Library Campaign Priorities
Cornell University Library Far Above…The Campaign for Cornell Fundraising Priorities:
Olin Renovation - $5 million
The John M. Olin Library was build when 3x5 cards were cutting edge research tools and long before the card catalog became an online resource, Olin Library will celebrate its 50th birthday in 2011. Like many buildings of that vintage, it is due for an extensive renovation. Plans to upgrade the facility are based on three distinct needs:
- Life Safety – The lack of even a basic fire suppression capability poses a serious threat to users and collections alike. Olin’s 53 miles of shelving, housing over 2 million volumes are not protected by a sprinkler system. Indeed, given the quantity and replacement value of the collections this vulnerability has driven the university’s insurance premiums to unprecedented levels and even impacted their ability to secure secondary carriers for the self-insured campus.
- Environmental Control – As one of the first totally enclosed environments, Olin’s humidity, ventilation, and HVAC system hasn’t functioned properly for more than two decades. One any given day, the temperatures can fluctuate by twenty degrees, with parts of the building reporting temperatures in the 60s and others up into the 90s. This makes it a difficult place to work and seriously threatens the longevity of the collection.
- Support for learning, teaching, and research - Just as we have deferred maintenance on the environmental systems, we are overdue on providing programmatic upgrades to support research and learning. Much has changed in the way students and faculty work in the past 50 years. When Olin opened in 1961, the “tower” (floors 3 – 7) was a closed-stack space and it would be 25 years before the first computers became integral to our work. It’s not surprising, then, that most graduate carrels lack outlets and that some students have resorted to brining in 25’ extension cords to plug in their laptops. There is critical need for spaces for quiet study, collaborative work, technology support, research and writing. Cornell risks losing top students and faculty to other universities that have moved more quickly to meet their needs.
The first phase of Olin renovation will center on floors 3 – 8. We expect construction in early summer 2009.
arXiv: $5 million endowment
The e-print arXiv (http://arXiv.org) is one of the oldest and arguably the most successful repository of scientific research in the world. It has effectively transformed the research communication infrastructure of multiple fields of physics and plays an increasingly prominent role in a unified set of global resources for physics, mathematics, computer science, and related areas. It is very firmly embedded in the research workflows of these subject domains and has transformed how material is shared, making science more democratic and allowing for the rapid dissemination of scientific findings.
In its first seventeen years, arXiv has grown from a modest distribution list to a worldwide phenomena. It is not too great a stretch to argue that in some domains, scientific communication begins here. In 2001, Cornell University Library assumed managerial responsibility for the repository and has committed significant resources to maintaining it as a permanent resource. The Poincaré Conjecture proof and recently solved Road Coloring Problem are posted on arXiv. However, for arXiv to meet and anticipate changes in scholarship and scientific communication, we need your help.
Opportunity Fund: $10 million
In 1956 an attorney representing the widow of James’ Joyce’s brother contacted a professor at Cornell and asked if he knew anyone who might be interested in purchasing a collection of Joyce’s papers and letters. At a time when Joyce’s literary reputation had not yet been firmly established, university librarian Stephen McCarthy asked alumnus William G. Mennen (class of 1908) for a gift of $30,000 to purchase the collection. Now worth millions, the Cornell Joyce Collection is one of the best in the world, covering the Irish novelist’s early life and writing career through hundreds of manuscripts and letters, including working drafts and typescripts of his great novel Ulysses.
Acquiring the Joyce papers was a bold decision at the time – not only because his writing was still considered controversial, but also because works by 20th- century authors were not yet widely sought by collectors. Without Mennen’s gift, however, the Library probably could not have purchased what is now one of its most renowned collections.
With the advent of eBay and other online auctions services, competition to acquire rare material is fiercer than ever. The Library must have funds readily available in order to move quickly to procure a new collection, or important material that will enrich existing collections, when it is suddenly offered for sale.
Student Worker Endowment: $5 million
Cornell University Library is the second largest employer of students on campus. More than 500 student library assistants annually contribute an effort roughly equivalent to that of 80 full-time employees. They keep libraries open until late at night, provide technical assistance to fellow students and faculty members in computer labs, and work with the conservators to bind new volumes and build protective boxes to preserve fragile items in the collections. Student employees design websites, staff circulation desks, and reshelve books. Most student workers believe that working in the Library has improved their study and research skills, making them more productive and enhancing their educational experience. According to a student worker survey: Working in the library improved…
- Study/research habits (68%)
- Grades (32%)
- Other benefits (80%) – meeting other students/faculty, time management, interpersonal skills, exposure to other fields of study, appreciation for library services, financial help
A minimum endowment gift of $50,000 will provide funding to support one library student employee position for an academic year. Donors can designate the fund for student workers in a specific library or department.
Securing more support for student aid is a major component of Far Above…The Campaign for Cornell, and the Library’s allied goal is to establish new endowments to fund more student library worker positions. In this way we can provide more opportunities for students to “earn as they learn” at Cornell.
Endowments to Support Collection Building $15 million
During the next decade, Cornell anticipates replacing 600+ faculty when current faculty retire. These new faculty members will have different needs from the current faculty and the Library needs to be able to respond to their needs and to also make Cornell competitive with recruiting top faculty. This endowment will help us to build new or inadequately supported areas of teaching and research.
Named Library Positions: $20 million
Naming library positions enables the library to use the salary funds to support other library needs such as building collections and other critical resources. The following are available library positions to be named:
- University Archivist
- Asia Curator
- Head of Preservation
- Rare Books Librarian
- Music Librarian
- AAP Librarian
- Engineering Librarian
- Director, Mann Library