About

Welcome to “150 Years in the Stacks” – a look at MIT through the prism of its library collections. Think of this as a tour through the MIT Libraries’ open stacks and offsite storage areas, with a side trip to its closed-stack rare collections and an occasional glimpse into the vault.

The MIT Libraries have been around nearly as long as the Institute itself, and now hold over 3 million printed volumes, plus another 3 million items in other formats. It goes without saying that we have some very interesting stuff.

This online exhibit took shape during MIT’s sesquicentennial celebration in 2011. Each day for 150 days, we shared a single item from the Libraries’ collections, each item representing one of the years since MIT’s founding in 1861. On day one, we showed an item published in 1861. Day two, 1862. You get the idea.

Don’t expect the expected. This is not a listing of The 150 Most Important Works Ever Published in Science and Technology. For that matter, don’t expect to see only science and technology. While you’re adjusting your expectations, don’t expect 150 uniformly serious items either. Like the Institute itself, the MIT Libraries are unique, and very serious about what they do. But also like the Institute itself – and like other major research libraries – the MIT Libraries can be a bit quirky. And sometimes, we hope, a little surprising.