The University of Iowa
The University of Iowa News Services Home News Releases UI in the News Subscribe to UI News Contact Us


300 Plaza Centre One
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 384-0010; fax (319) 384-0024

Release: March 25, 2002

UI Libraries' will celebrate milestone of 4 million holdings April 12

Holdings at the University of Iowa Libraries recently reached 4 million, and in honor of this milestone, the Libraries will commemorate the occasion with a public celebration from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Friday, April 12 in the Richey Ballroom of the Iowa Memorial Union. The celebration also recognizes the 10th anniversary of both the Iowa Women's Archives and the Information Arcade, the Libraries' multimedia facility.

Emmy and Golden Globe award-winning film producer, philanthropist and UI alumna Marian Rees, whose writing and production credits include television's "All in the Family," the pilot for "Sanford and Son," and numerous made-for-television movies will be the evening's keynote speaker. UI President Mary Sue Coleman, Provost Jon Whitmore, and Jeff Disterhoft, president and CEO of the University of Iowa Community Credit Union and chair of the Libraries' Development Advisory Board will join Rees at Friday's celebration.

An artist's book based on the writings of twelfth century medieval philosopher and composer Hildegard von Bingen, "Abbess of the Rhine" (1098-1179) has been selected to represent the Libraries' 4 millionth acquisition. Hildegard's "Circle of Wisdom" (Circulus sapientiae) was published by Janus Press (Vermont) in 2001 with artwork by Audrey Holden and Claire Van Vliet. Accompanying the book is a pamphlet with the Latin texts and English translations of Hildegard's songs and a compact disc on which Hildegard’s songs from the "Symphony of the Harmony of Celestial Revelations" (Symphonia armonie celestium revelationum) are performed. "Circle of Wisdom" was chosen to acknowledge the significance of the artist book and private press collections at the UI Libraries, and to complement existing resources in women's history.

"What makes the confluence of these anniversaries and the 4 millionth milestone so amazing is how far the University of Iowa Libraries have developed from an extraordinarily modest collection of 50 volumes in 1855," notes Nancy L. Baker, university librarian. "Just 147 years later, a relatively short time in terms of history, this seed of a collection has grown into one of the country's largest research libraries."

"Among these 4 million volumes are unique and other specialized collections held by very few other libraries, essential to the high quality research conducted throughout the university. In a very real sense, these 4 million volumes are symbolic of the University of Iowa's strong commitment to first-rate teaching and research throughout its history. You cannot have a high quality university without a high quality library," said Baker.

The Iowa Women's Archive and the Information Arcade are ground breaking and unique Iowa resources. The Louise Noun-Mary Louise Smith Iowa Women's Archive is named for its founders, two prominent Des Moines women who conceived the idea of a repository that would collect material on Iowa women and who worked to make the concept a reality. The Archives collects papers of women from all walks of life as well as records of their clubs and organizations. The Information Arcade is an advanced multimedia facility that offers University of Iowa faculty, students, and staff access to a wide variety of resources: databases, multimedia programs and software, instructional software, Internet resources, printed reference books and current periodicals relating to technology, and video training tapes for software.

A free, 7 p.m. tapas reception precedes 7:45 p.m. remarks by Baker, Whitmore and Disterhoft. Following their remarks, Coleman will introduce Marian Rees, the evening's keynote speaker. While the events are free, reservations are requested and can be made at (319) 335-5867 or email The program is partially supported by a grant from the University of Iowa Community Credit Union.

About Marian Rees: Rees is an award-winning film producer and philanthropist, and in 2001 she was awarded the University of Iowa Hancher-Finkbine Distinguished Alumni Award. Rees is also a dedicated supporter of both the Iowa Women's Archives, to which she has donated her papers, and is a member of the University of Iowa President's Club. She was born in Le Mars, Iowa, and earned a bachelor's degree in sociology from the UI before moving to Hollywood in 1951. There she began a 15-year relationship with Tandem Productions where she worked with Norman Lear on projects such as "All in the Family" and the pilot for "Sanford and Son." In 1973 she joined Tomorrow Entertainment as executive in charge of development and helped make "The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pitman," an Emmy sweeper.

Disillusioned by the lack of socially redeeming material on television, Rees founded her own production company, Marian Rees Associates Inc., in 1981. Marian Rees and Marian Rees Associates Inc. has produced more than 22 made-for-television films, receiving more than 36 Emmy nominations, resulting in 11 Emmy Awards, two of which were for Best Program of the Year, as well as numerous other industry and public honors.

More recently, Marian Rees, together with producer Anne Hopkins and the highly regarded public television programming executive Stephen Kulczycki, founded ALT Films, a new not-for-profit television production company created for the express purpose of making television films based on important American literature. ALT has been commissioned to create five motion pictures for PBS's signpost dramatic series, ExxonMobil Masterpiece Theatre. ALT Films was selected from a wide field of production entities by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting to be allotted the single largest program grant in its history.

About Hildegard Von Bingen (1098-1179): Hildegard von Bingen, Abbess of the Rhine was an extraordinary presence in medieval Europe. Born at Bermersheim in Rheinhesse in 1098, Hildegard was the tenth and last child of noble parents and as such, was offered to the service of God when she was eight years old. She became the abbess of her Benedictine convent located at Disibodenberg, near the town of Bingen, when she was 38. Notwithstanding her sheltered life at the convent, Hildegard's writings and music attracted a wide audience. At a time when women had very few opportunities, Hildegard was revered and consulted by the prominent men and women of her day, kings and queens, religious leaders and even the Pope.

Janus Press was founded by Claire Van Vliet in 1955. It exemplifies the creativity and collaborative nature of the private press movement in America. The press published a booklet with an English translation of Hildegard's songs by W.R. Johnson and a compact disc on which Hildegard's songs are performed by Anima, a Vermont-based group that specializes in medieval music.