Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Happy 10th Anniversary to us!

by Heather Kushnerick, Special Collections Librarian

The Fred Parks Law Library opened in 2001, and in the past 10 years a lot of things have changed. We’ve increased our print collection, gotten a multitude of fantastic databases, added digital collections, and built up our Special Collections. Our Special Collections consist of the library’s rare book collection, manuscript collections, and the college archive. These are closed stacks collections that may be accessed by appointment with the Special Collections Librarian. The preservation and the security of collections are ongoing concerns for the library. Items from Special Collections are not eligible for interlibrary loan and must be used in the Jones Reading Room under the supervision of library staff. Currently, the oldest item in Rare Book Collection dates from 1481 – that’s a mere 29 years after the Printing Revolution began with Gutenberg’s invention of movable type.

The Rare Book Collection consists of items considered too old, rare, valuable or fragile to be housed in the main collection. We focus on Texas legal history, Texana, Houston history, Mexican and Spanish law, and seminal works in legal history, particularly those dealing with Common Law. Items from Special Collections are placed on exhibit 3 to 4 times a year in an effort to promote the collection. Since 2011 is the year of our 10th anniversary, we have purchased some real gems in honor of this milestone. On display now in the library lobby is an exhibition featuring some of our most recent acquisitions, including a Spanish and Catalan edition of the Consolato del Mare, a study on Siete Partidas, a sixteenth century work on legal theory, a Spanish treatise on criminal procedure (which includes a section on the use of torture on both witnesses and the accused), a Spanish naval treatise addressing international law written at the time of the American Revolution, and a volume containing primary sources in Texas legal history. This exhibition will be up through September.

For more information on the Special Collections Department, please contact Heather Kushnerick at