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American Textile History Museum Osborne Library Collection at Cornell University Library: Home

Questions and answers about the American Textile History Museum Osborne Library Collection that is being accessioned and processed by Cornell University Library.

Arlington Mills Weave Room No. 2, from "Wool and cotton in all forms from yarn to fabric" (1921).Why did the American Textile History Museum close?

Thanks to the generous contributions of Gordon and Marjorie Osborne, the American Textile History Museum collected, organized, and preserved the premier collection on the art, science, and history of textiles in the United States.

After over fifty years of work in this area, the ATHM Board of Trustees voted in 2015 to undergo a major transformation because the museum was no longer able to fiscally operate under its current format and business model. On January 1, 2016, the museum’s exhibits closed to the public.

For more than eight months, ATHM sought to identify and explore all reasonable options available, including downsizing, restructuring, and merging with another organization. However, no viable or sustainable business model with a meaningful scope of mission could be identified.

For more information, see: http://www.athm.org/about-athm/path-to-closure/5441-2/

How did ATHM choose to transfer holdings to Cornell University Library?

The ATHM’s Collections Committee and Board of Trustees worked to identify committed charitable organizations to serve as faithful, long-term stewards of the museum’s significant collections, and ultimately decided to transfer the bulk of the American Textile History Museum Osborne Library Collection to Cornell University Library. Cornell was determined to ensure the greatest continuing public access and benefit to the museum and its collections. Cornell University Library and ATHM also share core strengths in the fields of fiber science, apparel design, and labor history, among other areas.

Did Cornell receive all of the ATHM collections?

While Cornell University Library will receive the bulk of the American Textile History Museum Osborne Library Collection, portions of the library, archive, and museum collections – including its extensive holdings of maps, dye books and recipes, patents, and trade literature, as well as curatorial collections, including machinery and costumes -- will be transferred to other institutions. 

For an up-to-date listing of collection transfers, please visit the ATHM website:

http://www.athm.org/news/athm-to-transfer-library-collection-to-cornell-university-library/

When may I access the collection?

Due to the number and complexity of materials, we expect that processing and cataloging of the entire collection will take a minimum of three years to fully complete. In the meantime, we will make our best effort make the materials available as they are processed. Requests for books and serials will be expedited where possible; other kinds of materials will probably take longer to be made available.

The American Textile History Museum Osborne Library Collection arrived at an off-campus storage facility in Ithaca, New York in 2017. Staff are working to process the collections and make them accessible to researchers.

To submit your request, please contact the Kheel Center at (607) 255-3183 or kheel_center@cornell.edu

Once the collection is processed, how will I be able to access it?

Once processed, many of the monographs and serials will be available for circulation to the Cornell community, as well as through Interlibrary Loan and Borrow Direct. Rare and unique material will be accessible onsite at the Kheel Center for Labor-Management Documentation and Archives, Mann Library, and the Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections.

Questions? Call (607) 255-3183 or email kheel_center@cornell.edu

 

Image: "Arlington Mills Weave Room No. 2" from Wool And Cotton In All Forms From Yarn To Fabric (1921).

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