March 09, 2016

Event will mark three-millionth volume at library

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- A March celebration will mark the acquisition of the three-millionth volume for Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s Morris Library. 

The Friends of Morris Library have purchased a first edition/first printing of “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” and the occasion will be marked with a special ceremony and guest speakers at 3 p.m. on March 30 in the first floor rotunda. 

Published in March 1852, the Harriet Beecher Stowe book that employed an anti-slavery theme was immediately controversial, selling more than 300,000 copies in its first year even though banned in the South as abolitionist propaganda. Due to outdated racial language, it is still sometimes banned today. Thus, the book will be added to the library’s Ralph McCoy Freedom of the Press collection, named for SIU’s first library dean and his devotion to First Amendment principles. 

The Friends purchased this book in recognition of the continued growth of Morris Library’s academic collections and the library’s support of faculty, student and community research. 

Susan Tulis, co-interim dean of the library, will speak at the program as will David Anthony, professor of English at SIU, and Jo-Ann Morgan, professor of African American Studies at Western Illinois University.  Morgan will discuss the visual culture of the book and Anthony will address the literary significance of Stowe’s work. 

Those involved in the ceremonial book presentation include SIU President Randy Dunn; Robert Jenson, president of the Friends of Morris Library; and Pam Hackbart-Dean, director of the Special Collections Research Center. 

A reception will follow from 4 to 5:30 p.m. in the Hall of Presidents and Chancellors; refreshments will be served. 

In addition, at the reception visitors can view an exhibit featuring the volumes the library acquired as its one-, two- and three-millionth books. The tradition began in 1968 with the acquisition and ceremonial presentation of a first edition of Walt Whitman’s “Leaves of Grass,” donated in honor of Delyte W. Morris, then president of SIU. The two-millionth volume, acquired in 1988, was a 1644 printing of John Milton’s “Areopagitica.”