U-M Library receives $1.25 million Mellon Grant for conservation

January 23, 2013
Lynne Raughley, (734) 764-6338, raughley@umich.edu

ANN ARBOR—The University of Michigan Library has received a $1.25 million grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to create an endowed Conservation Librarian position.

This new position will enable the library to expand its well-established conservation program, which plays a vital role in ensuring that the library’s vast print collection is available for research, exhibition and digitization.

The library is to receive $1 million in endowment money from the foundation, which it will match by raising funds to create a total $2 million endowment within three years. The foundation will also provide $250,000 in spendable funds to hire and support the Conservation Librarian for the first three years. The grant is among the largest the library has received in its long history.

Shannon Zachary, head of the Department of Preservation and Conservation, says that the Mellon-funded position will benefit scholars both local and worldwide.

“After more than 150 years of building collections to meet the educational and research needs of the university, the library has amassed a print collection of extraordinary breadth and depth. It has print holdings of over eight million volumes, the largest collection of ancient papyrus manuscripts in the Western Hemisphere, and thousands of rare and special items,” Zachary said.

“An exciting aspect of preserving materials in the U-M Library is the library’s culture of sharing and commitment to open access. That means that materials preserved here are made available to as broad a community as possible and will support scholarship and the advancement of knowledge for centuries to come.”

Zachary says that, in addition to supporting the preservation of both circulating and special collections print materials, the new Conservation Librarian will help the library to keep pace with the demand for digital access.

“The digitization of unique archival and special collections material requires substantial commitment from conservation staff, which evaluates and sometimes repairs items prior to scanning, and monitors the impact of the imaging process on the materials,” Zachary said.

University Librarian and Dean of Libraries Paul Courant said, “We’re enormously grateful to the Mellon Foundation for their support, which will enhance our ability to preserve the cultural and scholarly record and to share our holdings with the world.”

The U-M Library is consistently ranked among the top 10 research libraries in the annual Association of Research Libraries statistical lists—and often one of the top two public university libraries. The library actively engages in a full spectrum of programs and initiatives to collaborate in learning, teaching and research in the university and in the wider scholarly community. Recent examples have included spearheading the creation of the HathiTrust digital library, collaborating on the development of the regional UBorrow program, and merging with the University Press to create new opportunities for publication of scholarly works.