Meadville Lombard's rare book collection is named for the Reverend Doctor Neil Wayne Gerdes, Dean of the Library and Associate Professor of Bibliography from 1973 to 2013. During his years as Librarian, Neil Gerdes ensured that the Wiggin Library played a vital role in forming ministers and serving the wider Unitarian Universalist community. Neil adapted the library to serve a new educational model and shaped it to take full advantage of a new, state-of-the-art facility. Because of this stewardship, the library will be able to continue to adapt and to serve Meadville Lombard for years to come.
The mission of the Neil W. Gerdes Rare Book Collection is to preserve and make accessible its broad array of rare books pertaining to the heritage of Unitarian Universalism. The collection emphasizes early American and British Unitarianism, early Universalism, American free/radical thought, European Unitarianism, and signed copies of significant works from American and British authors. Most of these volumes are listed in the catalog, and may be consulted with assistance from the librarian.