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Philanthropist, principal establish rare book collection

Principal Daniel Woolf always intended to donate his rare book collection to Queen’s University. He was inspired to accelerate that plan, though, thanks to the generosity of Canadian entrepreneur and philanthropist Seymour Schulich.

[Books from the Schulich-Woolf Rare Book Collection]
Just a few of the 400 volumes that make up the Schulich-Woolf Rare Book Collection. Queen's Library is currently making plans to open the collection to the public in spring 2016. (University Communications)

“When I met Mr. Schulich, we discovered a shared interest in rare books. Because we’re both passionate about sharing this material with the broader academic community, we agreed to give our collections and create the Schulich-Woolf Rare Book Collection,” says Principal Woolf, who provided items from his collection for an exhibit by Queen’s Library in 2014. “This collection will serve to enrich the teaching and learning experience at Queen’s and support research activity across the broader academic community.”

The collection, which will be housed in the W.D. Jordan Special Collections and Music Library, combines 400 volumes from both personal collections. The main strength of the Schulich-Woolf Rare Book Collection is British history and culture of the 16th through 18th centuries. There are also books on other topics, including Canadiana, travel and exploration.

Mr. Schulich has also made an additional $1-million gift to help Queen’s Library preserve and expand the collection.

The volumes won’t be stashed away from students and researchers, according to Martha Whitehead, Vice-Provost and University Librarian. By spring 2016, they will be displayed in the library for everyone to access.

“Students experience a real thrill when they encounter a physical volume from centuries past. Studying original artifacts, rather than copies, provides an insight into the material culture of the time,” Vice-Provost Whitehead says. “We are fortunate at Queen’s to have strong special collections, and this donation raises them to a new level.”

[Seymour Schulich]
Seymour Schulich recently gave his rare book collection to Queen's. His support for Queen’s includes the Schulich Leader Scholarships, a program created in 2011 to encourage promising secondary school graduates to pursue higher education and careers in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. (Photo by Ron Levine)

Mr. Schulich is among Canada’s most generous philanthropists, providing support to higher education across the country as well as other causes. His support for Queen’s includes the Schulich Leader Scholarships, a program created in 2011 to encourage promising secondary school graduates to pursue higher education and careers in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Ten Schulich Leaders have chosen to study at Queen’s since the program’s inception, and Queen’s consistently ranks among the top five universities that Schulich Leaders apply to attend. 

“I hope to be part of building one of the best English rare book collections in Canada. Combining our personal collections gives us a great start on that goal,” says Mr. Schulich, who enjoyed a long career as a Canadian business leader in the mining industry.

Visit the Queen’s University Library to learn more about the special collections.