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Arcadia Gives $5 Million to Support Core Collections, Services in the Harvard Libraries

April 6, 2009—Britain's Arcadia Fund has awarded $5 million to the Harvard University Library. Arcadia's five-year grant will provide flexible support for the Library's core functions: acquisitions, access, preservation, and dissemination.

University Library Director Robert Darnton announced that, initially, Arcadia's grant will be used to strengthen the Library's print collections, to support processing of 17th- and 18th-century collections in the Archives, and to underwrite conservation treatments for fragile or damaged material from 17th- and 18th-century collections.

"In providing a high level of flexible, discretionary support for the Harvard Libraries, Arcadia has shown not only extraordinary generosity, but great insight into the complexities facing research libraries today," Darnton stated. "As we expand our involvement in digital innovation and diverse modes of communication, we must renew the core collections and services that form our traditional strengths. Arcadia has given us the means to do so."

Formerly the Lisbet Rausing Charitable Fund, Arcadia was established in 2001 by Lisbet Rausing PhD '93 and Peter Baldwin PhD '86. Arcadia's key mission is to protect endangered treasures of culture and nature. This includes near-extinct languages, rare historical archives, and museum-quality artifacts; and the protection of ecosystems and environments threatened with extinction. Arcadia has historically donated to charities working to protect free societies and human rights, to encourage education, and to promote philanthropy.

In announcing the Arcadia grant, Dr. Rausing stated, "One of the Harvard University Library's aims is to ensure its position as a premier research institution. We hope our grant to the Library will greatly assist in this aim."

Arcadia also provides critical support for Harvard's Open Collections Program (OCP). Through OCP, the Harvard Libraries create subject-specific, web-accessible collections, open to anyone with an Internet connection. Arcadia has supported three "open collections" since 2004: Contagion: Historical Views of Diseases and Epidemics; Expeditions and Discoveries: Sponsored Exploration and Scientific Discovery in the Modern Age, set to be launched on April 30; and a forthcoming project on the history of reading that is due online in the spring of 2010.

The Harvard University Library, founded in 1638, is the largest academic library system in the world. Harvard's extensive library collections serve as invaluable tools for teaching and research. These collections include books, journals, primary source materials, and audiovisual and digital resources that span a vast range of subjects, languages, and time periods. Access to most of these materials is integrated: print and digital resources on specific topics can often be located with a single search.


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