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Special Collections

Special Collections at Otis College includes rare books, artists' books, and archival material from the history of the college.

Welcome!

Rare, unique, and fragile items are held in the Miller Special Collections where they are maintained under secure, controlled conditions. The material housed in Special Collections furthers the mission of the library as a whole, which is to provide a learning environment designed to inspire creative students and faculty at Otis College of Art and Design.

The collections are available for use on site by members of the Otis Community as well as visiting scholars and the general public. Please make an appointment in advance of your visit.

With the COVID-19 campus closures, access to Special Collections, including the artists' books collection, may not be possible. Please call the library (310/665-6930) for the latest developments.

 

Collections Overview

The Rare Book Collection includes:

  • Approximately 1,100 items, all cataloged.
  • Recent publications that may be too fragile or innovatively structured for life in the circulating stacks
  • Most popular title? Josef Albers’ Interaction of Color, published by Yale University Press in 1963

What's in the Otis Archives?

  • Photos by students from the 1920s and ‘30s
  • Course catalogs and view books from 1918 through the present
  • Newspaper clippings from 1930s through 1950s compiled by alumna Bernice Meier
  • College promotional material from the 1980s through the present
  • Commencement and Annual Exhibition programs and brochures
  • Digital images of some items from the collection

The Artists' Books Collection includes:The Proposition of Landscape by Melissa Wagner-Lawler

  • More than 2,000 titles
  • Plus approximately 250 books in the Lab Press Collection
  • Work by important contemporary artists such as Ed Ruscha as well as work by recent graduates of MFA programs in the book arts such as Sarah Bryant and Daniel Mellis
  • A zine collection
  • Inexpensive artists’ books that can be checked out

The Otis Laboratory Press Collection:

  • Was founded in 1983/4 by Sheila de Bretteville when she was chair of the Otis/Parsons Communication Design Department
  • Consists of books created by Otis students in letterpress printing and book structures classes
  • Books continue to be donated annually to the Lab Press Collection in the library's Special Collections
For more information about artists' books at Otis, see the Library's Artists' Books Resource Guide.

Images from the Archives

Original building on Wilshire 1910s

1910s The Bivouac, Wilshire Campus

Former residence of Harrison Gray Otis and original building for Otis Art Institute when the school opened its doors in 1918.

Wilshire Campus class 1930s

1930s Life Drawing Class, Wilshire Campus

1943 Clipping from Bernice Meier's Scrapbook

Henry Fukuhara at Manzanar

1950s Time Capsule opened

Document signed by Otis students in 1932, opened in 1950 with Tyrus Wong and Dorothy Jeakins on hand.

Library, Wilshire Campus 1980s

1980s Library, ground floor of the Amelia Taper Residence Hall, Wilshire Campus

Fashion Department CalMart 1997

1997 Fashion Department in the CalMart Building

1997 Westchester Campus computer lab

1997 New Computer Lab, Westchester Campus

Construction Westchester campus expansion 2014-16

2014-16 Construction site, campus expansion, Westchester Campus

Otis students, 2014, for the Time Capsule

2014 I Love Otis Photo booth image

For the Time Capsule (to be opened in 2050)

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