The University Libraries gets into the spirit of the season near the end of each fall semester by installing a celebratory, decorative Book Tree on the second floor of the Mathewson-IGT Knowledge Center. The tree is comprised of 347 books from the National Union Catalog. It weighs one ton!
The Tree was assembled by a team of five from the Libraries including staff and student employees from the Building Operations department. It took the team five hours to install.
The National Union Catalog was created in the 1960s and was created to help library users locate a specific library book housed in the collection.
“The National Union Catalog books are a relic of how libraries did business in the past,” said Maggie Ressel, University Libraries’ director of access services. “Library users would locate books using the Catalog. Each book had a corresponding code. The code revealed the location of the book in the library.”
Building the Book Tree
The Libraries’ Building Operations department works to install the holiday tree each year. The department has three established book tree design templates to work with. First, the Libraries team develops an installation plan based on the total number of books needed to construct the tree. Next, Building Operations selects the template they plan to use, then they work with the Access Services to request the number of books needed to construct the tree based on the template selected. Once the books are located in the Mathewson Automatic Retrieval System (MARS), Building Operations then creates a specialized installation template that is mapped in the center of the floor in the Knowledge Center atrium – 2nd floor. From there the tree is constructed.
“Precision is important here because if the base of the tree is off, even slightly, the whole tree will be unstable,” said Alden Kamaunu, the University Libraries’ building operations manager. “Each layer of books used to create the tree are measured and placed very carefully to ensure the tree is stable and won’t fall over.”
Kamaunu added, “The book tree has become an important part of the Knowledge Center that continues to evolve and inspire our community of users. We started with the idea to build a seasonal holiday tree made of books. Now it’s grown into something we enjoy setting up each fall semester. Building the tree is a lot of work, but the positive feedback we receive is what makes it worth it.”
About the University Libraries
The University Libraries embrace intellectual inquiry and innovation, nurture the production of new knowledge, and foster excellence in learning, teaching and research. During each academic year, the Libraries welcomes more than 1.2 million visitors across its network of three branch libraries: the Mathewson-IGT Knowledge Center, the DeLaMare Science and Engineering Library and the Savitt Medical Library. Visitors checked-out more than 80,000 items and completed more than 2 million database searches.