APRIL 28, 2014 – GEORGETOWN’S RAREST AND MOST valuable books, manuscripts, artwork and historic documents will move into an expansive new, state-of-the-art, climate-controlled home next spring, thanks to gifts amounting to $5 million.
A $3 million gift from Suzanne Deal Booth and David G. Booth, for whom the center will be renamed, allowed work to begin last month at Lauinger Library to renovate the Special Collections Research Center.
The Booths are parents of Erin, a 2012 graduate of Georgetown College, and David Booth is a member of Georgetown’s board of directors.
The formal name of the renovated space will be the Suzanne Deal Booth and David G. Booth Center for Special Collections.
The revamped center will be 1,200 square feet larger than the existing space, and include a new teaching classroom, an enhanced reading room for researchers, museum-quality climate controls, a secure shelving area and vault, expanded exhibition space and collaborative workspace for library staff and student interns.
“In the digital age, when research libraries acquire many of the same materials, it is special collections that will distinguish libraries and their universities,” says University Librarian Artemis Kirk. “We have a responsibility at Georgetown not only to protect and preserve these rare treasures but also to make them readily available for our scholars and students to conduct their primary source research – for generations to come.”
COMMITTED TO PRESERVATION
The university’s special collections encompass the University Archives, established in 1816 and one of the nation’s oldest, and the University Art Collection. Holdings include 100,000 rare books, thousands of archival and historic manuscripts, 300,000 photographs and slides, more than 15,000 fine art prints and 500 paintings.
A first edition of St. Ignatius’ Ratio Studiorum (1586), Mark Twain’s original handwritten manuscript of Tom Sawyer, the Gilbert Stuart portrait of Georgetown’s founder, Archbishop John Carroll, and the university’s founding documents are among its notable treasures.
The preservation of works of cultural heritage is a cause to which the Booths are deeply committed. The couple founded the Booth Heritage Foundation and Friends of Heritage Preservation to support conservation and preservation efforts in the United States and abroad. Suzanne Deal Booth, an art historian and art conservation specialist, serves on the boards of museums and arts organizations.
“The past has always informed the present,” Suzanne Deal Booth says. “We will lose a part of our history and cultural identity if we, as stewards of culture, do not take care to preserve these rare and valuable writings. A collection of Georgetown’s caliber truly deserves a world-class facility for the storage, display and research of these priceless works.”
SPRING 2015 OPENING
“Our library will always be a place where teaching, learning and research come together,” said Georgetown President John J. DeGioia. “The Booth Center for Special Collections, with its new classroom specifically designed for teaching with rare and fragile primary resources, will directly support these essential elements of our mission. We are deeply grateful to Suzanne and David Booth and other generous supporters for aiding Georgetown in preserving the rich intellectual and cultural history that our special collections represent.”
In addition to the Booths’ gift, the project received a $1 million gift from Barbara Ellis Jones and a $500,000 gift from the Lauinger family, as well as numerous other contributions from library supporters. Jones, a 1974 graduate of Georgetown College, has held extensive volunteer roles at the university, including her current membership on the board of regents and her former service on the library board of advisors.
The Booth Center for Special Collections is expected to open in spring 2015. While construction is underway, the special collections staff has relocated to the first floor of Lauinger and the majority of the materials have been moved to a secure, climate-controlled, off-site facility. Staffers will continue to offer their services during the renovation but ask that they be contacted in advance for research requests.
The project’s progress can be tracked on the library’s website.