Tucked away in a small office on the quiet third floor of Waldo Library, Susan Steuer works as the rare book and special collection librarian at WMU. The office and the space her student workers have seems as though they do not get many visitors, however, a lot of work is done through this department. One aspect that the rare books and special collection department of the library helps students and classes with is learning the “history of information.” According to Steuer, the history of information is how people found things out, how things were recorded, what formats people used in the pre-digital world.
The student workers are busy building boxes to preserve certain books, dusting off the many collections, learning more about all of the material and giving the collections consist and accurate descriptions as well. Meanwhile, Steuer is working in her office, filled with stacks of paper and packages, on many other projects to continue to bring in unique and relevant material for the university, such as papyrus with Egyptian calligraphy that has been preserved from before modern time.
Steuer receives many packages and emails from people that are selling rare and special books and collections. She describes this process as “e-bay” because if there is something very unique that would be beneficial to add to an existing collection, she needs to jump on the opportunity and buy it.
Going on her twelfth year in this position, she has been able to work with famous scholars, material that dates back to B.C., and many different departments at WMU. Although the days can be long, Steuer does not seem to mind the low traffic department on a day to day basis because of the love she has for her work.