Archive for Thursday, July 26, 2012

Donor wishes

July 26, 2012


A recent news report noted that officials at Kansas University’s Spencer Research Library are studying what to do with one of the most special and least-visited spots on campus.

This is the North Gallery of the library, which offers a stunning view of the area immediately north of the library and across the Kaw River Valley. To reach the gallery, visitors also pass the extremely impressive stacks of rare books that are protected by a glass enclosure.

Numerous well-intentioned individuals will have various suggestions about how best to use this space, but once in a while, it would be nice, as well as thoughtful, for KU officials to consider how the donors who made funds possible for facilities at the university might like to have the space used.

The late Kenneth and Helen Spencer were the major donors for the Spencer Research Library as well as the Helen Foresman Spencer Museum of Art. In making their generous gifts, the Spencers, as well as other donors, have had confidence that university officials would be sensitive and try to use their donations in a way that would please the donors, usually with very few strings attached.

Nevertheless, even though a donor may be long gone, it is hoped university officials will try to keep in mind the likes, dislikes and wishes of those who first provided the funds.

Given current circumstances, how would Helen Spencer want this unique and special room used now that original plans are to be changed?


BethWhittaker 5 years, 9 months ago

I recently sought feedback from the campus and scholarly communities regarding the beautiful North Gallery in the Kenneth Spencer Research Library. You can see the original post at

With the consolidation of the public spaces of Special Collections, Kansas Collection, and University Archives, and the continuing desire to provide a more interpretive context for our collections in general, we are considering how best to program this stunning space as a true gallery. Bringing diversity and experience into the space through an interesting array of physical and virtual exhibit stations will allow the North Gallery, and by extension, the library itself, to become even more of a destination on campus.

The intent of the Spencer gift remains our guiding principle. When the building was dedicated more than 40 years ago, it was noted: “A university library is the custodian of the world’s actual knowledge and the reservoir of its potential. It preserves and makes available the results of previous human seeking; it makes possible the fruitful continuation of research. It will live as a monument to the meaningful life of a creative man, and also to learning, as it continues to produce new knowledge and understanding.”

Today, those words still ring true, thanks not only to the generosity of Mrs. Spencer, but also because of the stewards whose vision has helped it grow. We look forward to charting a future worthy of this incredible campus resource.

Beth Whittaker

Head, Kenneth Spencer Research Library

KU_cynic 5 years, 8 months ago

I await the news from the seance summoning the Spencers's donor intent from the great beyond.

Why not Naismith about the three-point shot and shot clock while you're at it?

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