The UNC Library is celebrating the seven millionth book being added to its collection of volumes. With the addition, Claudia Funke, curator of rare books for the Wilson Special Collections Library, says that the University has become one of only 21 university libraries in North America to hold more than seven million volumes.

“It is a very great thing to have such a remarkable library here in the Triangle,” Funke says.

Lucky book number seven million for UNC is author Juan Latino’s First Book of Poems, which was published in 1573. Latino has been described by scholars as the first person of sub-Saharan African descent to publish a book of poems in a Western language.

“This volume is regarded as marking the beginning of African Diaspora literature in the West,” she says.

Funke explains the books fits in with the holdings of the library, including extensive writings by African Americans who experienced slavery.

George Moses Horton, the self-taught slave who wrote poetry for UNC students in the 19th century, found “his earliest audience and encouragement on the Carolina campus,” according to UNC Professor of English and comparative literature, William Andrews.

“We do have a commitment to African Diaspora here. Also, this is Latin literature. We have wonderful holdings of the classics in the rare book collection in 16th Century printing and in Renaissance Humanism,” Funke says.

Juan Latino’s book is a gift from the John Wesley and Anna Hodgin Hanes Foundation, which is based in Winston-Salem. Through its foundation, the Hanes family has funded each of the library’s millionth books.

Graphic by Melanie Busbee, UNC News Services

Graphic by Melanie Busbee, UNC News Services

UNC’s one millionth book was given back in 1960, a manuscript printed in 1483 by William Caxton, England’s first printer. Funke says the University is hitting the millionth milestones more quickly now because the University is counting electronic books.

She explains the special relationship between the UNC Library and the Hanes family began decades ago.

In 1928, there was a large collection of incunabula, or books printed from movable-type in the West before 1501, for sale in North Carolina. Louis Round Wilson, UNC’s librarian at the time, approached Dr. Frederic Hanes, who was a book collector, about supporting the University’s purchases of the incunabula collection. In the process of securing his support, Hanes and his siblings formed the Hanes Foundation for the Study of the Origin and Development of the Book in honor of their parents.

“Really, that began our rare book collection here at Chapel Hill. That is not saying that we didn’t have old and wonderful books before then, but that is really how we date the beginning of the Rare Book Collection.”

The seventh million book will officially be received during a free public celebration on March 20 at the FedEx Global Education Center on UNC’s campus.

Chancellor Carol Folt will formally accept the book from Borden Hanes, who is presenting the text in memory of his father, a University alumnus, friend and benefactor Frank Borden Hanes.