If you've been in the library recently, you may have noticed this big sign in the entryway, indicating that the Cooper Union Archives & Special Collections are temporarily closed for construction. Maybe you became concerned about continued access to archival material. Or maybe you thought, "Huh - the library has an archive?"
It's a valid question! The library archives have been steadily growing since 1938, when Erskine Hewitt left the Cooper Union library his collection of family papers, including letters and planning documents authored by Peter Cooper and his son-in-law (and CU trustee) Abram Hewitt. For eight decades, the archives accumulated historical materials related to the founders as well as materials produced in the running of a college: bills and ledgers, course listings and faculty information, student work and club ephemera, and so many events.
But, while the archives have always been available as a means to answer questions posed by researchers, its resources hadn't been assessed and organized by a professional archivist, and the physical space where the archives are located hasn't been open for walk-ins.
That's all changing now. And that's why the archives are under construction. The mezzanine space where the archives are located was badly in need of some upgrades in order to properly preserve the collections and to safely make them available to on-site researchers. What this means, essentially, is that the flooring is being replaced and more shelving installed. This is all part of our commitment to honor and preserve the past, present and future of the Cooper Union community; and to be transparent and accountable to that community, and beyond.
That's the answer to "Huh - the library has an archive?" As to concerns about continued access to materials: we're still busily processing collections (i.e. organizing and writing descriptions for materials), and those that are fully processed are searchable at archives.cooper.edu. To accommodate remote researchers, we're also steadily digitizing more and more materials, which are available at library.cooper.edu/archives_digital. And you can still request physical materials at the circulation desk - some of them just may be a little trickier to access for the time being.
Construction is going well (all our gratitude to Buildings & Grounds), and we expect to be done and open to the public by the new year. We look forward to sharing with you all the amazing, strange, wonderful and weird historical material of the Cooper Union!
Still have questions? We're happy to answer them! Just email firstname.lastname@example.org, or stop by the library circulation desk and ask for Mary.
The Cooper Union Library
7 E 7th St.
New York, NY