quixote joins a growing array of special collections in the Cushing Memorial Library and Archives. The elegantly renovated Cushing Library initially housed all the university’s holdings but is now dwarfed by the adjacent and massive Sterling C. Evans Library, where most of the general collections are found.
“In addition to the splendid rare book holdings, the Cushing Library houses both the written and visual history of the university from its very beginnings in 1876 as the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas,” explained David Chapman, director of the Cushing Library. The collections there reflect the university’s diversity of interests and strengths dating back through its early history.