Similar to how an archaeologist feels after discovering new artifacts, Katherine Staab is excitedly searching and sorting through the W.K. Kellogg Arabian Horse Collection.
¿The sensory experience is thrilling,¿ says Staab, the newly hired Arabian horse subject specialist. ¿The smell of the leather and old paper, as well as the feel of the pages and bindings, provides a real sense of history and romance that makes me feel a bit like Indiana Jones.¿
Staab, who came to Cal Poly Pomona in May from Connecticut, where she was living on a boat and working on her dissertation at Penn State, is teaming with library staff to prepare the collection for public view when it opens January 2012. The entrance will be across from Starbucks inside the University Library.
¿It¿s thrilling to know that I¿m coming in at the ground level and going to be able to have a lot of freedom to make this a really prestigious research center,¿ says Staab, who has a master¿s degree in library and information science, as well as one in theory, criticism, and history of art, design, and architecture. ¿Looking at the stuff that is already in the collection, I can¿t wait to build on it and add things that are going to bring scholars to Cal Poly Pomona to conduct research.¿
Staab continues to find unexpected, interesting items as she searches through the boxes of material that have yet to be catalogued.
¿I continue to be pleasantly surprised to find treasures on a daily basis. For example, just today I came across a beautiful leather-bound album of black and white hand-mounted and hand-labeled photos of famous Arabian horses from Istanbul in 1939,¿ she says. ¿The care that went into the creation of the album amazes me, as does the fact that it has survived in nearly perfect condition for so long.¿
Another object Staab found that brought her joy was a book of photo engravings from the 1893 Columbian Exposition at the Chicago World’s Fair.
¿As an art historian, I immediately recognized the significance of this book: the White City, the Ferris wheel, Muybridge’s movie theater, the fire.¿
The vast collection includes documents from the original Kellogg Stables, texts describing Arabian horse breeds and other gifts that were donated to the library. Visitors will be able to see texts that are no longer in print and touch books that were originally made in the early 19th century that are still in good condition.
The Arabian horse collection, which the university has housed for decades, was located in University Library before it was moved to the Union Plaza, commonly known as the Stables.
Now the collection is ¿coming home to a new and improved custom-designed facility due to financial support from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation,¿ says Danette Cook Adamson, the special collections librarian.
Adamson adds that the collection was very popular in its previous location, garnering the attention of royalty including an Arabian prince and a queen from Afghanistan.
Staab is looking forward to hosting guests from campus and far beyond.
¿I hope that once the library opens, people from all over the world will come to the library and be able to join me in saying that there is no one best item in the collection — it is all marvelous,¿ Staab says.
(Top photo: Katherine Staab, Arabian horse subject specialist. Bottom photo: Artist’s rendering of the new Arabian horse collection, which is moving into the University Library.)