Hey Mister .. Got A Match? Scholes Library Looks to Protect and Display a Gift of Historic Value

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Scholes Library is anxious to display and preserve a bit of history and is currently seeking donations to protect and display a most wonderful gift.

This past April, Scholes Library was honored to accept a donation of historic significance.  The gift is a rare, 2 volume text titled “Traité Élémentaire de Chemie,” (Elementary Treatise of Chemistry)  by Antoine Levoisier (1793).

This title is of particular historical importance for several reasons, including its widely recognized place as “the world’s first textbook in Chemistry.”   Levoisier is often referred to as “the father of modern chemistry” and is credited with developing the first experimentally based theory of the chemical reactivity of oxygen.  Leviosier is also co-author of the modern system for naming chemical substances.   The donors are Alfred alumnus Roger Eiss (’64) and his wife Francoise Bourget.  A fuller story on this item donation and its history may be found here.

Scholes Library takes great pride in this acquisition and has pledged to protect it, display it and make it available to researchers.   To this end, the library has received a “matching gift” opportunity from an anonymous donor.  Should the library be successful in securing donation of $1,200+  for this purpose, our donor will contribute an equal amount allowing for the purchase of an archival quality display case to preserve our newest treasure.  A quality, environmentally protected casing will allow us to establish a permanent exhibition of the 2 volume set (and display its historically significant illustrations) within the Scholes Library Special Collections Area.

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We love our student employees!

The end of the academic year is a good time for us to reflect on the many benefits of having student employees in the libraries. Graduation is a bittersweet time for us – we’re excited to see many of our students moving on to the next phase of their lives but we also know that their shoes are going to be hard to fill.

Brian and Natalie at Herrick's front deskThe benefits of having student employees in the libraries are many! It’s no exaggeration to say that we couldn’t maintain our current service levels and open hours without the help of student workers. Together, Herrick and Scholes Libraries are open almost 200 hours per week during the academic year. During any given semester, we employ nearly 100 students. In addition to staffing our front desks, students serve in a variety of other roles in the libraries, from preparing materials for circulation to doing data entry, assisting with projects, shelving, and much more.

The relationship between student workers and the libraries is symbiotic: students gain valuable work experience and we benefit in numerous ways from having them here. After all, most of our patrons are students, and our student employees are their peers. Natalie Skwarek, who supervises students at Herrick’s front desk, notes that, “because student workers are students, our patrons, who are also mostly students, feel comfortable approaching them with comments and questions.” Student employees frequently find creative and unconventional solutions to problems, and make suggestions for improving library services.

Because our student employees are here to learn, and not just to work in the libraries, we do our best to provide a supportive work environment. This means giving constructive feedback, and ensuring that each student has an opportunity to grow. Librarian Brian Sullivan, who coordinates Herrick’s front desk, says, “I believe in empowering student workers to come up with creative solutions to the various situations they encounter at the front desk. This gives them opportunities to build their problem solving and leadership skills while they are here.” Herrick's front desk

Steve Crandall, Director of Herrick Library and Dean of Libraries, describes the libraries’ approach to student employment, saying, “We try to do everything we can to make it a real job, not just a way to collect work-study money. We make sure that the students know how important they are to us. We try to be clear about expectations and provide good training, infusing it with humor to make it memorable.”

Connections between the libraries and their student workers often endure beyond graduation. “The relationships we foster with our student workers can prove helpful in securing future employment,” says Dave Snyder, Access Services Coordinator at Herrick. Prospective employers regularly contact library staff for references and Snyder says that, because he works so closely with the students, he can often relay a story that illustrates a student’s positive character traits and capacity for growth.

As we move towards the start of a new academic year, we look forward to hiring a new group of students who will become part of this ongoing cycle. If you are an incoming student who is interested in working in the libraries, we invite you to stop by to see us after you’ve arrived on campus.

- Ellen Bahr

There's a lot of information coming your way when you use Summon!

To Summon or not to Summon — that is the question!

 

There's a lot of information coming your way when you use Summon!

There’s a lot of information coming your way when you use Summon!

To Summon or not to Summon?  No we’re not talking about magic spells, but a way to search almost everything available from both AU Libraries.

Where do you find Summon?  Both Scholes and Herrick Libraries prominently feature a Google-like blank box on their home pages: http://scholes.alfred.edu http://herrick.alfred.edu

 

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Why would you want to use Summon?

It’s the most comprehensive search available.  Summon searches both libraries’ catalogs, almost all of the AU Libraries’ databases, and additional freely available, high quality web content.  You’ll get all of your results in one search.  Summon provides a variety of filters to reduce your results to a manageable number of items. So if you want to do a search and make sure you don’t miss out on any of the resources the libraries have to offer, use Summon.

Why would you not want to use Summon?

If you have been using a specific database which brings back great results for your research, doesn’t miss anything important, and doesn’t bury you with a ton of off-topic results to sort through — then you’ll be happier using that database.

Or, if you find that, when you search Summon, you consistently find that your best results are coming from a specific database or databases — then you might prefer to use those databases directly.  Both the Herrick and Scholes web pages allow you to select a specific database from an A-Z list.  You will also be directed to high relevance databases through the research/subject guides provided.

Please share your experiences with us…

Summon is one more tool to dig into the libraries content.  Please contact us with questions or suggestions about how to make the best use of Summon in your search for the information you need.

Steve Crandall 607-871-2987 or email: fcrandall@alfred.edu

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Students’ Illuminated Manuscript Experience in Scholes

Avocado.  Bone ash.  Copper.  Egg whites.  Pumice powder.  Sumac.  Vinegar.  Walnut.

Some of the students' creations.

Some of the students’ creations.

This isn’t some bizarre, arcane shopping list–it’s a sampling of just a few of the ingredients used by students in Kate Dimitrova’s Medieval Illuminated Manuscripts class.  A few more modern materials, such as newsprint and coffee, pepper the list, but for the most part the students stuck diligently to their incredibly difficult mission–to create their own illuminated manuscript pages using techniques and recipes from the Middle Ages.

Given the arduous process of producing their basic materials, much less designing and painting the actual illustrations, this was no small task.  Each student was given a scrap of vellum to start with, then was directed to medieval recipes for pigments, inks, and even tools–some of which the students made by hand, as in the case of a home-crafted brush with human hair.

Students working with some of our manuscript facsimiles.

Students working with some of our manuscript facsimiles.

When their works of art were complete, they were put into a display case here in the Scholes Library, and the students were given the opportunity to experience the next best thing to an original manuscript–high quality manuscript facsimiles.

A facsimile is a very detailed reproduction or replica of an original manuscript, in this case medieval and Renaissance illuminated manuscripts.  Though the specifics can vary depending on the quality and completeness of the facsimile, an ideal manuscript facsimile reproduces every facet of the original, from the cover to the uneven and sometimes torn pages.  Facsimiles are valuable in that they provide the rare opportunity to experience the manuscript as it was intended to be experienced–not as a flat, disconnected projection on a wall, but as part of a whole work.

Patrons who wish to see facsimiles from our collection can contact me, Eva Sclippa, at sclippa@alfred.edu, for a list of available facsimiles and information on accessing Special Collections.  If you’d like to see the students’ beautiful work, it will be on display until April 30th, next to the reference desk–so be sure to get in before then!

The full group with their works on display.

The full group with their works on display.

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New illuminated manuscripts display in Scholes!

This isn’t a full blog post, just a heads up–come check out the new display in Scholes, in the case by the reference desk!  Students from Kate Dimitrova’s illuminated manuscripts class used medieval recipes and techniques to decorate their own pieces of parchment, and the results (along with two pages from our own facsimile collection) are on display.
A full post with pictures of the event artists and their work will be posted later.

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AURA — Alfred University Research and Archive

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What is AURA?  No, not aura, a distinctive atmosphere, or an energy field from a living being, but AURA.  AURA stands for the Alfred University Research and Archive.  It’s Alfred University’s own digital repository, a place to discover the past and inform the future.

  What is a digital repository?

  • A means of storing and providing access to digital content (research, scholarship and documents of historical significance)
  • Provides a stable, well-managed, permanent archive for digital scholarly and research materials of enduring value produced by faculty, staff, and students
  • Supports research, learning and administrative processes
  • Includes a wide range of content: research data, meeting minutes, newsletters, theses and dissertations, published articles, technical reports, conference papers, historical information, etc.

For example, this newletter of the Science Fiction Club, Lanruojifics, Fall 2002

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What are the benefits of a digital repository?

  • Content can be searched full-text, across all documents
  • Allows the content to be shared locally and globally
  • Allows wide and rapid dissemination of intellectual output, thereby raising awareness of Alfred University to a wider audience
  • Stores and organizes the plethora of digital documents created on campus in one place, accessible from anywhere
  • Supports a wide range of file types (text, images, video, data sets, etc.)
  • Access to content can be restricted as needed
  • Required for researchers applying for certain types of federal funding
  • Usage can be tracked for statistical purposes

Why not just put this material into Blackboard?

  • AURA makes content available to external audiences (open access availability)
  • AURA’s content can be indexed by search engine harvesters (such as Google)
  • AURA’s content is organized into collections and subcollections
  • BlackBoard was designed as a course management system; not a document warehouse. It doesn’t allow for searching across documents and doesn’t manage collections or access to them as well as AURA does.

How can you help to build AURA?

  • ·         Submit your club’s publications and meeting minutes for inclusion in AURA
  • ·         Submit your publications and research to AURA.
  • ·         Submit publications from your program, division, school and college.  Help us keep AU’s institutional memory strong in the digital era.

Want to check out AURA right now?

http://aura.alfred.edu

– Steve Crandall

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Art From Books, As Books

On a Tuesday morning at the end of January, nearly 100 students congregated at the Scholes Library, meeting in front of the circulation desk but quickly spreading out into multiple lanes of busy traffic throughout the building.  Though they were not here to work on research papers or look up biographical information on artists, they were here to begin a project centered around the library and its collections.  Every area of the library was opened to them, with rare and unusual items from the archives and special collections on display–but for inspiration, not information.

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“One Hundred Steps,” Samantha Calkins

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A glance at the typography of “One Hundred Steps”

The students were here as part of the Freshman Foundations program, a first-year experience for BFA students.  At the beginning of each term, Foundations students have a week to produce a work of art within parameters set by their professors, typically parameters about the format their work will take.  Unbeknownst to the students coming back from winter break, their professors had met with the librarians at Scholes during the fall term to put together a project that would bring students into the library and have them creating artwork inspired by and using library resources.  The assignment they settled on that fall was books; not just any books, but artists’ books–the perfect meeting of book and art.

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Interior view of “Wolf’s Bite” by Kelsey Mayo

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Cover, “Wolf’s Bite”

At the end of the week, we here at the library were invited to the Foundations classroom to see the finished books, and the results were truly impressive.  Using everything from books of patterns and decorative motifs to scans of magazines, encyclopedias, and survey texts, the students had created an array of artworks that ranged from traditional narrative books to the wildly experimental.

The forms, materials, and methods that students made use of were just as varied as the content.

"The World is Bigger Than Me or You -- and That's Okay," and accordion fold book by Mikaela Suders.

“The World is Bigger Than Me or You — and That’s Okay,” and accordion fold book by Mikaela Suders.

Scattered amongst the neatly side-bound volumes were creations that pushed the edges of what a book can look like, works that expanded in lengthy accordion folds or were cut to match the shape of their subject.  Some of the students’ works played with form in a way that affected the meaning or perception of the book as a whole, altering the movement from page to page.

Materials provided an even richer field of experimentation.  The majority of the works were made of paper, but others unfolded on sheets of fabric, plastic, or even glass.  Still others were made of traditional materials, but contained small samples of the unexpected–a sachet of lavender, an old map, a splash of glaze.

"What is in a Bottle," Ruby Wisniewski

“What is in a Bottle,” Ruby Wisniewski

Perhaps most rewarding for the librarians involved in the project, some of the works showed signs of inspiration from the materials in the library that the students had been perusing just a few days before.  Works like A Humument, the modified Victorian novel mentioned in our first post on artists’ books, echoed in the selectively concealed and revealed words of books like “Alice,” pictured below.

"Alice," Julianna Metz-Root

“Alice,” Julianna Metz-Root

Even more exciting, soon the students’ art and the works that inspired them will be able to sit side by side.  Within the next few weeks, the students’ books will be delivered to the Scholes Library and housed in special collections alongside our other artists’ books.  Once the books have been delivered and cataloged for our collection, they will be on display to the public–and be sure we’ll make an announcement as soon as they’re available!