Friday, April 14, 2017

This week on Bucks on the Bookshelf: this man's collection barks up all the best trees.


If titles make the man, then Gerald P. Gaidmore- his friends call him Jay- is a very grand fellow indeed. Bucks on the Bookshelf host Steven Eisenstein welcomes him to the April 15 program wearing his cap and academicals as the Marian and Alan McLeod Director of Special Collections at the Special Collections Research Center in the Earl Gregg Swem Library at The College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia.

Jay Gaidmore joined the library on July 1, 2013. In that post, his duties include managing three major collections, Rare Books, Manuscripts, and the University Archives (among the more fun corners are collections of fore-edge art, dog books, and hip hop!)

His primary responsibilities are collection development, outreach, fundraising and stewardship, and administration. Previously, he served as the manuscripts curator at the Library of Virginia, the University Archivist at Brown University, and the head of University Archives and Records Management Services at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

“I started out in my career as an archivist and manuscripts curator, but my interest in rare books was kindled while working as the University Archivist in the John Hay Library at Brown University, with its amazing collection of incunabula, a near perfect set of Audubon’s Birds of America, and many other significant rare books. One of the reasons I was so interested and excited to come to Swem Library was to be more involved with rare books and the full spectrum of special collections,” he told Fine Books & Collections’ “Bright Young Librarians” column in 2015.

Among Gaidmore’s personal favorites, two books are top of the pops:

Swem Library has a first edition of the Book of Mormon, which is regularly visited by missionaries in the area, and a first edition of Isaac Newton’s Principia, which is annotated in Latin by an as yet unidentified person.

He says also, “I collect through my work. It is much cheaper personally that way.”

He moved to Virginia from New Hampshire in 1995 to get his M.A. in History from Old Dominion University in Norfolk. He received his degree in 1999, writing his thesis on the Virginia Conservative Party of the 1960’s, using extensively the 20th century political papers at Swem Library. He then went to the University of South Carolina in Columbia for his MLIS, specializing in digital libraries and digital preservation.

While Gaidmore will always consider himself an archivist, his position as a director of special collections has given him the opportunity to explore and appreciate the book as a physical object and share the history of the book with students who have grown up in a digital world:

The future of special collection is brighter than ever. Not only do special collections preserve and make accessible the primary sources for research, but with every library, with the right resources of course, having the ability to get access the same e-books, e-journals, and databases, it is the rare and unique materials that differentiate one library from the next. Administrators are realizing this and are devoting much-needed resources to these areas of the library.

Also, with more and more information being available digitally, special collections librarians have an important role to play in promoting the book as an artifact and that books are so much more than the information they contain.

Bucks on the Bookshelf can be heard at and, noon-2 p.m. EST with repeats at 8-10 a.m. EST Sundays; and 2-4 a.m EST, Mondays.

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