Leave a legacy in George Washington’s library

Fine Books & Collections editor Rebecca Rego Barry noted last February that Mount Vernon announced a Donald W. Reynolds Foundation grant of $38 million to fund construction of a 45,000-square-foot library. What’s also exciting about the new facility is that you don’t have to carry $38 million in your wallet to be a part of George Washington’s new library.

Enter the “Adopt-A-Book” sponsorship program that seeks to buy more books for the library and to digitize more of the 18,000 volumes and 6,000 historical manuscripts so that they can be shared with the world. According to a beautifully done fundraising piece I got in the mail, fewer than 200 researchers were able to visit the Mount Vernon Library and use materials in the collection. “Through an Adopt-A-Book sponsorship for digitization, you will help expand our potential audience to billions through the computers in their own homes.”

The estate is asking people to help in a variety of ways by purchasing three modern books, a single rare manuscript, and to digitize or preserve already purchased artifacts. Depending on the level of gift, you can be linked by name with your book’s or manuscript’s official listing in the online catalog, be acknowledged by name with a nicely designed digital bookplate accessible through that listing, receive a certificate suitable for framing that describes your books or manuscripts or receive a set of twelve Crane’s note cards with beautifully reproduced color images taken from one of the Mount Vernon Library’s rare books.

I spend a lot of time at Mount Vernon -- sometimes roaming the Virginia grounds with notebook in hand learning as much as I can, other times stopping there for lunch during a day of bike riding. I was actually sitting on the lawn overlooking the Potomac River during one of my frequent visits to Washington D.C. that I began to think seriously about moving here. Not many better places for history junkie and writer than the D.C. area. Since making the move and spending my spare time in libraries all over the region, I’ve dreamed about being able to do more to give something back to them.

Now I know what I can do. I can leave a small legacy in the library of one our nation’s great founders.
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