Leeds University Library is indebted to its benefactors. The monetary value of their gifts over more than a century is incalculable, and their contributions of time and expertise have been invaluable. The resulting benefits enjoyed by generations of Library users are beyond imagining.
The Library's Special Collections in particular owe almost everything to benefaction. Such distinctive, unique and rare collections could never have been acquired and developed by relying on the conventional funding of a university library. They are the result of almost a century's worth of gifts, large and small, of many thousands of private individuals and groups.
It would be impossible to list all of these benefactors - the donors of individual books and entire personal libraries, of single letters and extensive archives, of modest and huge financial sums. That said, three names indisputably stand out - Brotherton, Elliott and Burton.
Lord Brotherton's astonishing philanthropy in the 1920s transformed a modest provincial academic library into a university library of international standing within less than a decade. In the 21st century Fay and Geoffrey Elliott have not only given books and manuscripts which would be the envy of any arts research library in the world, but have also provided substantial funding to secure significant additions. Stanley and Audrey Burton are commemorated in the name of the University's Art Gallery, which, in its present splendid form, we owe to them entirely. The great majority of works on permanent display from the University's art collection are also gifts from them.
A new phase of benefaction is being nurtured by the University's current Fundraising Campaign. Special Collections is already benefitting from the generosity of Campaign supporters, who wish to enhance their predecessors' great collections even further while improving access to them in innovative ways.