At a special viewing of rare musical materials, the message to the audience was clear: We could not have done this without you.
Gathered around an impressive display in the Jean Gray Hargrove Music Library was the Library Legacy Circle of The Benjamin Ide Wheeler Society, a group of donors who have remembered the Library in their bequest plans.
This was the first such event for the Legacy Circle, and the Library plans to continue the tradition annually — unearthing gems from each of the campus’s 25 libraries.
After a tour of the Music Library, John Shepard, curator of music collections, showed the group treasures he had selected from the collection and described their unique story. Among the gems were an original manuscript of Ludwig van Beethoven’s String Quartet No. 6, scribbled in his own hand; a theory book on Gregorian chant music from 1375; Jacopo Peri’s La Dafne d’Ottavio Rinuccini, recognized as the world’s first opera; and first editions of George Frideric Handel’s coronation odes, which have been performed at every English coronation ceremony since that of King George III. The Library has several first editions of Handel pieces, which regularly attract musicologists and Handel experts to the campus, Shepard said.
The Music Library has eight substantial endowments, which allow Shepard to chase and collect unique materials.
“I can’t tell you what a joy it is to be able to build on our collection’s strengths,” Shepard said. “There are names of alumni on these endowments, and this,” he said, motioning to the items on the table, “could not have happened without their support.”
Before the viewing, University Librarian Jeffrey MacKie-Mason thanked donors for their support and described recent developments and efforts underway at the Library — including the Level Up initiative on digital literacy, and the Digital Lifecycle Program, which makes rare collections more accessible to scholars worldwide.
“We’d like to make all of those (resources) available online right now, so that all of you, and every K-12 student in California, and on the planet, can access our special, rare historical collections anytime, anywhere,” MacKie-Mason told the group. The Library has 60 million items not yet online, he said. Meanwhile, state funding per student continues to decline, and it is increasingly difficult for campus departments to stay afloat. Only 14 percent of the campus budget comes from the state; the remainder is pulled from tuition and donors.
“This isn’t just for the Library — it’s for the whole university,” said Sheryl Wong, a Legacy Circle member and longtime Library Board member. “It is not going to survive without philanthropy.”
Wong’s parents met when they were students at Cal. During her father’s junior year, he received a scholarship that let him stay in college — and gave a shy kid a reason to ask Sheryl’s mother out on a date.
“My mom was very popular,” Wong said, laughing. “My dad knew her, but he was a nerd, an engineering student — he would never have asked her for a date.
“But he walked up to her and said, ‘I just got some really good news. I have a little bit of money, would you like to go to lunch with me?’ And she said yes. And that’s why I’m here.”
After her father died, Wong helped her mother endow a scholarship in her parents’ name.
Closing his remarks, MacKie-Mason gave one last thank you on behalf of the Library for the Legacy Circle’s perennial support.
“It’s because of people like you that we have a bright future,” he said.