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Former Student Body President ’71 Establishes the Rare Book Collection of the Future, Today

American University Library is thrilled to acquire the generous donation of William F. Causey’s, SPA/BA ’71, collection of books. This collection consists of over 1900 works of both fiction and non-fiction; some of them as old as 1790, but many of them significant modern works. The collection includes signed first editions, often with personal inscriptions to Causey. A couple of the highlights of this collection include the first printing of Hamlet in the United States and a rare first edition copy of J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye. University Librarian, Bill Mayer, explains “the power of the Causey Collection is that it is building the rare books collection of tomorrow, today.” In honor of this exciting addition to our Special Collections, the library will be hosting a private reception to celebrate the William F. Causey Collection on December 6, 2011. Causey is looking forward to speaking at this reception and sharing some of his many stories about the works in this collection and about his experience as a rare books collector. 

When William Causey began looking for a place to donate his collection, the AU Library stood out for him, largely because of the positive experience that he had here as a student. It was also be because of his belief “that libraries are the centerpiece of university existence. The very first universities ever were simply libraries and the whole purpose of the university is the learning experience, the gaining of knowledge—what better place to put all that than in a library?” Causey is proud of his library advocacy as a student and continues to care deeply about advocacy today. “It’s critical to support the library at any university, either by financially contributing, serving on a board, donating material, whatever it is. I think it’s important to do that because it’s such a critical function of the university, and I am just happy that I can do that.”

Causey’s connection to the library began in the 1970s, when he was student here at AU and more specifically, as student body president in 1971. Reflecting on his experience as a student, Causey fondly remembers the political engagement of AU students during the 1970s, and also, the high level of interest that students had when it came to what was taking place on campus. He describes the absence of a strong library on campus as a “black hole” that inhibited the work and research of the students. Causey and several other students were committed to building a new library and even held a mock groundbreaking ceremony on the Quad to show their support for a new building. Today, Bender Library is at the center of campus right where those students hoped that it would be.

While attending the recent All-American Weekend, Causey marveled at how much is different here on campus and at the library. As an alumnus, Causey feels like his connection to the library has been strengthened in the past year. Coming back to visit the library over the summer for a tour with University Librarian, Bill Mayer, Causey was excited to see just how much the library has grown and changed. “Instead of just books, there are all kinds of gadgets—the world of the university library is changing.”