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 remarkable bequest of approximately 6600 books related to all aspects of horsemanship, representing the lifelong collection of John A. Seaverns. With representative titles covering five centuries, this collection provides valuable insight into the role of the horse through the ages. The collection is especially strong in racing, hunting 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, carriage roads, 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 had the opportunity to digitize approximately 1500 pre-1923 books (those no longer in copyright) that are now openly available through the [Internet Archive.org|http://www.archive.org/search.php?query=John%20A.%20Seaverns%20Equine%20Collection]. This has significantly increased the impact and value of the Seaverns Collection, which until recently had been seen by very few people. As of April, 2010, the digitized books have been downloaded 236,990 times.
The project provides high-resolution, downloadable, reusable files of public domain materials. The digitized books are 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.