When Anne Farmer moved her furniture and belongings to a new house boat in North Vancouver, she asked someone to level her home and ensure the floats were balanced on the water.
“He told me the east side of the house was nearly 10 inches lower than the west side,” says Anne. “That was because I have shelves and shelves filled with about 2,000 books. And books are heavy, so I wasn’t really surprised.”
No wonder then, as an alumnus and donor to Simon Fraser University, Anne supports the Bennett Library. Her 2021 gift came after a “wonderful” tour of the Library’s Special Collection and Rare Books, which Anne says was “the highlight of last year for me.”
On that hour-long visit, she held a book from Aldine Press, a printing office started in Venice in 1494. Besides their rarity and portable size, books from Aldine Press were the first to ever use italic type.
“Holding this rare book and turning its pages was an amazing experience,” says Anne. “I started thinking about all the things that could have happened to this book in the past 500 years—from being destroyed in a flood or a fire—and I realized that libraries are often the places that make sure these books are still around.”
Anne’s passion—and fascination—for books started early. As a young child growing up in North Vancouver, she frequented her local library. “It was basically a room at the back of the fire hall, and the children’s section was like a closet in the back of the library…but it was wonderful,” she recalls. “Then later in life I discovered the Vancouver Public Library on Burrard Street. I went there twice before I realized the library had three floors. I was so enthralled being there I hadn’t gone beyond the main floor.”
Donating to the SFU Library makes sense to Anne. “When you get down to it, a university is a library and a whole lot of people. A place where you take knowledge out of the books and into the students,” adds Anne, who at one time considered becoming a librarian.
“I’ve often regretted not going for a degree in library science,” she says. “But I’d now like to think, with giving to SFU, I’m something of an honorary librarian.”