May 17, 2022

Preserving the Past at Duke University’s David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library

From Duke Today:

“We work with communities and scholars to preserve the stuff of history and make it findable and usable for researchers today and for future generations,” said Naomi L. Nelson, Associate University Librarian and Director of Rubenstein Library.

What the Rubenstein does: The Rubenstein Library collects the past to keep stories alive for the future.

Staff members build collections of original materials and preserve them for use on campus and around the world. The Rubenstein Library has about 41 million items in its collection, including 350,000 rare books and 10,000 manuscript collections. These holdings include records in almost every format imaginable, from ancient papyrus fragments to photographs and films to social media posts.


J. Andrew Armacost, head of collection development and curator of collections for Rubenstein Library, works with a team of about 10 librarians to manage and grow the collections. They decide what to acquire based on whether the item will fit into one of the eight collections, if a faculty member needs the material for research, and if the materials have a connection to Duke.

“Our goal is to make sure things are in a place where they’re most useful,” Armacost said. “It’s useful for researchers to have materials in multiple formats gathered together in a single place. It doesn’t do any good for a researcher to come to Duke to look at one book then have to travel to other archives to complete their research.”

Read the Complete Article (approx. 1380 words)

Direct to: David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library

About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.