It is an honor to assume the presidency of the Thomas Cooper Society. I remember the founding of the Society and have looked at the succeeding presidents with admiration, never thinking that I would one day hold this office. I am reminded of the often-cited observation of Bernard of Chartres in the 12th century: I am but a puny dwarf perched on the shoulders of giants.
One of those giants on whom I am perching is immediate past president Ardis Savory. I look forward to continuing the many significant initiatives started under her watch. The mission of the Society, as approved at the annual meeting, is now fully focused on supporting the Irvin Department of Rare Books and Special Collections. Dean of Libraries, Tom McNally, engaged us in a long-term project to establish a gallery for the department’s outstanding natural history collections and three Society members assisted with the first step toward that goal, the conservation of the 435 engravings of John Audubon’s Birds of America.
We are also continuing to expand the ways in which area teachers and students use library resources. The pilot project with Dreher High School was successfully initiated last year and will continue to grow in the coming one.
There are also some new and exciting initiatives. A collectors group within the membership has just been launched. It will provide educational and social opportunities to learn more about collecting and collectors. Probably the most immediately noticeable change is in your hands. It is the new design for our newsletter. What better way to communicate the look and feel of Society events, and Irvin Department holdings, than color?
In closing I will return to my giants and dwarf metaphor and acknowledge the huge presence of the Libraries’ staff, and in particular Elizabeth Sudduth, in helping to make the work of the Society both easy and meaningful.