In early July, 179 boxes of books and journals about art and art history set sail in a container ship headed to the Universidade Federal de Saõ Paolo via the port of Santos, Brazil. The shipment comprises a donation to the university of approximately 5,500 volumes culled from duplicate titles at the Getty Research Institute library.
The Getty Research Institute has spent the last 30 years growing its collection. What began as a small curatorial reference library has become one of the world’s major art research libraries, holding more than one million volumes. The rapid growth of this art historical literature was achieved through the purchase of dozens of entire collections from eminent scholars.
This swift method of collection-building proved to be highly successful and formed the core of the library in just 15 years. The collection continues to grow today through ongoing agreements with book dealers, individual selection of titles, and many donations. This particular method of collection development has also resulted in a large cache of duplicate titles. We are delighted that our extra copies will now be put to good use through our new international book donation program.
The shipment will reach Brazil in 45 days, but it has taken more than two years of planning and research to get the donations out the door. The project began with conversations between Getty Research Institute Director Thomas W. Gaehtgens and former visiting scholar Jens Baumgarten, professor and head of the Art History Department at the Universidade Federal de Saõ Paolo, about the Library’s collections and the possibility of supporting the development of the university’s art history library and program. With a vision in place, we Research Institute staff selected and packed appropriate books while the proper shipment paperwork was compiled.
The Brazilian Consulate’s Los Angeles office provided valuable assistance in understanding the documentation and legal processes for a donation of this size. We worked closely with trade officers at the consulate, staff at the University, and local freight forwarders to generate the necessary invoices, inventories, and letters for an easy transit through customs on both sides of the journey.
Now we await the container’s arrival in Brazil! The Getty Research Institute anticipates that this is only the first shipment in a continuing initiative to donate extra copies of library materials to relevant institutions in need.