The Drew Library is known for its special collections, unique materials that expand undergraduate— as well as faculty, graduate student, and visiting scholar—opportunities for research. Noteworthy among the holdings are Willa Cather manuscripts, the Methodist Archives, the Governor Thomas H. Kean Archive, the Byron Society Library, the Bela Kornitzer Collection, the R.S. Thomas Collection, the Robert Frost Collection, and the Tomlinson Lord Byron, Walt Whitman, and Winston Churchill Collections.
At the present time, these collections are scattered throughout the three Library buildings and not always readily available for use. But not for long. Thanks to a $1 million gift from Norman Tomlinson of Miami, Florida, most of these collections will soon be brought together in one location in the Methodist Center.
The second floor of the building will be renovated so that an ideal, climate-controlled environment will be provided for these unique materials—an environment that will rival that of the fabled underground vaults. A new, non-water fire-suppressant system will also be installed and security measures tightened.Movable, compact shelving will replace the traditional shelving, thereby doubling the storage capacity. Several deferred maintenance projects will also be addressed.
The collections currently residing on the second floor will be moved to temporary storage areas in other parts of the building starting in October 2012 and will not be accessible until May 2013. However, the other collections in the building, including the microforms and many manuscript collections, will continue to be available. In May, the collections in the other buildings will be moved to their new home.
Mr. Tomlinson has taken a keen interest in the care of Drew’s special collections and has urged Drew to do all it can to make them easily accessible, especially to undergraduates. During the Library’s strategic planning in 2007, and again last year, he helped shape plans that extended these values. Tomlinson has not only donated priceless collections to Drew but has actively encouraged others to do the same and played a strategic role in convincing the Byron Society of America that Drew was the ideal location for its library.
As further funds become available, the second phase of the project will unfold. It calls for renovating the Wilson Reading Room and doubling the cramped space with a glass-walled addition. The expanded reading room will become a beautiful and inspiring space worthy of the collections and conducive to scholarly exploration.