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Michael Bernard Valentini, Museum museorum (Franckfurt am Mäyn [Frankfurt am Main], 1704-1714).New acquisitions of primary research materials are crucial to the mission of the Cullman Library. The collection must continually grow in order to replace incomplete volumes, to fill gaps in sets, to deepen subject strengths, and to develop historical resources for new areas of the Institution's and the Museum's research. For example, the publication of scientific works in parts over many years, a common practice in the 18th and 19th centuries, has occasionally resulted in incomplete copies of texts and their plates. In addition, due to the fragmentation of library collections in the Institution's early years, many multi-volume scientific publications were split up and distributed among the relevant Museum offices; the Cullman Library seeks to re-unite these sets where appropriate and to identify and fill any gaps that may have occurred. Scientific works often have complex publishing histories and bibliographical peculiarities that affect their usefulness to researchers; thus, for the kinds of research that the Cullman supports, multiple editions of a text (showing corrections, refinements, and changes to the original text) and even multiple copies of a single work (showing different states or issues of the text, as well as differences in the hand-coloring of the plates) have significant scholarly value.

Past generations of scientists, Smithsonian staff, private collectors, and other benefactors have played a major role in making the Cullman Library collections what they are today, primarily through the donation or bequest of the books themselves. The Special Collections Department is fortunate to have an endowment fund which provides an annual income for the purchase of a few rare books each year. If you are interested in helping further develop the Smithsonian Institution Libraries Special Collections, please contact our Development Office.