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200 Years of Shared Discovery

In honor of its 200th anniversary, University Libraries is releasing “200 Years of Shared Discovery: The Bicentennial of Ohio University Libraries.”

Photo courtesy of: University Communications and Marketing

1814 resolution

Pictured is the 1814 Board of Trustees resolution that officially titled the University’s collection of books as the “Library of Ohio University” and established seven rules governing the use of OHIO’s first library.

Photographer: Kate Munsch/Ohio University Libraries

Cutler trunk

Legend has it that this small trunk, housed in the Mahn Center at Alden Library, belonged to Manasseh Cutler, the father of Ohio University.

Photographer: Kate Munsch/Ohio University Libraries

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New publication celebrates University Libraries’ 200th anniversary


There is perhaps no entity on Ohio University’s Athens Campus more steeped in history than University Libraries. Often referred to as the “heart of the University,” University Libraries has touched the lives of every student, educator and researcher who has ever walked the bricks of Ohio’s oldest higher education institution.

This year marks University Libraries’ 200th anniversary, and librarians and staff have been busy organizing several events to honor the bicentennial – with the celebration officially slated to begin on March 25 at the Founders Day Symposium.

One part of the celebration, however, has been in the works for a few years and is about to make its debut.

University Libraries announces the publication of “200 Years of Shared Discovery: The Bicentennial of Ohio University Libraries.” This 132-page book tells the story of University Libraries in words and images captured over the course of its 200-year history.

From its humble beginnings in 1814 as a simple collection of books governed by seven rules, today the oldest academic library in the old Northwest Territory is ranked among the top 100 research libraries in North America. Boasting three million volumes, a wealth of electronic resources and world-renowned special collections, University Libraries continues its mission of connecting learners to information for discovery, intellectual growth and the advancement and creation of knowledge.

“OHIO’s Libraries has a long and distinguished history. Great libraries don’t just happen, but are rather a reflection of a great university,” said Scott Seaman, dean of University Libraries. “In our case, it is also a shared history of the old Northwest Territory, its earliest pioneer families and its educational background, as well as OHIO’s community of faculty, librarians, students and administrators. “
 
“200 Years of Shared Discovery: The Bicentennial of Ohio University Libraries” illustrates how the University’s library system has evolved into the service-driven gateway for the discovery, creation and exchange of knowledge that it is today.

The book demonstrates how University Libraries shares its history with the history of the University as well as that of the surrounding community and the role it and its founders played in early America and in the sharing of knowledge throughout the decades.

The publication also serves as a testament to the passion of the individuals behind the creation and growth of this multi-campus library system and to those who have helped University Libraries adapt over the years to increased use and changes in technology, as well as styles of teaching and learning.

The process of creating the book began more than two years ago and involved individuals throughout campus, including OHIO and University Libraries staff as well as students. The effort was led by Kate Mason, assistant to the dean and coordinator of communications for University Libraries, who compiled all of the research for the book and served as its editor.

“The work on this history was a collaboration of many, many people. Some of those key people are the Libraries’ graduate student assistants, Lena Chapin and Patrick Traylor, writers/editors Sherri Saines, Rob Dakin and Carrie Preston, and staff in the Mahn Center and Digital Initiatives; UCM’s designer Mark Krumel; and Athens local historian Betty Hollow, among numerous other individuals and organizations,” said Mason.

“The research on this project was a labor of love for me,” continued Mason. “I attribute much of that to the dean of Libraries, who shared in my excitement as primary sources and artifacts were uncovered or rediscovered and created the supportive atmosphere that allowed a creative energy to blossom into a publication.”

Several Ohio University graduate students lent their time and talents to the effort as well, serving as contributing writers and editors and photography assistants.

Lena Chapin graduated from Ohio University in May with a master’s degree in journalism. While at OHIO, she was the graduate communications assistant for University Libraries and served as co-editor of the bicentennial publication, writing some of the copy in the book and editing portions of it.

“Kate and I worked tirelessly trimming articles down to appropriate sizes and arranging them into an order that made sense,” Chapin, the director of development at a non-profit organization in Euclid, Ohio, said.

When asked what she enjoyed most about working on the project, Chapin said, “I enjoyed learning about the history of the area the most. The Libraries’ story is really Athens’ and much of southeastern Ohio’s story. Having grown up in the area, it was enlightening to learn about the people and events that shaped it. Helping to write it really made the area come alive to me in ways it hadn’t before.”

Patrick Traylor graduated from OHIO in June 2012 with a master’s degree in photojournalism. Traylor contributed to the University Libraries’ publication by photographing historic documents, artifacts and more recent photos of students using Alden Library.

“I made photographic copies of a number of historic documents related to the founding of the University,” Traylor, who is now employed as a photo editor at The Denver Post, said. “These included pieces of legislations, formal charter documents, maps, and letters to and from original trustees and professors.

“Ohio University began to be chartered and set up only a few decades after the Revolutionary War,” Traylor explained. “As the first public university west of the Appalachian Mountains, it was incredibly interesting to be able to work firsthand with these documents and see the founding of the University in historic context. I was fascinated by the beautiful penmanship in many of the letters and also by the early maps of Ohio and the old Northwest Territory.”

The task of pulling all the copy and visual elements together for the final publication fell to Mark Krumel, senior director of creative services at University Communications and Marketing (UCM).

Krumel described his work on the publication, which began in October 2012, as one of the bigger and longer projects he has been involved in at UCM but one that has been very rewarding.

“I really enjoyed having the time to concept bits and pieces of the publication from the text and art provided by University Libraries and then pulling all those elements together into one big unit,” Krumel said, pointing out design elements peppered throughout the book that create textures and patterns that fit the time periods highlighted in the publication.

“Anniversaries are an important part of our academic culture. They underscore the value we place on heritage, tradition, perseverance and the understanding of our past,” said Seaman. “Anniversaries also speak to our impulse to acknowledge things that endure. For 200 years, Ohio University’s Library has been the steward of things that endure. I encourage everyone to download the e-book publication and to join us in the bicentennial of our shared history.”
 
An electronic version of the book is available at www.ohio.edu/library/history.

Founders Day Symposium to officially kick off University Libraries’ bicentennial celebration

The Ohio University and surrounding community is invited to celebrate University Libraries’ 200th anniversary at the Founders Day Symposium from 1:30 to 4 p.m. March 25 on the fourth floor of Alden Library.

Titled “Founding Gardeners: The Revolutionary Generation, Nature, and the Shaping of the American Nation,” this event will serve as the official kickoff for University Libraries’ bicentennial. Speakers at the symposium include:

Andrea Wulf, a New York Times best-selling author of “Founding Gardeners” and the 2013 Eccles British Library writer-in-residence, who will give the keynote address

Dr. David Holben, a professor of nutrition at OHIO, Fulbright Scholar and recipient of a University Professor Award, whose presentation is titled, “Thomas Jefferson: Gardener and Gastronome”

Lauren Cohen, a senior studying applied nutrition at OHIO, who will discuss “Athens Locavores”

The Founders Day Symposium is one of several events in the coming year that will celebrate University Libraries’ long history of service to the University and Athens communities.