Supporting the Libraries
“All great cultural and learning institutions, libraries included, thrive because donors know that their funding is both critical and deeply valued.” So wrote Bruce Crawford in a recent letter to fellow members of the Rondel Society, which he chairs. The Rondel Society comprises, along with the Jewel and Founding Grant societies, the foundation of the Stanford Libraries’ supporting community. In this era of rapid technological change and persistent economic challenges, a modern research library can thrive only with metamorphosis, and can embark upon truly transformative endeavors, those which in the long run will change the very nature of libraries, only with thoughtful philanthropic support.
How are gifts transformative in intent and effect? Sometimes, they allow the Libraries to quickly assemble adequate research materials in formerly uncollected subjects for newly instituted programs at Stanford, often international or interdisciplinary fields. At other times, they help us augment existing strengths; endowed book funds and our Commemorate with Books program, for instance, build deep collections over time, mainly by acquiring recently published monographs. Gifts and grants also provide for student internships, professional catalogers, improved technology, and innovative partnerships with peer libraries worldwide.
Each gift, regardless of its size, is meaningful to us in creating scholarly community. Two collections concurrently evolving with donor support of many kinds, as numerous articles in ReMix have documented, are rare maps and medieval manuscripts. The availability of these unique cultural artifacts has led to more active faculty and graduate student research, more frequent undergraduate class visits to Special Collections, a vibrant exhibits program, and foundation grants to develop modern research tools for studying them. A transformative moment for us will be the opening, circa 2013, of a cartography center on the fourth floor of Green Library.
There is a virtuous cycle of gifts to libraries. Notable collections attract similar materials, achieving a necessary critical mass for scholarly focus. Faculty and students choose to work and study at institutions with resources best suited and most readily available for their research. Alumni, visiting scholars, sponsored researchers, authors, bibliophiles and local communities all rely upon a great university library. Our collections have permanent intrinsic value and are equally important for the ongoing human interactions they enable and the current synergy they provide for multi-disciplinary collaborative research. In the end, we hope, all our supporters recognize the transformations that gifts to the Stanford Libraries have initiated and the widely beneficial outcomes of their philanthropy.
With gratitude and best wishes to each of our donors,
Michael A. Keller
The Ida M. Green University Librarian