On Tuesday, November 27, Southeast Missouri State University will attempt to fund 12 projects in 24 hours.  Today’s blog post highlights one of the 12 projects that is directly related to our work with rare books and manuscripts!

Special Collections & Archives (SC&A) in Kent Library teaches both undergraduate and graduate classes each semester about the rare books and manuscripts in the Rare Book Room.  Due to their fragile nature, rare books and manuscripts are unable to be placed on flat surfaces.  In order to safely display and teach with these materials, professional standards require the use of a book pillow or a book mount, of which SC&A only has two.

16th Century Missal, Charles Harrison Collection, Special Collections & Archives, Southeast Missouri State University. 

As SC&A moves towards more active teaching methods, we assign groups of students in classes a rare book or manuscript for them to explore with guided instruction. The materials used in these classes range in age from c. 1300 to 1631 and have an estimated monetary value in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. They include an early printed book from 1494 (an incunable), a highly illustrated book of hours, a “Bug” Bible, and an early example of 2 color printing.

Book of Hours, Charles Harrison Collection, Special Collections & Archives, Southeast Missouri State University. 

When teaching a full class of students separated into six groups, a staff member has to bring in four regular pillows from home in order to teach with these rare books and manuscripts.  And while it is a temporary fix, these pillows from home are unable to provide support in a way that is practical when viewing the beginning or end parts of a book or manuscript.  Students often have to hold the books open with their hands off the pillow in order to visually inspect them completely.

Proposed Book Mounts, Image from Gaylord Archival website

The wedges of the supports can be adjusted to accommodate for viewing the beginning, middle, and end of a book.  This allows for secure exhibiting of the books while in-use, without placing strain on the spine or boards.  These mounts would also be used when researchers are working with books for a more in depth study. Book mounts will make moving through the books, page by page, much easier and safer. Having enough book mounts to teach a full class would help to greatly preserve our absolutely invaluable rare books and manuscripts during these hands-on classes.

“Bug” Bible, Charles Harrison Collection, Special Collections & Archives, Southeast Missouri State University. 

To make a donation, or for more information on how you can help us reach our goal, please visit the Giving Day website:


If donating, or to show your support, please download and share the image below on social media showing your support for Special Collections & Archives!



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