Shafer Library receives a grant to feature Ohio authors

The grant allows the library to expand its collection and give students and faculty access to more Ohioans’ writings.

By Bella Angel

Jenni Royce, College Librarian for Arts and Humanities, and Dr. Harley Ferris, Assistant Professor of English and Director of the Writing Center, recently collaborated on a grant application for a new permanent collection of books for Shafer Library at the University of Findlay. The pair did this on behalf of the English Department.

The Celebrating Ohio Book Awards and Authors (COBAA) grant, which was funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services and awarded by the State Library of Ohio, was for up to $2,000 . Shafer Library was awarded $1,385. According to Ferris, this grant money must be used between March and May of this year.

The grant is flexible about what specific books can be bought with the awarded money. In fact, the books selected do not even have to belong to any specific genre.

“The grant includes books that are from Ohio authors, but there’s quite a bit of freedom to choose the type of book,” Ferris said. “We’ll have selections from literary and genre fiction, as well as non-fiction essays, memoirs, history, and other place-based writing.”

The grant opportunity was identified by Royce. “The State Library of Ohio routinely notifies affiliated library groups of upcoming events, webinars, and grant opportunities, so when they sent out a call for applications we jumped right on it,” she said.

Rebecca Quintus, Director of Library Services and College Librarian for Health Professions, Pharmacy, and Sciences, said that to her knowledge, the library has never applied for grants that center around specific material like the COBAA grant does.

“Because this process is relatively new for the Library, we are just starting to think about whether acquiring a grant makes sense and how it might benefit us,” Quintus said.

Royce and Ferris both listed several ways that the new collection will be used.

“As we intend to use the collection to sponsor special courses in the English department and other activities here on campus (workshops, book clubs, author talks, etc.), we focused on a core set of books that we can get multiple copies of,” said Royce. “We have about 15 books that will be the core of the collection with multiple copies each.”

Ferris also has high hopes for the versatility of the collection within the English department.

“Our hope is that several English professors can use these in a variety of courses, from creative writing to literature to professional writing,” he said.

Ferris plans on incorporating the collection in at least one of the English classes that he teaches.

“Personally, I’ll be using them in ENGL 325 to explore how authors situate identity regionally and use writing as a form of public memory,” he said.

Another collection that began at Shafer Library was the Mazza Museum’s art collection. According to Mazza Museum’s website, the museum originated in the basement of Schafer Library in 1983. It has since outgrown its original home and has been moved to the Virginia B. Gardner Fine Arts Pavilion.

But Ferris thinks that was a unique situation.

“I doubt any collection we begin could ever rival the massive collection of Mazza,” he said.

Even though the collection of works by Ohio authors may be smaller than the collection of more than 18,000 works of art that the Mazza Museum possesses, it will still be impactful according to Ferris.

“Starting a more intentional collection of Ohio authors is a good thing for many reasons,” said Ferris. “Including helping students learn to write more reflectively about their experiences and perspectives through the lens of place generally and Ohio specifically.”

According to Ferris, the new collection opens the door for the authors of these books to be invited to speak on campus.