Printing Industries of America has agreed to donate to Cal Poly its renowned Edward H. Wadewitz Memorial Library, considered the largest, most complete, and most valuable graphic communication library in the world.
Rare materials from the collection will be added to the Special Collections and Archives department of the university’s Robert E. Kennedy Library. The main Wadewitz collection will be housed at a site to be prepared on the Cal Poly campus.
Site preparation, review, description and relocation of the collection will cost about $100,000; ongoing services to provide access to the collection will require about $20,000 per year. An initial contribution of $25,000 has been received, said Harvey Levenson, retired head of Cal Poly’s Graphic Communication Department and current director of the university’s Graphic Communication Institute. Those wanting to support this initiative to preserve the printing industry’s past are invited to make additional tax-deductible individual and corporate contributions and be recognized as a sponsor.
Founded in 1923 at the Lithographic Technical Foundation’s (LTF) headquarters in Chicago, the Wadewitz Library moved to Pittsburgh in 1965, when the LTF became the Graphic Arts Technical Foundation (GATF). GATF consolidated with Printing Industries of America in 2003, and the name was changed to Printing Industries of America in 2008.
For nearly 100 years, the Wadewitz Library has been a valuable resource for industry professionals and a unique tool for researchers, chemists, physicists, educators, scholars and students. The library houses what is thought to be the largest intact collection of technical information and literature for the field of graphic communication and printing processes and related publications in the arts, sciences, engineering and business.
Its holdings include more than 180 currently published magazines and periodicals; 100 inactive or no-longer-published magazines dating back to the first issues of National Lithographer published in 1894; more than 15,000 books, texts and reports describing every aspect of the graphic communication and print processes; past and present GATF/LTF-published materials; Printing Industries of America publications, reports and affiliate information; information on related industry associations; and a variety of directories and other reference material.
The collections of historical interest and value include:
• The Frank Preucil Collection of 1,400 books. Preucil was considered by many to be the “father of densitometry” because he promoted the use of color reflection densitometry to control and evaluate process color printing in lithography. This extensive collection on the subject of color reproduction is thought to be one of the most complete historical libraries on the graphic arts process. The collection also includes rare books on printing and one of the few complete collections of the Penrose Annual.
• The Dr. Fred W. Billmeyer Collection of more than 200 books on color and related subjects, several complete collections of periodicals relating to color, and bound transcripts and reports. Billmeyer was a world-renowned color scientist, and his collection includes materials from the International Commission on Illumination. He also authored many books on color and polymers.
• The R.S. Fisch-Robert L. Leslie Graphic Arts Collection of books and journals on photography and photographic processes. The 200-plus books in the collection were published between 1855 and 1999 and include several very rare editions. Notable books are Photographic Chemistry by Thomas Frederick Hardwich, published in 1864, and Photographic Mosaics by Edward Livingston Wilson and Mathew Carey Lea, published in 1866. Fisch worked for 35 years as a corporate scientist in the Printing and Publishing Systems Division of 3M Co. and holds 37 U.S. patents on color photography, photo resist imaging, non-silver imaging, color proofing, silver recovery, and substrate addendum.
• The Lee Augustine Collection with more than 500 rare volumes on the history of printing, including The Printers Manual dated 1817, believed to be the first printing manual published in the United States.
• The William Stevens Collection, named after a former GATF research committee chairman, contains more than 50 graphic arts books, clippings and advertisements dating from the early 1900s.
• The Printing Industries of America Collection of early PIA books, reports and early board meeting minutes.
• The Al Materazzi Collection includes early Research Department reports from the Graphic Arts Technical Foundation and its predecessor, the Lithographic Technical Foundation. Materazzi was deeply involved in environmental issues and compliance work and was involved in preparing data and documentation related to lithographic platemaking.
• The Seybold Collection of all published Seybold Reports, including reports and books.
“The agreement to transfer the monumental Edward H. Wadewitz Library to Cal Poly concludes months of negotiations,” Levenson said. “The Wadewitz Library will be a major resource for students, professors and members of industry from North America and around the world who visit Cal Poly.” Physical transfer of the E.H. Wadewitz collection will commence once financial commitments are confirmed.
Cal Poly’s University Librarian Anna Gold notes that the Wadewitz collection will bring new depth and breadth to existing library strengths in the technology and history of the printing industry. “In this digital age, there’s renewed interest in print processes,” Gold said. “We are delighted to imagine Cal Poly as the future home of a collection that means so much to industry leaders.”
Dee Gentile, Printing Industries of America managing editor and information officer, played a key role in transferring the library holdings. She discovered the Wadewitz Library on her first visit to the Graphic Arts Technical Foundation in 1974.
“I have spent many days in the library conducting research and learning about the print and graphic communication industry,” Gentile said. “There is still much to be learned from these historical holdings. Cal Poly will be a great place for students and others to delve into the depth of the holdings and rich history of the industry.”
Well-known industry leader Raymond J. Prince, also instrumental in bringing the resource to Cal Poly, said, “The Printing Industries of America donation and the holdings of the Graphic Communication Department’s Resource Room will make this the largest graphic communication library in the world. During my days at GATF, I found inspiration in the writings of hundreds of writers.”
The Resource Room contains many rare publications, including a complete set of American Printer magazines dating from 1883 and a complete set of Graphic Arts Monthly from its beginnings in 1929.
Moving the Wadewitz Library to Cal Poly continues a partnership between Cal Poly and Printing Industries of America to keep the history of printing and related processes in the forefront of industry leaders.
Printing Industries of America President and CEO Michel Makin said he welcomes the opportunity to partner with the university. “Cal Poly has the resources and knowledgeable staff to manage this amazing collection. The students and staff will have at their fingertips a wealth of information and be able to attain a great appreciation of our industry.”
Levenson noted that print media “is often considered the most pervasive, informative, detailed and meaningful mass communication that has ever existed. The Wadewitz Library will help perpetuate this understanding and could be used in planning how the medium may be successfully used today and in the future.”
“The Wadewitz Library also serves as a viable working library consistent with Cal Poly’s Learn by Doing philosophy.”
Douglas Epperson, dean of Cal Poly’s College of Liberal Arts (in which the Graphic Communication Department is housed), said, “As Cal Poly grows its undergraduate offerings and expands its graduate programs, the Wadewitz Library will serve interdisciplinary education. A new graphic communication master’s degree program in printed electronics and functional imaging is scheduled to begin next year. Cal Poly has become one of the most selective comprehensive universities in the nation, with students among the country’s top achievers. The Wadewitz Library will enhance the education of these future leaders in graphic communication and related fields.”