Richard and Ronay Menschel Library

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The Richard and Ronay Menschel Library at the George Eastman Museum is an internationally renowned research collection of books, periodicals, and other materials on photography and moving images. The library offers information resources as well as opportunities to study books as artifacts.

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The library offers comprehensive, international, up-to-date materials on the history of photography, from daguerreotypes to digital images. Monographs and exhibition catalogues of the work of well-known photographers are available, as well as self-published photobooks by emerging contemporary artists. Holdings include many books on the historical, theoretical, and social aspects of photography, and on the use of the medium in journalism, advertising, and industry. Photographic technique is thoroughly documented in manuals, equipment catalogues, and scientific reports. Reference works, including dictionaries, guides, and auction catalogues, are available. Periodicals range from scholarly journals to mass-market magazines.

Library holdings of the literature of motion pictures, television, and video cover the silent period to the digital age and offer international scope and perspective. Histories of the industry and the studios, biographies of filmmakers and actors, and works of criticism and theory by leading international scholars present a broad view of the impact of moving images on society and culture. Cinematographic technology is covered in depth, as is film preservation. Reference works and periodicals, including industry publications, are available.

The Eastman Museum Rare Books Collection includes William Henry Fox Talbot’s The Pencil of Nature (1844–46); The Daguerreian Journal and other 19th-century photography periodicals; Gardner’s Photographic Sketch Book of the War (1865–66); Julia Margaret Cameron’s Illustrations to Tennyson’s Idylls of the King (1875); and Camera Work (1903–17), edited and published by Alfred Stieglitz. The collection also includes books illustrated with original calotypes, salt prints, albumen prints, platinum prints, gelatin silver prints, and cyanotypes, as well as photomechanical processes.

Library Special Collections and Archives comprise manuscripts, papers, and ephemera, including those of Alvin Langdon Coburn, Lewis W. Hine, Southworth and Hawes, and Edward Steichen, among other photographers, collectors, and inventors. 

The library accepts limited donations of books, magazines, pamphlets, and other publications related to photography and moving images. Library staff members review all donations and decide what to keep. Duplicate materials and items that do not fit the current needs and priorities will not be added to the library.