A deep dive into the world of a University Library

Q&A with library staff

Social Science Librarian, Al Bernardo standing at the reference desk.

Q: In regards to the collection that is paid for by an endowment, located in the Webber reading room. Who decides what books are ordered and in particular, what is chosen?

A: The Mary Lou and George Shott Endowment provide NDSU students, faculty, and staff with both leisure materials (books, audiobooks, and DVDs), as well as academic books written for a general audience. It’s a great collection for anyone wanting to learn more about subjects outside their major, usually assuming no prior knowledge and lacking jargon- or to find a vacation read. We recently expanded to provide more eBooks and eAudiobooks via Overdrive.

The collection is managed by the Humanities Librarian; however, all Libraries staff- including student workers have made suggestions, and anyone at NDSU is welcome to as well. Reviews, academic merit, awards, and popularity are all taken into consideration in selecting titles. If something no longer fits in the collection, subject librarians select titles to move to the main collection, while the rest are donated.

Q: What are some of the books that are checked out most often in the Mary Lou and George Shott endowment?

A: This school year, our most checked out item has been Boxers & Saints, a graphic novel that portrays a rebellion in China. We generally see interest follow movies/television adaptations, over the last year the most checked out book was, of course, Game of Thrones. Young Adult novels see steady use, Turtles All the Way Down by John Green was also popular, but others might surprise you: Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind,  and The Banjo: America’s African Instrument, also saw high use this past year.

Q: How many books are located in the NDSU Library on campus?

A: The Main Library currently holds 417,796 cataloged items (not just books). I would also add approximately 100,000 more that are not yet cataloged within our Federal Documents collection.

The number of items held across all NDSU Libraries locations, total up to 803,623 (plus the approx. 100K uncatalogued).

Q: How many different ‘Subject Librarians’ are there at the main library?

A: There are nine subject librarians at NDSU Libraries. The librarians do a lot more than purchase books. They teach classes, engage in the academic life of the departments they serve, provide research consultations for students, faculty and staff, and serve on local and national level professional organizations, including publishing and presenting at conferences.

Q: Is there any overlap between archivists and librarians even if they’re in different buildings?

A: The distance between the NDSU Main Library and the West Building (home of the NDSU Archives) does put some limitations on how much we can interact with the library. We attempt to be involved as much as possible through committee work and attending library and campus functions. We just hired a processing archivist who will be overseeing the processing of both the NDSU Archives collections as well as the Germans from Russia Heritage Collection, who has their offices in the Main Library.

Here is an article we did about the work of an archivist. Also, at the end, there is a link to a video with three interesting items found at the Archives. https://library.ndsu.edu/ndsu-archives-work-archivist

Q: How many books are in the ‘Rare Book Collection’ at NDSU? What are some notable titles?

A: There are 929 volumes in the Rare Books collection, located within the NDSU Archives. One thing to keep in mind, however, is that not every title in this collection is in fact ‘rare.’ Generally speaking, our rare book collection consists of “printed material that because of age, scarcity, fragility, monetary or historical value, provenance, or risk of loss or mutilation require special protection or care.”

The oldest book in the collection was published in 1627.

Q: Lastly, is there anything else you would like to add?

A: We created a video last year that walks through the process of cataloging a book. It might be interesting to you. You can find the Facebook link within this article https://library.ndsu.edu/journey-book

As noted in the first question, students can submit suggestions for titles to order.

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