Kent Library houses SEMO’s Rare Book Collection

Updated: Oct. 21, 2020 at 6:17 PM CDT
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CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. (KFVS) - In Kent library, there is a room with a red leather couch and strict rules. It’s called the Rare Book Room, and inside books dating back to the late 1300s, in many different languages, are housed.

Where do these books come from? Librarian Roxanne Dunn said the collection started with one man’s donation.

“Charles Harrison, who was a pretty important benefactor to the college at the time. He was a private book collector and he had already made arrangements at that time to have his collections of rare books donated upon his death to campus,” she said.

She explained that some of the other “materials make their way into the rare book room. We jokingly say they age out of circulation.”

Just one section of books adds up to about $20 million.

Dunn said the books must be guarded and handled with care. “Our job for these materials, in terms of environmental control, is to keep the room cool and dry. The other thing we really do is make sure we have good security.”

Dunn said these books are a great learning tool for students. “We actually developed some active learning exercises where students are allotted time to handle a particular manuscript,” she said.

She’s happy the university has this unique gem.

“For a university of our scope and size we’re incredibly lucky to have a rare book room on our campus,” she said.

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