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How do I access the Library of Jacques Derrida?
Early in 2015, the Princeton University Library acquired the personal working library of Algerian-Born French Jewish philosopher Jacques Derrida (1930-2004). The collection consists of the library of the Derrida household, including Jacques Derrida's working library as well as books belonging, jointly or separately, to Jacques and Marguerite Derrida and, to some degree, their two sons, Jean and Pierre. It includes volumes, serial issues, offprints, clippings, and papers accumulated in the course of Jacques and Marguerite's professional activities as well as books representing the family's far-reaching interests and leisure reading.
For more information on the history of the acquisition, please see the blog post "Princeton University Library Acquires Jacques Derrida's Personal Library".
Due to its size, the collection has been divided into two series, each with their own finding aid:
The Library of Jacques Derrida, Studio Series (RBD1) -- Contains books shelved by Derrida in his Studio, an addition to the house that served as Derrida's principal work environment from the time it was built in 2001 up to his death in 2004. Books are represented here as inventoried in 2011. Also includes books not inventoried in 2011 (hence presumably not shelved in the Studio at the time) but located in the Studio at the time of packing the Library for shipment to Princeton University Library.
Material is arranged by location in the Studio, following shelfmark order as inventoried and broken down by the first shelfmark segment, which indicates the four walls, two revolving bookcases, and bedside tables, respectively.
The Library of Jacques Derrida, House Series (RBD1.1) -- Contains books shelved by Derrida outside the Studio, i.e. in the main house. This includes a main run of largely books received as unsolicited gifts by Jacques and Marguerite as well as, in some instances, Jean, and Pierre, as well as the family's leisure reading and books not considered as central to Derrida's daily work as those shelved in the Studio.
The main run is arranged by original shelf order as reflected in the inventory conducted prior to packing the Library for shipping to Princeton University Library. The remainder of the house, where a more precise original location is unknown, is arranged in approximate packing order.
Patrons may need to toggle between both finding aids when exploring material related to their research question.
As is true with all collections, the department of Special Collections welcomes all researchers to the reading room, located on C-Floor of Firestone Library, Monday-Friday 9:00am-4:45pm.
Prior to arriving at special collections, patrons will need to register for a Special Collections Research account (you can do so on the Special Collections registration and login page) . Please use this account to then request materials to the reading room. We recommend placing reading room requests at least two days in advance to ensure that any offsite items will be available upon patron arrival.
Upon first visit to the library, patrons will need to check in with the access office on the first floor of Firestone Library in order to obtain a reader photo ID. Please bring a government or school issued ID to complete this process.
Material can be requested via the finding aid portal using the "request this box" button on the item finding aid page.
Interested patrons may also wish to explore the Princeton University Library project Derrida’s Margins, an ongoing effort to connect the annotations in Derrida’s library to his published works.
Please contact Special Collections staff with questions or concerns via the Ask a Question form on our website.