February 8, 2013

Mystery donor helps preserve rare books at the Boston Public Library


This special collections volume of Liber Chronicarum (Nuremberg Chronicle) from 1493 was rebound so that it can open completely.

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:

Materials restored from the music department include:




Claire Kelley is the Director of Library and Academic Marketing at Melville House.