The College of Staten Library received a collection of books this week that once belonged to literary scholar and educator, Frederick Karl. According to Wilma Jones, Chief Librarian at CSI, the Library was approached by Dr. Karl’s wife Dolores with an introduction by Rose Volpe, wife of former CSI President, the late Edmond Volpe.
Dr. Karl and Dr. Volpe spent time together at City College and became colleagues and good friends. Mrs. Karl decided to donate the books to CSI in recognition of her ties to CSI through her friendship with the Volpes, and because she is now in the process of closing the house that she and Dr. Karl shared in the Hamptons.
The collection, which consists of approximately 4,000 volumes, is a wonderful addition to the CSI Library, according to James Kaser, the Library’s Chief Archivist. “The reason why this collection was of interest,” Kaser says, “is because Mr. Karl was such a well-known literary scholar, so, of course, the books he was selecting for his library were of the most recent scholarship, particularly in American and British literature. It was a great opportunity for the Library, due to the strength of his collection in these areas.”
In addition, Kaser notes that there have been times in the past when the Library’s ability to purchase books has been limited, due to funding shortfalls. Once gaps in the collection exist, it is often difficult to fill them later because many titles go out of print, and the process of acquiring them is tedious and expensive. So, Kaser notes, “to be able to get the library of a scholar like this all in one fell swoop is pretty exciting.”
Frederick Karl, who passed away in May 2003, was an expert on Joseph Conrad. He wrote and edited biographies of other literary greats, such as George Eliot, Franz Kafka, and William Faulkner. Karl also authored reference works on American and British literature as well as a novel.