Library needs a little book help

By Mark Pietrowski

NIU Libraries frequently ask students “to give a little bit” so they can expand their collections of more than a million volumes of material.

The Friends of NIU Libraries, founded in 1983, is an association of people and alumni around the community, who help provide gifts and added funds for the purchase of materials.

Jessica Witte, a research assistant in the rare books department, said the Friends of NIU Libraries played a crucial role in obtaining medieval manuscripts for the rare books department.

“The medieval manuscripts are probably the grandest pieces that have been purchased as a result of the friends,” Witte said. “It’s pretty phenomenal being able to see the real thing.”

Witte said the purchase would not have been possible otherwise.

Rare books Librarian Lynne Thomas came to NIU last year after a stint as a cataloger at Yale University.

“Yale’s library is massive – they have about 14 million volumes compared to NIU, [which] has two million,” Thomas said. “Yale is a big institution that has collected the big important works of dead white guys for quite some time, while what we do is focus on popular literature and culture in terms of our collection.”

The Friends of NIU Libraries organization has more than 300 members with yearly membership fees that vary depending on a number of different factors. Anyone who wants to be a lifelong member of the association can do so by donating $1,000.

By becoming a member, graduating students are allowed to keep their access to NIU libraries, interlibrary loan and online access to electronic databases. The fee is $35 for the year.

Thomas said they experience an upshore of members after graduation due to students not wanting to lose their library access.

The Friends of NIU Libraries also help sponsor four or five free events a year. Their next event, “An Evening with Einstein in the Library: The First Beautiful Mind,” will be held at 7:30 p.m. May 2 in the Founders Memorial Library Staff Lounge on the lower level.

Enemies of NIU Libraries refused to comment on this story.