Columbia University Libraries/Information Services (CUL/IS) is pleased to announce the receipt of a $615,000 gift from the Sherman Fairchild Foundation to endow the Mellon Conservator position, originally established with a challenge grant in 2010. The gift completes the $1 million in matching funds CUL/IS committed to raising for this new position when receiving the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation’s award.
"Columbia’s ability to preserve the knowledge of the past and pass it on to future generations is the foundation of the University’s academic excellence and our contributions to society,” said Columbia University President Lee C. Bollinger. “With this important grant, the Sherman Fairchild Foundation continues its longstanding partnership with Columbia by investing in our vital mission."
The gift arrives at a moment when CUL/IS’s special collections are growing exponentially, with major acquisitions such as the Frank Lloyd Wright Archive joining over 900,000 rare books, more than 85,000 linear feet of archives and manuscripts, and thousands of other documents and realia in the collections. The new conservator position enables CUL/IS to care for and present these collections to the public, as demonstrated through the complex treatments of Judaica manuscripts the conservators carried out in support of the recent Rare Book and Manuscript Library exhibit, The People in the Books.
The conservator position will also allows the CUL/IS conservation team to advance Columbia’s already strong collaborations with other institutions for conservation education and training. The Libraries’ conservators are partners in the Mellon Library and Archives Program in the Conservation Center of the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University, where they teach courses in rare book history and conservation treatment to graduate student conservators. In addition, the enhanced staffing has allowed them to pursue research partnerships with scientists at Columbia to analyze and better understand unique items from the CUL/IS collections.
“In recent years, we are seeing more innovative ways in which the Libraries work to open their unique special collections to teaching and scholarship of all kinds,” said Alexis Hagadorn, Head of Conservation at CUL/IS. “We are discovering that these new ways of working with what are in some cases our very oldest and most precious holdings, from digitization of ancient manuscripts, to scientific analysis of their composition to answer the questions of historians, to more opportunities for students to learn directly from documents and artworks in the classroom, all have a role for Conservation to play.”
For more about conservation at Columbia and the new Mellon Conservator, please visit the Columbia University Libraries Mellon Conservator web page.
Columbia University Libraries/Information Services is one of the top five academic research library systems in North America. The collections include over 12 million volumes, over 160,000 journals and serials, as well as extensive electronic resources, manuscripts, rare books, microforms, maps, and graphic and audio-visual materials. The Libraries employs more than 450 professional and support staff and hosts over 3.5 million visitors each year. The website of the Libraries is the gateway to its services and resources: library.columbia.edu.