May 25, 2022

Donations: A Rare Book Collection Worth $6.2 Million Coming to University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill University Libraries; Collection Will Be Available Online

From UNC at Chapel Hill University Libraries:

Florence Fearrington ’58, one of the preeminent female rare book collectors of our time and a longtime supporter of UNC-Chapel Hill, has donated nearly 4,000 books and objects valued at $6.2 million to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill University Libraries, where they will become part of the Wilson Special Collections Library.


The collection includes 1,900 rare books, most on the subject of natural history, including beautifully illustrated books on malacology — the study of shells and mollusks — and books, catalogs and prints on Wunderkammers, or “cabinets of curiosity.” The collection also includes a number of pre-1915 children’s books, 13 color-plate costume books and thousands of reference books that complement the subject matter of the rare books.

“Florence has established a meaningful legacy based on her passion for our natural world, the book arts and Carolina’s Libraries,” said Elaine L. Westbrooks, vice provost for University Libraries and University Librarian. “I firmly believe that an education at Carolina is qualitatively different thanks to the amazing collections that we build here and the inspiring generosity of donors like Florence Fearrington, who make that work possible.”

All of these books will soon be available to patrons — students, faculty, researchers and the general public. Once catalogued, the collection will also be available online.


Fearrington’s previous contributions to Carolina include gifts to University Libraries’ Rare Book Collection, and she established the Joseph Peyton Fearrington and James Cornelius Pass Fearrington Fund at the Health Sciences Library.

In 2016, she gave $5 million in support of the Louis Round Wilson Special Collections Library, earmarking $1 million to help update the grand reading room and adjacent exhibition areas in Wilson Library. The remaining $4 million created the Fearrington Special Collections Library Fund. The University Librarian and the director of the Louis Round Wilson Library may use income from this endowment to meet emerging needs and pursue opportunities that benefit Carolina students and enhance the work of researchers. In recognition of this substantial gift, the grand reading room in Wilson Library was renamed the Fearrington Reading Room.

Learn More Direct from UNC at Chapel Hill University Libraries

About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.