In the spring of 2017, former library director Julie King and current library director Lauren Callihan introduced the Senior Book Gift program to Baylor.
Since then, Callihan has made it an annual event. "Each spring, Hedges Library invites the entire senior class to either pick a book that has been particularly meaningful to them during their time at Baylor, or to select a faculty member to recommend a book for them,” explained Callihan.
Out of the seniors who chose to participate, about three-quarters of the group asked for a recommendation from a faculty member of their choice, and one-quarter chose a book on their own. “Once the faculty members submit their recommendations,” Callihan explains, “the library orders the books and places a special book plate inside each book commemorating the occasion. The faculty member who recommended the book has the opportunity to inscribe the books they recommend; they leave notes of well wishes and congratulations, explanations for why they chose the book for the student, or thanks for their hard work during their time at Baylor.”
Once all the books arrived this year, participating seniors and faculty gathered in Felder Forbes in the library to exchange the books, eat snacks, and visit with one another. Faculty from all departments, dorm parents, and coaches were present. “On the day of the exchange, the library is abuzz with excitement as students call out to faculty members, wave their books happily, and exchange conversation about what the book means to the faculty members,” says Callihan. Books ranging from poetry to fantasy to nonfiction were exchanged and the feeling of reflection and excitement was palpable in the library that day.
Callihan recalls some things she has experienced that make the Senior Book Gift important to her: “In 2017, the first year the program began and the year Jim Stover retired, several students selected Stover as their faculty recommender, and I thought this was a lovely way for those students to celebrate Stover’s legacy. This year the Class of 2019 received books from many highly esteemed faculty, including the soon to be retired Dr. Dan Kennedy and campus legend Floyd Celapino. My hope is that the students take the books off their shelves year after year to read the inscriptions left by their teachers and reflect fondly on their years at Baylor.”