Flexibility for the Future

Flexibility for the Future

When asked what she hopes her gift to the UC Davis Library will make possible, Kate Mawdsley replies, “I haven’t the slightest idea.”

But then she quickly adds, “And really, that’s a decision I’m very happy to leave to the people who will know what will be most useful.”

Mawdsley, a former librarian at UC Davis, made a gift through her estate to support the Library Archives and Institutional Assets Endowment Fund. The fund, which will support the library’s efforts to acquire, archive and digitize collections related to UC Davis history and scholarship, and increase the impact of faculty research, was established in such a way that payouts can be allocated to the most pressing needs determined by the university archivist at the time.

Mawdsley said that flexibility was important to her because the gift was made as a bequest expectancy (meaning it will not be given to UC Davis until after her death) and therefore, she said, in jest, “Frankly, I’m not sure when you’ll get the money.”

“The world has changed a lot in my lifetime. Libraries went through about three revolutions during the time I was there. How many more since I retired? And how many more will there be?” Mawdsley said. “So I didn’t want to restrict it.”

Mawdsley did experience quite a bit of change during her nearly 30-year career at the UC Davis Library. She started at the library in September 1965 in the one-year-old government documents department, which was a full-service, self-contained library unit. In 1973 she became the head of the department and in 1982 she became Associate University Librarian for Public Services where she oversaw numerous departments, including Special Collections. Soon she was promoted to Assistant University Librarian for Public Services, which was a role she held until she retired in 1993.

During Mawdsley’s tenure, the library acquired its 1 millionth, 2 millionth and 3 millionth books. It also underwent the construction of the last wing of the Peter J. Shields Library, which includes the present-day entrance to Shields Library. Mawdsley, who was part of the leadership team at the time, said the opening of the fourth wing to Shields was a highlight of her career.  In retirement, Mawdsley continues to frequent the library to research the flora of regions all over the world that she visits during her travels.

“Making the gift was really a recognition that a career in the library did a great deal for me,” said Mawdsley, whose love of libraries began as a child when she researched wildflowers that she gathered during walks near her Wilmington, Del. home. “I believed in what the library did and I believe in what the library is doing now and will accomplish in the future.”

University Librarian MacKenzie Smith said Mawdsley’s confidence in the future of the library is a testament to what a visionary she is.

“Kate’s gift is the perfect blend of specificity and flexibility. It will allow the library to pursue innovations or address challenges that we cannot foresee at the moment, but it also ensures that the funds will support a specific area of the library’s mission that is in line with her philanthropic passions,” said Smith. “It allows us to honor her wishes, while being adaptive. We are so fortunate to have visionaries like Kate as part of our community.”