Mellon Foundation Awards Libraries $1.25M Grant for Conservation

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has awarded Penn State a grant of $1,250,000 to establish a new full-time senior conservator position in the University Libraries. Based in the Department of Digitization and Preservation, the conservator will help to care for the Libraries’ extensive collections at all Penn State locations.

A permanent endowment for the position will be established with $1 million of the grant, and the Libraries will raise an additional $1.25 million in matching support over three years. The remainder of the grant will support the position during the challenge period. The Libraries will launch a national search for the senior conservator in the spring of 2013.

The Mellon Foundation has made similar grants in recent years to Columbia University, Duke University, and the Universities of Illinois, Michigan, and Washington.

Barbara I. Dewey, dean of University Libraries and Scholarly Communications, notes, “We are most pleased that the Mellon Foundation has given us a vote of confidence in this mission, and we are grateful for their support. With a full-time conservator, Penn State Libraries can turn to some urgent collection needs and preserve fragile materials before it is too late.”

Highlights of Penn State’s collections include significant collections of German literature and manuscripts, Pennsylvania-German broadsides, fraktur, religious materials, maps, fragile prints by the graphic artist Lynd Ward and letters of Ernest Hemingway, among many others. The Libraries’ preservation program has been developing basic conservation services for several years, but the Mellon award will greatly strengthen these efforts.

Sue Kellerman, Judith O. Sieg Chair for Preservation and head of the Libraries’ Digitization and Preservation Department, adds, “I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to build a great conservation program for the Libraries. Having a top-quality conservation program at Penn State and in central Pennsylvania is indeed an unprecedented opportunity.”