Secret sale of University of San Francisco’s rare books

From EXLIBRIS list:

The following, just in from a source I trust:

During his tenure at the University of San Francisco (USF), President Stephen Privett has been devoted in giving all his time and energy to its benefit. In the current economic crisis, he is tasked with painfully difficult, thankless, and unpopular decisions to identify academic programs to discontinue and assets to sell, if necessary, to stabilize USF’s finances.
On Sunday, 10 May 2009, the San Francisco Chronicle published a story on the cancellation of USF’s M.A. in Theology program amid protest. Earlier, on April 30th, the lead story in the campus newspaper, The Foghorn, told of assets identified for possible sale, primarily USF’s renowned rare book collections, but even including the possibility of the Lone Mountain campus. The story may be accessed at

http://foghorn.usfca.edu/2009/04/rare-books-could-become-financial-safety-net

(or Google foghorn rare books).

Faculty and library donors and supporters have been appalled and dismayed that the Library could be stripped of its collections, virtually all of which were donated to the Library or purchased with donated funds. In the last 50 years, under the visionary leadership of Fr. William Monihan, S.J., Bay Area families and others worldwide have generously contributed books, manuscripts, artworks and funds to create the Gleeson Library and its Donohue Rare Book Room which, together, State Librarian emeritus Kevin Starr has described as “an epicenter of Jesuit Humanism” and “a library second to none.” Donors reasonably anticipated that their collections might have a permanent and secure home there.
Unfortunately, President Privett, has not only identified library treasures for sale, he has already quietly and anonymously started to consign them for sale at auction. He recently stripped from the Timken-Zinkann Collection, an early founding core collection of the Library, a series of original woodcuts and engravings – mostly iconic images of Catholic and Christian tradition – by leading Renaissance artist and author, Albrecht Durer, in effect destroying the integrity of the collection. Together with an early, original Rembrandt etching, the Durer prints were anonymously offered for sale at auction Tuesday morning, 11 May, at Bonhams, despite a valiant last-minute effort on the part of faculty and library supporters to persuade Privett to suspend the sale.

See http://www.bonhams.com/cgi-bin/public.sh/pubweb/publicSite.r?screen=MySearchResults&saction=search&sFreeText=durer on the Bonhams website for a record of the sales.

In a down market, only the Rembrandt and a few of the Durers sold. Those of us who support the integrity of the Library’s collections, hope the unsold items may be returned to their home of many years for the continued benefit of students, researchers and faculty.

According to the Forhorn Online story cited above, Privett insists that, if the items compiled from the Rare Book Room were ever sold, they would be “non-book items, duplicate volumes, or single volumes, not part of a series or collection.” As for the Durer collection, Privett said, “They (the prints) were discovered by accident. We have an art gallery, not a museum. We didn’t have a place for them.”

Sadly, one of the Durer engravings sold (for $67,100 including buyer’s premium) is “St. Jerome in His Study,” an image which noted author Stephen Mitchell has described movingly in his writing. St. Jerome is the patron saint of librarians whose feast day is September 30th. Traditionally, every September his engraving was exhibited in the Gleeson Library to bring blessings and protection to the Library itself, to the librarians who selflessly work there, and to all those who research and patronize it. Whose or what image will now bless and protect USF’s Gleeson Library? Perhaps, come next September, some one will hang black mourning cloth where once the image of St. Jerome was displayed.
Ironically, President Privett has stated that money made from the sale of Rare Book Room items will go towards the renovation of the room itself. Once collections are compromised and books, manuscripts, artworks, ephemera and related items have been cannibalized from them, for what pupose will the Rare Book Room be renovated?
Both history Professor Martin Claussen, claussenm@usfca.edu, and Gleeson Library Associates Co-President, Walrave Jansen, wallyj@ix.netcom.com, have written eloquently about saving USF’s rare book collections and are actively working to do so. President Privett has agreed to meet with faculty tomorrow (Thursday 14 May), to discuss the situation.
President Privett emphasized in the campus newspaper that he was only making worst case scenario contingency plans. The fact that he had already quietly and secretly consigned items from the Library for sale at auction – courageously uncovered and exposed by history Professor Martin Claussen – belies the contingent nature of his plans. Contingencies have a way of becoming realities all too quickly!
When one thinks of Gleeson librarians Father William Monihan and D. Steven Corey, and all the collectors and donors who contributed to make the rare book collections of USF what they are, it is dismal to recognize what is happening today.
In addition to Prof. Claussen, Walrave Jansen, Gleeson Library Associates Co-President, has been doing remarkable work to attempt to staunch the bleeding of the Donohue Rare Book Room holdings. One thing that amazes me is that the University President seems to have taken over and is attempting to micromanage deaccessioning, something that I would think should be the responsibility of the Library Dean and Library staff members.
Should you wish to express yourself to USF President Stephen Privett, or Library Dean Tyrone Cannon, they can be addressed respectively at privett@usfca.edu and cannont@usfca.edu.

I have not yet been able to verify all of the details of this story, but (for openers) it’s clear that the prints were indeed auctioned off. The most offensive part of this sad tale is that the sales were conducted surreptitiously.

I think that the first order of business is to alert journalist friends and colleagues; there’s an important story percolating here.

Terry Belanger
University Professor, Honorary Curator of Special Collections
Director, Rare Bk School : University of Virginia
Rare Book School : PO 400103 : Charlottesville, VA 22904-4103
Email belanger@virginia.edu : Phone 434-924-8851 : Fax 434-924-8824

Update: http://archiv.twoday.net/stories/5705271

Kölner Schwerpunkt in der Zeitschrift des Kulturrates

In derMai/Juni-Ausgabe von “politik und kultur”, der Zeitung des Deutschen Kulturrates, wurde diesem Thema ein Schwerpunkt gewidmet. Folgendes findet sich dort:

Ulrich S. Soenius, Die Katastrophe von Köln – Kultureinrichtung stark betroffen, S. 3
Michael Knoche, Die größere Kulturkatastrophe, S. 4
Katharina Corsepius, Digital statt original ist nicht die Lösung, S. 5
Robert Kretzschmar, Unverzichtbar für das Gedächtnis der Gesellschaft, S. 6
Johannes Kistenich, Nach der Katastrophe: Kulturelles Erbe retten, S. 7
Rene Böll, Nur einer von 780, S. 8

Im Internet ist die Mai/Juni-Ausgabe von politik und kultur unter: http://www.kulturrat.de/puk/puk03-09.pdf (6,1 MB) kostenlos als pdf-Datei abrufbar.

Kölner Sonette (2)

Lyrik hat zu kurz gedacht,
Bücher sind nicht umgebracht.
Wissenspulver frech gewendet
und von neuem ausgesendet.

Viele Hände helfen mit
und entbergen Bit um Bit.
Alles ist zerstört und ruht,
alles ist geheilt und gut.

Wer das Schreinsbuch sieht und liest:
ut sint sibi testes – gießt
Waren und die Produktionen

in die Blätter seiner Karten,
die auf Editoren warten
kommender Generationen.

Vernachlässigt die FB Gotha Forsters “Königsblätter”?

http://www.taz.de/1/archiv/print-archiv/printressorts/digi-artikel/?ressort=fl&dig=2009/05/13/a0078&cHash=8936033e89

http://www.zdf.de/ZDFmediathek/content/Forsters_Koenigsblaetter_ramponiert/749980?inPopup=true

http://www.aspekte.zdf.de/ZDFde/druckansicht/13/0,6911,7584269,00.html

Second Hand Bücher für den guten Zweck

http://www.books4social.org

Wohin mit alten Büchern? Diese Frage stellen sich viele, deren Bücherregal überquillt – oder wenn ein Umzug bevorsteht, bei dem man nicht alles mitnehmen kann.

Bücher ins Altpapier zu geben, tut vielen “Bücherwürmern” weh – denn Bücher haben nicht nur einen materiellen Wert, in ihnen steckt auch viel an Wissen und kreativer Leistung.

BOOKS4SOCIAL möchte dreierlei erreichen:

dass möglichst wenig Bücher im Altpapier landen: durch die Annahme möglichst aller Bücher- und Zeitschriftenspenden – und Buchabholung, wo dies möglich ist (Umweltgedanke / Recycling). Mehr >>
dass möglichst viele dieser Bücher neue LeserInnen finden: durch Online-Verkauf, durch den Verkauf auf Benefiz-Flohmärkten, und durch die kostenlose Weitergabe an Menschen, die sich derzeit keine Bücher leisten können (direkt oder über Sozialbetreuungsstellen)
dass durch dieses Bücher-Recycling ein Jobprojekt für Langzeitarbeitslose (ein gemeinnütziges Beschäftigungsprojekt) finanziert wird – und in weiterer Folge auch andere Non Profit Organisationen*) unterstützt werden: Durch Weitergabe eines Prozentsatzes des Verkaufserlöses als Spenden (bei Benefiz-Flohmärkten geschieht dies direkt).

(Danke AngelikaP)

Kölner Gedanken

Staubige Halle bei Neonlicht.
Rastlose Arbeit, verhülltes Gesicht.

Zerfetztes Papier im Pappkarton.
Geschichte kennt mit sich selbst kein Pardon.

Zersplittert, zerquetscht – mitunter zerstört.
Manches Schicksal wird nie mehr gehört.

Man ist sich hier fremd,
und dennoch vertraut.
Auf dieser Basis wird Freundschaft gebaut.

Stummes Verstehen – ein Blick genügt.
Ein Schnipsel erzählt, wie schnell man lügt.

Die Hand entfernt zart, all den Staub und Dreck.
Und streicht damit auch die Verzweiflung weg.

Denn mit jedem Tag Arbeit wird stärker bewusst,
das was noch da ist, überwiegt den Verlust.

Ich schau aus dem Fenster – der Frühling dringt ein.
Das Archiv ist am Leben – in Köln am Rhein.

B. Dressel