Penn Libraries celebrates naming of 'Kislak Center for Special Collections'

Education Wednesday, October 30, 2013


On November 20, the Penn Libraries at the University of Pennsylvania, will celebrate the official naming of the “Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts,” the final capstone in its $17 million capital campaign to renovate the 5th and 6th floors of the Van Pelt – Dietrich Library Center.

 The new 27,000 square-foot space is named for Jay I. Kislak and his family and is funded through  $5.5 million gift from the Kislak Family Foundation which is based in Miami Lakes. Kislak is an avid collector of books and artifacts and a longtime supporter of the university. A graduate of the Wharton School in 1943, he is the first of three generations of his family to graduate from the University of Pennsylvania. 

Younger generations include his son, Philip T. Kislak, who graduated in 1970, and his granddaughter Elizabeth Kislak, who also graduated from the Wharton School in 2010. The $5.5 million Kislak gift to the Penn Libraries represents the largest cash contribution from an individual donor in the Libraries’ history. 

As part of its renovation plan, the newly named Kislak Center has been expanded in scope to encompass the Annenberg Rare Book and Manuscript Library, the Furness Memorial Shakespeare Library, the Edgar Fahs Smith Memorial Collection, and the Schenberg Institute for Manuscript Studies. 

The Kislak Center has been redesigned to allow several different groups to interact with objects of study simultaneously, increasing the use of primary resources in the University’s curriculum and access to the Libraries’ resources for the larger scholarly community. 

Since its debut in April 2012, the new Kislak Center, with its sleek, modern design, has quickly become prime real estate for both students and faculty. In a related development, “To the Ends of the Earth ... and Back: Selections from the Jay I. Kislak Polar Collection” opened at the Osher Map Library at the University of Southern Maine (USM) in Portland. 

The exhibition offers an extraordinary historical overview dating back five centuries of polar exploration and the process of globalization as depicted in maps, charts, books and artifacts, and is made possible by the Jay I. Kislak Foundation and is curated by Arthur Dunkelman, director of the Foundation. Dunkelman was the guest lecturer at the opening event on September 24. 

The exhibition will continue through February 27, 2014.