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Grant number: PG-233848-16

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Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library (Indianapolis, IN 46204-1708)
Julia Whitehead (Project Director: May 2015 to present)

Preservation of Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library Collections

A conservation assessment of the Kurt Vonnegut collection, preservation education for staff, and purchase of environmental monitoring equipment and shelving.  The collection includes first printings of 70 Vonnegut books and 25 signed editions, hundreds of books, films, and magazines about his writing and life, and a 500-item circulating collection of materials Vonnegut claimed as influences.  Object and ephemera collections include an unopened 1945 letter to Vonnegut from his father while he was a prisoner of war, his paintings and drawings, a pack of his Pall Mall cigarettes, a Smith-Corona typewriter, and a box containing rejection slips from publishers.  The Library opened in 2010 and works closely with the Lilly Library Manuscript Collections at Indiana University, which holds Vonnegut’s papers from 1941 to 2007.  A new institution which has prioritized public outreach and community engagement, the Library has connected with all eight area public schools serving 11,000 high school students, runs programs with senior citizen homes, works collaboratively with several major veterans’ organizations, and boasts an impressive number of annual visitors.  A 2014 assessment by local preservation graduate students recommended the activities proposed.

Located in the heart of downtown Indianapolis, the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library (KVML) honors the iconoclastic legacy of author and humorist Kurt Vonnegut Jr. through the presentation of special collections items pertaining to his life and works. A nonprofit institution, the KVML has made significant efforts in bringing Vonnegut's works to the public through extensive outreach campaigns and collaborations with other regional institutions. Despite the great strides made by the KVML, the institution is currently in need of a concrete preservation plan. This project aims to address these needs by providing KVML staff with the core competencies for humanities preservation. This grant application requests funding for staff education, an on-site assessment, environmental monitoring equipment, and shelving. Preserving the collections housed in the KVML is necessary to safeguard Vonnegut's legacy as an author, activist, humanist, and Hoosier.

Project fields:
American Government; American Literature; U.S. History

Preservation Assistance Grants

Preservation and Access

Total amounts:
$5,550 (approved)
$5,550 (awarded)

Grant period:
1/1/2016 – 6/30/2019