February 8, 2013
Mystery donor helps preserve rare books at the Boston Public Library
by Claire Kelley
In a series of three donations ($100,00 in 2008, $500,000 in 2010, and $500,000 this year), an anonymous donor has pledged money to the Boston Public Library to catalog, conserve, digitize, and repair rare books and special collections.
According to an article in the Boston Globe, the group who received the money will not reveal anything about the identity of the donor:
Nothing about the donor was disclosed, not even gender, by Vivian Spiro, chairwoman of the Associates of the Boston Public Library, an independent group that received the gifts. The patron, Spiro said, is “an example of citizens of good will who care about the library and love it.”
The Associates of the Boston Public Library is an “independent, nonprofit organization dedicated to conserving the Boston Public Library’s special collections of rare books, manuscripts, and other items of significant historic interest.” According to their website, they also have access to the David McCullough Conservation Fund, which was established in 2001 by the eponymous historian, who used the Boston Public Library’s special collection to write his Pulitzer Prize-winning biography of John Adams (in which he later admitted to misquoting Thomas Jefferson).
With these funds, the library has achieved the following conservation accomplishments:
- restoration of John Adams’s personal atlas
- “Liber Chronicarium,” the Chronicles of Nuremberg from the 1400s (see photo)
- repair of 35-foot by 24-inch medieval illuminated scroll, ca. 1440
- purchase of a Revolutionary letter to George Washington from Samuel Cooper
Materials restored from the music department include:
- Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Dreistimmige Fuge. Autograph manuscript
- Jacques Offenbach. Voyage de la Lune. Vocal score containing the script and original costume designs. Also contains correspondence concerning the first performance of the opera.
- Dmitri Shostakovich. “Lady of Mtensk.” Sketch. Autograph manuscript.
Claire Kelley is a the former Director of Library and Academic Marketing.