Of all of mankind’s diverse tools, undoubtedly the most astonishing are his books. All the others are extensions of the body.

Jorge Luis Borges

As John Hill Burton noted in The Book-Hunter (1862), “A great library cannot be constructed–it is the growth of ages.” When Carleton College (then Northfield College) admitted its first 23 students in 1867, it offered two learning tracks–Classical and English–and had a library collection of 375 volumes. Now at the beginning of the twenty-first century the College has 1,800 students, more than 20 departments, and a library collection of nearly one million volumes.

The original core collections of most great libraries in the world owe their existence to the efforts of one or more dedicated collectors, who assembled remarkable private collections, which they then bequeathed to a public institution. By contrast, the library at Carleton College has developed from the very beginning as a community effort to underpin the curriculum and, thus, to meet the educational needs of the students. During the past century, however, several noteworthy collections were given to the library to enhance its general holdings: the Warming Collection of Botanical Books, the McGregor Collection of Early Americana, the Donald Beaty Bloch Collection of Western Americana, and the Thomas B. Morgan Collection of Ernest Hemingway First Editions. In addition to these larger collections, the Gould Library has been fortunate to receive generous gifts from trustees, professors, students past and present, friends, and foundations. All of these books help to supplement a collection that enriches and will continue to enrich the intellectual life of the entire community.

The present exhibition highlights some of the gifts which the Gould Library has added to its collection over the past 70 years. Though only a small sample, it is representative of the range of subjects and of the types of books that have been donated.

J. Roger Paas

Professor of German
Guest Curator