A program that creates in-depth learning experiences for Vanderbilt University undergraduate students with diverse library resources has been endowed with a $1 million gift by alumni Poppy and Richard Buchanan.
The Poppy Pickering Buchanan and Richard D. Buchanan Library Fellows Fund will benefit students and future library users by supporting strategic projects in which selected students work on multidisciplinary teams under the mentorship of faculty and professional librarians.
“We are deeply grateful to the Buchanans for their significant investment in our students’ research interests,” said Susan R. Wente, provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs. “The Library Fellowship Program will be a novel path through which the Jean and Alexander Heard Libraries support Immersion Vanderbilt, and create opportunities for undergraduates to conduct an academic project that extends and supports their overall learning experience.”
Examples of fellows’ projects involving some of the library’s rarest and significant collections include the J. León Helguera Collection of Colombiana, a treasure trove of Colombian political, economic and social history; Judge Hu C. Anderson’s personal papers from a Nazi war crimes trial over which he presided; and presidential speeches from the Vanderbilt Television News Archive.
Last spring, Janna Adelstein, a junior in the College of Arts and Science, worked with History Librarian Jason Schultz to curate “Tracing the Movement of Population: American Legacies of Expansion and Removal,” using Special Collections to develop the narrative of migration. “I spent the past summer interning for the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights, working to help Native Americans advocate for voting rights through litigation,” Adelstein said. “The historical research that I conducted as a library fellow helped me see how past events in our nation’s history can have significant modern day repercussions.”
“This generous gift from Poppy and Richard Buchanan ensures a robust program of hands-on, immersive learning as our students undertake serious research and create digital scholarship,” said University Librarian Valerie Hotchkiss. “We hope to mentor current Vanderbilt students in as meaningful a way as the librarians of the past inspired Dr. Buchanan.”
Poppy earned her bachelor of science in nursing in 1961, while her husband, Richard, received a bachelor of arts in 1957 and an M.D. in 1961. Their keen interest and support for library programs had its beginnings in Richard’s experience as a Vanderbilt undergraduate student who worked at the library.
“My time working at the library’s circulation desk meant so much to me and taught me the important role the library plays in connecting the university to its highest mission of education and research. Poppy and I want to ensure that the library is able to give this same gift to other students as well, expanding their horizons and opportunities throughout the generations,” Richard Buchanan said.
The couple are longtime supporters of Vanderbilt, having given generously to the School of Medicine and School of Nursing, as well as to the Library Fellows Program previously.