The staff of the Flora Lamson Hewlett Library recently received some public recognition by the son of Robert McAfee Brown for their work in collecting and preserving his personal library. The Letter to the Editor, printed in the New York Times, is included below.
To the Editor:
I read with great interest Andrew D. Scrimgeour’s warm and beautifully written essay on the personal libraries that scholars often leave behind at death — and the librarians who are asked to sort through, order and relocate these books and papers (“Handled With Care,” Dec. 30).
It brought back so clearly the process my family went through in dealing with the library of my father, the theologian Robert McAfee Brown, and the caring job done by Robert Benedetto and his staff at the Flora Lamson Hewlett Library at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, Calif.
Although my dad died in 2001, they dealt with us, almost 10 years later, as though these books were living reflections of him. The process extended our time with him and enabled us to say goodbye in even deeper and more resonant ways.
It’s a sad business — the wrapping up and the transposing of something that mirrors the heart of someone you love — but Benedetto made us feel as though the books, and the thought they represented, were still intricately connected to the mind and soul of our Papa.