October 5, 2000 John Kluge Donates $60 Million to Library of Congress for Study Center and Prize

The Largest Private Monetary Donation Ever Given to the Library of Congress

Press Contact: Jill D. Brett (202) 707-2905

Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska), Chairman of the Joint Committee on the Library, Rep. Bill Thomas (R-California), Vice-Chairman of the Joint Committee on the Library, and James H. Billington, the Librarian of Congress, announced today in Washington, D.C., that Metromedia President John W. Kluge has given $60 million to the Library.

The announcement followed a meeting of the Library of Congress Trust Fund Board, of which Senator Stevens is a member. The board oversees the management and investment of gifts.

Stevens said the gift will support the establishment of the John W. Kluge Center in the Library of Congress and the John W. Kluge Prize in the Human Sciences. Stevens praised Kluge's generosity, saying "The Library of Congress is recognized worldwide as one of our nation's most valued cultural institutions. Mr. Kluge's generous gift will help the Library lead in new areas of scholarly study."

Rep. Thomas said: "As an educator and elected official, I understand the need to do more to bridge existing information gaps between academia and government. Mr. Kluge's generous gift to the Library of Congress will help do just that. It is a gift to the nation and the hemisphere which will help us continue our outreach programs and create new ones in the hopes that through increased scholarship we can continue finding solutions to the everyday challenges facing society."

The center will include endowed chairs in broad areas such as American law and governance, the cultures and societies of the North and South, technology and society, and modern culture. The appointments would be made by the Librarian in consultation with the Library's Scholars Council and other advisors. The first chairs will come into residence and the selection process for the prize will be established during 2001.

In addition, there will be a significant number of endowed fellowships for young scholars.

The Kluge Prize in the Human Sciences (in fields such as history, anthropology, sociology, literary, and artistic criticism), will provide a cash award of $l million. The prize will cover a broad field not recognized by Nobel Prizes, and the award ceremony will recognize a lifetime of achievement in the Intellectual Arts just as the Kennedy Center Honors recognize lifetime achievement in the performing arts.

In commenting on his gift, John Kluge said: "It has been my great honor to serve the Library of Congress for ten years as head of the Madison Council, the Library's private-sector support group. Throughout this decade, I have seen the Library flourish under the leadership of Jim Billington, whose vision has guided the institution into the digital age while maintaining its unique stature as a traditional library. I am delighted to augment these efforts with this center and prize. I hope that the research and dialogue that will take place here between scholars and lawmakers will enrich our democratic society."

The Librarian of Congress called the gift "a stunning benefaction for the Library and the nation." He said that the prize and the chairs will "bring some of the world's leading thinkers to the Library of Congress both to make greater use of the world's greatest collection of human knowledge and to make their wisdom continuously accessible to the world's most important lawmakers. We want this extraordinarily generous gift to enrich the linkage between ideas and action, thinkers and doers, that put this nation together in the first place."

In addition to the holders of the first Kluge Chairs, the Library will also host scholars occupying three newly established distinguished chairs, the Henry A. Kissinger Chair in Foreign Policy and International Relations, the Harissios Papamarkou Chair in Education, and the Cary and Ann Maguire Chair in Ethics and American History.

The Librarian also announced that this $60 million gift brought the total donations to the Library's Bicentennial Gifts to the Nation program to $106 million. This special program for the Library's 200th anniversary has funded numerous acquisitions for the collections, many of them through the American Legacy Endowment, championed by the Vice Chairman of the Madison Council Edwin L. Cox. The Gifts to the Nation project has also funded major symposia and exhibitions and the reconstitution and exhibition of Thomas Jefferson's personal library, which is the foundation on which the Library of Congress was built.


PR 00-155
ISSN 0731-3527