LETTER TO THE EDITOR
To the Editor
The story of the Dibner Institute and Burndy Library possibly coming to Pittsburgh is even more relevant than you mention in ?CMU and Pitt woo trustees of renowned Newton collection? (January 17, 2005). Dibner family founder Bern Dibner was a friend of Henry Posner Sr. who, with his wife Ida, is remembered on the Carnegie Mellon campus in the Posner Center, a gift to the university from Henry Posner Jr. and Helen Posner. Posner Center houses the remarkable Posner rare book collection. When Dibner Institute and Burndy Library visitors saw the Posner collection?s first edition of Newton?s Principia, they were awed.
Henry Posner Sr. came to Pittsburgh in 1912 and soon founded the Alpha Claude Neon Corporation, the first firm to license neon. Soon, Posner had subsumed his rivals in the Pittsburgh Outdoor Advertising Company. His personal passion was book collecting. At first, he collected fine literature and bindings, but after he read Bern Dibner?s Heralds of Science, he began to collect books from that list.
Henry Posner Sr. and Bern Dibner?s shared interest in collecting rare history of science titles made them friends but also rivals when a rare title was on the market. Bern kept trying to convince Henry to deposit his collection somewhere in New England, but Henry wanted to maintain it here in Pittsburgh for his children and grandchildren. Now the Dibner family is looking for an alternative location for Bern?s collection.
The Posner family has invited the Dibner family to have dinner with them in the Posner Center in the spring. I hope that the Tartan will soon be able to report to students on this next step towards bringing the Institute and the Library to Pittsburgh. Meanwhile, students can view most volumes in the Posner collection in digitized form at posner.library.cmu.edu/Posner/.
Glorianna St. Clair
Dean of University Libraries