Legacy of Knowledge

Print isn’t dead. On the contrary: every time a new set of eyes falls onto a page, a window opens into another place and time, giving the reader a new perspective and deeper knowledge. That knowledge then spreads to others – through scholarship, through collaboration, through research – taking on new life in the process.

“Every printed work, each leaf of writing, has in its makeup what Robert H. Taylor called the ‘flavor of the period,’” writes Mark Samuels Lasner, a senior research fellow at UD’s Morris Library and a noted scholar of Late-Victorian art and literature, “a spirit no later version or facsimile can offer. These objects not only connect us with their creators but tell us about their times through physical form.”

Lasner, a longtime friend and donor to the University, is making sure the spirit of knowledge stays vibrant at UD. In June, he gifted a lifetime’s worth of British literature and art to the library’s Special Collections. The gift, worth more than $10 million, focuses on the Pre-Raphaelites and writers and illustrators of the 1890s. It boasts more than 9,000 first and other editions, including many signed and association copies from authors such as Oscar Wilde, Max Beerbohm, William Morris and Aubrey Beardsley.

Lasner’s gift is already adding “flavor” to UD classrooms. “The collection is brilliant,” says Siobhan Carroll, an associate professor in English who has employed the materials in many of her graduate and undergraduate classes. “It adds dimension and breadth to authors, and allows students to actually explore engagement with the texts.”

With Lasner’s materials now added to the books, letters and manuscripts in UD’s library, students and scholars have an even greater opportunity to enrich their academic pursuits through the historical, cultural and material value in the documents.

“This collection adds tremendous value to scholarship on campus,” says Trevor Dawes, vice provost for libraries and museums and May Morris University Librarian. “Mark has always thought about how his knowledge and resources can benefit others. His gift enables people to see the importance of what exists in the library.”

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