By Haley Morrison, Reporter
The Armstrong Browning Library hosted its annual Benefactors Day on Friday to honor those who have donated money to the library.
“It’s a nice opportunity to see and meet with Armstrong Browning Library supporters,” said Jennifer Borderud, Access Outreach Librarian and Associate Director of Armstrong Browning Library.
According to Associate Professor and director Armstrong Browning Library Rita Patteson, The library benefactors help pay for library events and the artifacts.
“In 2004, we added a large archive called the Joseph Milsand archive, which is mainly letters, manuscripts, some books, a few artifacts,” Patteson said. “He was Robert Browning’s best friend. There are 47 letters in the collection between the Brownings and Milsand. We also have the William Surtees Cook journal. He was Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s brother-in-law.”
The Armstrong Browning Library gets donations starting at $25 dollars up. Roughly 75 percent of the annual acquisition’s budget comes from donations, according to Baylor’s Armstrong Library web page.
“Most come from guardian angel funds and the university also provides a budget for arts and artifacts. We also rely heavily on the Cox fund for some of our purchases,” Patterson said, referencing a fund that was created by Margaret Cox.
The Guardian Angel fund is a collection of funds from various library benefactors. Patteson said it has paid for many library artifacts, including the “Sonnets from the Portuguese,” which is her favorite artifact.
“We still continuously collect, and I am still continuously amazed that things are out on the market,” Patteson said. “We get manuscripts and letters almost monthly.”
According to Patteson, the Armstrong Browning Library was founded in 1918, when H.A. Armstrong donated his collection to Baylor University. The current building was constructed from 1948-1951, when the growing collection required a bigger space.
“[Armstrong] was enamored with Robert Browning’s poetry and the optimism that was throughout his poetry,” Patteson said. “He met their son and that kind of cemented his desire to collect.
The Benefactors Day celebration featured guest speaker, journalist and author Nicholas Basbanes. His talk was partly centered around one of his earlier books, “A Gentle Madness,” which focuses on book collectors and their collections.
“I only wish I had known more about this as I was writing this book,” Basbanes said. “We owe a lot to Mr. Armstrong and his wife and they would definitely qualify to be called the gently mad.
“So much that we hold dear to our literature, our history, and our culture we owe to book collectors.”