Hobor Chinese Books

Location: Main Floor, Musselman Library


Last fall Michael "Mike" Hobor ‘69 invited a librarian to Chicago for a shopping spree at antiquarian bookstores. Kathy D'Angelo, Musselman Library's director of collections and technical services, happily accepted the assignment. They spent three full days shopping together, with Hobor spending over $20,000 and adding 502 titles to the college collection.

Hobor's love of books, and of his alma mater, led him to set up an acquisition fund in 2007 for the library stipulating that "the books are all to be about China." Hobor, who just returned from his 15th trip to China, credits his Gettysburg history professor John Roger Stemen for igniting this passion. He himself now teaches history (Asian) part time at Columbia College in Chicago.

Hobor also offered his expertise in finding some book treasures. Before hitting the streets, he planned a detailed itinerary, alerted store owners about their impending visit and negotiated discounts. For her part, D'Angelo held strategy meetings, studied course descriptions and re-evaluated the collection, which was already strong in Chinese history, literature, art, religion and language.

"I knew we wanted to build on these strengths, as well as enhance the college's expanding programs in Asian studies, film studies, women's studies, theatre, and music," she says. "I also wanted reference material to help staff identify and describe the library's extensive Asian art collection. Ultimately, I counted on Mike's knowledge of Chinese history and culture, and my own instincts for choosing books of interest and relevance."

The rarest books, which will be kept in Special Collections, were selected by Hobor or by Archivist Karen Drickamer who had picked in advance from written descriptions. "Karen's purchases included several historical travel narratives published by the Hakluyt Society, an illustrated portfolio on Chinese drama, and a signed copy of a book on Chinese women from the early 20th century," says D'Angelo. "She also chose an unusual two-volume history of costume published in Paris in 1925 that is noteworthy for its lavishly illustrated portfolios and models that are stylistically French no matter what culture their costumes portray."

Their purchases ranged in price from an 1871 book on the Chinese Tartary region for $750 to a book of Tibetan folk tales for $3. On average, they spent $40 per title.

Following the shopping trip, Hobor and his wife, Nancy, arranged for an additional $4,000 to be donated to this initiative. He also continues to donate individual volumes to the library as he comes across relevant items in his bookstore travels. Meanwhile D'Angelo is still feeling a bit like a kid on Christmas morning: "This is the most fun I've had professionally in a very long time."