English professor Thomas Averill donates to Mabee

ReAnne Utemark

Thomas Averill, English professor and writer in residence, is bringing the literature of the Sunflower State to Mabee Library.

Averill spent several years collecting Kansas materials and he will donate much of his collection to the special collections at Mabee Library. Averill amassed a variety of materials, including books, newspaper clippings, yearbooks, alternative literary magazines and other bits and pieces of Kansas literature. He collected it from libraries and garage sales all over the state.

He said he used much of that material as a teacher of Kansas literature, Kansas folklore and Kansas film.

“It’s important to Kansas literature, not necessarily important to the canon of American literature as it’s defined by academia,” said Averill.

As part of the renovations to Morgan Hall over the summer, Averill was temporarily displaced from his regular office and as part of the moving process, he decided he would rather donate a portion of his collection that he did not use regularly.

“I am really happy about doing it,” said Averill. “I feel like they’ll take good care of them.”

Averill expects to donate around 24 boxes of material. He said he saved boxes of resources that he might want to read.

“The rest I can go over and visit whenever I need to,” said Averill.

Averill hopes to grow the collection during the coming years, and plans to donate more of his collection after he retires.

“It’s not a sign I am leaving soon, but that I’m trying to make something happen,” said Averill.

He said there was literature in his collection from nearly every part of the state during a variety of time periods.

“All of us could benefit greatly from learning about how people have dealt with living in Kansas,” said Averill. Averill said he was looking forward to helping the project grow.

Alan Bearman, interim dean of university libraries, said he was grateful for the donation.

“It is an exceedingly generous donation that will benefit our academic community greatly,” said Bearman. “Our ability to do original research in Kansas studies has been greatly enhanced.