The Texas A&M Library system is one of the university’s under-heralded jewels: it’s ranked as a top-ten research library among public universities in the U.S., its collection is impossibly deep, and its archival system is impressive enough that, when George R. R. Martin sought a place to house his personal papers, he immediately thought of A&M.
Martin’s relationship with A&M just got a little deeper, as well: when it came time for the library to receive its five millionth book, the donor was Martin, who presented the school’s Cushing Memorial Library and Archives’ Science Fiction and Fantasy Research Collection with a first-edition copy of J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit.
Only 1,500 first editions of The Hobbit exist, which puts it in good company alongside the other landmark books in the collection: the four millionth book the library acquired was a 1617 edition of Don Quixote, while the three millionth was a first edition of Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass. Martin explained to the Houston Chronicle why he was keen to share his rare copy of The Hobbit with the school:
Calling libraries the “fortresses of our civilization,” Martin said the addition of a fantasy novel to a university’s collections marks an acceptance of the genre as literature.
“I take a strange pleasure in seeing him (Tolkien) included in a library like this,” Martin said. “To be the five millionth book with Cervantes and Walt Whitman, it represents an acceptance of fantasy into the canon of world literature, which I think is long overdue.”
The very existence of a science fiction and fantasy collection within the A&M library is part of what brought the school to the Game of Thrones author’s attention, when he attended AggieCon in the seventies. In a press release from the university he said, “During one of those visits, I was given a tour of the special collections and saw not only the books and manuscripts and other items that were on deposit there but also the physical facility itself which was very impressive,” and he named the sci-fi and fantasy collection “among the top three nationwide and the top ten in the world.”
All of which is nice for Martin, A&M, and the Aggies—and with that out of the way, how about getting finished with Book Six, George?