Retirement : Kathryn Kollar

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Kathryn Kollar
Canadian Centre of Architecture (1985-1997), Montreal

Kathryn Kollar has been an extraordinary librarian at the Canadian Centre for Architecture (CCA). Kollar began her career at the CCA in July 1985 as the Bibliographic Researcher – keep in mind that the new building of the CCA only opened four years later. In this position and in the pre-digital era, she went systematically through dealer catalogues to see what already existed in our paper catalogue and what CCA should actively acquire. One is only able to succeed in this task if you have a good memory and visualization of the holdings, and clearly Kathryn had these skills.  

Focused on architecture and urbanism in the first place, the CCA Library Collection currently comprises 250,000 volumes. The acquisitions over time emphasised rare books, current imprints and special collections relating to the history of architectural theory, practice, and publishing from the fifteenth century to the present. In addition, it holds over 5,000 serial titles (ca. 400 current subscriptions). Aligned with the institution’s curatorial approach, Kathryn made sure to document the history of architectural discourse, and to stimulate contemporary scholarship and research in architectural history and theory. Over time the focus within development of the library holdings shifted and Kathryn actively accommodated those shifts. 

Kathryn Kollar always had a special interest in early architectural treatises, and more specifically those on fortifications (of which she must have at least acquired a thousand!). She could enthusiastically tell you about the arrival of “such neat publication on fortification of the northwest of France” or something similar. And being perfectly bilingual, Kathryn would recognize the French contribution to the urban culture of Quebec, and its fortified cities that is reflected in a collection of manuals, treatises, and manuscripts on fortification. 

Kathryn could also show you with great enthusiasm the architectural toy or miniature collections, and she maintained active relations with the donors of these collections. 

In 1996, Kathryn became the Acquisitions Librarian, before being promoted to her latest position of Head of Acquisitions, in 2004. With her many years of experience, her detailed knowledge of the CCA collection, and her curatorial and research activities, Kathryn played a crucial role in building up the library holdings that are still an important part of the CCA’s collection.

In 1997, when she retired, Phyllis Lambert, founder of the CCA, spoke well-chosen words to Kathryn. She called her one of the rocks of the CCA. The CCA owes a lot to people who contributed to building the collection. Kathryn did just that for more than 33 years.

Martien de Vletter
Associate Director, Collection
Canadian Centre of Architecture

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