Jan 16, 2012
The Cary Collection is one of America’s premier libraries on graphic communication, its history and practices. Located in Rochester on the campus of the Rochester Institute of Technology, the original collection of 2,300 volumes was assembled by New York City businessman Melbert B. Cary, Jr. during the 1920s and 1930s. Cary was director of the Continental Type Founders Association (a type-importing agency), a former president of the American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA), and proprietor of the private Press of the Woolly Whale. His professional and personal interests in printing led him to collect printer's manuals and type specimens, as well as great books on the printer's art.
In 1969 his collection, together with funds to support its use and growth, was presented to RIT. Today the library houses some 40,000 volumes and a growing number of manuscript and correspondence collections.
While its original strengths continue to be an important focus, other aspects of graphic arts history have also been developed. For example, the Cary is committed to building comprehensive primary and secondary resources on the development of the alphabet and writing systems, early book formats and manuscripts, calligraphy, the development of typefaces and their manufacturing technologies, the history and practice of papermaking, typography and book design, printing and illustration processes, bookbinding, posters, and artists’ books.
Though many of the volumes in the library are rare, the Cary has maintained, from the beginning, a policy of liberal access for students , especially those enrolled in the RIT’s College of Imaging Arts and Sciences, and interested literary tourists.
The Cary Collection also manages some 36 Graphic Design archives documenting the work of important 20th-century Modernist graphic designers, and has been aggressively acquiring examples of avant-garde book typography. This great library is a must visit destination for all those who love books and the processes involved in making them.