Early Books That Changed How We See the World
The Northwest Room has a new exhibit of rare books that is pretty exciting. All the books are from the Fuller rare books collection and encompasses scientific theories and discoveries. They are all exceptional books in one way or another, but some are worth looking at for the visual beauty.
Since the advent of the earliest printed books in the fifteenth century, scientists, cartographers, and other scholars have published books to announce their new scientific discoveries. These rare books, which date from 1493 to 1913, represent key moments in scientific history including discoveries which changed our vision of the world. The illustrations, which include woodcuts, watercolors, colored drawings and wood samples, captured the imagination of Europeans and Americans as they sought to understand the natural world through the eyes of artists and naturalists.
The Ned M. Barnes Northwest Room is a unique special collection, focusing on the history of the Inland Pacific Northwest.
Tuesday -- 1pm - 8pm
Thursday -- 10am - 6pm
Wednesday, Friday & Saturday -- 1pm - 6pm
The Spokane Public Library is honored to house one of the finest and most extensive Northwest collections in the country. Comprising over 13,000 items, this superb collection is readily available to the public during open hours. Most of the collection is searchable through the Library's catalog. The collection consists of reference books, maps, directories, periodicals, government documents, and archival materials pertaining to the history, exploration, and settlement of the Northwest, or that region including Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, and the province of British Columbia. The Northwest Room offers information on every period from the late 1700's to the present.
While there is emphasis on early voyages and overland expeditions, Indians, the fur trade, missions and pioneer life, materials on a wide variety of subjects such as flora and fauna, industries, biographies, art, and literature are also included. Personal journals and reminiscences, local histories, and descriptive materials are an important part of the continually growing collection. There is a small, but excellent photograph collection much of which was donated by Thomas Teakle who taught history for many years at Spokane's Lewis and Clark High School. We invite you to browse our Digital Collections, where you will find over 1,000 digital images drawn from the archives of the Northwest Room.
The commitment to Northwest materials began with George W. Fuller, Spokane Public Library's first librarian and author of a widely used history of the region. The current Fuller Collection includes old and rare materials, largely first editions of works. Gladys Smith Puckett, Library Director from 1937 to 1960, shared Fuller's vision and continued to collect Northwest materials throughout her tenure. Commitment to the collection lives on. Today, Northwest materials and the Fuller collection are housed in a special climate-controlled room, designed especially for the purpose, at the Downtown Library. This room features two glass display cases, a small gallery for fine art, a reading and study area, a workroom for materials preservation, a vault for extremely old and rare materials, and light sensitive glass.
The Northwest Room displays permanent art from the collection, including Catholic Ladders, “Bird’s Eye” or panoramic maps of Spokane, and original artwork. The room also includes five display cases, which feature temporary exhibits, which rotate several times a year.
For over 100 years, librarians at SPL clipped the newspapers for biographical information. These clippings include obituaries on pioneers, but they also contain all kinds of biographical information from papers in Spokane and around the Northwest. The Northwest Room has created a database for every name in these files which includes over five thousand names.
The Northwest Collection is a research collection therefore the materials are not available to check out. As many materials are rare and fragile, the following guidelines for use are always observed: