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March 8, 2018
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Caption, group photo: (L-R)Librarian Dore Minatodani, Dr. Albert J. Schutz, Head UH Librarian Dr. Monica Ghosh & Librarian Stu Dawr at Hamilton Library

Albert J. Schütz, a graduate of Purdue University in his home state of Indiana, was a doctoral candidate at Cornell University when a professor asked him if he would be interested in going to Fiji.

“Sure!” he replied. “Where is it?”

Decades later, this esteemed and highly prolific UH Mānoa professor emeritus continues his daily routine of guiding students and writing in his office at Moore Hall. Al is the author of more than forty books, articles, and reviews about the Fijian language, plus thirty works on the Hawaiian language. His work is found in classrooms, academic libraries around the world, and in trade bookstores such as Barnes and Noble. Hamilton Library’s Hawaii and Pacific collections contain 47 of his publications.

“I’ve known library staff members going back to the beginning of my time here in the early Sixties,” said this humble gentleman known to most as Al. “Some of them were best friends. I miss them, and I know them as a whole succession of really wonderful, wonderful people. I couldn’t have done my work without them, or without the collection. Every time I ask for something, they will find it. If they don’t have it, if it’s available for purchase or interlibrary loan, they will do that. These people would do anything.”

Many illustrations for the book Al is working on today are engravings from a book published in the early 1700s. “The senior librarian of the Hawaiian Collection, Dore Minatodani, got this very old book for me,” he said, “and her staff photographed the images and digitally smoothed the wrinkles out, giving me terrific examples I can put in a book. Who else would do that?”

Endowment enhances collections

To express his gratitude and affection for many of the Hamilton Librarians with whom he has worked for more than five decades, Al has endowed a new fund which he titled The Hawaiian and Pacific Collections Endowment in Honor of Its Faculty and Staff. It supports the acquisition of materials and services to enhance access to the collections, and it supports the professional development of the collections’ faculty and staff.

In revealing his love for this library's collection capacity, Al shared his hopes for the Hawaiian and Pacific Collections: “I naively thought that any time something is printed, it should be easy to find a copy somewhere. This simply isn’t true. I was researching a guy named John Coleridge Patteson, a missionary in a Melanesian mission in the 19th century. He wrote little grammatical sketches, collections of words from this language and that language. They’re all printed in five-to-ten-page booklets. They’re extremely difficult to find!  I would love it if we could find things like that. Admittedly, there are not a lot of people like me, who live for working with 18th and 19th century manuscripts tracing the history of linguistics in the Pacific, but maybe there’ll be somebody again!”

The librarians reciprocate Al's admiration and affection. Jodie Mattos, a Hawaiian Collection librarian, said, “Al is a wonderful person who respects the work of librarians, especially those in the Hawaiian and Pacific Collections. His gift will encourage our work to keep the Hawaiian and Pacific Collections relevant and vibrant. He is a long-time advocate for our collections with a low-key personality who treats everyone with respect. It is extraordinary that he named his donation in honor of our past and current staff who have supported his scholarship.”

Dore Minatodani added, “In the library, the flow of our work is prescribed by the fiscal calendar. Each year, a certain amount of funding is released for building collections – buying books and paying for subscriptions, basically. Though we happily spend it, it's never enough, and at the end of the fiscal year, the ledgers are wiped clean, our funds are gone, and we wait until the next year to do it again. Al's gift allows us and encourages us to think beyond the fiscal calendar and beyond the current year. If the Hawaiian and Pacific Collections helped Al to achieve what he has achieved, his gift allows us to think ahead to how we can support the current and next generations of scholars.”

It was assumed that Al would have his name in the title of his endowed fund as many do. But he demurred to that idea, explaining that “anything in the rare book room is a treasure. That’s why I didn’t want to name it after me. So many people use that collection – colleagues of mine from Australia and New Zealand, for example – and I’m hoping their appreciation for the collection and staff will inspire them to make gifts of their own.”

If you would like to learn how you can support UH students and programs like this, please contact us at 808-956-8700 or send us a message.