Campus & Community

$2.5 million endowment fund to honor Sidney Verba

3 min read

Friends and colleagues of Sidney Verba, Harvard’s Carl H. Pforzheimer University Professor and director of the University Library, have established a $2.5 million endowment fund in his honor. Frances D. Fergusson A.M. ’66, Ph.D. ’73, president-elect of Harvard’s Board of Overseers and chair of the Overseers’ Committee to Visit the University Library, announced the creation of the fund on March 29 in Cambridge during a tribute dinner for Verba attended by current and past members of the Visiting Committee, alumni/ae, and many friends of the Harvard libraries. Verba, who will retire on June 30, is the longest-serving director of the University Library in Harvard’s history.

According to Fergusson, “Both the duration and the significance of Sidney Verba’s tenure are without precedent. His legacy to the Harvard libraries can be characterized by a sustained and expanded tradition of great collection-building, an unwavering concern for the needs of users, and a commitment to opening Harvard’s collections to the world. The new fund honors Sid by ensuring that the Harvard libraries can build on his legacy.”

The new Sidney Verba Library Fund will benefit the Harvard University Library, which provides University-wide services, including digital acquisitions and collections, information technology, high-density storage, and preservation. Under the terms creating the fund, Verba will designate the purpose of the new endowment before he retires.

In response to Fergusson’s announcement, Verba described himself as both “overwhelmed” and “exhilarated.” “Harvard has truly great libraries and superb librarians because of the sustained support and commitment of the University’s alumni/ae and its many friends. In my years as library director, I have witnessed many acts of extraordinary generosity, of which this is the capstone. I can only begin to thank you for honoring me by providing flexible, discretionary support for the libraries.”

Verba was appointed to Harvard University Library directorship by then- (and currently interim) President Derek Bok in 1984. In the intervening years, Verba has led the Harvard library system — the oldest library in America and the largest academic library in the world — through more than two decades of unprecedented change.

According to Bok, “When I appointed him more than 20 years ago, we were only beginning to realize what the revolution in information technology would mean. Sid’s foresight has helped to preserve our valuable collections and has opened Harvard’s vast resources to scholars, researchers, and students throughout the world. I believe that generations of students will benefit from the doors that Sid has opened.” Bok has convened a University-wide search committee to select Verba’s successor.

The Sidney Verba Library Fund is continuing to grow, and additional contributions are welcome. For further information on participating in the fund, contact Peggy Davis Molander, director of development, at (617) 495-8062 or