McCune Collection Committee - Year End Report for 2016


John F Kennedy Library Building
505 Santa Clara Street
Vallejo, CA  94540

McCune Collection 2016 Annual Report

The Origins of the McCune Collection

The McCune Collection of Rare Books & Art is the legacy of longtime Vallejo resident and physician, Dr. Donovan McCune, who was born and raised in Ohio.  After graduating from Georgetown University, he obtained his medical degree from Johns Hopkins.  Dr. McCune’s professional career spanned numerous positions as a pediatrician in New York, New Jersey, Ohio and Connecticut.  In 1951, he moved to California to work for Kaiser Permanente Hospital in Vallejo, where he served as Chief of Pediatrics and also staff assistant to the Executive Director of the Kaiser Permanente Group.

Dr. McCune had four passions in life: public speaking, the study of Latin, a love of books, and a compelling interest in how books were produced. These passions are reflected in the items that Dr. McCune collected. He collected books on California history, Latin, the printing arts (e.g. typography, printing, book design, and binding) and fine printing by notable private presses. He purchased an Albion Hand Press (manufactured in London in 1852) so that he could try his hand at fine printing. Additionally, he both gave and attended lectures on book making and the printing process.

Dr. McCune was appointed to the Vallejo Library Advisory Board (VLAB) in 1961, serving on it for two five-year terms. In 1967, during his second term on the Board, he began to donate portions of his collection to the City of Vallejo. These donations continued throughout his second term and were graciously accepted by Vallejo through its City Council.  In 1969 a room expressly designed to house the collection in the John F. Kennedy Library was named for Dr. Donovan J. McCune.  Several months aft er the library officially opened in 1970, Dr. McCune had a stroke which affected him until his death in 1976.

As Dr. McCune left no funds to maintain the collection, the City of Vallejo was tasked with finding a way to provide for its preservation.  Consequently, a portion of the collection was auctioned in 1986 to establish a McCune Endowment Fund to maintain the collection.  Interest from this fund is exclusively used for the operating expenses of the collection.

In 1987 the City of Vallejo amended its municipal code in order to form the McCune Endowment Committee as a subcommittee of the Vallejo Library Advisory Board (VLAB). In 2016 the Vallejo City Council abolished VLAB and concurrently elevated the former McCune Committee to the status of a full City commission called the McCune Collection Commission. Its 7 Council-appointed commissioners are charged with maintaining, protecting, and enhancing the collection as well as making it available to the public.

Mission of the McCune Endowment Committee

  • To review and make recommendations to the Vallejo City Council concerning expenditures to be made annually with funds from the McCune Endowment Fund.
  • To solicit contributions to The McCune from members of the community.
  • To make recommendations concerning display, use and maintenance of the Collection.
  • To explore the possibilities of forming a local printing club to use the Albion Press.
  • To make annual reports to the Vallejo Library Advisory Board on the financial status of the McCune Endowment Fund and the activities of the Committee.

Aims & Activities of the McCune Committee

The McCune Committee provides public service in the Arts of the Book. We seek to:

  • Actively involve a diverse public in all McCune Collection programs;
  • Present programs and exhibits of high quality to our audiences;
  • Provide innovative educational programming;
  • Advance the Collection with relevant acquisitions;
  • Enrich the culture of our community.

Report from the McCune Committee Chair

The McCune Collection was bolstered by two seminal events in 2016, the impacts of which will continue to shape the Collection’s future and its prospects for many years to come. Back in 1987 the Vallejo municipal code was revised to form the McCune Endowment Committee to oversee the Collection. That code revision also stipulated that it be a subcommittee of the Vallejo Library Advisory Board (VLAB). After a 2016 re-evaluation by the Vallejo City Council of all City boards and commissions, the Council decided to eliminate VLAB in favor of selecting a representative to the Solano County Library Council. Concurrently with that decision, the Council also replaced the former McCune Committee with a new full City commission called the McCune Collection Commission. This elevation in status provides a fresh framework for the newly appointed McCune Commissioners to more directly interact with the City administration and thus benefit the Collection with greater visibility and increased resources.

The second momentous event of 2016 involved a restructuring of the McCune Endowment Fund which originated from the auction proceeds on a portion of Dr. McCune’s original bequest. The 1987 municipal code revision which created the Fund stipulates that the interest generated may only be used to perpetuate the Collection. Unfortunately some years back the threshold for the principal portion of the Fund was arbitrarily reset after the finance department had problems identifying original records tracking the Fund. Subsequent to the sharp market declines of the late 2000’s, diminished interest earnings brought this matter to the forefront, as the Collection could not be further supported by the Fund without re-establishing the original principal amount. After a several month research effort and the pro bono assistance of Mariam Whitten from Bonhams, successor to the auctionhouse of Butterfield & Butterfield, the newly re-computed principal yielded over $37,000 from previously restricted funds. By itself this boost does not create a sustainable path for the Collection’s finances; however, it does afford the Commission some much needed additional time to reinvigorate supporter donations through a new McCune Patronage Program.

The McCune Commission continues to expand activities and programs offered at The McCune. Most significantly a new program has been launched to identify and train qualified volunteers who wish to support the Collection with their personal time and effort. The McCune Volunteer Coordinator, Thia Markson, has spearheaded the program by participating in a volunteer recruiting event at CSU Maritime Academy and by listing McCune opportunities on the website. Thus far The McCune has been fortunate to add two local residents to its volunteer ranks: Adam Kirshenbaum and Linda Lux. They are assisting with events and collection maintenance. The program’s goals are to attract at least three more volunteers to help in areas such as social media, database maintenance and donor relations. Another new effort launched is the expansion of regular visitor hours at The McCune by including noon – 2pm on 1st and 3rd Saturdays. Vallejo’s booming weekly farmers market provided the impetus for these new hours which, with some additional volunteers, could be further expanded to include every Saturday.

Beyond this increase in McCune activities and programs, the Commission is pleased to point out some capital improvements including an updated certificate of occupancy, new emergency exit signs and the replacement of a large number of fluorescent bulbs in the foyer. The McCune is also fortunate to have acquired a new wet/dry vacuum, a computer monitor, two digital cameras, an artificial Christmas tree, and various program supplies. Several enhancements have been made to the McCune Collection website as well. Most notably several short videos are now available for view on topics such as the Gutenberg Leaf, Byrne’s Euclid and the Odyssey of Homer. In addition there are new sections devoted to the 2015 Holiday Tea event plus the McCune Volunteer Program.

The McCune Collection attracted over 1090 visitors in 2016 (compared to 1036 in 2015). This reflects the continued popularity of the Spring and Fall Program Series, the McCune serving as a regular venue in Vallejo’s 2nd Friday Art Walk, and participating for the first time in Vallejo Open Studios and Visions of the Wild. The McCune Room also continues to be a meeting location for local groups such as: the Friends of the Vallejo Public Library, Sister Cities, Vallejo Art Alliance, Vallejo General Plan Working Group, and Capitol Street Mosaic Committee. The McCune has seen a notable increase in requests for private tours as well.

Finally, during 2016 the Collection was augmented by the donation of more than 40 books, photos and art prints. The Commission is continuing an ongoing comprehensive effort to standardize its policies and procedures including drafting and/or revising such documents as: the McCune Volunteer Program Policy; the McCune Room Event and Use Policy; the McCune Collection Image Use Policy; and the McCune Security Services Policy. The McCune Collection brochure was also revised and updated thanks in particular to the work of Linda Lawless, Ken Innes and Julie Stratton. The McCune Collection is most fortunate to be overseen and operated by a many talented Commission supported by equally talented volunteers, all of whom devoted over 2200 hours of their time in 2016 (compared to 1700 hours in 2015). By attracting diverse volunteers as well as increasing the range and support of donors, the McCune Collection remains one of Vallejo’s cultural icons enhancing the quality of life for all Vallejoans and residents in surrounding communities.

Ongoing Activities Hosted by The McCune

  • Regular public visiting hours (twice monthly: 2-4p on 1st & 3rd Tuesdays; noon-2p on 1st & 3rd Saturdays*))
  • McCune Program Series presentations (6 times a year)
  • Vallejo 2nd Friday Art Walks (monthly 5-9p)
  • McCune Writers Group meetings (twice a month)
  • McCune Collection Commission meetings* (monthly)
  • McCune Foundation meetings (bimonthly)
  • Vallejo Art Alliance Art Connector meetings (quarterly)

Program Series

  • Spring 2016
    • March 20: Tangled Vines: The Story of Vallejo’s Wine Warehouse Fire. Frances Dinkelspiel.**
    • April 17: History of the Histories of Vallejo. Jim Kern.
    • June 5: Chanticleer the Rooster. Valerie & Michael Nelson.
  • Fall 2016
    • Sept. 11: Memories, Mementos and Milestones. Donna Nunes. **
    • Oct. 16: California’s Changing Forests. Dr. Lisa Fong (US Forest Service).
    • Nov. 20: Jack London and his Camera. Michael Turrini. **
*Commission meetings and Saturday hours began in Oct 2016 **These were events which attracted 50 or more attendees

Vallejo 2nd Friday Art Walks

Mark Martin: Art of Revolution a solo art exhibit.
Jennifer Actkinson-Lockette: Landscape Matters.
Alexandria Georgette: Springtime Art.
Alexandria Georgette: Springtime Art & Art by Daniel Belcher.
Carl Theodorski: mixed media & Art by Daniel Belcher.
Carl Theodorski: mixed media.
Jan Cook, Donna Brown & Carol Brent Levin: Printmakers exhibit.
US Forest Service’s permanent collection: Wild in the City.
Grace Seldner, Jennifer Actkinson, Bosa Oluto, Marlie Fitzgerald, Aleta Gorie, Verlanna Manchester:
2016 Open Studios encore exhibition.

Other Events at The McCune

January 17; 25; 28:
Vallejo General Plan meetings (Cultural Component).
February 11:
Voices of Vallejo meeting.
February 21:
Sister Cities Annual Event (The Mighty Continent of Africa).
May 4; 18:
Capitol Street Mural Art/Mosaic Committee meetings.
June 15:
Friends of Library Annual Meeting.
August 30:
Mosaic proposal presentations.
October 8:
Visions of the Wild.
November 5-6:
Vallejo Open Studios.

Private Tours of The McCune

April 2:
Family group
Sept 9:
Arion Press
Sept 20:
Vallejo city officials

New McCune-related Developments

  • Vallejo Fire Dept updated certificate of occupancy
  • City replacement of emergency exit signs and foyer fluorescent lights
  • McCune Collection brochure revised and updated
  • McCune Volunteer Program policies & materials
  • McCune Room Event & Use Policy
  • McCune Collection Image Use Policy
  • McCune Security Services Policy)

New Website Enhancements

The McCune website,, now includes several videos. Some of the titles include: A Noble Fragment, Byrne's Euclid 1847, and The Odyssey of Homer Books 1 & 2. There are also new sections about volunteering at the McCune, the McCune 2015 Holiday Tea event and the McCune Collection 2015 Annual Report.

The following items of the McCune Collection were highlighted on the website in 2016:

  • Pop-up Books section
    • Various entries
  • Children Books section
    • Le Terrible Chat Tigre
    • Otto of the Silver Hand
    • Let's Play
  • Latin Books section
    • Caii Velleii Paterculi Historiae Romanae Libri Duo
    • Decii Junii Juvenalis (1754)
    • Eutropii Breviarium Historiae Romanae
    • Phaedri Augusti Liberti Fabulae
  • Incunabula section
    • The leaf Hortus Sanitatis or Ortus Sanitatis (Origin of Health)
  • Californiana section
    • Annals of San Francisco
  • Book Club of California section
    • An additional 113 entries

Book, Photo, Art Print and Other Donations

  • The Book Club of California:
    • The Woods Were Never Quiet: Stories by Monique Wentzel.
    • Poetry at the Edge: Five Contemporary California Poets.
    • Vol. LXXIX Quarterly Newsletters: Winter (No. 1), Spring (No. 2), Summer (No. 3), Fall (No. 4).
    • Architects and Artists: The Work or Ernest and Esther Born.
    • The California Tradition in Type Design.
    • Plate by Plate: California Recipes from the Gold Rush Through California Cuisine.
    • Vol. LXXX Quarterly Newsletters: Winter (No. 1), Spring (No. 2), Summer (No. 3), Fall (No. 4).
  • The Buck Foundation:
    • Dauncey, C. The Philippines: An Account of Their People, Progress and Condition. Boston: J.B.Millet, 1910.
    • Nadeau, R. Ghost Towns and Mining Camps of California. Sherman Oaks: Ward Richie Press, 1965.
    • Tresidder, M.C. The Trees of Yosemite. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1948.
    • Taylor, K.A. Yosemite Trails and Tales. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1948.
    • Cuddy, J.J. The Chapter in Your Life Entitled San Francisco. San Francisco: Californians Inc.: 1946.
    • PG&E Staff (eds.) California’s Historical Monuments. Frederick, M.D.: Wonder Books, 1965.
    • Bangs, E.G. Portals West: A Folio of Late Nineteenth Century Architecture in California. San Francisco: California Historical Society: 1960.
    • Ellis, E.S. Boy Pioneer Series: Ned in the Block House; Ned in the Woods; Ned on the River. Los Angeles: Library of Alexandria, 1883.
    • California Historical Society Quarterly Issues (1941 to 1951).
  • Frances Dinkelspiel:
    • Dinkelspiel, F. Tangled Vines: The Story of Vallejo’s Wine Warehouse Fire. NY: St. Martin’s Press, 2015.
  • Mr. Ed Ferguson:
    • Porter, J. The Scottish Chiefs. Boston: Lee and Shepherd, 1877.
    • Myers, P.V.N. Ancient History for Colleges and High Schools. Boston: Ginn & Company, 1894-1895.
    • Bullfinch, T. The Age of Fable. Boston: S.W. Tilton & Company, 1881.
  • Pat Innes:
    • Raskin-Zrihen, R. et al. The Jewish Community of Solano County. Charleston: Arcadia Publishing, 2014.
  • Joanne Craig:
    • Birdsall, K (ed.) Young People’s Book-Shelf. G.P. Putnam’s Sons. NY & London: Knickerbocker Press, 1920.
      • Vol. 1. Famous Poems.
      • Vol. 2. Famous tales – First Series.
      • Vol. 3. Famous Tales – Second Series.
      • Vol. 4. Famous Tales – Third Series.
      • Vol. 5. Forty famous fairy tales.
      • Vol. 7. Adventures Afloat and Ashore.
      • Vol. 8. Almost True Stories.
      • Vol. 9. The Book of Romance.
      • Vol. 10. Robinson Crusoe and his Island.
      • Vol. 11. Stories Grandmother Knew.
      • Vol. 12. Tales for Bedtime.
      • Vol. 13. Stories of School Days.
      • Vol. 14. Two and Four Footed Friends.
      • Vol. 15. The Book of Laughter.
      • Vol. 16. Five Old Favorites.
      • Vol. 17. Stories of the Republic.
      • Vol. 18. Tales Stranger than Fiction.
      • Vol. 19. Tales from the Olden Time.
      • Vol. 20. Stories from the Best of Books.

Equipment and Supplies Donations

  • McCune Foundation:
    • Wet/Dry vacuum cleaner
    • Computer monitor
  • Stan Clark:
    • Astro Botanical inflatable decoration
  • Ken Innes:
    • Artificial Christmas tree
  • Julie Stratton:
    • Program supplies

McCune Endowment Fund

The McCune Endowment Fund was created in 1986 by the City of Vallejo through auctioning some of the Collection’s assets.  Under CA State law and Vallejo’s Municipal Code, this fund is managed by the Finance Director of the City of Vallejo.  A portion of the interest generated by the fund is allocated each year to the McCune Committee’s operating budget.

The McCune Endowment Fund had a value of $108,039.38 in the beginning of 2016.  The Fund earned 1692 with interest rates remaining near historical lows.  Thus after disbursing $6000 of income to the McCune’s operating budget, there is now a balance of $103,731.38 in the Fund.

Since the Endowment Fund is a major source of support for the operation of the Collection, the goal has been to ensure that the Endowment Fund retains a net balance sufficient to maintain an inflation-adjusted value which either remains steady or grows a bit. That way, future interest income will at least not be further eroded by the rate of inflation.

McCune Art and Books Collection Foundation

Founded in 2006, the McCune Art & Books Collection Foundation serves as a 501c(3) non-profit source of funding for the McCune Collection. During 2016 the Foundation received $951 in contributions, the largest of which were $100 from Honore McIlhattan, $100 from Joanne Schivley, $75 from Larry Critchfield, $50 from Donna Brown, and $36 from Carol Levin. An additional $490 was received through book table, program series and other event donations. The Foundation also continued to play a role in underwriting costs for the McCune’s participation as a 2nd Friday Art Walk venue. The Treasurer of the Foundation provides financial updates periodically to both the McCune Foundation and the McCune Collection Commission.

Current McCune Collection Commissioners & Qualified Volunteers

  • McCune Collection Commissioners:
    • Henry Beecher – Chair
    • Joanne Schivley – Vice-Chair
    • Ben Brookshire – Recording Sectary
    • Julie Stratton – Program Series Coordinator
    • Thia Markson – McCune Volunteer Coordinator
    • Ken Innes III – Friends of the Vallejo Public Library liaison
  • McCune Qualified Volunteers:
    • Linda Lux – Collection assistance
    • Adam Kirshenbaum – Event assistance
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