The Olive Tree
For the UMaine Development Office, almost no gift to the university is too large, small or unusual.
With that in mind, Hannah Whalen, development officer, recently helped arrange a unique in-kind gift to UMaine. She matched the bookbinding skills of her father with the needs of Fogler Library’s Special Collections for repairs to some of its old books.
Whalen’s father, Jonathan Robbins, is a retired high school English teacher from Whitefield whose avocation is collecting, repairing and rebinding rare old books. Special Collections has many volumes of books that date back to the 16th and 17th centuries. Some are damaged and have broken bindings or torn pages.
Robbins recently repaired a three-centuries-old French Psalter, a book of psalms with oversized musical notes and Latin lyrics used by church choirs. He reinforced some of the pages, straightened the warped calfskin cover, and recovered the spine. The book, bearing the characteristic scent of dust and aging paper, was published in 1697 in Paris and donated to Special Collections in the early 1970s.
“This has really been a godsend for us because we just don’t have the money for book restoration,” says Richard Hollinger, head of Special Collections.
Robbins, a UMaine alum who earned a master’s degree in liberal studies at UMaine in 1993, says the repaired Psalter is good for another century, and now can be used for historical research or even in performance by one of the university’s choral ensembles. “The goal is to make it a useable book,” Robbins says.
Donating skills to UMaine is one form of in-kind giving, Whalen says, but bookbinding, in this case, “is a very unique in-kind gift, because nothing like this has ever been done before.”
More common are gifts in the form of labor and materials, such as those donated for the restoration of the Fogler Library steps and terrace. The UMaine Development Office receives and coordinates gifts and donations for any number of immediate needs on campus, including capital improvement projects.
According to Whalen and Patricia Cummings, senior development officer, there are many talented people in Maine who may not realize their skills could be valuable to the university.
“We like people to be involved and share their talents,” Cummings says. ”There are as many ways to donate as there are talents. The book restoration was using a very specific talent to help the university.”
Whalen says all gifts are welcome. The development office also has a list of naming opportunities for a variety of campus projects, she adds.
“These naming opportunities are designed to match an array of donor interests,” she says. “In whatever capacity a donor chooses to give to the university, the Development Office is ready to help coordinate and facilitate the entire giving and recognition process.”
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