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University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa Hamilton Library Special Collection Librarians

Anonymous donors gifted $2 million to the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa’s Hamilton Library to support special collections of unique books, art, music, documents, journals, artifacts and online databases.

The gift––the largest single donation ever made to the library––generously supports 12 sections that include special, area and archival collections, including maps. The funds from this gift may be set up in endowments or expendable accounts in order to best support the advancement of these UH collections.

UH President David Lassner said, “These visionary donors are providing essential resources that will enable UH to expand and enhance our extraordinary, world-class collections. Their support funds critical preservation activities, the purchase of rare and unusual materials, and select projects such as digitization that will expand global access to our unique resources. We couldn’t be more grateful for their appreciation of our library and their confidence in our librarians to invest wisely for the future.”

As students at UH nearly 60 years ago, the donors “cut their teeth” on vernacular materials of the East Asia Collection, then housed in the basement of Sinclair Library. Collection Head Professor Hiroko Ikeda taught them how to access and use vernacular reference works––opening the portals for a lifetime of indulging the mind’s prodigal curiosity, wanton initiatives and wayward impulses. Their teachers were classic bibliographers, especially the late Janet Bell, Renée Heyum, Yasuto Kaihara and Masato Matsui.

“We are tremendously grateful to our donors for their generosity and thoughtful philanthropic investments that they are already making, and will continue to make a real impact for our students and researchers who benefit from the unique resources at our library,” said University Librarian Clem Guthro. “I am delighted for everyone in our special collections and for the additional support this extraordinary gift provides.”

The new gift supports:

  • The Janet Bell Endowment, named for the extraordinary Pacific curator, honors her work during the years 1936–1970;
  • Professional development for Pacific-region librarians and students to engage with the contents of the Hawaiian and Pacific collections;
  • Promoting interest and careers in the field of special collections librarianship;
  • The Japan collection, which includes newspaper databases, online article databases and online reference sources as well as primary sources such as World War II-era photos, postcards and documents;
  • The Jean Charlot and Hawai’i Artists and Architects collections of artworks and documents relating to Charlot and other artists and friends he worked with or knew over his long career;
  • The Russian Northeast Asia émigré collection of Russian area books, serials and microform holdings;
  • The Echoes of the Past Collection of Japanese music, the privately-owned collection of 78 RPM records from the first half of the 20th century;
  • Additionally, the generosity of the donors extends to include other special collections at the library, such as China, Korea, Okinawa, Philippines, South Asia, Southeast Asia and the Map Collection

“Generous support from these donors has given us the critical competitive advantage in building our world-renowned special collections. It has meant that we usually have first choice for materials coming on the market and enables the acquisition of items not held in any other library,” Russian Bibliographer Patricia Polansky said.

Rohayati Paseng, chair of the Asia Collection and Southeast Asia Studies librarian, said “This is the first gift that benefits all eight areas the Asia collection encompasses.”

UH Foundation CEO Tim Dolan added, “The work and research taking place within our libraries deepens our understanding of our past and our place in the world, and we are very grateful to the donors for making this investment in us.”

Monica Ghosh, South Asia librarian said, “The donors have said that they appreciate our UH librarians for the dedication and commitment they have to build collections and promote the use of resources that have been carefully selected to support research at the university and across the globe. Visitors come from all over the world to use our special collections and in turn the library shares its materials for exhibits across Mexico and Japan.”

FOR UH • FOR HAWAIʻI, The Campaign for the University of Hawaiʻi, is focused on raising $1 billion to support UH priorities on all 10 campuses across the state, including student success; research that matters; kuleana to Native Hawaiians and Hawaiʻi; sustainability, resilience and conservation; innovation and entrepreneurship; building Hawaiʻi’s workforce; and engaging our community. Learn more at

Questions? / More Information

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.

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The University of Hawai‘i Foundation, a nonprofit organization, raises private funds to support the University of Hawai‘i System. The mission of the University of Hawai‘i Foundation is to unite donors’ passions with the University of Hawai‘i’s aspirations by raising philanthropic support and managing private investments to benefit UH, the people of Hawai‘i and our future generations.