May 18, 2022

University of Illinois (Urbana-Champaign) Library Acquires 13-millionth Volume

From the UIUC Library:

The Library at Illinois has added its 13-millionth book to its collections, maintaining its status as the largest public university library in the country. Ise Monogatari (or Tales of Ise), the first illustrated Japanese printed book, is an anonymous compilation of 209 poems and 125 episodes from a poet’s life. Enormously popular, Tales of Ise recounts the amorous exploits of an unnamed lover/poet, often identified with Ariwara no Narihira (825-80), one of the six “sages” of Japanese poetry.

The University Library’s copy is the first printed edition of the classic work and was published in 1608 by Suminokura Soan, a wealthy entrepreneur and art connoisseur, in co-operation with Hon’ami Koetsu, the famous painter, calligrapher, and polymath, and Nakanoin Michikatsu, a nobleman, literary scholar, and editor. The illustrator of the book is unknown, though some have attributed the woodcuts to Koetsu.

Tales of Ise is also one of the earliest Japanese books printed with moveable type. Soan’s press, which he established at Saga village near Kyoto, produced the much sought after “Saga-bon” imprints, of which this is the most famous. The elegant type and delicate woodcuts appear on five different hand-made colored papers.

Learn More About the Book and Acquisition

About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.