Morris Library receives Buckminster Fuller’s books for research and study

Helping to Preserve a Legacy – Matt Gorzalski, University Archivist, with some of the more than 3,000 books by former SIU professor Carbondale and acclaimed designer and futurist R. Buckminster Fuller. Once cataloged, some of the books will return to Fuller’s Dome House in Carbondale with the overflowing portion of the library’s Special Collections Research Center. Fuller is shown in his library with some of the books, (Photo by Russell Bailey; photo by R. Buckminster Fuller provided by Morris Library)

February 18, 2021

Morris Library receives Buckminster Fuller’s books for research and study

by Pete Rosenbery

Researchers interested in learning more about former SIU professor R. Buckminster Fuller will soon have the opportunity to better understand the thoughts of the famous futurist, architect and designer.

Morris Library Special Collections Research Center owns Fuller’s personal library of over 3,000 volumes; is part of a recent donation of artifacts and furniture to the non-profit R. Buckminster Fuller Dome. The organization recently acquired Fuller’s personal library and original furniture from his estate, with the goal of relocating the furniture and library as they were in the 1960s to the Dome House at 407 S. Forest. St. in Carbondale, where Fuller and his wife, Anne, lived from 1960 to 1971.

Under a memorandum of understanding with the nonprofit, some volumes will go to Fuller’s home and the remaining volumes to the Morris Library, said Matthew Gorzalski, university archivist. The volumes give another glimpse into Fuller’s life.

Fuller (1895-1983) was recruited to the SIU by then-president Delyte Morris and Harold Cohen, professor in the department of design, and joined the university in 1959.

Fuller’s personal library is unique in that it has remained intact and includes Fuller’s notations and drawings in the margins and spaces of many books, Gorzalski said. There are 118 boxes and a plastic tote that contain Fuller’s books now in the library’s rare book stacks that will be cataloged by Special Collections starting in March.

The level of detail in Fuller’s notations and writings is important to researchers, Gorzalski said.

“On the one hand, it surprises me. On the other hand, knowing Buckminster Fuller, that doesn’t surprise me, ”he said. “The real value for the library is the books that are annotated for researchers. We will note it in the cataloging record so that people can find out more about it, what he thought about it, if it influenced his work.

The books not only contain Fuller’s notations, but some are signed by the author of the book or by those who gave the book to Fuller.

“You get insight into Buckminster Fuller’s thinking,” Gorzalski said. “You also get insight into how other people’s writing may have influenced him and how he used it in his own designs. “

Gorzalski says the Dome Restoration Group is the key to getting the books. Fuller’s personal papers are at Stanford University.

“It will be a good resource,” he said. “We don’t have much on Fuller when it comes to research materials, and that adds to that.”

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Paul N. Strickland