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Penn State University Libraries



Special Collections Library
104 Paterno Library
University Park, PA 16802

Telephone: (814) 865-7931
Fax: (814) 863-5318

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Staff Directory

Staff Resources





Contact Information and a link to the staff directory are at the bottom left of your screen.

Tutorial: How are special collections libraries different from general academic libraries?

Public Spaces

Departmental History



Public Spaces

The primary public spaces of the Eberly Family Special Collections Library are located on the first floor of Paterno Library:

The Frank and Mary Jean Smeal Foundation Exhibition Hall provides space for changing exhibitions and permanent displays, including the John O'Hara study. New exhibits are announced on our blog. Researchers entering Special Collections come through the exhibit hall and check in at the Reception Desk.

The Penn State Alumni Association Reference Room, just beyond the Smeal Exhibit Hall, includes a variety of reference books, frequently used periodicals, as well as indexes and finding aids that provide access to our collections. Researchers must come to the Reference Desk to register, ask questions, and request materials.

The Philip H. and Judith O. Sieg Reading Room provides researchers with a quiet working space to consult Special Collections materials. There are several computers in the room, and connections for power and data at each table. In addition, the room is equipped for wireless Internet access. Immediately adjacent is the Audio-Visual Room, which houses equipment for using film, video, sound recordings, and microforms.

The Charles W. Mann, Jr. Assembly Room is located next to the Smeal Exhibit Hall and is used for class instruction with Special Collections materials as well as other Library-sponsored events.

In the adjoining Pattee Library are:

The Bridget and Heinz Henisch Photo History Exhibit Room, off the Paterno Humanities Reading Room, second floor Pattee, containing exhibitions documenting the history of photography.

Fred Waring's America and the Charles L. Blockson Collection of African-Americana and the African Diaspora are located on third floor Pattee.


A Short History of Penn State Special Collections

Special Collections at Penn State began in 1904 with the creation of the Statiana Alcove in the Carnegie Library. Here college librarian Erwin Runkle collected archival materials to document the history of the College for its fiftieth anniversary. These materials included letters, photographs, and college publications dating from the 1850s onward. In the 1920s, the archival records of Centre Iron Furnace were presented to the College Library by the Thompson family. These materials form the basis for the historical manuscripts collections. After the library had moved from Carnegie to Pattee in the 1940s, college librarian Willard Lewis began to move rare books, including Pennsylvania historical materials donated by Governor James A. Beaver, from the stacks into a separate area. The Plumb Bible Collection, also donated at this time, became a foundation for the rare books collections, and included the first examples of incunabula.

Charles W. Mann, Jr. was appointed Rare Books and Manuscripts Assistant in 1957. From that time on, Charley, as he was universally known, began to build the rare book collections. While American and British literature and art and architectural history became primary strengths, many unique collections were added. Among the most significant are collections of utopian literature; Pennsylvania writers John O'Hara, Conrad Richter, and John Updike; Australiana; Pennsylvania German materials; Pennsylvania imprints; and German literature in English translation.

Mann also oversaw the creation of the Pennsylvania Historical Collections in the early 1960s, launched to collect historical manuscripts, and coordinated its joining to the Labor Archives, also started in the 1960s, which quickly became a major resource with the signing of an agreement in 1967 for Penn State to be the archival repository of the United Steelworkers of America. At the same time, the Penn State Room continued to develop separately under curators who built valuable collections of books and serials, photos, archives and manuscripts, created reference vertical files, and indexed University publications.

In the 1970s, the three units--the Rare Books Room, Historical Collections and Labor Archives, and the Penn State Room --were joined administratively as a Department of Special Collections. All three continued to grow and develop, with the Penn State Room being designated the University Archives in 1988. In the 1990s planning began to bring the three units together in a single facility and this was accomplished in 1999 in the new Paterno Library. Thanks to a generous gift from long-time Penn State supporters, the Eberly Family, the new Eberly Family Special Collections Library was named in their honor.



Faculty, Staff, Wage, Graduate Assistantships and Work-Study Employees

The Special Collections Library is staffed by a combination of faculty, staff, wage, graduate students and work-study student employees. Job postings for these positions can be found on the University Libraries Human Resources Web pages.


Paid and unpaid internships are occasionally available within the Special Collections Library. The University Libraries annually recruits Marie Bednar interns; this program enables undergraduate students to participate in an active and collaborative learning experience and gain valuable career skills. In addition, both credit and non-credit internships may be arranged with Special Collections faculty. Contact us with your academic area of interest and time frame.


A volunteer is an unpaid employee who participates in programs or projects that supplement or complement the work of our paid staff and faculty. All volunteers must be approved by University Libraries Human Resources and the Special Collections Library administration. Contact us if you are interested in volunteering.