UNC Libraries celebrates 7 million books

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Chancellor Carol Folt accepted the 7 millionth book in the University of North Carolina's library, a gift from John Wesley and Anna Hodgins Hanes Foundation, on Thursday Evening at the FedEx Global Education Center.

Not every library gets to celebrate its millionth book.

On Thursday, UNC had that opportunity for the seventh time.

Chancellor Carol Folt accepted the 7 millionth addition to the Wilson Library collection in a ceremony in the Nelson Mandela Auditorium of the FedEx Global Education Center.

“I believe everyone in here believes that the library is the heart of a university,” Folt said. 

“We are obligated to keep the library alive.”

The book, donated by The John Wesley and Anna Hodgin Hanes Foundation, contains Latin poetry that was written by Juan Latino, a native of Spain of African descent, more than 400 years ago. 

The foundation has given the University a book each time it reaches the milestone of another million books.

The Carolina Center for the Study of the Middle East and Muslim Civilizations, the UNC African Studies Center and the Center for European Studies collaborated with the FedEx Global Center to organize the celebration.

The book’s author is considered one of the first sub-Saharan individuals to have published a book of poems in a Western language.

“Latino’s book is significant as a first because it marks the beginning of African Diaspora literature in the West,” said Claudia Funke, curator of the rare books collection at Wilson Special Collections Library, in a press release.

The book will reside in the Rare Books collection in Wilson Library.

The reception ended with the lecture, “Juan Latino and the Dawn of Modernity” by New York University history professor Michael A. Gomez.” 

The book resonated with both existing collections and multiple academic disciplines. 

 Richard Szary, associate university librarian for special collections, said the ceremony was held in the FedEx Global Center for the first time because of its intersectional nature. 

Funke said the acquisition of the book relating to the African Diaspora is also notable, marking the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. 

“Because we are really the major research library in the southeast, we are always actively acquiring this material — interestingly enough, even when (North Carolina) was still segregated,” she said. “This places UNC in the top rank of research universities.” 

As of fall 2012, UNC has the 22nd largest library in the nation, according to the American Library Association.

Funke said UNC Libraries is one of only 21 university libraries to hold more than 7 million books in North America.  She added that it was one of very few libraries that has a copy of Latino’s book.

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