New York Investor Gives Book Collection to UWM

October 4, 2016

Ten years ago, Jerome Buff visited UWM to hear his daughter, Professor Rachel Buff of UWM’s Department of History, give a lecture as that year’s Fromkin speaker. The event took place in the Golda Meir Library on the same floor as the Special Collections, which intrigued Jerome Buff, an avid collector of fine printing and rare books.

He quickly struck up a friendship with Special Collections Librarian Max Yela. “Talking with Jerry, it soon became apparent that our collecting interests and motivations—mine institutional, his personal—were very much in sync,” recalls Yela “We are both interested in building meaningful collections that serve to document the development and production of the well-crafted book in the 20th century. Jerry had been thinking for some time about the disposition of his sizable and carefully developed collection. During our conversation, it became clear to him that our two collections were highly complementary, and he was deeply attracted not only to our curatorial and preservation practices, but especially to our commitment to education and universal public access.”

Since then, Buff has gifted the UWM Libraries with his vast collection of rare books, first editions, fine-press publications, and artists’ books. With this gift, the UWM Libraries now have artists’ books and fine-press works from around the world. “UWM Special Collections was already well-known for its book arts collection,” Yela observes, “but Jerry Buff’s donation has augmented the scope and value of that collection beyond measure. His donation also includes many rare books and first editions of significant, world literary figures. It is just a remarkable gift.”

Buff, who spent his career as an investor in New York City, believes that UWM is the right home for his collections. “My watchwords in life—whether personally or in business—have always been ‘quality’ and ‘fine craftsmanship,’” Buff says. “Those were the essentials for developing my collection: quality and craftsmanship in literature and the production of the well-made book. It brings me joy to know that students, faculty, and the community will be using the works I have collected over the years. I can think of no better home for my collection than the UWM Libraries.”