ATBL First Fundraising Event

Honoring Chairman Lansing Lamont and Dame Lynne Brindley

Lansing Lamont and Dame Lynne Brindley

Lansing Lamont and Dame Lynne Brindley

ATBL’s first annual benefit luncheon, held at the Harvard Club last October, was an opportunity to honor two of our most distinguished figures: Lansing Lamont, who has served the ATBL since the 1990’s, becomming President in 2000, and chairman since 2010; and Dame Lynne Brindley, the long-time Chief Executive of the British Library who is retiring later this year.

Mr. Lamont’s leadership was a driving force behind ATBL’s increased membership, including major donors, which allowed ATBL to increase its grants to the BL substantially over the last ten years. During his tenure as President, the prestigious Breslauer Lectures were instituted. This lecture series was named after Bernard H. Breslauer, the renowned rare book dealer and collector of illuminated manuscripts.

Lansing Lamont and David Redden

Lansing Lamont and David Redden

David Redden, current ATBL President, began his introduction with a recording of Mr. Lamont playing the piano and singing. The honoree was truly surprised and the attendees gave him a hearty round of applause. Mr. Lamont’s gift for song is well known to participants in the annual Chairman’s Council trips to London, which he leads. Mr. Redden followed with a more formal introduction citing Mr. Lamont’s many interests and accomplishments.  Lansing Lamont, Harvard ’52, is an author and journalist who has been a trustee of the American Museum of Natural History; a Bryant Fellow of the Metropolitan Museum of Art; and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.  In appreciation for his leadership and counsel, Mr. Lamont was presented with a hand- calligraphied certificate.

Mr. Lamont’s remarks drew on his experience as a boy and later as a journalist to illustrate the importance of books, more particularly books by British authors such as Dickens, Kipling, Tennyson, H.G. Wells, and the Huxleys. Mr. Lamont saw these books as the inspiration that urges us on to the wonderful adventures that form our lives. He spoke of the great libraries of the world, and paid homage to the British Library:

“But there is something extra special, in my view, about the British Library. It occupies not only an important place in the cultural life of the British nation, it occupies a singularly important place in the cultural life of the world, and in particular the U.S. which sends the largest foreign cohort of British Library users.”

In closing, Mr. Lamont quoted the writer Toni Morrison: “Access to knowledge is the supreme act of truly great civilizations.” He used this quote in a tribute to his co-honoree: “Lynne Brindley, you and your team at the British Library have been inspired leaders in realizing this truth. For that, we not only thank you—but I personally am deeply honored to be sharing this platform with you.”

Paul LeClerc, Dame Lynne Brindley and David Redde

Paul LeClerc, Dame Lynne Brindley and David Redde

Following that tribute,  Paul LeClerc, former Director of the New York Public Library, longtime friend and admirer of Dame Lynne, presented her with a hand calligraphied certificate acknowledging the importance of her dedicated service to the BL. Dame Lynne has headed the British Library since 2000, overseeing its move from the Reading Room to its own campus in St. Pancras. Her vision has spear- headed the digitization of its collection; educational programs and outreach have been expanded under her leadership.  After twelve productive years, Dame Lynne is resigning to return to the private sector.  The ATBL wishes her Godspeed.

In her remarks, Dame Lynne chose to focus on the acquisition of the St Cuthbert Gospel by the BL. Describing the Gospel as a “ treasure that predates theViking raids on England; a precious example of the finest craftsmanship from the early middle ages; and a book of unparalleled significance to our shared understanding of our cultural history.” She highlighted the generous donations that are making the acquisition possible, including sizable ATBL and Breslauer Bequest grants that have allowed the BL to take advantage of this “once-in-a-generation opportunity.”

In keeping with the BL’s mission to provide public access to these national treasures, Dame Lynne outlined the steps that will be taken to conserve, display and provide online access to scholars and the general public so they will be able study this important manuscript in depth.

The ATBL Board voted to send the net proceeds of the event to the BL to help them meet their goal of £9m ($14.1m) for the acquisition of the St. Cuthbert’s Gospel.  Information regarding the ATBL grant for the acquisition and Dame Lynne Brindley’s resignation can be found in the following pages of this newsletter.

Photos by kitkaplanphotography.com. See more images from this event at http://kitkaplan.smugmug.com/Client/ATBL

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