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  A view from ACF Player's Representative Richard Beckwith : 2011-02-14

John G. White Chess and Checker Special Collection

The 3-Move world title Match between Alex Moiseyev and Michele Borghetti will take place Aug. 13-23 at Cleveland Agora and Cleveland Public Library, with a daily schedule to be determined later. John Acker plans to set up a live internet feed. Additionally, the Cleveland Agora ballroom contains a built-in studio to film the match for potential promotional use. See

In this article I wished to introduce the John G. White Chess and Checkers Collection that is held in the Special Collections area of the Cleveland Public Library (3rd floor of older west main building), 325 Superior Ave. This would be a good time to visit the library while attending this historic match.

John Griswold White (1845-1928) was president of the Cleveland Public Library Board of Trustees from 1884-1886 and 1913-1928. Through his efforts, the library acquired rare books and unique editions that could not be purchased with public funds. The collection was established in 1928 and is one of the largest chess libraries in the world with significant holdings of books, serials, and publications. Naturally, there are many checker materials here as well.
Use of special collections material requires a photo ID with current address and telephone number. Identification is held at the service desk while materials are being viewed within special collections area. Due to size of collection, some volumes are housed off-site and need to be retrieved and reserved in advance. See for more info, including card catalog. As explained in December 2010 ACF bulletin, page 13, the Cleveland Public Library will welcome and pay for one copy of your checker book or magazine for their collection.

The current contact for the special collections area is Kelly Ross, who plans to have checkers-related displays on hand in the exhibit corridor for the world title match. For any checker historians, there are numerous boxes of un-catalogued checker material that Kelly does not have the manpower to sort. Perhaps some knowledgeable checker volunteers might be willing to lend a hand? Write Rich Beckwith ( for more details.

For those wishing to view materials at the library, the following tips were received from Jim Loy, who presented an article on the library in the October 2005 ACF bulletin.
You cannot browse through the stacks, and you cannot check anything out of the library. If you just want to look around, you may be disappointed. So it is best to develop a plan about what you would like to see. Make a list from the card catalog (where you may discover a gem or two that you didnít know existed). You have to specify which volume of which publication you want, and someone will eventually get it for you. Sometimes this takes time, maybe up to an hour or so. It depends how busy the gofers are. The library, of course, charges for photocopying. Let me add that it is handy to contact the Special Collections folks in advance and ask for them to have a specific book or two ready for you when you arrive, so you don't have to wait for the first book. Also, when you take a break for lunch, tell them which book you want to see next, and they will probably have it ready for you.

Some of the books are fragile, and so you may be provided with gloves, to protect the pages from your skin oils. Some rare books have pages encased in plastic. While paging through bound volumes of Draughts World magazine, I had the unpleasant experience of seeing tiny bits of paper falling onto the table from within each volume; they will probably be preserving those pages better, eventually.

Read more articles from your ACF Players Representative in the Rep's Corner Archive.

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