Tuesday, November 14, 2006 at 8:17 AM
Modeled after Rome's Pantheon, the University of Virginia's Rotunda (pictured above) represents a little bit of academic rebellion by Thomas Jefferson, father of the university and a founding father of the United States. How so? When Jefferson designed U.Va., he broke with tradition by placing a library -- rather than a chapel -- at the center of the campus.
Books were Jefferson's passion, and U.Va.'s library collection reflects the active role he played in the library's initial development. Jefferson designed the Rotunda to house the library, decided which books to include in the library's first collection, created its initial classification system, and personally hired U.Va.'s first librarians. (You can read more about the man who once said "I cannot live without books" on the U.Va. library website.)
Today, as the University of Virginia becomes the newest partner in the Google Books Library Project, we welcome the collections that grew out of his work to Google Book Search.
U.Va. President John T. Casteen III, put it well when he said:
Reading and the quest for knowledge were all-important to [Jefferson]. Reaching out into the world...was central to his vision of what an American university must do to promote the knowledge that sustains personal freedom. To have the library that is the clearest single emblem of this vision now assume a role in a vast, international digital library has special meaning here. It puts a distinctly contemporary meaning to our founder's dream of making knowledge accessible to all people.
By opening up U.Va.'s library collection through Book Search, readers will be able to discover books from U.Va.'s many esteemed collections -- from American literature to Buddhist studies. As a U.Va. alumna, I'm excited to welcome the library Jefferson so carefully designed and cultivated to Google Book Search.