A few months ago we received almost 550 books donated to us by Gwendolyn White in honor of her husband as part of the Egon Verheyen collection. Dr. Egon Verheyen was a GMU professor of Art History and named a Clarence J. Robinson professor of humanities at George Mason in 1987. He retired in January 2008 and passed away shortly after in February 2008.
With any book donation, the process from the date of donation to the time the publications are available for research use varies, depending upon the size, nature, and physical shape of the collection. These particular books were an addition to an earlier donation in the Egon Verheyen collection. When we receive a donation of books, the donors often provide a list of the books to be donated. If that is not the case, then Special Collections Research Center (SCRC) staff create a list of the books, including author, title, etc. It is important to know what materials are being donated, so a list of the books donated is critical to the intellectual and physical control of the materials donated to the SCRC.
Research Services staff, with the help of student assistants, go through most collections to assess if the SCRC already has a copy of the book. We expand that search for selected collections to review how many copies are at Mason libraries, other libraries around Virginia, and libraries around the world. In learning how rare (or universal) the books in a collection are, we are able to make more educated decisions about the donated items.
For large collections, such as the Egon Verheyen collection, these types of searches may take months. Once the searching is completed, staff will work with the student assistants to put cataloging slips in them. This helps out the librarians who create the individual catalog records for inclusion in the online catalog. We greatly appreciate the work of the catalogers in the Resource Description and Metadata Services unit. Their attention to detail, accuracy, and speed help to make collections available within a relatively short amount of time. With this collection, once the list was created we were able to take books to the catalogers right away and there was a pretty fast turn around. So far, 275 books from this collection have catalog records. Once a catalog record is made, the cataloger in charge of this donation will add the book to their cart and bring it back to SCRC when it is full.
The Research Services Coordinator then examines all of the books for preservation issues. If a book is damaged, we will put it aside for the Preservation Librarian who works on books for the entire library. Some things we look for are torn or missing book jacket covers, delicate or small books that can be damaged or lost during shelving, small binding issues, or some loose pages. If we need four-flaps or Mylar for book jacket covers, we measure each book and place an order for those materials. For efficiency, we usually wait until the end of the month and place a larger order. This entire process of examining the books, ordering supplies, waiting for the supplies and covering book jackets or putting books into four-flaps and shelving everything can sometimes take over a month.
A lot of the initial data entry and the shelving at the end is done by students. These are time consuming and detail-heavy processes and we are extremely grateful for the work our students do to make our jobs easier and to make the department run more smoothly. Now that we have begun to get some of the Egon Verheyen books back, we would love to share just a few with you! Here are five books from this donation that are interesting, and demonstrate the overall topics that can be found in this collection.
You can find all of these and more by searching Mason’s classic catalog for Egon Verheyen. The collection can also be accessed by clicking on the hyperlinked call numbers and then clicking on the collection information on any of the catalog records for the books shown above.
Follow Special Collections Research Center on Social Media at our Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter accounts. To search the collections held at Special Collections Research Center, go to our website and browse the finding aids by subject or title. You may also e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 703-993-2220 if you would like to schedule an appointment, request materials, or if you have questions. Appointments are not necessary to request and view collections.