Hawai'i State News

Anonymous donation supports University of Hawai‘i Hamilton Library collections

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Hamilton Library exterior. Photo Courtesy: University of Hawai‘i

The University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa’s Hamilton Library has received $2 million from anonymous donors 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 – 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 University of Hawai‘i collections.

University of Hawai‘i 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.”


As students at the University of Hawai‘i 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.

The new gift supports:

  • The Janet Bell Endowment, named for the 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

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.”

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