Tuesday, May 22, 2018

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President Emeritus Vernon Alden to return to campus on Thursday

University to celebrate Friends of the Libraries anniversary and Archives Day

A man who made Ohio University history will join with the Friends of the Libraries to celebrate their 30th anniversary and to assist in the recognition of University Archives Day. 

On Thursday, in an event open to the public, President Emeritus Vernon Alden will be on hand from 4:30–6:30 p.m. in the Leisure Reading Area of Alden Library on the fourth floor to offer congratulations to the Friends of the Libraries. The group is made up of university and community members dedicated to supporting the work of Ohio University libraries. 

Alden also will join with Executive Vice President and Provost Pam Benoit, Dean of Libraries Scott Seaman, and Assistant Vice President of Alumni Relations Graham Stewart in marking University Archives Day. 

The Importance of Friends 

Since 1979, the Friends of the Libraries of Ohio University have raised funding for key library projects and scholarships for library student assistants. They publish a semi-annual magazine, Gatherings, that highlights developments taking place in the libraries and profiles some of the people, collections, and projects that make libraries across the university distinctive. The Friends of the Libraries are also known for sponsoring periodic public lectures and for holding fund-raising book sales three times a year.

Benoit praised the Friends of the Libraries organization for its crucial support of the activities of university libraries. "They manifest their love for libraries and all that they mean to a university and its community through volunteer work, donations, fundraising, and morale-building enthusiasm for the hard work of library staff and leadership. That they have sustained these efforts for 30 years is impressive."

Preserving the Past

Remarks from Alden on the 30th anniversary will be one of the highlights of the event. The other point of pride to be celebrated is the declaration of May 20 as University Archives Day. Housed in the Robert E. and Jean R. Mahn Center for Archives and Special Collections, the University Archives is the official repository for the images, artifacts, and documents that preserve the history of the university. 

In addition to looking through a large display of historic Ohio University materials curated by University Archivist Bill Kimok, attendees will have the opportunity to witness the results of a significant new collaboration between Alden Library and Alumni Relations.

Stewart will describe the project and provide a preview. As part of the display prepared by Kimok to mark University Archives Day, rare film footage of the university that was recently digitized will be shown. The footage from the 1920s through the 1980s has not been widely seen because of its fragility. 

In planning Founders Day this year, Benoit trimmed event expenses and used part of the cost savings to pay for digitization of some of the most significant films.

"Archives did not have the funding to preserve the films," said Benoit. "By scaling back aspects of Founders Day, we were able to cover the digitization costs. It seemed a fitting way to celebrate the university's founding."

She added that it "would be wonderful if every year in honor of Founders Day we could join forces across the university and secure the preservation of an important object in our Archives."

With the participation of Alden, the marking of the 30th anniversary of the Friends of the Library, the special announcement from Stewart, and the opportunity to pay tribute to University Archives, the May 20 event will serve as a reminder of the diverse and fundamental role played by Ohio University's libraries.