KU Libraries receive $350,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

The University of Kansas Libraries are pleased to have received a $350,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. The NEH Sustaining Cultural Heritage Collections grant will help improve the physical environment in the collection storage areas of Kenneth Spencer Research Library — meeting a long-term goal of the libraries. 

The Sustaining Cultural Heritage Collections program provides funding for institutions to preserve and prolong the life of diverse collections by supporting institutional resilience. This grant will support the updating of specific systems in Spencer Research Library in order to provide a more optimal preservation environment for the university’s collection of rare books, manuscripts and archival collections.

In 2017, KU Libraries were awarded a planning grant from the Sustaining Cultural Heritage Collections program to hire preservation environment consultants to analyze the HVAC system in Spencer Research Library during an 18-month period. The current implementation grant will realize some of the consultants’ recommendations in order to create a more optimal storage environment for materials stored in this library. Work on the grant project will begin in spring 2021, culminating in 2023. 

“We are thankful to have been awarded this generous grant in order to continue the work we began with our previous award under this NEH program,” said Whitney Baker, head of conservation services and project co-director for the NEH grant. “Kenneth Spencer Research Library, including its mechanical system, is more than 50 years old, so these updates will provide stable temperature and relative humidity for collection storage.” 

The project team includes members from KU Libraries, Facilities Planning and Development, Facilities Operations and the Energy Office.   

“Implementing the improvements supported by this grant will strengthen the close collaboration between KU Libraries and our partners in facilities management — whose efforts have been and will continue to be critical to the design and implementation of this project,” said Kent Miller, executive associate dean of libraries and project co-director. “Beyond the scope of this project, their dedicated work maintaining this system in the future will prove essential to the long-term preservation of these valuable collections and the promised energy savings.”

The National Endowment for the Humanities awards annual grants through an incredibly competitive application and review process. Grants were awarded to only 14 projects out of 60 submissions. Receiving such a sizable grant speaks to the importance of the collections at Spencer Research Library. 

Any views, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this release do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Learn more at www.neh.gov

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