Compendiums of Giving: Preserving Our Written Cultural Heritage: Donations to the Archives

“Libraries are reservoirs of strength, grace and wit, reminders of order, calm and continuity, lakes of mental energy, neither warm nor cold, light nor dark.... In any library in the world, I am at home, unselfconscious, still and absorbed. ~Germaine Greer

The importance and value of philanthropy, especially towards libraries and archives is well recognized across ages, cultures and geographic locations. It is a means to support grassroots education and research, to encourage cultural heritage preservation, uplift societies, and open up new spiritual, cultural and economic venues and horizons for current and future generations.

To cite just one example of such great philanthropy towards libraries, Andrew Carnegie, who donated back a big chunk of his fortune in support of founding public libraries in Greater Philadelphia in the early 20th c. expressed his strong belief in the value of libraries to build communities.

When he retired in 1901, Carnegie sent a bequest of $5,000,000 to the people of Homestead, Philadelphia, of which $1,000,000 were dedicated to the establishment and maintenance of libraries, noting in a letter to his company: “I make this first use of my surplus wealth upon retiring from business as an acknowledgment of the deep debt which I owe to the workmen who have contributed so greatly to my success.[...] It is my desire that these libraries shall be provided with books of a suitable character to inform the minds and quicken the thoughts of all who may be desirous of reading to increase their knowledge and maintain their faculties and they shall under proper rules and regulations be free to the people of the several districts of the city in which they are located". (1901)

Carnegie added: "There is not such a cradle of democracy upon the earth as the Free Public Library, this republic of letters, where neither rank, office, nor wealth receives the slightest consideration.”[...]  “A library outranks any other one thing a community can do to benefit its people. It is a never failing spring in the desert.”

We display here samples from over 25 special collections, archives and primary source documents which were recently donated to the AUB Libraries. These collections will go a long way to support original research at the University, and to turn us into a destination of choice and distinction for young researchers interested in fresh, grassroots looks at our region. We would like to take this opportunity to thank all donors (of collections exhibited or not) for their support to the University’s core liberal arts grassroots mission through these donations. On behalf of our current and future research communities, students and faculty, we are extremely thankful.

 

 

American University of Beirut / University Libraries / Bliss Street / P.O.Box 11-0236 / Riyad El-Solh, Beirut 11072020 Lebanon / ulcontactus@aub.edu.lb