January 9, 2008 – New College of Florida has received more than $40,000 in donations to help establish the Dr. Helen N. Fagin Holocaust Collection of the Jane Bancroft Cook Library. The official dedication of the collection will take place on January 20, 2008 at 2 pm in Sainer Pavilion, 5313 Bay Shore Road in Sarasota.
A special guest speaker for the dedication ceremony will be William S. Parsons, Chief of Staff of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC. Also speaking will be New College President Dr. Gordon E. Michalson, Jr; Dr. Helen N. Fagin; Joan Pelland, Dean of the Cook Library; and Dr. Samuel M. Savin, New College Vice President and Provost.
Initial funding of some $4,500 for the collection came from members of the Sarasota-Manatee Holocaust Survivors, who met to honor Dr. Fagin at their annual luncheon in December 2006. The charter group, led by Barbara and Martin Arch, Sally Lucke Elkes and Dr. Joel Elkes, and Margrit Schechtman, approached the New College Library Association with the idea of expanding the College’s existing collection of Holocaust literature to honor Dr. Fagin, a Holocaust survivor and leading Holocaust educator.
“We thought it was a great idea,” recalls Joan Pelland, Dean of the Jane Bancroft Cook Library at New College of Florida. “Little did we know that it would gather such momentum.”
Since that initial gift, two foundations have come forward to support what is hoped will become a major source for Holocaust research and genocide studies in the state of Florida. A donation of $10,000 was made by the Fetzer Institute of Kalamazoo, Michigan, whose stated mission is to “foster awareness of the power of love and forgiveness in the emerging global community, resting on the conviction that efforts to address the world’s critical issues must go beyond political, social, and economic strategies to their psychological and spiritual roots.”
A grant of $5,000 was also made by The David Rockefeller Fund, with a special designation by board member Eileen Growald to honor Dr. Joel Elkes, a member of The Rockefeller Fund Board and a Sarasota Holocaust Survivor. Other donations, including an anonymous gift of $10,000, have been made by individuals wishing to honor Dr. Fagin and to help launch the collection.
To date, nearly 1,000 volumes have been collected, roughly half of which were donated by the Florida Holocaust Museum in St. Petersburg, which formerly sponsored the Sarasota-Manatee Arch Family Holocaust Education Center in Sarasota. Likewise, Dr. Fagin has donated some of her personal collection to the library, as have other individuals, adding to Holocaust material that New College’s Cook library has collected over the years.
Born in Poland, Helen Fagin survived more than five years of persecution at the hands of the Nazis, finally finding herself at a Displaced Persons Camp in Austria. She arrived in the United States in June 1946 and learned English by reading the New York Times with the help of an English-German dictionary. A retired professor of English and former director of Judaic Studies at the University of Miami, she considers her collection at New College of Florida to be her true legacy.
“I am most pleased with the choice of New College, an outstanding liberal arts school, to be the base for teaching its students the values and lessons of the Holocaust,” she states.
Dr. Fagin chaired the education committee of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and was appointed by President Clinton to serve on the World War II Memorial Committee for the purpose of building a national memorial on the Mall in Washington, D.C.
To donate to the Dr. Helen N. Fagin Holocaust Collection at New College of Florida, please contact Jane Summerville Kiebitz, executive director of the New College Library Association, at 941-487-4600. Or email NCLA@ncf.edu.