On Friday we had the chance to visit the wonderful science fiction collection at City Tech. The collection is housed on the 2nd floor of the Ursula C. Schwerin Library, as part of their Archives and Special Collections. For the tour, we met with Jason Ellis, who is Assistant Professor of English at City Tech (and who has been responsible for much of the legwork regarding the organization and maintenance of the collection), and Wanett Clyde, the Collections Management Librarian. To schedule a visit to the archive (visits are by appointment only), one should contact Wanett to set up a time.
The collection itself comes from an anonymous donor, who resided in San Francisco at the time (the materials were boxed and transported by movers to NY). The materials are enormous in scope and wide ranging in topic, from nearly full runs of popular sci fi magazines such as Analog Science Fiction and Fact, Asimov’s Science Fiction, and The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, to an enormous collection of sci fi/fantasy/horror novels, zines, anthologies, and even scholarly works spanning nearly a century. Having a full collection of the magazines is particularly useful to researchers, as one can then observe large-scale trends that otherwise might be missed if each issue was viewed in isolation. As this was originally a personal collection, the particular research interests of the donor throughout the years are generally easy to infer, and many of the books contain the donor’s notes, marginalia, and insets from review copies (all of which might pose an interesting dilemma in digitizing the materials). The curators are, however, interested in expanding the collection beyond the original acquisition and are open to further contributions of relevant materials. The collection as a whole is still being processed and inventoried, but there are useful finding aids (such as a pdf with call numbers, photographs of the shelves, and a regularly updated Google inventory sheet) available to researchers that detail where exactly items can be found on the shelves.