With the help of a $650,000 gift from recently deceased Prof. Emerita Helen L. Wardeberg, education, Mann Library and the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences –– which will each receive half of the donation –– will be making adjustments to improve their services for the Cornell community.
According to Eveline Ferretti, Mann Library public programs administrator, the library’s half of the donation will be used to establish the Helen L. Wardeberg Fund. The fund will be used to strengthen Mann’s collections by purchasing more books and supporting other library services.
“The gift comes in at a very timely moment for the library because we are right now very focused on strengthening the collections in a way that’s necessary for students and faculty,” Ferretti said. “We want to make sure we have a collection that truly meets the needs of everyone here … and is more accessible to the public.”
Wardeberg, who died in 2011, served as chair of Cornell’s Department of Education from 1968 until her retirement in 1986. Although Ferretti and Mary Ochs ’79, director of Mann Library, said they did not know Wardeberg personally, they were honored to receive the gift on behalf of the library.
“It’s gratifying and great to be a part of her legacy,” Ferretti said.
According to Ferretti, the library was notified about the donation about a month ago.
“We were thrilled to get the information about the gift,” Ochs said. “We have a reputation for having a very strong agriculture, life sciences and human ecology collection, and to have an emeritus faculty member make that kind of contribution is a real boost to having that kind of collection continue to be available.”
Ferretti said that the donation arrived at a particularly beneficial time due to the recent increases in the cost of journal and database subscriptions. Because these costs make up between 80 to 90 percent of the library’s “flat” budget, which does not vary from year to year, they have “put a pinch on our ability to make sure our collection continues to grow the way it needs to for future generations,” she said.
“We see these trends, we realize that we have to do something and now the library has kicked off a campaign to increase support,” Ferretti said. “If you don’t pay attention to [those trends], you end up having to compromise the quality of your collections … It was in the beginning of starting this work when the gift came in and it was perfect timing.”
Additionally, the money will fund “Patron-Driven Acquisitions,” a pilot program aimed at making books more readily available at Mann. According to Ferretti, the program will allow students and faculty to select and purchase books not available through the library catalogue. Electronic versions will become available immediately, and print books will arrive within a week.
“It’s a gift like this that allows us to develop in new and innovative ways,” Ferretti said.
The other half of the donation will be used to support scholarships for the CALS transfer students, according to a University press release.
“This is such a fitting legacy for a woman who dedicated her life to education,” CALS Dean Kathryn Boor ’80 said in the press release. “Her gift will ensure that Cornell can continue to be the new opportunity university for talented students regardless of means — in particular those who begin their academic careers elsewhere and enrich our college by transferring here.”