Northwestern University has received an $8.6 million gift from the estate of alumna Marie A. Quinlan.

The gift will benefit the preservation department of the Northwestern University Library and will help protect fragile and distinctive research assets in many formats, including books, archival materials, textiles, art, audio, film and digital collections.

The library’s preservation program is nationally known for its conservation work, research and training initiatives.

The gift also established an endowed position within the library. Scott W. Devine, the head of the library’s preservation department, will be awarded the “Marie A. Quinlan Director of Preservation and Conservation” title at an investiture ceremony at 5 p.m, March 13, in Northwestern’s Deering Library.

Both Quinlan and her husband, George, graduated from Northwestern in 1933. He passed away in 1990 and she in 2010. She was a mathematics teacher in the Chicago Public Schools for 25 years.

Quinlan was an active member of the Northwestern University Library Board of Governors for two decades and was made a Life Member in 2000. She and her husband donated annually to Northwestern for decades, including a period of 31 consecutive years.

“Marie’s philanthropy was intrinsically tied to her love of learning and her genuine commitment to education,” said Stephen M. Strachan, chair of the Library Board of Governors. “Her generosity will continue to allow the preservation department to explore new technologies, preserve more of the library’s precious resources and help create an enduring legacy for future generations of Northwestern scholars.”

The gift from Quinlan’s estate is funding many exciting new projects within the preservation department, including:

  • Addition of a project conservator for high-priority projects, including the repair of items from the Siege and Commune of Paris Collection, which will undergo a major digitization project.
  • A renovation and expansion of the conservation lab, which is responsible for the repair of books and archival material as well as a broad range of objects from the library’s diverse collections.
  • Purchase of specialized equipment to preserve collections through digital reformatting.
  • Creation of a core infrastructure needed to keep digitized collections and born-digital archives healthy and available to researchers over a long period of time.

Quinlan established the Marie Quinlan Preservation Fund at the University in 1992 and the Quinlan Preservation Fund in 1994. In 2003, she set up the George and Marie Quinlan Endowed Fund for Preservation — which was used to create the annual George and Marie Quinlan Endowed Lecture for Preservation and Conservation, which brings nationally recognized conservators and scholars to Northwestern to share information about their current research.

“We are extremely grateful for Marie’s dedication to the Northwestern University Library over many years,” said Sarah M. Pritchard, Dean of Libraries and Charles Deering McCormick University Librarian. “Her passion for education was a driving force in her work with the library. She had a sincere commitment to preserving and protecting the library’s collections for the benefit of all Northwestern users. She helped build the library into the extraordinary resource it is today.”

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