New Haven book, map, and ephemera dealer William Reese is making a $100,000 donation to the Yale University map collection, according to a Yale press release and a report in today's Hartford Courant.
"Reese's donation will go toward the cataloging and digitizing of some of Yale's 220,000 maps, which are stored in a warren of rooms on the top floor of Sterling Memorial Library." Yale will match the donation and "start a major fundraising push next month, to make the collection a major center for studying hand-printed maps and the history of cartography but also for using geographic information systems technology to draw modern maps," according to the Courant.
In a statement, head librarian Alice Prochaska wrote "We will be seeking to endow the position of Map Curator, to support the creation of a full electronic catalog with digitized versions of the holdings of this great collection, and to support and extend the high-powered consultative service in Geospatial Information Systems (GIS) that the staff provide." As the Courant notes, digitized records of the maps could prove useful if (heaven forbid) they should ever appear on the market - it will also decrease the need for physical access to the items in many cases.
I hope that Mr. Reese's most generous gift will be used wisely and effectively to improve the Yale map collections ... and who knows, maybe this will spur others to give as well.