11-millionth Volume Acquired

Sep 18, 2009

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Library has acquired its 11-millionth volume, Benjamin Franklin's edition of M. T. Cicero's Cato Major, or his Discourse of Old-Age—the first English translation of Classical literature printed in the new world. 

Cicero’s essay on aging was printed and sold by Benjamin Franklin in Philadelphia in 1744.  Many consider Franklin’s edition the finest example of American Colonial printing.  The volume is also known as the first large-print book printed in America and believed to be Franklin’s personal favorite among the books he printed.  It now resides in The Rare Book & Manuscript Library at the University of Illinois.

The University Library will celebrate this milestone during Illinois Homecoming 2009.  On October 9, Illinois alumni, Robert and Emily Watts of Champaign, Illinois, whose gift made the acquisition of this volume possible, and Paula T. Kaufman, Juanita J. and Robert E. Simpson Dean of Libraries and University Librarian, will take part in the Homecoming Parade at Illinois.  After the parade, U of I Chancellor Richard Herman will make remarks and recognize the 11-millionth volume and the Wattses at the Pep Rally.

“The 11-millionth volume exemplifies not only the quality of our collection, but its depth and breadth,” said Paula Kaufman.  “We're thrilled we could fulfill Bob and Emily's long-standing wish to provide our Library with a milestone volume and we thank them for generously funding this special addition to our collection.”  

Also on October 9, The Rare Book & Manuscript Library will host The Classics in America: A Symposium in Celebration of the Acquisition of the 11-millionth Book in the Collections of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.  Distinguished lecturers will speak on topics ranging from Colonial curricula in schools to the new Classical Educational Movement.

The University Library has celebrated all of its millionth volumes—the first being Sir Walter Raleigh's The History of the World, printed in 1614.  Every millionth volume will be on display in The Rare Book & Manuscript Library in a special exhibit, One in a Million: An Exhibition of Eleven Landmark Acquisitions at the University of Illinois, beginning September 28 and running through December 18. Download the entire One in a Million exhibit catalog at www.library.illinois.edu/rbx/PDFs/20091008_One_in_a_Million_low_.pdf.

Do you have a story you'd like added to the Library News & Events? If so, please contact Heather Murphy (hmurphy@illinois.edu).