This Fall Semester 2013 notably began with the fire that damaged Gunnison Memorial Chapel, and destroyed the Chapel’s steeple. I have a personal connection to the building, my wife Agnes and I were married in the Chapel, and given it is next to ODY it’s a building I’ve looked at almost every day for almost sixteen years. It is what I turn to when I reflect. When the fire occurred I wanted to write something, and using materials and photographs from our Special Collections and Vance University Archives I would like to submit this “wondering a’loud” essay to the FODYLL Blog, and the FODYLL community. Hopefully this touches a chord with folks who have their own connection to Gunnison, a building that embodies much of what is central to our St. Lawrence Community, and to the North Country…
Doris Lessing died this weekend at age 94. Vicki Barker at National Public Radio wrote this thoughtful and insightful tribute to Lessing’s life and work. We have forty titles by Lessing in the SLU Libraries’ collections, and this list represents a sampling of the literature about Lessing’s works that are here in ODY:
- Doris Lessing : A Biography by Carole Klein
- Doris Lessing Edited and with an Introduction by Harold Bloom
- Doris Lessing by Lorna Sage
- Doris Lessing : Critical Studies Edited by Annis Pratt and L. S. Dembo
- Doris Lessing : the Alchemy of Survival Edited by Carey Kaplan and Ellen Cronan Rose
- Doris Lessing : the Poetics of Change by Gayle Greene
- Understanding Doris Lessing by Jean Pickering
- Between East and West : Sufism in the Novels of Doris Lessing by Müge Galin
Atlantic Magazine columnist James Fallows highlights a piece by Glenna Hall, a blogger who lives in Washington State. Ms. Hall writes of her experience when the small town she lives in loses it’s cell phone and Internet service. Gone. Cable cut. She writes of the effective scramble/struggle people have finding their way online, and how this leads many of them to…and you’ll see why I highlight this essay…the public library! One of Halls arguments here is that libraries continue to serve a considerable population of what once upon a time were called “digital have-nots.” That is, people who do not have access to networked information technologies on their own account, and for this access rely on libraries…
While Calvin and Hobbes is a matter for FODYLL Friends in ways that only align given the wonderful scope of Calvin and Hobbes, Atlantic Magazine reports on dear mr. watterson a film directed by Joel Allen Schroeder about the influence and legacy of the comic strip. A legacy of wisdom and despite everything Watterson has very sensibly said about not drawing the strip, wishing it was still a daily…
…Bill Watterson…is the man who drew the comic strip Calvin & Hobbes. While it is somewhat far afield to ponder Bill Watterson in the posts of a Friends of the Library blog, Calvin & Hobbes
was a much beloved comic strip and many people (yours truly included) read and reread the books, looked for Calvin first amidst the local funnies. This morning Mental Floss has an interview with Watterson (he almost never grants interviews) and in it he thinks back on his work, and discusses what digital spaces mean for comic strips. We have only one title about Watterson and Calvin and Hobbes (ahem), but the North Country Library System reveals that North Country Libraries have numerous copies…
…a new edition of the FODYLL Bulletin is on the way! Much of it is given over to the piece about the Rockwell Kent collection, prominently featured in our Frank and Anne Piskor Reading Room.
Nicole Nawalaniec has joined the SLU Libraries Faculty as our Science Librarian. Nicole studied biology and psychology at the University of Toronto, and her MLS is also from Toronto. She’s settled into Launders and everyone in the Libraries (in the LIT division!) is very excited that she is here with us.
Of course, welcoming a new librarian aboard is a chance to pause and consider what librarians do. Eric Ormsby’s article “Battle of the Book: The Research Library Today” published in the New Criterion is an elegant essay on how librarians should and do navigate print and digital publications, as is “Long Live Old Reference Services and New Technologies”written by Bill Katz (published in Library Trends). Libraries and Librarians are certainly the stuff of books, pliant rhetorical devices for all manner of curiosities–notable and provocative texts about libraries in the SLU Libraries collections include This Book is Overdue! How Librarians and Cybrarians Can Save Us All by Marilyn Johnson, The Library at Night by Alberto Manguel, Library: An Unquiet History by Matthew Battles, and The Story of Libraries: From the Invention of Writing to the Computer Age by Fred Lerner.
A soaking rain through a couple of late June days seems like a good moment to contemplate quiet, rain on a metal roof quiet. In a piece on reading that very much ties into the current commentary on the benefits of reading fiction, Maura Kelly published a piece in March in the Atlantic called A Slow-Books Manifesto. It’s about aligning reading to the “slow” or hand made movement, the idea of taking the time to do things rather than buying them. One of the points she makes in this is reading in a quiet place in a quiet way–that the digital infrastructures that surround us (that I’m writing on now) have become overly invasive and that it takes a deliberate effort to push back. Reading a book slowly, attentively, makes a quiet space, it creates offline. In Tolstoy’s Dictaphone : Technology and the Muse (edited by Sven Birkerts) Mark Slouka has a powerfully argued essay titled “In Praise of Silence and Slow TIme: Nature and the Mind in a Derivative Age” where he argues the need that Kelly’s piece on ready is the remedy for. If there is an original experience one can engage, it’s reading a book (yes a book, not an ebook). Alberto Manguel’s book The Library at Night speaks to this in a eloquent and pleasantly weird way, and a new book Quiet : the Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain is a study on the value of quiet. The value of rainy June days and books as a combination…
Every year FODYLL sponsors a university-wide contest aimed at recognizing outstanding student academic work. The North Country Studies Awards are papers recommended by faculty to the library staff for consideration, and the winners are announced at the FODYLL Lecturer at Commencement. We have permission to publish three of the winning papers…
North Country Studies Award in the Arts and Humanities
North Country Studies Award in the Social Sciences
North Country Studies Award in the Sciences
Insofar as any summer time is spent really thinking (in contrast to sauntering, or pondering, or dozing), it seems to me that a good thing to do is think about libraries. In a first “installment” I’d like to recommend a piece I keep coming back to in thinking about what libraries should be doing (this late thoroughly Googled point in history). A piece I return to often is “Silence Please” by Sallie Tisdale (pictured below) published in Harper’s Magazine in March 1997. It is a piece about what libraries are, might become, or should fear at least according to Tisdale. A key passage from the essay:
This was a place set outside the ordinary day. Its silence–outrageous, magic, unlike any other sound in my life–was a counterpoint to the interior noise in my crowded mind. It was the only sacred space I knew, intimate and formal at once, hushed, potent. I didn’t need to be told this–I felt it. In the library I could hunker down in an aisle, seeing only the words in my lap, and a stranger would simply step over me and bend down for his own book with what I now think of as a rare and touching courtesy.
For me, this is not nostalgia, it’s Tisdale’s testament to what a library is that the rest of the world isn’t: thought as space. The silence she writes of is sanctuary, the safety of our thoughts manifest as place. Sanctuary is the justification for libraries as a place, a building, a point on the map. The silence may be about the quiet or not–it clearly is for Tisdale, but the silence is foremost about the certainty of having a space cut out of reality, the certainty of a space for potent thought. As long as there is a discussion of the need for libraries as buildings, this is the trump card…