Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Oxford University Press: Bibliophiles' Dream Field Trip

While I have been complaining about the political issues of the Wake County, NC public schools, there are lots of great educational benefits of living in this area.  We have access to all those community benefits of living by three MAJOR universities--NC State, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and Duke University--and several other less well known, but well respected, higher education institutions like Peace College, Meredith College, Campbell University, and NC Central University.  They all not only offer camps and educational programs for pre-collegiate students, but they sponsor dozens of plays, concerts, art shows, speeches, guest speakers, and other informal education opportunities in all areas of the curriculum.  We live in close proximity to the state museums of art, history, and natural sciences, all of which offer GREAT classes in addition to their many and varied exhibits.  And for those of us who homeschool, I can't imagine a more interesting, diverse, hard working, and supportive homeschool community than the one we have in this area.

But last week, I discovered yet another great resource we have in my hometown of Cary, NC--one I hadn't know about previously.  Someone from our homeschool support group (thank you, Laura!) organized a field trip for over 40 of us to go visit the North American distribution headquarters of the Oxford University Press.  As I stated in my post title, it was a book lover's dream come true!

The Oxford University Press ships out about 10.5 million books a year from the Customer Service and Order Fulfillment Center here in Cary.  The staff took us into the warehouse, where there are aisles after aisles of cartons of books shelved from floor to ceiling.

We were delighted to see that the book series we are using for our American History studies this year, A History of US by Joy Hakim, could be found on the shelves.

We then learned about how the books for various orders are taken from the shelves, loaded into boxes, and transported by conveyor belt to the packing and/or shipping departments.

We also visited the loading bay, where we actually saw a huge FedEx truck being loaded with boxes of orders heading out to customers (including Amazon, which sells many of the Oxford University Press titles).

We also got to hear about the publishing process (handled in presses across the country), the editorial headquarters in New York City, the company's forays into other technologies besides books, and the joys and challenges of being one of the oldest (it started printing books in 1478) and largest of the academic presses.

Finally, we learned of several specific benefits of having this facility in our community.

  1. Oxford University Press has a large library in its offices that is open to the public.  So if you are interested in a book that is published by the Press, you can come and see if it is on display in the library.  That allows you to check it out before investing your money on it.  
  2. They actually sell books to the public on the premises.  So if you are in a rush, or just don't want to have to pay the shipping costs, you can order the book and come to the offices to pick it up yourself.
  3. Twice a year, the Oxford University Press has a HIGHLY discounted sale of damaged or outdated merchandise where you can get the books for pennies on the dollar.  That, too, is open to the public, and we could sign up to receive notification when the sales are taking place (generally once in the spring and once in the fall).
All in all, a wonderful field trip.  I recommend it highly to those who live in this area.  Contact me if you would like the name of the person who sets up the field trips or who maintains the sale notification email list.

1 comment:

  1. Well, being the largest university press in the world, the people around could indeed enjoy several benefits it has to offer. There will be thousands of books available to choose from Oxford for booklovers out there. It’s actually great that Oxford offers discounted price for books twice a year. Through this, it could be a good tourist and learning spot for everyone, especially young students. More people will be encouraged to have a visit there because of this.