Acquisitions

To Augment Collections 

Student in the stacks
Student in the stacks
It was a relatively simple matter, at the beginning of the 19th-century, to build a library collection for a college. When the first nine students arrived at the South Carolina College in 1805, two faculty members taught fewer than a dozen courses, but the college already had over 3,000 books for its library. Early librarians did their jobs so well that, by the mid 19th-century, the book collection was considered to be one of the best in the country and had the distinction of being housed in the nation's first free-standing college library, now known as the South Caroliniana Library.

As the number of courses, faculty, and students increased over the decades, so did the need for additions to the library collections. From a few thousand books, the University's holdings now reach into the millions. The Thomas Cooper LibrarySouth Caroliniana LibraryRare Books and Special CollectionsSouth Carolina Political Collections, and musicmathematicsbusiness, and film libraries enrich the campus with books, journals, periodicals, maps, documents, films, and video tapes totaling more than seven million items.

Student in the stacks
Student in the stacks

Impressive as that number is, it is not enough. A library at the heart of a great university must constantly grow to support the broadening mission of the institution. New discoveries, even new fields of study, emerge frequently in this world of constant change. As faculty members explore their disciplines, and as new faculty arrive on campus, they often need books and journals not already on the shelves, and they must have access to the latest scholarship in their fields.

Although the University libraries' annual budget for materials acquisition has risen to $6.5 million, it barely keeps up with the inflation rate for print and electronic resources. Only through dramatically increased private support will library acquisitions be able to keep pace with such growing demand.

The cost of subscriptions to scholarly journals — essential for faculty research and teaching — increases an average of 10 to 12 percent a year. Some increases are even more dramatic. The cost of one chemistry journal, required for a department's accreditation, has risen from $500 to $5,000 in recent years. There are nearly 100 departments and academic programs on the Columbia campus, each with its own book and journal needs. Library faculty and teaching faculty work together to continue building the collections needed by faculty, students and other scholars.

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