Swem Library surpasses $5 million in private support

  • Swem LibraryOn track to its best fundraising year to date, the College of William & Mary's Earl Gregg Swem Library has surpassed $5 million in private support, President Taylor Reveley announced June 2, 2009.

    Swem Library
On track to its best fundraising year to date, the College of William & Mary's Earl Gregg Swem Library has surpassed $5 million in private support, President Taylor Reveley announced today.

"This is truly excellent news - a good year for Swem is a good year for the College," said Reveley. "We are grateful for our many alumni and friends whose generosity allows Swem Library to both preserve ancient treasures and provide the latest technology and services for future research."

With the receipt of more than $2.2 million in cash, $221,000 in gifts-in-kind (including books and collections), pledges and realized estate provisions totaling $2.7 million, the Library has secured more than $5.2 million to date. "There are very few libraries with $5 million years that aren't building a building or receiving a large in-kind collection of books or library materials," noted Connie Kearns McCarthy, dean of university libraries at William & Mary.

Gifts both small and large allow Swem to implement new and existing technology for use by the College community, provide flexibility as Swem seeks to develop new research-related services for faculty and students, and augment the library's physical and virtual collections of books, journals and other research materials, McCarthy said.

For McCarthy, the number and range of gifts are noteworthy as long-term investments from lifelong friends of the Library. "Swem's high quality comes from those who choose to support it year after year," she said. "Several of these generous contributions have come after these caring individuals have passed away."

Indeed, Swem is benefitting from two notable bequests. A $1.4 million gift from the late Dorothy Vollertsen, a longtime resident of Williamsburg, will be used for the Library's general purposes. And a $1.5 million pledge from the estate of the late Clarisse Garrison, a resident of California who graduated from the College in 1948, will provide for needs in Special Collections.

These two bequests come on the heels of another large gift, announced during Homecoming 2008. H. Elizabeth "Bee" McLeod '83, M.B.A. '91 and husband  J. Goodenow "Goody" Tyler III of Norfolk committed $1.5 million to Swem in support of the Library's first named position, the Marian and Alan McLeod Director of the Special Collections Research Center.

To date, donors to the Library this year have increased 25 percent - from 798 in 2008 to 995 in 2009. More than 60 percent of the donors are William & Mary alumni, their support providing flexibility for meeting Swem's greatest immediate needs.

"It is unique for an academic research library to have a large percentage of alumni donors," said McCarthy. "Typically, in comparable library systems around the country, alumni support is less than 50 percent. We are pleased that William & Mary's alumni recognize that a strong college requires a strong library - and they support it accordingly."

Swem Library completed a major renovation and 100,000-square-foot expansion in 2005. It is among the leading academic research libraries in the Southeast, with students across the country recently ranking the College's libraries the eighth-best in the country, according to the Princeton Review. Through its collections and services, Swem plays a critical role in supporting William & Mary's teaching and research missions.