The Gerald R. Sherratt Library at Southern Utah University is one of the few organizations in the United States to make considerable donations of materials to the National Museum of Brazil after a devastating fire last year.
On September 2, 2018, the National Museum of Brazil in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil was completely destroyed in a night-time fire. The Museum housed over 20 million invaluable items including Egyptian mummies, dinosaur fossils, the last recordings of regional languages which are no longer spoken, and other irreplaceable historical artifacts. The anthropological library itself was home to a collection of 37 thousand titles.
Richard Saunders, SUU Collections Development Librarian, heard about the library’s need for help through his connections with various professional library organizations, and immediately decided to take action. He recruited the SUU Gerald R. Sherratt Library to help supply materials to rebuild this library.
“We see how cultural patrimony of a country can be devastated with the Notre Dame Cathedral blaze,” said Utah anthropologist Alan Schroedl. “Last year’s fire at the National Museum of Brazil was just as devastating to the cultural heritage of the people of Brazil.”
“200 years of work, research and knowledge have been lost… It’s a sad day for all Brazilians,” said 2018’s President of Brazil, Michel Temer.
“Our Chief Librarian Paula Mello posted a call for donations on the internet. Exactly a week later, she received a message from Richard,” said Carlos Fausto, anthropology faculty member at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro. “For the first shipment, Professor Saunders sent over a list of 3,200 titles of which we selected a bit more than 500.”
This donation of materials is an ongoing project with Brazil. The SUU Library has made several shipments of a couple of hundred books so far.
“We made an offer. We were one of only a couple of libraries in the U.S. that made really a substantive donation of material to Brazil,” Saunders said.
Many of these collections given to Brazil were originally donated to SUU from Utah anthropologist Alan Schroedl. Many of the titles in Schroedl’s collection are focused on Brazil and its surrounding areas.
“I am very pleased that some of the anthropology books that I donated to SUU will be sent to Brazil to help them start rebuilding their library,” Schroedl said. “It will require years of worldwide cooperation to help rebuild the collections at the National Museum of Brazil.”
The Gerald R. Sherratt library has also sent several books that are now out of print. These harder to find books are invaluable to any library.
“Good things happen when people are willing to stand up and do things for simple reasons,” Saunders said. “Nobody’s going to make any money off of this, but I’m hoping that it will do something good for a country that really has given a lot anthropologically to modern day society.”
Story and Photo Courtesy of: SUU Marketing Communication