A Special Place for Special Collections
A $1 million gift from New Jersey media magnate Norman Tomlinson will fund the construction of new space for Drew’s rare materials.
Drew University’s impressive array of special collections will now be more accessible than ever thanks to a $1 million gift from benefactor Norman Tomlinson that will fund the construction of dedicated space for the school’s rare materials.
“Right now, many of the smaller special collections are scattered among the library’s two buildings,” says Andrew Scrimgeour, Drew’s dean of libraries. “While all these materials are currently available, they must be requested prior to use and transported to the reading room—which can be time-consuming. Having everything in one place will virtually eliminate the waiting period.”
Accessibility to rare materials, Scrimgeour says, is only half of what the university will gain through Tomlinson’s gift. The funds will also be used to outfit space on the second floor of the United Methodist Archives building with ideal conditions for preserving the manuscripts, works of art, early editions, and other unique and valuable items that comprise Drew’s special collections.
“A major gain from this gift will be getting our collections into a closed ecosystem that’s climate and humidity controlled, and has a gas-based fire suppressant system,” he says.
Explaining the need for these preservation efforts, Scrimgeour calls the university’s special collections a goldmine of rare and significant artifacts.
“Drew’s special collections are unique in the depth and breadth of their size and scope,” he says. “Storing them in the most ideal environment not only ensures that they will withstand the test of time, but also makes Drew a more appealing home for new donations of extraordinary materials.”
This is not Tomlinson’s first gift to the Drew library. He had previously donated his collection of rare volumes and manuscripts by Lord Byron and Walt Whitman. In addition to being a literary enthusiast himself, Tomlinson is the founder of the Daily Record newspaper, which currently serves Morris County, New Jersey, as part of the Gannett media empire. He also founded New Jersey Monthly magazine prior to his retirement. In addition to their support of Drew, Tomlinson and his wife are generous benefactors of Morristown Memorial Hospital and other area organizations.—Michael Bressman