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A Look Behind the Book: Donors Raymond and Diana Compton

Raymond Compton was ushered into an adoration of literature by his book loving grandparents early on in his life. His grandfather cared for thousands of books, each wall of his home adorned with a book laden shelf. After a segment of this exquisite collection had been acquired by his mother, which was eventually split between the Compton siblings, Mr. Compton was left with 150 rare and authentic books to exhibit on his own shelves. Centered on New World exploration, these dozens of books include first edition narratives of early voyages and discoveries that fueled the colonization and subsequent expansion of America beginning in the fifteenth century. Within the aged pages lie detailed images hand-drawn by explorative illustrators to document firsthand the sights of new lands the curious voyagers encountered among riveting accounts of their remarkable discoveries. A select few book covers even showcase the autographs of the original adventuring authors. Once considered “coffee table books,” these preeminent stories in the collection are now reflected on as the foundation of our nation.

Raymond and Diana Compton in their Fairview, Utah home.

Among this set is an authentic 1600s chronicle of the Age of Discovery that was nearly disintegrating from physical degeneration that inevitably occurs after centuries of wear and tear. A friend of Mr. Compton’s advised him in seeking preservation assistance at the Marriott Library, a service he was not previously aware the Library offered. The Marriott Library’s Preservation Department was able to restore the historical publication in their on campus preservation lab -– the thick chocolate cover finely engraved with condensed writing lining the sturdy spine had been made to look new. From this point forward, Mr. Compton continued to trust the capable preservation team with rehabilitating his beloved collection so that they may be conserved for future use.

The couple’s environment controlled home library where their unique book collections are currently stored.
Historical conquistador book restored by the Marriott Library’s Preservation Department.

In a charming room embellished with stocked bookshelves, English styled furniture, a quaint fireplace, and even an old cat named Ginger, Mr. Compton visibly takes great pride in his picturesque at-home-library. The couple’s central Utah property now houses the distinctive collection in the specially designed double functioning library/music room containing just two windows and intentionally kept cool to preserve the books’ pristine conditions. He and his wife, Diana, labor to safeguard the collection from further deterioration by method of placing a prime few books in custom designed protective boxes along with other efforts made in conjunction with the Preservation Department to well maintain them extended use by others beyond the couple.

It is the Marriott Library’s privilege to be the future home of this fine collection, as the Compton’s have graciously pledged to gift the University with these invaluable historical accounts. Mr. Compton’s desire is that these books function as a source of “reference material for those interested in the stories of exploration of the New World.”  Once dwelling within the Library’s walls, the collection will fill any gaps with first person accounts of discovery not frequently found elsewhere. “It’s important to keep the collection in the public eye as opposed to just sitting on the shelves,” narrates Mr. Compton in divulging the impact he envisions the books will inaugurate. The collection will most certainly add “a unique dimension to the Library” once made available given their primitive authorship and narration of monumental adventures, just as the couple intends.

Beyond the books themselves, the Compton’s will additionally leave monetary means to the Library to fund the Preservation Department in caring for books, documents, manuscripts, maps, photographs, and a variety of other three-dimensional objects belonging to the campus Libraries. While digital preservation is a useful and innovative technique, media rapidly develops into creative advancements leaving past digital archives often obsolete. It is for this reason that the Compton’s funds will be applied to conservation and preservation of physical books planned to be of relevant use to both University members and the public for many years to come.

“These aren’t just history books, they’re current event books…” that serve as the window into who we were and who we are to become.

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