July / Aug. 2012
A Summer Destination for Scholars
Summertime, and our thoughts immediately turn to long, leisurely holidays with a good book in hand. One might think that summer at The Huntington slows down a bit, too, following the hectic academic calendar. Not so.
In fact, summer is the Library’s busiest season, when it’s “all hands on deck” as we try to make sure the scholars who come here to do research get access to the materials they need. This is the hidden Huntington with which few of our visitors are familiar.
During the summer, an average of 100 scholars are here on any given day. Final exams are over, their teaching is done; and so they descend on The Huntington to stoke their intellectual fires, reconnect with their research, meet up with colleagues, and produce new work. Who are they? Mainly college and university faculty and advanced graduate students, exploring everything from Shakespeare to Thomas Jefferson to Jack London, from the gender politics of Renaissance England to the water politics of Southern California. What are they working on? Biographies, articles, critical reviews, papers for public presentation, and any number of other endeavors that help move knowledge forward in their particular fields. A number of Pulitzer Prize winners and finalists have conducted much of the research for their books at The Huntington.
Inside the Library, 26 employees—from curators to administrative staff—work feverishly to support these summertime scholarly endeavors. David Zeidberg, Avery Director of the Library, reports that our pages pull some 1,000 rare items from the stacks each day during the summer to make them available to researchers.
It might not be common knowledge, but The Huntington is the principal granting institution in the United States (outside of the National Endowment for the Humanities) for research into the humanities. For the 2012–13 academic year, we’ve awarded 144 research grants totaling $1.7 million. Applications are subject to rigorous peer review. Most grantees are from the United States, although about a quarter are from abroad, representing 19 different countries. More than half of all grantees are women.
Those who win grants, though, make up only a fraction of the total number of scholars who conduct research at The Huntington. In all, approximately 1,400 researchers come each year, often on their own dime. Said one independent researcher:
“I can’t imagine living outside of Los Angeles. It’s not because I love L.A. so much but because I can’t imagine not having ready access to the amazing source material here.”
Members, visitors, school children, donors: many people make The Huntington their summer destination. So does a community of scholars, year after year after year.
Steve Koblik, President