University announces major donations for new Library and Special Collections Centre

University announces major donations for new Library and Special Collections Centre

Fundraising has gained momentum at the University of Aberdeen thanks to three significant gifts totalling £600,000 being given towards the institution’s new Library and Special Collections Centre.

The announcement comes as the main project contractor, Pihl UK Ltd, began construction work at the University. 

The Robertson Trust has made a £200,000 funding award towards the Special Collections Centre, which will be located on the Ground Floor and Lower Ground Floor of the new building. The Centre will protect the University’s historically significant special collections in a state-of-the-art climatically controlled environment to ensure they are preserved for the enjoyment of future generations, and increase the public’s understanding of its shared history by enabling these precious printed and manuscript collections to be shared with the community.

The Trust’s donation will be used towards the Family and Schools’ Learning Room in the building’s Learning Suite.  This custom-designed and welcoming community education facility will enable the youngest learners to participate in a range of stimulating and enjoyable learning activities. The Room will be primarily used by school groups – at both primary and secondary level – and by families who will participate in a range of practical, engaging learning experiences.

The new Library is the largest capital fundraising project undertaken to date by the University, offering unique opportunities for individuals and organisations to contribute to an iconic intellectual and cultural facility for the University community, scholars and the wider public throughout the world.

The Garfield Weston Foundation has confirmed its own donation of £250,000 towards the flagship Library project. Philippa Charles, Administrator of the Garfield Weston Foundation, said: “The Trustees of the Foundation are delighted to support this project and anticipate it will offer real benefits both educationally and culturally to the University and the communities of North-East Scotland.”

The Wolfson Foundation, a long-standing supporter of the University, has also given a substantial donation of £150,000 towards the project. The Foundation awards grants to support excellence in the fields of science and medicine, health, education, the arts and humanities, and this donation is the third significant capital grant it has made to the University in the last five years.

Announcing the generous gifts, Professor Christopher Gane, Vice-Principal and academic lead for the Library project, said: "This is wonderful news and I am delighted that fundraising for the University’s new Library has gained such momentum with the announcement of these significant grants. In addition, construction work on the Library has started in earnest on campus.

Achieving the vision for our new Library will depend on the generosity of our benefactors and we are extremely grateful and very fortunate to be presented with this huge level of funding, especially in today’s economic climate.  We are all experiencing challenging times, however, the support from these organisations will enable the University in turn to make a gift, by preserving and promoting material to intrigue and inspire researchers and our communities today, and to enrich and educate generations to come.

“Our magnificent new Library will give us a prominent and public venue for the display of our cultural heritage, and enable our collections to be made available to the wider community as never before.”

The new £60 million project will provide much more than a conventional Library. It will provide an important resource for the whole community, who for the first time will enjoy access to priceless historical collections of books and manuscripts and regular events. A dedicated Special Collections Centre within the building will offer a welcoming cultural venue where a wide range of public audiences can engage with the collections through educational programming, exhibitions and volunteer opportunities. 

The building is scheduled to open to students, staff, local communities and other visitors in September 2011.