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Terrell Main Library

8am - 5:30pm

Circulation Desk

8am - 5:30pm

Research Help Desk

3:30pm - 4:30pm

Research Help Chat

2:30pm - 4:30pm

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8:30am - 5pm

Azariah's Cafe

9am - 2pm (just drinks)

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8am - 4:30pm

Writing Center Daytime

Writing Center Evening

Speaking Center



Mary Church Terrell Main Library
148 W College St. Oberlin, OH 44074-1545


The main visitor lot is the east Service Building lot, and the south row of the Carnegie Building lot for visitors to offices within that building.

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About the Collection

The first 19th-century decorated publisher’s bindings were moved into Special Collections by Librarian Dina Schoonmaker, who was in charge of curating the rare collection in the Oberlin College Main Library from 1982 until her retirement in 1996. Dina had come under the spell of Sue Allen’s instruction at Rare Book School and subsequently organized exhibits of American publisher’s trade bindings for the library. One of these exhibits was visted by Mr. Wallace Martel (1927-2022) who began collecting decorated book covers as a result of Dina's exhibit. Mr. Martel subsequently donated many of the books that have now found their way into the Schoonmaker Collection.

As a result of the teaching and publishing by book historians like Sue Allen and Ruari McLean, a rising appreciation for the forgotten art gathered momentum and began a quest for information on the artists behind it.  This inquiry was further endorsed by the realization that so many of the most characteristic designers were women. Artists such as Margaret Armstrong, Sarah Wyman Whitman, and Alice Cordelia Morse were finally getting the attention that was their due. 

Book Artist Richard Minsky started his own outstanding collection of decorated covers and delved into the history of the craft and the artists. He exhibited 500 book covers in Hudson, N.Y. until August 2005. Shortly before the exhibition catalog appeared in 2006, Minsky contacted Oberlin College Special Collections Librarian Ed Vermue to warn Vermue that the appearance of the catalog would serve to raise both the public profile and the prices of these books, and make them very attractive to book thieves. Minsky pointed out that Oberlin College Library owned an abundance of monographs that would be easily discoverable by author and title, and so should be withdrawn from circulation. Shortly after this, Special Collections began to identify and move selected decorated bindings and have their records enhanced to contain information on the cover designer (if known).  This synthetic collection was named in honor of Dina Schoonmaker.

Ed Vermue 2022

Dark purple cover with golden text reading Little Rivers by Henry Van Dyke with golden illustrations of plants, blue flowers and dragonflies, and green accents throughout.

Cover design by Margaret Armstrong