Rare book and manuscript collections preserve the distillation of knowledge--recorded, inscribed, printed and artistically adorned--arising from the creative endeavors of civilized humankind and provide a continuing stimulus to the enduring life of the mind. The rich and productive tradition of scholarship at Columbia reflects the power of the human mind, flourishing throughout history, to spark a kindred response in the contemporary scholar or to enlighten future speculation through the written or printed record.
For over two centuries, the friends and scholars of Columbia University have contributed their cherished collections to the building of the resources of the Rare Book and Manuscript Library, a repository of national importance in the humanities, the social sciences, and the sciences. Our contemporary Friends, who have continued this tradition through their generous contributions, have also enabled us to accord proper recognition to the importance of these magnificient collections to the scholarly purposes of the University through the construction of handsome new quarters.
Visitors to the new Library will enter a foyer leading directly to the Alan and Margaret Kempner Exhibition Room, named in honor of these long-time benefactors, where specially lighted exhibition cases will permit the display, in a series of changing exhibits, of important selections from the Library's varied holdings of books, manuscripts, artworks and realia. Adjoining the reference center, made possible by a gift from the Ruth and Sanford Samuel Foundation, are the Corliss Lamont Rare Book Reading Room, named for the major donor responsible for the John Masefield, George Santayana and Rockwell Kent collections, and the George D. Woods Manuscript Reading Room, which has been built and furnished through contributions received from Mrs. Woods and the associates of her late husband, who served as the distinguished president of both the World Bank and the First Boston Corporation. The Donors Room, to be used for receptions and meetings, has been furnished through the generous and thoughtful gifts received from Mary Hyde. The construction of the Room was made possible by numerous individual donors, including John M. Crawford, Jr., Franklin Kissner, Hugh J. and Catharine Kelly, Helmut N. Friedlaender, Percy Klingenstein, the Abe Wouk Foundation, the Graduate Faculties Alumni, and the Friends of the Libraries.
The new quarters and the distinguished collections and treasures that comprise their resources serve as visible witness to the intangible and enduring strength of scholarly endeavors throughout the history of civilization. We are indebted to those donors whose vision and generosity have provided for future generations an extraordinary resource for the celebration of the intellect.