LHSQ’s patrimony for sale

The Literary and Historical Society of Quebec, Canada’s oldest learned society, is about to divest itself of its heart and soul: the sale by “silent auction” of 1,500 of its historical books, mostly from the 19th and 18th centuries, by the boxful no less! To view the titles, go to www.morrin.org/auction.pdf. Although the proposed auction may be silent, I am not.

It is abhorrent to scatter to the four winds this extraordinary collection, most of which has been together for more than a century. In the past, space available to the LHSQ was restricted and periodic “weeding” (some of it ill-considered) had to take place. Now, however, the creation of the Morrin Centre gives the Society access to an entire building. Cannot two small rooms be allocated to house this treasure? Yes, some of the books are in poor condition, but the Society’s immediate responsibility is to shelter its patrimony. Outside funding for the repair and restoration of such a unique collection will follow.

Consequent to the proposed mindless sale, only an empty shell, devoid of soul, would remain: a nice building, a couple of ship models, and a cute library stocked with plastic-wrapped bestsellers. The year 2008 is Quebec City’s 400th and would be the LHSQ’s last.

No, should the suicidal “silent auction” take place, I shall have to terminate my 30-year association with an institution that I took to heart and served with honour.

Dr. Tomas Feininger

President, LHSQ, 1993-1998