E.H. Wadewitz Memorial Library Newsletter

Cal Poly and Printing Industries of America Complete Partnership in Transfer of E. H. Wadewitz Memorial Library

In 1456, Johann Gutenberg invented the process of duplicating movable type. Today, 558 years later, printing has transformed and developed the institutions that define our lives — education, law, religion, medicine, science, technology, humanities and more. Print is responsible for the creation and distribution of knowledge like no other medium.


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By contributing the E. H. Wadewitz Memorial Library to Cal Poly, to support its world-renown graphic communication program, Printing Industries of America has made sure that the history, traditions, influence and importance of print lives on today and into the future.

In discussion for more than a year, the transfer took place in April 2014, when two large trailer trucks arrived in San Luis Obispo, Calif., with several hundred cartons. These cartons contained nearly 20,000 books and related publications, representing the world’s largest and most comprehensive library focused on the art, science, technology and management of printing, publishing, packaging, imaging and related areas of graphic communication. Many of these originated from the Printing Industries of America rare book collection. (See “E. H. Wadewitz Memorial Library” pg. 4 in the library newsletter)

The collection was contributed to Cal Poly through the College of Liberal Arts and the Graphic Communication Department. The Robert E. Kennedy Library is assisting the department with creating a permanent home on campus for the collection. A team is already being formed to assess, organize, inventory and house the library. Along with Kennedy Library staff, Cal Poly Professor Emeritus Gary Field, a former employee of Printing Industries of America (former Graphic Arts Technical Foundation division), has volunteered to assist with this initiative. While it is anticipated to be a lengthy process, selected works from the collection will be on display in Kennedy Library’s Special Collections and Archives in January 2015.

Cal Poly is ensuring that the message is not lost!

According to Harvey Levenson, professor emeritus and director of the Graphic Communication Institute at Cal Poly, “Printing has been the most pervasive, detailed, informative and influential mass medium for more than 500 years. New media has a place in our society, but its lore does not negate the value of print.”

“We will not forget more than 500 years of accomplishments of the printing industry and its contribution to the production and distribution of knowledge. Nor are we going to let our youth, those who will be entering our industry today and in the future, forget this. In fact, we are working diligently to remind those in business, commerce, education, science and all institutions of our society how print exceeds other media in the achievement of knowledge along with desired outcomes.”

How were we able to do this?

Through a massive industry effort headed by printing industry guru and overseer Raymond J. Prince, $100,000 was raised to complete phase one of the project — preparation, transportation, storage, inventory and development of plans for a permanent site on the Cal Poly campus. Phase two, the renovation of a site and annual maintenance and oversight, will take a similar effort.

“This would not have happened without Prince’s commitment to the project and without the financial support of the many industry leaders who have provided financial contributions,” said Levenson. (See “Founding Contributors to Date” pg. 5-6 in the library newsletter)

“We are invigorating the largest and most famous graphic arts library in existence today. Combined with the recently installed Raymond J. Prince Shakespeare Press Museum Resource Room and the existing Shakespeare Press Museum (one of only two ‘working’ printing museums west of the Rocky Mountains), the Cal Poly E. H. Wadewitz Memorial Library will be part of the largest, most complete, and most valuable, historic graphic communication collections in the world. The library will become integral to education in the arts and sciences, and will be made available to industry for research and exploration. It will become an applied tool to keep the history of printing alive and to demonstrate how history is a window into the future and valuable for research and strategic planning.”

The E.H. Wadewitz Memorial Library is similar to other great focused libraries such as the Library of Congress, Harvard University, Yale, and others. It will be a resource supporting senior projects, Cal Poly’s Learn by Doing teaching philosophy, and industry research.

“We have already been receiving requests from industry worldwide to research information that has not yet been digitized,” said Levenson. “Digitizing the collection is a possible long-term goal.”

To Become A Supporter

If you are an advocate of the printing industry and if you believe in the value of print, this resource is for you!

Make pledges to:
Harvey R. Levenson
Professor Emeritus, Director
Graphic Communication Institute at Cal Poly
Graphic Communication Department
California Polytechnic State University
1 Grand Avenue
San Luis Obispo, CA 93407

Send checks to:
Raymond J. Prince Collection
Graphic Communication Department
California Polytechnic State University
Att. Dr. Harvey R. Levenson
1 Grand Avenue
San Luis Obispo, CA 93407

Give online here.

All contributions are tax deductible.

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