The Penn Libraries has extraordinary special collections of culinary material, including cookbooks which coincidentally grew as Food Studies became an important sub-discipline in several fields. With special collections, we are dependent on collectors who donate or sell their collections to the Libraries. To assure that today's cookbooks are available at Penn for future special collections, we purchase them for our general collections as they are published. Although popular cookbooks are not currently rare, they are not typically purchased by research libraries and over time will become oddities that provide insight into today's culinary cultures.
The Libraries purchases mass market, local and academic cookbooks as they are published, which build on the special collections in Kislak and circulate to support interests both recreational and academic. This collection consists of hundreds of cookbooks and is growing quickly. However, cookbooks are not collected comprehensively; an emphasis is placed on cookbooks focused on international and ethnic cuisines as well as on cookbooks that include narratives and contextual information explaining the experiences and cultures that produced the recipes.