Joyner Library collects millionth volume
(Apr. 19, 1995)
East Carolina University recently logged its one-millionth library book, but don’t expect to borrow it for a casual read.
The book, a gift from The Friends of the ECU Library, is a three-volume-set in two books. It is Richard Hakluyt’s “The Principal Navigations, Voiages, Traffiques, and Discoveries of the English Nation.” The first two volumes were published as a single book in 1598. Volume III came out in 1600.
Only a very limited number are known to exist in the world. Most are held by research libraries and collectors.
“It is a milestone event,” said Don Lennon, coordinator of special collections at ECU. He noted that ownership of the complete set of Hakluyt’s books is an accomplishment in itself, but, building a library’s holdings to more than a million books is impressive too.
He said only a few libraries in the country pass the one-million-volume mark. Three other North Carolina libraries —Duke, UNC-Chapel Hill and N.C. State University —fall into this category.
To recognize the accomplishment, ECU will celebrate with a special program on April 28 that includes a dedication and display of the Hakluyt volumes. The dedication is at 5:30 p.m. in Mendenhall Student Center.
Prior to the ceremony, ECU will host a seminar at 1:30 p.m. in the student center about the future of libraries and about the importance of the Hakluyt books. The speakers will include Dr. H.G. Jones, a noted North Carolina historian who is the former director of the N.C. Department of Archives and History.
Jones described Hakluyt and his writings about English exploration, as “a powerful influence in the exploration and settlement of North Carolina.”
“There could not have been a more appropriate gift to mark the one-millionth-volume milestone in the growth of the University’s library,” Jones said.
The book set contains the first published accounts of the early explorers. Included are reports from Ralph Lane and John White on England’s first colony attempts on Roanoke Island in North Carolina and the subsequent disappearance of the colony in 1590. Modern historians draw much of what they know about the colony and the exploration in the region at that time from the Hakluyt volumes.
The Friends of the ECU Library got the three-volume set from a London book dealer. The books are in good condition considering their age. The paper—fine linen— still white and supple. The backs of the books show some late 17th century repair work.
Lennon said the books will become part of the rare books collection at ECU. The collection also includes an original copy of Hakluyt’s first edition of “The Principall Navigations, Voiages and Discoveries of the English nation, made by Sea or over Land...” Hakluyt published this volume in 1589. It was enlarged in the three volumes of 1598 and 1600.
The books are available for study by serious researchers.
“Achieving the millionth book is a landmark occasion for ECU,” said Lennon. “It demonstrates that our holdings are far more extensive than what many people give us credit for,” he said.