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Rare books at the Southwest Research Institute

June 18, 2018

Last week, several members of Special Collections staff were fortunate to receive a tour of the Thomas Baker Slick Memorial Library from Vasu Iyengar, Rare Books and Preservation Administration. Located on the grounds of the Southwest Research Institute, the Slick Library houses a collection of more than 130 rare scientific and technological books. The collection’s publication dates range from the 16th to the 20th centuries and feature the work of European and American scientists.

Vasu and Amy

Vasu Iyengar and Head of Special Collections Amy Rushing

Vasu allowed us to explore the temperature and humidity-controlled vault that these unique items are housed in. She also pulled notable materials from the collection and Special Collections staff were able to learn about the books’ individual histories and importance.

book boxes shelf

Each of the rare books are housed in phase boxes, protecting them from additional degradation.

Vasu allowed us to closely examine several of the rare books.

Franklin, 1752, Experiences L'electricite

Kristin Law, University Archivist, examining the first French edition of Benjamin Franklin’s Experiences and Observations of Electricity. Published in 1752.

Boyle, 1661, Pyhsico-Mechanica

Robert Boyle, Nova Experimenta Physico-Mechanica de vi Aeris Elastica, 1661. Removed from its phase box for viewing.

Vasu often collaborates with scientists at the Southwest Research Institute. The next presentation incorporating the rare books and modern science is “Women in Astronomy” on July 12, 2018 from 11:30 am to 12:30 pm. Dr. Amanda Bayless, of the Space Science Engineering Department at SwRI, will be speaking. The event is open to the public.

Katie and Carlos

Carlos Cortez, Library Assistant III, and Katie Rojas, Manuscripts Archivist, view notable rare books from the collection.

The Thomas Slick Memorial Library is open to the public. To arrange a visit, email or call (210) 522-2125.

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