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USF perhaps considering to sell rare books (Read 3264 times)
hck
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USF perhaps considering to sell rare books
14.05.2009 at 08:42:30
 
The Uiversity of San Francisco is perhaps considering to sell rare books. See http://foghorn.usfca.edu/2009/04/rare-books-could-become-financial-safety-net/ .  Sad
 
Though: Quote:
Stacks of antique books line the walls of the Donahue Rare Book Room. Some professors worry the books may be pawned off to meet financial obligations, a claim which University President Rev. Stephen Privett, S.J. does not foresee happening.

sounds rather good.
 
 
 
Who are the winners in these days' economic crisis?  
 
Transferring books from an academic library (and hence in some sense from public posession) to private holdings and thus making them qith quite some probability far less accessible (and: do keep in mind: for (almost) all ancient books every single copy is a unique copy!) is equivalent - once again - to privatising gains and socialising losses. And IMO it was exactly this attitude (privileging private possessions and surrendering public control) which brought us into the present crisis first of all.
 


 
Found thanks to http://archiv.twoday.net/stories/5700203/ (and I found this thanks to http://twitter.com/Archivalia_kg ).
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for contact information etc. concerning hck (Heinrich C. Kuhn): see http://www.phil-hum-ren.uni-muenchen.de/php/Kuhn/
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hck
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Re: USF perhaps considering to sell rare books
Reply #1 - 02.06.2009 at 08:49:12
 
On 2008-05-28 Terry Belanger sent the following text via EXLIBRIS-L, which I redistribute here, with his kind permission (thanks!):
Quote:
FATHER BILL
Father William J. Monihan (1914-1996) became head
of the University of San Francisco Library in
1947. In 1964, he moved over to become the
director of library relations for the university.
During his 40-year library career, he acquired
more than forty notable collections for USF.
In a recent blog posting ('San Francisco
Earthquake'; see www.nicholasbasbanes.com/),
Nicholas Basbanes referred to his 1995 'Gentle
Madness' piece on Father Bill. Younger
subscribers to ExLibris who did not have a chance
to meet this remarkable 'penniless Medici' may be
interested in the following excerpt from Basbane's account:
'I got the idea for the Sir Thomas More Medal
when I was visiting Europe with the Grolier Club
in 1967,' Father Monihan said. 'I discovered that
the Royal Library of Sweden gives such an award,
and I was impressed by the concept. I even
borrowed their motto, which translates -private
book collecting – a public benefit.' I came back
and talked to our library associates and said, ‘Why can't we do this?' '
He named the medal for Sir Thomas More, who
was the focus of his first major acquisition; the
collection now includes about a thousand items,
foremost among them a volume of the martyr's
writings annotated in the hand of John Donne. The
first person Father Monihan wanted to receive the
honor was Norman Strouse [chairman of the board of J. Walter Thompson]. 'In 1968 Norman was
approaching retirement. We had lunch together in
New York, and he said, 'I'd like to help your
library.' After we gave him the first medal he
said to me, 'When I move back out to California,
I am going to help make your library great.' And he has done exactly that....
'I am a Jesuit, and I took a vow of poverty,'
Father Monihan explained in our interview. 'I
have no interest at all in owning anything for
myself. But I love books, and I collect them. The
difference is that I collect them for an
institution, not myself. Early on I knew that I
could never have a strong library if I depended
upon university funds. They would say, ‘We would
love to help you, Will, but we just can't do it.'
So when I became head of the library in 1947, I
went outside. I went out to meet people. And I've
been doing it ever since. I have created
enthusiasm among friends to support us. Now we
have an endowment fund of some size, and I'm
always getting gifts. So what you are seeing here
is largely from friends, with no university funds
used at all. This is all outside money doing this.'
Father Monihan has a warm smile, silver hair,
and a gentle demeanor. His blue eyes sparkle when
he talks about books, and he is unahakably
persuasive about his mission. The ability to get
so much 'outside help,' as he puts it, has been
his gift. 'I love people and they love me,' he
explained, 'And that's all that counts' ('A
Gentle Madness' [New York: Henry Holt, 1995], pp. 452-4).
THE MORE MEDAL AS MAGNET
Part of Father Bill's genius is that he was able
to attract significant donations to the Gleeson
Library from persons who had little or no
previous contact with the University of San Francisco.
The recipients of the University of San
Francisco's Sir Thomas More Medal for Book Collecting include
1968 Norman H. Strouse
1969 Wilmarth S. Lewis
1970 C. Waller Barrett
1971 Lessing J. Rosenwald
1972 Elmer Belt
1973 Gordon N. Ray
1974 Frederick R. Goff
1975 Mary Hyde
1976 Otto Schafer
1977 Lawrence Clark Powell
1978 John S. Mayfield
1979 John Dreyfus
1980 Phyllis Goodhart Gordan
1981 Robert H. Taylor
1982 Albert A. Sperisen
1983 Bern Dibner
1984 William H. Scheide
1985 Sanford L. Berger
1986 Mitsuo Kodama
1987 Carlton Lake
1988 Lawrence Lande
1989 William P. Barlow, Jr.
1990 Kenneth E. Hill
1991 Arthur Holzheimer
1992 T. Kimball Brooker
1993 William J. Monihan, S.J.
1994 The Lord Wardington
1995 Albert Shumate
1996 Michael Harrison
1997 Lloyd Edward Cotsen
1998 Virginia & Jenkins Garrett
2000 W. Michael Mathes
2003 Mark Samuels Lasner
2007 Bernard M. Rosenthal
A number of the medallists have been generous to
the Gleeson Library, as were a number of regular
attendees of an annual symposium that Father
Monihan ran in San Francisco for many years. On
this and other aspects of his career as a
librarian and fundraiser, see Ruth Teiser's 1988
oral history, produced by the Regional Oral
History Office, University of California, and available online:
www.archive.org/stream/librarianbookman00monirich/librarianbookman00monirich_djv u.txt

APOTHEOSIS
In 1997 (a year after Father Monihan's death),
USF opened an addition to the Gleeson Library
called the Geschke Learning Resource Center. Quoting USF's website:
The dramatic glass-enclosed atrium that anchors
the east end of the Geschke Center honors Fr.
William J. Monihan, S.J. The atrium, located at
the heart of the lower campus, features 5,000
square feet of open space punctuated by two
handsome balconies. The zinc roof echoes the dome
of St. Ignatius Church, clearly visible through
the faceted glass walls. The Monihan Atrium
provides library users with a quiet place for
study and contemplation as well as a centrally
located space for occasional University functions.
Fr. William Monihan was the founder and
driving force of the original Gleeson Library.
During his 47 years of service, first as
University librarian then as director of library
relations, he saw the collection grow from some
20,000 books to one of more than 600,000 volumes.
He was instrumental in developing the Donohue
Rare Book Room, dramatically increasing the
library's endowment and founding the Friends of
Gleeson Library volunteer support group. Fr.
Monihan's dedication to the University and his
deep love of books shone through his modest
demeanor. A painting of Fr. Monihan by Furman J.
Finck, the father's personal favorite portrait,
hangs in the atrium with the following
inscription: Reverend William J. Monihan, S. J.
1914 - 1996. Jesuit, University Librarian,
Bibliophile, San Franciscan, Caring Friend to
Many.' (From
<http://www.usfca.edu/library/about.html>http://www.usfca.edu/library/about.ht ml;
downloaded 28 May 2009.)

DECLINE
In May 2003, the then and current president of
USF, Father Stephen Privett, met with the Board
of the Gleeson Library Associates (GLA) to ask
that the group discontinue its present activities
and focus its energies on fundraising to help pay
for business and scientific electronic
subscriptions for the general library. Within a
few months, four directors, including important
donors, resigned from the Associates' board. The
GLA continued with its activities, made modest
gifts of a few thousand dollars to the general
library when it was able, but did not specifically engage in fund raising.
In late 2006, a valuable Maynard Dixon
painting that had hung for years in the Rare Book
Room at USF was secretly consigned for sale at a
December auction at Bonhams. Despite last-minute
efforts to suspend the sale, it sold and the
University netted about $800,000, a sum which
(one was told) went into an endowed fund to
support general library acquisitions.
In a burst of activity in 2007, the GLA
celebrated its 50th anniversary, awarding its Sir
Thomas More Medal for "private book collecting -
a public benefit" to Bernard M. Rosenthal in the
spring and holding a Golden Anniversary
celebration in the fall. Although the Board made
a gift of $10,000 to the general library at this
time, it was criticized by the University
administration for the money it spent on the
event, money that might otherwise have provided a
larger gift to the Library.

FALL
The clandestine May 2009 sale of USF's Rembrandt
and Durer prints may be seen as a further -- and
possibly final -- stage in the deteriorating
relationship between the GLA, President Stephen
Privett, and the current USF administration.
Father Monihan&#145;s vision was to form a rare
book collection at USF without significant
expenditure by the University that would
significantly enhance the credibility of the
university as a serious institution of higher
learning. Surely it was not the intention either
of the University library's earlier donors or of
the many benefactors rounded up by Father Bill
that their gifts might subsequently be
reconfigured to form part of the operating funds
of the University. In an email message to Father
Privett sent last week, Peter Stansky (Frances
and Charles Field Professor of History Emeritus
at Stanford University), said bluntly:
In my view to diminish the collection not only
violates the faith of those who have donated to
the collection (as I have in a very minor way)
but verges towards vandalism and
philistinism. It is a panic reaction to a
situation that I believe will improve. Forgive me
for writing so bluntly, but such a contemplated
action requires a strong response.
The secret USF sales have not -- yet -- been the
subject of national news coverage (though stay
tuned). They are, however, widely known in the
Bay Area, and a significant part of the USF
alumni body will surely be made aware of any further sales.

CONFIDENTIAL TO FATHER PRIVETT
(One of the really valuable items in the USF
collection is 'Lucubrationes, ab innumeris mendis
repurgatae,' a 1563 volume of Sir Thomas More's
writings, from the library of John Donne and with
his annotations throughout. Its call number is PA
8553 .A22 1563 c.2. Note the tail-end of the call
number: it is a duplicate; the USF library has
another copy of this edition. Copy 2 would fetch
a lot at auction. The book was purchased with
funds provided for this purpose by William
Monihan's mother and father, early in his career
at USF Librarian &#150; but Father Bill's parents are
long dead, as is Father Bill....) [A low blow,
but look what we're dealing with....]

WIDER IMPLICATIONS
I have been following the rare book world with
some attention since the late 1960s, but I cannot
remember another occasion in the United States
where valuable items were removed from a
university library's special collections and sold
secretly, without at least some sort of prior
discussion within the community affected by the
sales. The USF's actions are causing many donors
(and potential donors) of books and other
valuable property -- far beyond the USF community
-- to rethink about the terms of their
institutional donations (or proposed donations).
I think we're going to start seeing a significant
change in the language used in deeds of gift, along these lines:
If at any time in the future the University of X
no longer wishes to, or is no longer able to, to
serve as the custodian of my gift, then I direct
that it should be sold at auction for the benefit
of the SPCA [or some other charity].
We've not heard the end of this one.

Terry Belanger
University Professor, Honorary Curator of Special Collections
Director, Rare Bk School : University of Virginia
Rare Book School : PO 400103 : Charlottesville, VA 22904-4103
Email belanger@virginia.edu : Phone 434-924-8851 : Fax 434-924-8824
URL < http://www.rarebookschool.org>
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for contact information etc. concerning hck (Heinrich C. Kuhn): see http://www.phil-hum-ren.uni-muenchen.de/php/Kuhn/
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