Major Gift From Katharine J. Rayner Supports New York Public Library Research Acquisitions

$15 million gift will support special collections acquisitions,  including archives, manuscripts, rare books, and maps

MAY 11, 2017 – Philanthropist and New York Public Library Trustee Katharine J. Rayner has given the Library a $15 million gift to strengthen and advance the institution’s internationally-renowned research collections.

The major gift, announced at the Library’s Board of Trustees meeting yesterday, establishes the “Katharine J. Rayner Fund for Special Collections,” which will fund the Library’s acquisition of special collections material such as archives, manuscripts, rare books, and maps.

The Library maintains special collections at three of its research centers: The Stephen A. Schwarzman Building on Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street, The Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center, and the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in Harlem.

Mrs. Rayner is, and has been for some time, a dedicated supporter of the Library’s research and special collections. In addition to her generous support during Library fundraising campaigns, Rayner has made gifts to support several of the Library’s most important recent research acquisitions, including Tom Wolfe’s archive in 2013 and the James Baldwin papers earlier this year. Over the years, she’s made many other gifts, including gifts to purchase new literary works for the research collections and to help endow the Library’s Manuscripts & Archives Division.

In 2015, the Library named a third-floor corridor in its historic Stephen A. Schwarzman Building for Mrs. Rayner, recognizing her “extraordinary support of research, scholarship, and the pursuit of knowledge.” The corridor – named, and acknowledged with a marble floor tile,  the “The Katharine J. Rayner Special Collections Wing” – is home to several of the Library’s acclaimed special collections, including the Berg Collection of English and American Literature,  the Carl H. Pforzheimer Collection of Shelley and His Circle, the Spencer Collection, and the Arents Collection.

“Kathy Rayner's most recent gift to the Research Libraries will enhance significantly our capacity to provide access to the primary resources that undergird scholarship,” said William P. Kelly, The New York Public Library’s Andrew W. Mellon Director of the Research Libraries “Once again, she has enabled the Library to extend its reach. Current researchers, and those who succeed them, are much in her debt.”

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