The Webster Family Library supports the academic, clinical and research activities of the students and faculty of the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University. The primary focus of the library's collection is clinical veterinary medicine with supporting materials in conservation, wildlife and the basic sciences.
In 2002, the Library received a wonderful bequest of approximately 5000 books related to all aspects of horsemanship, representing the lifelong collection of John Seaverns. With representative titles covering five centuries, this collection provides a valuable insight into the role of the horse through the ages. The collection is especially strong in racing, hunting, riding, breed histories and equestrian art. While most of the volumes date from the 19th and 20th centuries, several rare treatises on horsemanship, including one from the 16th century, are a part of the collection. The Duke of Newcastle's A General System of Horsemanship (1743), with its outstanding woodcuts, is the most striking example. Other items in the collection provide a glimpse into military training, laws related to horse ownership, and the various levels of society. Photo albums by noted photographer L.S. Sutcliffe record life at major racing stables in the early 20th century. Many volumes provide historical information, such as descriptions of horse-drawn carriages, farriers and "stable economy". The variety of material is a rich resource for students and researchers in a number of disciplines - sociology, history, animal science.
Through a recent agreement between the Boston Library Consortium (BLC) and the Open Content Alliance (OCA), we have the opportunity to digitize approximately 2000 volumes of the collection and make them openly available through the Internet Archive, Internet Archive.org. This will significantly increase the impact and value of the Seaverns Collection, which until now has been seen by very few people.
The project will provide high-resolution, downloadable, reusable files of public domain materials. The digitized books will be hosted by the Internet Archive and available to be indexed by any search engine following the BLC and OCA's philosophy of open access to digitized content.
The idea for the Open Content Alliance comes from Brewster Kahle, the founder and director of the Internet Archive, which was created in 1996 with the aim of preserving copies of web sites and other material. More than 80 libraries and research institutions, including the Smithsonian Institution, are members of OCA.