Our college librarians played key roles in developing the Treasure Room, now Special Collections. Having identified and sequestered rare and fragile items in the 1920s and 30s, they acted as primary contacts for donors, served as officers for the Colby Library Associates, and contributed articles to the Colby Library Quarterly. They helped to safeguard the college’s rare and unique materials on the old campus, in transition to Mayflower Hill and within the new Miller Library. The librarians supported the curators’ efforts through technical services and exhibition. Annual reports of the librarians and curators illustrate close engagement and interdependence.

JBC by Marriner- CC Press 1949

Title page for 1949 publication of the Colby College Press. The Press played a key role in promoting the Treasure Room collections and related scholarship. The Press also focused on the college’s history.


One means for promoting the college’s treasures was to publish exhibition catalogues and monographs detailing the contents of the collections. Starting in 1936, Librarian N Orwin Rush collaborated with Curator Carl Weber on various publishing projects, the first featuring the Thomas Hardy Collection.  The early publications were catalogues of exhibitions in the library. The college treasurer financed the printing costs and was repaid through sales. The Colby chapter of Phi Beta Kappa and the Grolier Club in New York City acted as financial partners for selective publications.

In addition to promoting Special Collections materials, the library was motivated to explore publishing opportunities as a means of exchange with peer institutions. Colby had been receiving exchange items regularly but had nothing to offer in return. The Hardy materials continued to be a focus for library-arranged publications into the 1940s. Some publications were issued in several printings, the first being for sale and the others used for exchange purposes. The Librarian coordinated production, oversaw orders and sales, and distributed promotional announcements and complimentary mailings to editors at the New York Times and other large newspapers.

The Colby College Library imprint in the early 1940s became the Colby College Press mid-decade. The printer remained The Anthoensen Press in Portland, Maine. The Anthoensen Press also served as the printer for the Colby Library Quarterly, started in 1943 under the auspices of the Colby Library Associates. The Colby College Press came to publish monographs on aspects of the college’s history as well as its literary holdings, continuing production through the mid 1970s.

Works consulted:

Annuals Report of the Librarian, 1936-1971. Colbiana Collection. Colby College Special Collections.

Marriner, Ernest Cummings. The History of Colby College. Waterville, ME: Colby College Press, 1963. Print and web.

Rush, N Orwin. “The College Library as Publisher.” College and Research Libraries. December 1943. Print.