On January 10, 2017, trustees of the estate of Leonard and Joan Starr joined Pepperdine University President Andrew K. Benton, Dean of University Libraries Mark Roosa, and Vice Chancellor Sara Jackson for lunch, to present the Pepperdine University Libraries with a gift of an extensive collection of art books and music recordings as well as a cash gift of $1.3 million, the first of several gifts to come from the estate. The books and recordings will be preserved and displayed as part of the Starr Art Book and Music Collection at Pepperdine University Libraries, while the monetary gifts will form an endowment that will be used to fund a curatorial position for and periodic additions to the collection. Said President Benton, “This gift reflects the Starrs’ shared love of music, art, and learning. It is wonderful that their legacy will continue to live on at Pepperdine where it will inspire students’ imaginations.”
Both Joan and Leonard Starr were New York natives. Leonard began his love of classical music listening to live concerts on WNYC in New York City. Leonard was (among other degrees and accomplishments) a pathologist, and Joan was a psychologist. The two met when she worked with Dr. Starr for several years in his private practice as a physician in Northern California. When he discovered how smart and valuable she was, he asked her to be his wife, beginning a lifetime filled with a shared love of music and art. The two were devoted attendees at the live concerts of the Los Angeles Symphony Orchestra, with season tickets at the Dorothy Chandler and then the Disney Hall venues. They were also frequent visitors at the many museums in the LA area, especially the Getty Museum. Leonard passed away in May of 2013, and Joan in June 2016.
The collection is uniquely organized with a catalogue created by Dr. Starr that identifies books containing specific works of art. Many of the books in the collection are limited edition publications, an additional benefit to researchers. “It is with gratitude that we add this extraordinary collection to our holdings. Its considerable depth and breadth make it a wonderful resource for our humanities students and faculty” said Dean of Libraries Mark Roosa.
Cataloging the Dr. Leonard B. and Joan R. Starr Art Book and Music Collection is expected to take much of the rest of 2017. When this work is completed, it will be available as a reference collection in Payson Library, Pepperdine University’s undergraduate library on the main campus in Malibu. Payson Library is currently undergoing a 15-month renovation to increase student study areas and to create a new special collections experience. Expected to re-open in fall of 2017, the upgraded facility will offer new spaces for study, exhibitions, conservation, digitization, and research. It will also contain a coffee shop, a makerspace, and a student success center.