Thursday, December 11, 2008

Six-Millionth Volume at UNC University Libraries

This year the UNC University Libraries (University Library, Law Library, and Health Sciences Library) acquired its six-millionth volume, John Keats' Poems, published in 1817. A celebratory program to commemorate the milestone was held on November 20, 2008, and an accompanying exhibit, Presenting John Keats, is on view in the Rare Book Collection of the Wilson Library until March 15, 2009.

The John Wesley and Anna Hodgin Hanes Foundation of Winston-Salem supported the purchase of a 500-item Keats collection that included the above first edition of Keats' Poems, and through its foundation, the Hanes family has also contributed to the acquisition of each previous millionth-volume at the university. With the most recent such acquisition, UNC has become the 19th university library in North America to attain the 6-million-volume mark.

Known mainly for his brilliant literary output in a foreshortened life, John Keats [1795-1821] also underwent extensive medical training. He served a five-year apprenticeship to a surgeon-apothecary in Edmonton from 1811-15, followed by two semesters at the Borough Medical School of the United Hospitals of Guy's and St. Thomas', where he also attended the wards for eight months. He subsequently was appointed as a surgeon's dresser, or assistant, and did service for twelve months. On July 21, 1816, Keats passed the certifying exam of the Society of Apothecaries, which licensed him as an apothecary and general practitioner. (For further information on the relationship between Keats' experience in medicine and his writing, see Romantic Medicine and John Keats).

UNC Millionth-Book Milestones:

2008: 6 Million -- Poems, by John Keats, first edition published in 1817, part of a collection of 500 items.

2000: 5 Million -- Poems, by William Butler Yeats, first edition published in 1895 by T. Fisher Unwin, part of a collection of 1,200 items (see Celebrating Five Million Volumes).

1992: 4 Million -- Several Poems by Anne Bradstreet, printed by John Foster in 1678, first book of poetry by a woman published in America.

1984: 3 Million -- A collection of 300 books printed by the Estiennes, a famous French family of scholar-printers, known for their splendid typography.

1974: 2 Million -- Book of Hawking, Hunting, and Heraldry, by Dame Juliana Berners, printed in 1486, the first English book with color printing.

1960: 1 Million -- Confessio Amantis, by John Gower, printed in 1483 by William Caxton, England's first printer.

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