GBW Library – Feedback Requested
Since the late 1980’s the Guild’s Library has been housed at the University
of Iowa Libraries. Through an agreement with the University, GBW has
maintained ownership of the collection, which is available for use by
members via the mail - and all materials can be used onsite at the by both
members and non-members.
The University of Iowa Libraries has requested that we revisit our
agreement with them. Iowa has proposed that we end our loan agreement and
instead gift the collection to the University of Iowa Libraries. Under this
The collection would remain “The Guild of Book Workers
Collection”, and we would have the option to have a bookplate inserted into
each volume. A collection note would also be added to the online catalog.
All items would be fully cataloged and made available for use.
Items would still be available for use by the general public onsite at the
Rare items or those with special provenance would remain in
Some non-rare items would be moved to the circulating collection
Any items that Iowa does not wish to keep in their collection
(i.e. duplicates) would be returned to GBW at the University’s expense. We
could keep, sell, or donate these items as desired.
By taking ownership of the collection, Iowa would be able to add
certain items to their digitization queue (something not possible under the
Iowa would be able to provide conservation or rehousing services
for fragile items (something not possible under the current agreement).
While the terms outlined above are open to discussion and/or negotiation,
if we cannotcome to some kind of agreement, Iowa would like to terminate
our agreement and return the collection to us. While a complete inventory
of the collection is pending, we estimate this to be about 1,000 items.
Without a building of our own, storing these items in perpetuity would be a
challenge. We could of course sell the collection or work to find another
home for it – but considerable planning and discussion would be required.
Selling the collection could be complicated since disposing of such a large
monetary asset would raise some questions for the IRS – especially since
our organization is in good financial health.
To learn more about the library’s current holdings and its history, please
visit our website: https://guildofbookworkers.org/library
For context - use of the print collection has waned over time – in fact,
neither GBW or Iowa have any records to show that items have been requested
via the mail for at least 10 years. According to Betsy Palmer
Report in August 2002 Newsletter (143:4
a survey of the membership indicated that “The Library is clearly the
least used facility. Almost 85% have never borrowed from it. Most have
never checked the online catalogue for books, although substantially more
have checked it occasionally for videos or journals”. A 2013 member survey
also ranked the GBW Library as one of the Guild’s “least important”
The Board discussed the future of the GBW Library at our April meeting, and
decided that more discussion and research is required. Regardless of the
option that we choose, it seemed that having the collection fully
inventoried and appraised was necessary. To that end, we voted to approve
the cost of having the collection appraised in a manner that meets IRS
requirements should we decide to gift or sell the collection. The appraisal
took place in late April, and the report is forthcoming. We are also
consulting with both a tax professional and a lawyer to determine how to
proceed with various options.
Because use of the GBW Library is a benefit of membership, the Board has
requested feedback from the membership on this matter. I welcome any
feedback that you’d like to share with me via email (
firstname.lastname@example.org). Please contact me to let me know your
thoughts – were you aware of the GBW library? Have you requested items for
use? Do you consider the library to be a valuable resource? Do you think
GBW should donate the Library to the University of Iowa? Sell it for
profit? Or find a new home for the collection?
The Board will discuss this topic at the August Board meeting (and beyond
as required), and we will update you with new information when it is
President, Guild of Book Workers