Jamie Cumby, PhD working in the Dillon Reading Room, a glass-encased viewing and research area for students, scholars, and the public at Pequot Library.
Photography: Adair Heitmann for Pequot Library 2019 (contributed photo)
Southport, CT – Pequot Library announces the hiring of Jamie Cumby, PhD, as its Special Collections Librarian. The library’s executive director, Stephanie J. Coakley, says, “We are pleased to welcome someone of Dr. Cumby’s caliber to care for the notable Special Collections here at Pequot Library and make them accessible to students, researchers, and the public at large. After a lengthy national search and meeting with several accomplished candidates, the search committee members and I are so pleased to have identified a most knowledgeable and qualified rare books scholar and library professional to join our dedicated staff.”
Dr. Cumby graduated from the University of St Andrews in Scotland and has a doctorate in modern history and an MLitt in book history. She received her bachelor’s cum laude from Wellesley College. Cumby was a senior editor on Preserving the World's Rarest Books, a new program sponsored by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation of New York that aims to put the analytical power of the Universal Short Title Catalogue at the disposal of the world library community. Prior to that she worked in Special Collections at the University of St Andrews, at Cambridge Public Library, at the MIT Press, and at Wellesley’s Special Collections Library.
Her PhD thesis focused on the history of the book, and she is looking forward to combining her commitments to research with broader aims of public outreach and access at Pequot Library. “Pequot Library’s dual role as both a research collection and a community resource makes it an especially appealing working environment,” Cumby says. “I relish the opportunity to contribute to the library’s mission of bringing Special Collections to a public audience.”
She has been the primary researcher responsible for handling St Andrews’ contributions to the Material Evidence in Incunabula database since 2014 and worked as one of the student cataloguers on St Andrews’ retro-cataloguing project, Lighting the Past. She was also on the board assembled to select St Andrews’ new library management system. Her master’s in book history led to her PhD project that integrated research into material features of books like types, mise-en-page, provenance, and paper with archival research. A core element of her MLitt in book history was a course in material bibliography, which involved substantial cataloguing of St Andrews’ 17th-century books. She has been part of the team that teaches this course to new graduate students.
To complement her MLitt and PhD, Cumby is currently enrolled in the Master of Science in library and informational science online program at the University of Illinois.
Board member and Special Collections committee chair Lori Langdon says, "It was clear to me almost immediately upon meeting Jamie that she was the person for the important job. Her enthusiasm for our Special Collections and how she envisions sharing it with the community and beyond aligned beautifully with the vision of the library overall."
Pequot Library is a unique institution thanks to its Special Collections of rare books, manuscripts, and archives. The remarkable holdings, both regional in scope and internationally significant, offer patrons and scholars treasures for reading and research. Highlights of the collections on long-term deposit at the Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library in New Haven, CT provide scholars the opportunity of investigating at a profound level the early formation of our country. Among the collection’s treasures are Epistola de insulis nuper inventis (Christopher Columbus’ Letter of 1493) and signatures of all signers of the Declaration of Independence. At Pequot Library, visitors can enjoy a wide selection of holdings including the Sancti Gregorii magni epistolae (the Letter of Pope Gregory I, c. 540-604), the oldest book found in a public library in Fairfield County; a 15th-century illuminated antiphonary—a volume containing the choral parts of the Divine Office; and the four Shakespeare Folios—two intact plays from the First (1623), and complete Second (1632), Third (1666), and Fourth (1685).