McCune Collection 2017 Annual Report


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

McCune Collection 2017 Annual Report

Origin 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 protecting, maintaining and enhancing the collection as well as making it available to the public.

Mission of the McCune Endowment Commission

  • 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 Commission.

Aims & Activities of the McCune Collection Commission

The McCune Collection Commission 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 Collection Commission Chair

Throughout 2017the McCune Collection was buoyed by renewed relationships and new associations which have yielded both immediate gains as well asset the stage for longer-term benefits.The McCune Collection Commission’s first year anniversary coincided with Vallejo City Council appointing Commissioner Noah Dove to fill the Commission’s only remaining vacancy. The Commission was also fortunate to have Joanna Altman, Assistant to the City Manager, appointed as their City staff liaison.

A number of notable developments in 2017 are directly attributable to newly opened channels between the McCune Commission and Vallejo City administration. Foremost was an allocation in the Vallejo City 2016-17 midterm budget revisions of a $2500 subsidy expressly for the Collection’s immediate preservation needs. Re-approved in the 2017-18 annual budget, these subsidies mark the first time City monies have been disbursed to directly support items in the Collection apart from McCune Endowment Fund interest allocations. After many years of deferment, these first two subsidies enabled the Commission to approve conservation work on six volumes dating back to the 16th and 17th centuries. Another important outcome was an arrangement by the City to have the entire Collection professionally appraised. The only previous appraisal was more than 30 years ago, and the completed appraisal report will be useful for ongoing preservation and conservation efforts. In addition to these key events, the City has undertaken new infrastructure improvements in the McCune Room including a direct link to the City’s optical fiber backbone for Internet access, and installing a permanent ceiling-mounted projector.

In 2017 the McCune Commission in partnership with the McCune Foundation pursued several new sources of financial support for the Collection. Recently established participation in corporate charitable donation programs such as Amazon Smile and Tobi Cares enable their customers to designate the McCune Collection as their charity of choice to receive a percentage of their total purchases when they shop with these retailers. In another first for The McCune, organizers of the annual Vallejo Waterfront Weekend event named the McCune Foundation on behalf of the McCune Collection as a 2017 beneficiary and recipient of a $3000 grant. This award will be used to conduct a condition survey of the Collection as part of a long-range comprehensive preservation plan. The Commission is also fortunate to have the opportunity to start collaborating with the City’s professional grant writer to explore applying for additional state and federal grants.

The McCune Commission achieved a significant milestone in 2017 by reaching the goal of training a total of six qualified volunteers. All six are local or nearby residents whose contribution of their time and talents are making possible several of the Commission’s much desired pursuits including expanding docent hours, implementing a call numbering system, increasing public outreach through social media, extending electronic access to the Collection through Calisphere, the Online Archive of California (OAC), and making improvements to the visitor and supporter contact database. The Commission also continued to expand activities and programs offered at The McCune with the introduction of a Writers Workshop which meets twice a month. Other plans still being formulated include the formation of a Graphic Arts group as well as a Printing Society to increase public engagement with the Albion Press.

Several enhancements were made to the McCune Collection website in 2017. Most notably original videos are now available for viewing on topics like Antique Printing Equipment and the Grammar of Ornament. Other improvements include a new biographies section, a separate McCune events calendar, and links to the Amazon Smile and Tobi Cares programs. The McCune Collection attracted over 900 visitors in 2017 which is on par with annual averages since 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, participation in Vallejo Open Studios, and for the first time participation in Vallejo Waterfront Weekend. The McCune Room also continues to be a meeting location for events such as the annual meeting of the Friends of the Vallejo Public Library, the Vallejo Poet Laureate reception, and a US Forest Service presentation and book signing.

Finally, during 2017 the Collection was augmented by the donation of more than 20 books and other items. The Commission is continuing an ongoing comprehensive effort to standardize its policies and procedures including drafting and/or revising documents such as the McCune Acquisition Policy and the McCune Comprehensive Security Policy. On average the McCune Collection is now open to the public between 8-10 times a month, which is more than a three-fold increase from previous years, thanks to a talented and committed group of seven Commissioners supported by an equally talented group of dedicated volunteers, all of whom devoted over 1000 hours of their time in 2017. By continuing to attract a diverse audience as well as increasing the range and support of donors, the McCune Collection shines asone of Vallejo’s cultural gems enhancing the quality of life for all Vallejoans and residents in surrounding communities.

Ongoing Activities Hosted by The McCune

  • Regular public visiting hours (2-4p on 1st & 3rd Tuesdays; noon-2p every Saturday)
  • 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)

Program Series

  • Spring 2017
    • March 12: Experiencing Sculpture. Douglas Heine.
    • April 9: Money from the Titanic. Michael S. Turrini. *
    • June 5: Histories of the Three Bears. Michael & Valerie Nelson.*
  • Fall 2017
    • Sept. 10: Pleasures of the Preserve. Myrna Hayes.
    • Oct. 22: Tearing up my History Books! Ben Brookshire.
    • Nov. 19: Buildings of Mare Island no longer there. William A. Porter. *
*Denotes events which attracted 50 or more attendees

Vallejo 2nd Friday Art Walks

Andrew & Katie Rottner: An evening with Baphomet.
Adam Musto: Japanese Style Wood-fired Pottery.
Brian O’Reilly: Photography.
Caroline Miller: Flaming Lotus Girls.
Myrna Hayes: Mare Island Shoreline Heritage Preserve.
William Porter: Photography.

Other Events at The McCune

June 8:
US Forest Service Presentation & Book Signing
June 21:
Friends of Library Annual Meeting
July 28:
Vallejo Poet Laureate Installation
October 7-8:
Vallejo Waterfront Weekend
November 11-12:
Open Studios

Private Tours of The McCune

Jan 21:
Urban Family (HB)
Aug 3:
Genealogy Society (KI & JS)

New McCune-related Developments

  • Direct link to City optical fiber for Internet access
  • Ceiling mounted projector
  • McCune Collection Acquisitions Policy
  • McCune Collection Comprehensive Security Policy

New Website Enhancements

The McCune website,, now includes original videos. Some of the topics include: Antique Printing Equipment and the Grammar of Ornament. Additions made during 2017 include a new biographies section, a separate McCune events calendar, and links to the Amazon Smile and Tobi Cares programs as well as the McCune Collection 2016 Annual Report.

The following items of the McCune Collection were highlighted on the website in 2017:

  • Famous Tales – Third Series
  • Robinson Crusoe and His Island
  • Tales for Bedtime
  • Titi Lucrettii Cari De Rerum Natura 1754
  • Luther Burbank. His Methods and Discoveries Vol. II
  • Luther Burbank. His Methods and Discoveries Vol. III
  • Luther Burbank. His Methods and Discoveries Vol. IV
  • The Life of Jefferson Davis (1868)
  • The Life and Public Services of James Garfield (1881)
  • A Bibliography of the History of California and the Pacific West 1510-1906

New Donations in 2017

  • Anonymous/Various Individuals:
    • Conversations with Ernest Gaines edited by John Lowe, 1995
    • Mozart and Leadbelly: Stories and Essays by Ernest Gaines, 2005
    • History of the Southern Rebellion by Orville J. Victor, 1861 (two volume set)
    • Memoirs of the Vallejos by Platon Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo, M.D. published by James Stevenson, 1994
    • What Mrs Fisher knows about old southern cooking published in 1881
    • The Priscilla Basketry Book by Sallie Fitzgerald, published by Priscilla Publishing Company. Boston, MA 1911
    • Little Folks' Reader published by Lothrop & Company. Boston, MA, 1880
    • Two Rebuses from the American Revolution, by Mathias Darly, Library of Congress, Washington, 1973
  • The Book Club of California:
    • The Woods Were Never Quiet (2014) by Monique Wentzel
    • Poetry at the Edge (2014) edited by Carolee Campbell
    • Architects and Artists (2015) by Nicholas Olsberg
    • Palatino (2016) by Robert Bringhurst
    • The Noblest Roman (2016) by Jerry Kelly & Misha Beletsky
    • Book Club of California, Quarterly, Volume LXXII, Number 2, April 2017
    • Book Club of California, Quarterly, Volume LXXII, Number 3, October 2017
    • Journal of the Fellowship of American Bibliophilic Societies, Volume XXI, Number 2, Fall 2017
    • Developing an Image: Photography, Books and the National Park Service from the Collection of Robert Bothamley by Richard Seibert, 2017 (BCC Keepsake)

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 Collection’s operating budget.

The McCune Endowment Fund had a value of $109,731.38 at the beginning of 2017. The Fund earned $246 in 2017 with interest rates remaining at historic lows. Thus after disbursing $5038.94 of income to the McCune’s operating budget, there is now a balance of $104,938.44 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 2017 the Foundation received $1,090 in contributions, including the individual donations of $125 from Lynn Combs,$100 from Joanne Schivley, $25 from Patrick Gaul, $20 from Lori Blackstone, and $25 from Tobi Cares. An additional $566 was received through book table, program series and other event donations. The Foundation also continued to play a role in underwriting costs for the website devoted to the McCune Collection. 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
    • Ben Brookshire – Vice-chair
    • Joanne Schivley – Treasurer
    • Julie Stratton – Program Series Coordinator
    • Noah Dove – Volunteer Coordinator
    • Thia Markson – Rotating Exhibits Curator
    • Ken Innes III – Website Content Organizer
  • McCune Qualified Volunteers:
    • Adam Kirshenbaum – Event assistance
    • Linda Lake – Collection maintenance
    • Ali Moradmand – Computer applications development
    • Nohelm Sale – Database management
    • Anthony Moresi – Social media facilitation
    • Vince Tajima – Book table coordination
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