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Anthropology Librarian Endowed in Honor of Rowe

by Julia Sommer, Public Affairs
posted November 18, 1998

Only two librarian positions are endowed at Berkeley: those of the University Librarian and the director of Bancroft Library.

Now there's a third: the John H. Rowe Librarian in the George and Mary Foster Anthropology Library, funded by an anonymous gift in honor of anthropology professor emeritus Rowe. The gift was announced Oct. 13 at a lecture and dinner in Rowe's honor.

Rowe, a leading scholar of Inca culture and history, joined the anthropology faculty in 1948 and soon after established an independent anthropology library. Today the collection numbers more than 70,000 volumes.

Suzanne Calpestri, recipient of the Rowe Chair, has been anthropology librarian since 1994.

"It's so unusual for a librarian to be honored in this way," she says.

Calpestri looks forward to using some of the endowment income for professional development.

"There's a lot to keep up with -- new databases in social sciences, new technologies like geographic informational systems, digital library developments," she says. "I want to make sure we have a forward-looking library."

Income from the endowment will also support exhibitions and lectures.

Berkeley is one of only three universities in the U.S. with an anthropology library, says Calpestri. The other two are Harvard and the University of Pennsylvania. All three also have anthropology museums.

"The three components -- academic department, museum and library -- complement each other and make a whole," says Calpestri.

Anthropology department chair Stanley Brandes says of the gift: "The benefactors have shown unusually fine judgment in selecting the anthropology librarian for support. We in anthropology think that Suzanne is the best librarian in the world."

Calpestri received her Master of Library Science degree from Berkeley in 1970 and has been a member of the library staff since 1967, when she was a sophomore working part-time at Bancroft.


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