Few names are as universally known as Harvard, yet little is known about John Harvard. What is known is that the donation of his personal library to a fledgling Colonial college helped lay the foundation for the largest academic library in the world. In honor of the 400th anniversary of the University’s original benefactor’s birth and with the goal of supplying books to local schools, a group of students, in collaboration with Community Affairs is kicking off the John Harvard Book Project.
The book project will run from Nov. 1 through the end of reading period (Jan. 13). During that time, students, faculty, and staff can make donations, which will be used to purchase books for local schools in Cambridge and Boston.
In response to the advice of local teachers and librarians, the project will be focusing particularly on acquiring science and nonfiction titles, an area of the greatest need.
“In 1638, John Harvard left his entire book collection, some 400 volumes, to help establish the first library of the College,” said Harvard President Drew Faust. “I am delighted that students have created this initiative to observe John Harvard’s 400th birthday by promoting learning and scholarship through a donation of books to local schools.”
The project was initiated by Harvard College student Adam Goldenberg ’08, chairman of the Harvard College Events Board, who wanted to find a way to honor John Harvard and give something back to the community at the same time.
“What better way to celebrate the College’s original benefactor than to donate books to the libraries of public schools in Boston and Cambridge,” said Goldenberg. “We are trying to give back and participate as a group and we think that is a special thing for everyone involved.”
In addition to the student group, the project is being aided by staff from the Faculty of Arts and Sciences and the Office of Community Affairs.
“The John Harvard Book Project connects Harvard’s traditions and its commitment to community in the best possible way,” said Mary Power, senior director of Community Relations at Harvard, whose office is partnering with students to run the drive.
The John Harvard Book Project runs Nov. 1 through Jan. 13. Donations can be made at http://www.community.harvard.edu/johnharvard using Crimson Cash or by check.