August 2, 2010

Campaign Emory

Poet's bequest to open doors for MARBL

A bequest from the estate of Turner Cassity, a renowned poet and long-time librarian at Woodruff Library, will support a new building for Emory’s Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library (MARBL).

Cassity, who died in July 2009 at the age of 80, was a nationally known, award-winning poet who spent 29 years as a librarian at the Woodruff Library, primarily as head of serials and binding — a job he said made his real career as a poet possible.

His $100,000 bequest to MARBL, which houses his archives, will be used to help finance a new home for MARBL, which is internationally recognized for its collections in modern literature and African American literature.

Linda Matthews, retired director of the Woodruff Library, worked with Cassity from 1970 until his retirement in 1991 and thinks Cassity would be thrilled that his gift would be going toward creating a home that will serve as international destination for students, scholars and poets.

“After his retirement, Turner maintained close contact with the library and he was thrilled about the growth of the poetry collections,” says Matthews, who retired in 2006. “I remember when the first batch of W.B. Yeats materials came to Emory around 1980, Turner rushed to special collections, which was on top floor, to see them. He was just so thrilled, being a poet himself, to see those original drafts and manuscripts of Yeats’ poetry.”

Cassity’s gift will help build a new home for MARBL, which is currently housed on the top floor of the Woodruff Library, to provide an expansive space that utilizes the latest technologies to support new scholarship of rare materials and to make the collections more accessible to students and scholars at Emory and from around the world as well as to the general public. 

Located on Emory’s core campus, the building will include gallery space for exhibitions and provide areas for multidisciplinary study by Emory students and faculty as well as visiting researchers from around the world; secure storage for primary materials; and space for curatorial work.

The facility also will house MARBL’s “living archive,” built upon ongoing relationships with active writers who’ve chosen Emory to house their papers; and as a national center for humanities research, further distinguishing Emory at the global level through its collections and the use of technology to broaden scholarship and access.

“We are thrilled to have this contribution from such a beloved member of the Library community,” says Rick Luce, vice provost and director of Emory Libraries. 

“I think Turner, who achieved such widespread recognition for his own writing, would be delighted as well that he is playing a part in building a home to showcase MARBL’s world-class collections in the way they deserve.  All of us in the Libraries are pleased that through the building, as well as through his own papers in MARBL, Turner Cassity will remain a lasting part of MARBL’s important work.”

The Cassity bequest is part of Campaign Emory, a $1.6 billion fundraising endeavor that combines private support and Emory’s people, places and programs to make a powerful contribution to the world.

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