April 28, 2011


Of all the books in ISU's library system, here are two that stand out -- the largest and the smallest. The largest book, at just over 40.5 inches tall, is Birds of America by John James Audubon (Reprint: New York: Abbeville Press, 1985). The smallest book, at a petite 0.787401 inches tall, is Addresses of Abraham Lincoln, part of a three-volume miniature series (Washington, Lincoln and Coolidge) published by the Training Division of the Kingsport Press of Kingsport, Tenn., as student exercises in 1929 and 1930. The Bomb of 1901 Iowa State yearbook and a ruler help bring the extreme sizes of these books into perspective. Photo by Bob Elbert.

ISU Library: By the numbers

by Paula Van Brocklin

ISU Library, including Parks Library and its branches in the colleges of Design and Veterinary Medicine, the mathematics department plus a storage building, are chock full of books containing more facts and figures than one can possibly imagine. But the library itself has a pretty interesting story to tell, too. Here's a look at some interesting facts and figures about ISU Library.


  • Total volumes held (including branches): 2,626,074
  • Books purchased annually (FY 10): 27,053
  • Journals received annually (FY 10): 98,610
  • Electronic journals: 85,655
  • General collection equals 28.02 miles of books (that's roughly from Parks Library to Ankeny via I-35)
  • The oldest book in the library, Quaestiones de veritate by Saint Thomas Aquinas, was printed in 1475

Interesting tidbits

  • Library building visitors (FY 10): 1,829,230
  • Non-ISU library visitor cards: 2,600
  • Seats for patrons (including branches): 2,549
  • Book checked out most often (2010): An e-book, GRE Math Bible by Jeff Kolby and Derrick Vaughn, was checked out 2,942 times
  • Top three institutions ISU Library borrows from most: University of Iowa, University of Kansas and University of Wisconsin, Madison
  • Top three institutions ISU Library lends to most: University of Iowa, Texas A&M University and University of Arizona

Size matters

  • Parks Library: 325,488 square feet
  • Design Reading Room (111 Design): 3,096 square feet
  • Mathematics Reading Room (409 Carver): 552 square feet
  • Veterinary Medical Library (2280 Vet Med): 6,631 square feet
  • Library Storage Building (Daley Drive): 16,500 square feet

Art in Parks Library

  • Murals: Prairie Sky by Kurt Anderson; Unlimited Possibilities by Doug Shelton; When Tillage Begins, Agricultural Panel, Home Economics Panel and Engineering Panel by Grant Wood; What We Love About Iowa State by Sticks
  • Sculptures: Boy and Girl and Old Woman in Prayer by Christian Petersen; Left-sided Angel by Stephen DeStaebler; On Shoulders of Giants by Nina Ward
  • Portraits: Iowa State presidents, William Robert Parks and Ellen Sorge Parks by various artists
  • Other art: Judith Lazelere banner; Nellie Walker bas reliefs; Printers' Marks bas reliefs; and Henry Chapman Mercer fireplace tiles

Additional facts about ISU Library are available online.