The Museum, the Books, the History

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There is a shelf in the Amon Carter Museum library. Upon this shelf rests the history of the museum in book form. Over 180 books representing almost fifty years of museum publishing history are now conveniently located for perusal. From the first exhibition catalog published in 1961 featuring Remington and Russell to the newest book from 2008 entitled The 100 Best Illustrated Letters of Charles M. Russell, the complete history of the museum lies before my very eyes.

But who am I, and why am I blogging for the library? Well, I’m a volunteer. It’s been my job for the past few months to bring this project together, and who knew it would be such a massive undertaking?

Under the guidance of library director Sam Duncan, I began to comb through the large bibliography of Amon Carter publications in order to determine which books the reading room lacked. The quest of locating staff willing to give up their copies in order for the library to have a comprehensive book set then began in earnest. (It was exciting to see the collection grow, slowly filling the space of four large shelves.)

Sam also wanted to make this special book collection more visible. So, he and archivist John Frembling moved the books to a more accessible shelf. Now the books are prominently displayed and shelved in order by publication year. It’s interesting to compare the subject matter as well as the number of books published per decade. I also enjoy comparing the graphic design of the early books to the more recent volumes.

I continue to work in Access on a bibliographic database that will eventually be available on the museum website. The data entry has been one of the more time consuming aspects of the project, as I systematically record the details of each book. I look forward to the day when my work will be accessible by museum staff and the public alike.

I hope you’ll come in and visit the library and explore the Amon Carter publication collection. Feel free to look through the books and make your own conclusions about museum exhibitions through the past five decades or make discoveries of your own. Maybe you’ll see someone, typing away on a laptop with big stacks of books piled around them. That will be me, Dana Harper, volunteer.

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