Tag Archives: Special Collections

The Library Responds to the Charles A. Murray Visit

The Middlebury Libraries are sensitive to the discord on campus surrounding Charles A. Murray’s recent visit. Given our core role of providing access to as wide a range of information as possible, as well as teaching the skills necessary to interpret and assess that information, we thought it might be useful to outline some of the ways we have responded to the controversy.

  • We have purchased additional copies of core titles by Charles A. Murray in order to meet the heightened interest from the community.  The library also holds multiple copies of works that respond to and/or dispute Murray’s conclusions, such as William Wilson’s The Truly Disadvantaged, and Stephen Jay Gould’s The Mismeasure of Man;
  • In response to the Scott Center for Spiritual and Religious Life’s email message recommending specific books about conflict resolution, we purchased titles we were lacking and highlighted these works with a display in the library atrium.  This display remained in place for over three weeks and was also highlighted in The Campus;
  • Special Collections has been identifying, collecting, and preserving a variety of Web-based content relating to the controversy and protests. This material includes blogs and social media feeds created by student political action groups, as well as local news articles covering the events. We hope that these Web archiving efforts — in addition to our growing collection of donated images and video — will enable future researchers and generations of Middlebury students to understand the Murray visit and the March protests in a fuller context, and ensure that student voices continue to be heard more clearly than they might be if relying solely on secondary, mainstream sources;
  • Special Collections also received a donation of digital photographs, videos, articles and responses to the Murray protest from August Hutchinson ‘16.5.  These materials, which the donor has called “The Middlebury Moment,” are now held in our digital repository along with other student-created materials documenting the event.

We continue to seek ways to provide thorough information about Murray’s work, the various responses to it in the literature, and the recent protests relating to his visit to Middlebury.  If there are additional titles that might speak to any these themes, we encourage you to submit them at go/requests/ (or go.middlebury.edu/requests/ if off-campus).  Finally, please feel free to email us with other ideas for the Libraries to consider as we continue to respond as a community to these challenging issues.

Beast, Animal, Brute

Inspired by the 18th century French philosopher Denis Diderot’s massive, thirty-five volume Encyclopédie, the current exhibition in Special Collections & Archives reveals our enduring curiosity of animals through a selection of rare and unusual books dating from the 17th through the 20th centuries.

The Lamia, a mythical demon from ancient Greece who devoured children, from Edward Topsell’s The historie of foure-footed beastes, 1607

 

Other works on display include Edward Topsell’s The historie of foure-footed beastes, published in 1607 in London (and possibly one of  William Shakespeare’s literary sourcebooks) and a polar bear as described by Captain James Cook, the British explorer, in the 18th century, upon arrival in the Russian Arctic Circle.

Zoology of New York, or the New-York fauna : comprising detailed descriptions of all the animals hitherto observed within the state of New York, with brief notices of those occasionally found near its borders, and accompanied by appropriate illustrations, by James De Kay, 1842-44

Also on exhibit in the Davis Family Library: Banned and Banished: Ovid and 2,000 Years of Exile curated by Mikaela Taylor.

What’s up with “My Books Smell Good”

Last summer, Special Collections & Archives rolled out new swag: black tote bags (er, book bags) and stickers emblazoned with the slogan My books smell good. First, we want to thank Carey Bass, Middlebury’s talented graphic designer, for the bold serif font and brash ending punctuation. But, “What does it mean?” (People have asked, with a skeptical gaze.) As well as: “Isn’t it a little vulgar?” A little behind-the-scenes seemed overdue.

In a 2010 interview in The Paris Review, the science fiction writer Ray Bradbury  was asked about e-books and Kindles:

Those aren’t books. You can’t hold a computer in your hand like you can a book. A computer does not smell. There are two perfumes to a book. If a book is new, it smells great. If a book is old, it smells even better. It smells like ancient Egypt. A book has got to smell. You have to hold it in your hands and pray to it. You put it in your pocket and you walk with it. And it stays with you forever. But the computer doesn’t do that for you. I’m sorry.

That sums it up, though a little curmudgeonly.  And from the Journal of Chromatography, chemists used solid-phase microextraction and gas chromatography/mass spectrometry to analyze volatile organic compounds emitted from a naturally aged groundwood pulp paper originating from an old book. (Read it for yourself here.) Volatile organic compounds. This is what we’re talkin’ about:

And another recent article lays out a framework to identify, protect and conserve the smells that influence the way we engage with the past. Smithsonian Magazine wrote about this research, and here’s a photograph of a scientist taking a deep sniff at the National Archives of The Netherlands.

From Smithsonian Magazine, April 7, 2017

 

Whatever it is that brings you to our doorpoetry, history, chemistry, or a hankering to smell a centuries old book for yourselfjust come. We have lots of bags left and they make memorable graduation gifts. (Totes are $5, while they last).

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A tribute to Barbara Jordan on her birthday

In celebration of Black History Month, we remember Barbara Jordan’s 1987 Commencement address at Middlebury. She received an Honorary Doctor of Laws and spoke about values in education and those which members of society should agree to live by: Truth, Tolerance, Respect, and Community.

Other photos of the commencement ceremony show Prof. David Rosenberg, Professor Emeritus of Political Science, handing out diplomas. He remembered about her speech, “She shared many historical and philosophical comments on principles and values to guide our commencing graduates. But the biggest applause and laughter came near the end when she quoted from Robert Fulghum’s essay, “All I ever really needed to know I learned in Kindergarten.” It was a good way to acknowledge the critical role parents play at an early and formative stage in the lives of our graduates long before they arrive at Middlebury.”

The former congresswoman showed her Texas pride from the commencement podium with the the University of Texas’s “hook ’em horns” hand symbol. After retiring from politics in 1979, she taught ethics at the University of Texas until her death in 1996.

Born in Houston, Texas exactly 81 years ago, Jordan earned her law degree from Boston University in 1959 and was elected to the Texas Senate in 1966, becoming the first African-American state senator since 1883 and the first black woman to hold the seat. In 1972, she was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, making her the first woman to represent Texas in the House, and (in the same year) as president pro tempore of the Texas senate, the first black woman in America to preside over a legislative body.

She solidified herself as a household name while serving on the House Judiciary Committee during President Richard Nixon’s impeachment scandal. Delivered the opening remarks to the committee and the nation, she supported the articles of impeachment against the president. In her speech she held up her faith in the Constitution and declared that if her fellow committee members failed to impeach President Nixon,“then perhaps the eighteenth–century Constitution should be abandoned to a twentieth–century paper shredder.”

She extended her rhetorical capabilities to Middlebury College in 1987, undeterred by the multiple sclerosis that would ultimately kill her, delivering the address from a wheelchair.

 

Source: “Jordan, Barbara Charline | US House of Representatives: History, Art & Archives.” Accessed February 21, 2017. http://history.house.gov/People/Detail/16031.

Ancient clay artifact meets the Future

Today in Special Collections, our oldest text faced the library’s newest technology.

Our cuneiform tablet, a beer token from 2,000 BCE, took a new form when DLA postdoctoral fellow Kristy Golubiewski-Davis captured it in a 3D scan.

Mounted on a tripod, a small camera photographs the tablet, on a turntable, while a small projector shines different light patterns onto its surface. In the background, a laptop shows the 3D scan as it materializes.

To see 3D scanning in action – along with the tablet and other important Special Collections objects – come to Davis Family Library this Friday! Kristy will by demonstrating 3D scanning in the library atrium from 10am-2pm, and Special Collections will host our annual Fall Family Weekend Open House from 1pm-4pm.

And stay tuned for a 3D printout made from the scan coming soon, a plastic facsimile students and researchers can inspect in their own hands!

Stacks & Tracks, on the radio. Tune in.

Stacks & Tracks.
The Special Collections & Archives radio show.

We’re back.


From the bowels of the library basement come wonders like you’ve never seen. (And still can’t, because it’s radio.)

Wednesdays, 12p-1p

91.9FM | iTunes radio | listen online | on your phone

s2pf-wrmc-1970-08

WRMC Radio Studio, 1970. From the College Archives Photographic File.

Visit us. Monday-Friday, 1-5p. You never need an appointment, or an excuse, to stop by.

Get out and vote like it’s 1924!

In honor of the Vermont primary tomorrow, we remember that every vote counts – even in a small town.

The tiny Vermont town of Somerset (which still exists!) could not be silenced despite losing 50% of their voting population in 1924. In one fell swoop, the town clerk, treasurer, tax collector, constable, and school director departed, leaving the other two legal voters the only residents eligible to cast their ballots.

Though the town currently boasts a similarly small population, we hope they, and all voting Vermonters, make it to the polls tomorrow!

Somerset
Discover more Vermont history from the pages of John Y Kellogg’s scrapbook documenting his two-week hike on the Long Trail in September 1921. (RBMS Flat Shelf 56)