“There aren’t that many research libraries in the world,” says Tom Swanstrom, who, with his wife Nancy, is a long-standing donor to the Newberry’s Annual Fund. “The Newberry fills an important role, and we believe in supporting that.”
Tom traces the first growth of his Newberry roots back to 1979, when he took a class on maps at the Francis W. Parker School. From there, he became interested in collecting antique maps and subsequently joined the Chicago Map Society. Meetings at the Newberry evolved into volunteering. Tom worked on projects such as creating a database for the Rand McNally maps and served as a docent for exhibitions. But most significantly, he became involved with the Book Fair, and served as its co-chair in 2009. “The Book Fair enables the Newberry to present a more relaxed image to the public,” says Tom.
Today, Tom’s connections to the library are many. In addition to being a volunteer for more than 20 years, he is a member of the Caxton Club. He continues to collect, his interest in maps having expanded into atlases, globes, and illustrated books, particularly ornithology books. He also is a member of the Civil War Round Table and has coordinated a number of classes offered by the Osher Life Long Learning Institute at Northwestern University.
An economist by training, before retiring he was the chief economist at Sears Roebuck. In addition, he taught as an adjunct professor at the Lake Forest Graduate School of Management for 15 years and served as an economic consultant for lawyers for 20 years.
Through Tom, Nancy has also become part of the Newberry family. In addition to her quilting and other involvements here in Chicago and at their Michigan home, she has taken several classes at the library. “The Newberry is such a wonderful learning institution,” she says. “There is always something of interest going on.”