Few books deserve acknowledgment as “one in a million,” but as of Sept. 10, any volume at the McDermott Library would fit that billing.
With the addition of “Flora Londinenis,” a pioneering volume in English botany by William Curtis, the library will reach and pass the one-million volume mark. The Louise B. Belsterling Foundation of Dallas provided for the acquisition, which will join its Belsterling Collection of rare botanical and horticulture books in the library’s Special Collections Department.
“A special occasion calls for a remarkable book,” said newly appointed Dean of Libraries Larry Sall in a university press release. “The Belsterling Foundation has been exceptional in supporting the McDermott Library’s Special Collections Department and its Belsterling Collection. It has our profound gratitude for this wonderful gift on this great occasion.”
The momentous addition will be on display with the volumes perched on handcrafted wooden cradles. Additionally, the pages will be digitized for more accessible viewing, Sall said.
With a donation of approximately $36,000, the Belsterling Foundation enabled the library to obtain the rare first edition of the 1777 two-volume set. The set features more than 400 pages of hand-designed, engraved plates that resemble the plants they represent. Sall said this copy of “Flora Londinenis” was in remarkable condition, noting that the page-pressing techniques of 18th-century publishers surprisingly did not cause print errors or smudges.
The library will celebrate the milestone with a ceremony at 2 p.m. Sept. 10 in the McDermott Library Auditorium (MC 2.410). Presentations will be made by Ellen D. Safley, director for Public Services and Collections and by Sall. They will discuss the significance of “Flora Londinenis” and recognize members of the Belsterling Foundation. Immediately after the ceremony, the library will officially unveil the volumes at a reception in the McDermott Suite on the fourth floor.
Sall said the million-volume status puts UTD’s library on the map with other renowned university libraries, such as Texas A&M University which has collected three million volumes in its more than 100-year history.
When the library was founded in 1969, much of the collection came from donations by closing religious schools.
“In the beginning, we relied heavily on the lives of saints, quite literally,” Sall said of the early collection.
Now the library can set its sights on achieving the two-million volume plateau. Sall believes that in 15 years, a new dean of libraries will see the library through that acquisition.
The Sept. 10 ceremony marking the unveiling of the millionth volume is free and open to the public.