Books That Inspire

Books That Inspire 2002

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He ate and drank the precious words
His spirit grew robust;
He knew no more that he was poor,
Nor that his frame was dust.
He danced along the dingy days,
And this bequest of wings
Was but a book. What liberty
A loosened spirit brings!
Emily Dickinson, Part One: Life XXI

The above verse aptly summarizes a valuable characteristic of books and reading. The messages books convey have a liberating effect upon their readers. They tend to open our minds to new perspectives, they give us insights about others and ourselves, they liberate us from the narrowness that tradition and society impose. This year’s exhibit again celebrates National Library Week and promotes reading for personal development, academic success, and enjoyment. Our desire is to build upon the huge success of the 2001 exhibit and send the message about the pleasure and usefulness of reading to even wider audiences. I am very pleased to present the second annual Books That Inspire exhibit.

There are some noteworthy features that move the 2002 exhibit beyond its predecessor. We have acquired new display cases that enhance the presentation of this year’s participants and their contributions. These cases will continue to serve by showcasing other special University Libraries holdings throughout the year. We are pleased to welcome Molly Shi Boren as a participant. We are honored to include her contribution. We also have broadened participation in the exhibit by including the Athletics Department’s director and coaches, and University of Oklahoma staff among our contributors. This year we have fifty-one books recommended by fifty-five participants, twenty-four staff and thirty-one faculty. Perhaps the most significant enhancement is the exciting new partnership between the University of Oklahoma Libraries and the University of Oklahoma Athletics Department. We are very pleased to announce that the University Libraries and the Athletics Department have joined as co-presenters of this exhibit as a way to promote reading at the University of Oklahoma.

While reviewing the range of books recommended, I was struck by the diversity of their messages. At the same time, I saw a common element in all of them. It was the message they delivered to their readers. All of these books, different as they may be in topic or subject, influenced in some way the faculty and staff who recommend them to others. It is a common characteristic of books to condense into their portable format, ideas that have influenced whole societies. One of the marvelous aspects about these books is that the message and inspiration they offer is never depleted by use. To the contrary, the more they are recommended, shared, and read the more worthy, valuable, and appreciated their messages become. This is the power of books – a power that some societies fear and, consequently, they seek to restrain access to books and the ability to read. We are fortunate to live in a society that recognizes and appreciates the value of books and reading. Indeed, our society not only values books and reading, it encourages their ownership and the noble activity of reading. It is in this spirit of encouragement that the University of Oklahoma Libraries and the Athletics Department, on behalf of National Library Week, present this exhibit of fifty-one Books That Inspire.

Sul H. Lee
Dean, University Libraries
The University of Oklahoma