Exhibit | Spectacular Listening: U.S. Air Guitar

Photo courtesy of Whitney Young via Hidden Darkroom

This exhibit by ethnomusicology Ph.D. candidate Byrd McDaniel displays some of the memorabilia central to air guitar playing in the United States and the U.S. Air Guitar Championships in particular.  Advertised as the “greatest thing you’ve never seen,” the contemporary U.S. Air Guitar Championships stem from a long line of related practices throughout the twentieth century—such as pantomime, musical comedy, and dance—that crystallized in the late 1970s and early 1980s around air band and air guitar competitions. Byrd argues that we should think of air guitar as a type of listening—a practice in animating, translating, and transmitting rock recordings.

Air guitar competitions not only reproduce and revisit some of the classic moments in rock guitar history, but they also revise these moments, sometimes sustaining and sometimes challenging the often racist, sexist, and ableist narratives that litter the genre’s history. It can also undermine these problematic discourses as well, subordinating guitar greats and lofty values (like authenticity or virtuosity) to the tastes and talents of the amateur air guitarist.

Ultimately, air guitar playing reminds us how gesture and listening sustain important aspects of our cultural identities. It calls on us to rethink the origins of our current interactive and haptic technologies, which stem just as much from technological innovations as they do from a desire to take music recordings into our own hands.

Dates: February 12 – April 12, 2019
TimeLibrary Hours
Location: Orwig Music Library, 1 Young Orchard Avenue, Providence

Link resolver and JournalFinder maintenance

ProQuest is planning a data center migration and associated downtime for a number of assets that impact the library’s services. This does not affect ProQuest content or databases, but will cause significant disruption to some of the the connectors between systems like the link resolver and Journal Finder.

Downtime begins
Friday, February 8, 2019
8:00 pm EST.

Services should be back online by Saturday, February 9 at 8:00 pm EST.

Services unavailable during downtime:

E-Journal Portal (Journal Finder)
360 Link (our link resolver; API used for services like easyAccess, and interactions with OpenURL)

Staff and patron-facing applications will be unavailable for up to 24 hours, although we do not expect the migration to take the full time. Josiah and Josiah Classic will remain available.

Event | Playing the Past – Archaeology and Video Games Play Well Together

On Sunday and Monday, January 27 and 28, 2019, Eva Mol and Carl Walsh, Postdoctoral Research Associates in Archaeology and the Ancient World at the Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology and the Ancient World, hosted a conference and workshop at the Rockefeller Library entitled, “Playing the Past – Archaeology and Video Games Play Well Together.


On Sunday, speakers discussed the state of the field in gaming and archaeology with a specific focus on how interactive, virtual media function as a differential space for theory-crafting, historytelling, and public outreach. Seven presenters spoke about topics ranging from a case study of Assassin’s Creed: Origins, which is set in ancient Egypt, to the pedagogical uses of games set in ancient time periods, to the participatory creation of historical video games and environments by both experts and the public.

The presentations took place in the Patrick Ma Digital Scholarship Lab, which is equipped with a large-scale, high-resolution video wall comprised of twelve 55-inch high-resolution LED screens, allowing for crisp and responsive visual presentation of video games and other media.


On Monday, Angus Mol and Aris Politopoulos of Leiden University and the VALUE Foundation taught workshop participants, including archaeologists, designers, critics and consumers, how to use Twine, an intuitive and powerful tool for digital storytelling and game design. The group made use of what was learned by building video games in the Library’s Sidney E. Frank Digital Studio. The Studio’s flexible space allowed the attendees to break into smaller groups and collaborate while using the room’s screen and whiteboards.

Date: Sunday and Monday, January 27 and 28, 2019
Time: All day
Location: Patrick Ma Digital Scholarship Lab & Sidney E. Frank Digital Studio, Rockefeller Library, 10 Prospect Street

Event | #LibraryLove on Valentine’s Day

Cookies and Stickies

This Valentine’s Day — Thursday, February 14 — let us know what you love about the Brown University Library, enjoy some cookies, and write a love letter.

There will be cookies in four library locations along with sticky notes and pens. We invite you to write what you love about the Library on a sticky note and put it up on the wall.

Share the Love on Social

We’ll take some photos of the sticky notes and post them to Instagram and Twitter.

  • @BrownUniversityLibrary on Insta
  • @BrownLibrary on Twitter

We’d love to see your photos, too! Be sure to use #LibraryLove and #BrownLibrary so we can like, comment, and share.

Not on campus? Create a virtual love letter to the Library.

Send a Letter

Complimentary greeting cards from the Friends of the Library collections will be available at each location. Please help yourself to a card (or several), write a note, seal and address the envelope (you will need to know the address), and place it in the box labeled “CARDS.” The Library will mail the cards for you!

Date: Thursday, February 14, 2018
Time: All day

  • Rockefeller Library, Sorensen Family Reading Room
  • John Hay Library, First Floor Lounge
  • Sciences Library, Lobby
  • Orwig Music Library, Circulation Area

Announcement | Library Donates to Community Nonprofits

Some of the Library staff donations for Crossroads Rhode Island and the Rhode Island Community Food Bank

Each year during the holidays, Nancy Flynn, Senior Library Specialist, Facilities and Business, has chaired the Library’s charitable holiday drive.

In December of 2018, over the course of two weeks, Nancy inspired Library staff to donate gifts, money, and food to Crossroads Rhode Island and the Rhode Island Community Food Bank.


The mission of Crossroads Rhode Island is to help homeless or at-risk individuals and families secure stable homes. In addition to an overflowing mail bin full of new toys for children, Crossroads Rhode Island received $800 in monetary donations from the Library.

Library staff gave the Rhode Island Community Food Bank over 100 pounds of non-perishable food items and a monetary donation of $1,070. With a mission to improve the quality of life for all Rhode Islanders by advancing solutions to the problem of hunger, this local food bank provides access to healthy food to diverse communities throughout the state.

Nancy Flynn

Nancy retired in January 2019, after many years of dedicated service to the Library. A beloved and respected member of the staff, Nancy’s infectious humor, tireless work ethic, and enormous heart is sorely missed at the Rockefeller Library and beyond. One of those Rhode Islanders who knows everyone and every place, Nancy remains connected to us (thankfully) and can probably be found “getting her steps in” on Blackstone Boulevard or in the coolest new pub to open in Providence (and the surrounding area).

We thank Nancy for spearheading our community giving efforts and look forward to trying to live up to the very high bar of community philanthropy that she has set over the course of her career in the Library.

Exhibit | Folklore Music Map of the United States

Folklore Music Map of the United States from the Primer of American Music
Dorothea Dix Lawrence (1899–1979)
New York, New York: Hagstrom Company,  Inc., 1946
Brown University Library, Special Collections

This colorful Folklore Music Map of the United States contains period illustrations, musical classifications and a bibliography.  With its visual overlay of music and geography, the map provides useful information about the varied and unique sounds produced nationally and studied by folklorists of the 1940s. Created by opera singer turned folklorist Dorothea Dix Lawrence from her Primer of American Music radio program, the map is an example of her efforts to broadly collect and disseminate music in America.  All of the music samples on the map were later published in a book entitled Folklore-Songs of the United States (1959).

Exhibit Dates: January 30 -Febuary 28, 2019
Exhibit TimeJohn Hay Library Hours
Exhibit Location: Second Floor Landing, John Hay Library, 20 Prospect Street, Providence

Announcement | Emily Ferrier, Social Sciences and Entrepreneurship Librarian

The Brown University Library welcomes Emily Ferrier as the Social Sciences and Entrepreneurship Librarian.

As the primary liaison to the Nelson Center for Entrepreneurship and the department of Economics, Emily will assist researchers, students, and other University stakeholders as they develop entrepreneurial projects, conduct market research, explore business models, and engage in community partnerships to strengthen the local, national, and international scholarly community. As a member of the Academic Engagement unit, Emily will work with other subject librarians, as well as the Center for Digital Scholarship, the digital repository team, and others in the Library and across campus to provide the resources and services to support this work.

Emily will provide synchronous and asynchronous instruction on topics related to business and entrepreneurship, such as market research, business analysis, intellectual property, patents, and finance, and scholarly resources to support research and teaching in entrepreneurship and economics.

Emily joins Brown from Olin College of Engineering where she has has served as the Senior Librarian since 2016. Most recently she has also served as the Acting Library Director. At Olin, Emily has supported open scholarship and Olin’s open access policy to provide preservation and access to scholarship including student and faculty research, data, and software.

Emily has demonstrated commitment to diversity and inclusion through cross-institutional activities focused on ways to design support systems to address systemic issues that result in first year students, students with disabilities, and marginalized community members feeling excluded from campus and classrooms. Along with a cross-disciplinary team consisting of faculty, student affairs and the library, Emily and her co-authors’ related peer-reviewed paper, “Proactive Inclusion of Neurodiverse Learning Styles in Project-Based Learning: A Call for Action,” was presented at the American Society for Engineering Education conference in June 2018.

Prior to joining Olin College of Engineering in 2016, Emily worked in the libraries of intellectual property law firms where she specialized in IP research, with expertise in legal, intellectual property, and business intelligence research. Emily earned her MLIS from San Jose State and a BA in History from Northeastern University.

In addition to her professional accomplishments, Emily is a media producer of titles such as COLD HUDSON: A Slow Film. Slowness is a theme that has worked its way into cooking, photography, and now to the old house she is renovating.

New Workshop | Research Photo Management with Tropy

If you’ve ever returned from the archives with interesting images, but no plan as to where to preserve those images and write the proper metadata for them, Tropy is a new resource that may interest you. Tropy is free, open source software that allows you to easily import, preserve, edit, and describe your photographs and primary source documents. The Brown University Library is hosting the first Tropy workshop on the Brown University campus on January 31, 2019 from 11 a.m. – 12 p.m. in the Digital Scholarship Lab in the Rockefeller Library. The workshop will be led by Ashley Champagne, Ph.D., Digital Humanities Librarian at the Brown University Library and  Jim McGrath, Ph.D., Postdoctoral Fellow in Digital Public Humanities at the John Nicholas Brown Center for Public Humanities and Cultural Heritage

In this interactive workshop, we’ll offer an overview of the software and present a case study on how you might use the software for your own research. In short, here are a few things that you can do with Tropy:

  1. Easily import your photos into Tropy
  2. Organize your photo collections into folders
  3. Add and edit metadata in bulk (or individually). For example, when you return from a given archive, you can add one location and the data of access across the entire image collection.
  4. Allow the metadata categories guide your own research needs.

To demonstrate some of Tropy’s features, we’re providing a walkthrough of a particular research project involving archival materials in the Michael J. Ciaraldi Comics Collection at the John Hay Library. (Thanks to Heather Cole and the staff at the John Hay Library for helping us access these materials.)

Many of us use cameras on our smartphones to create images of what we’re reviewing in archives or documenting on field research. We then look at these photos on our laptops or desktops, especially when we need to consult these images while writing or when conducting additional research. While storing copies of files in cloud-based storage services like Dropbox or Google Photos has its advantages (and might be part of your research workflow in some capacity for the purposes of creating backup files, among other reasons), saving research images locally on your hard drive allows you to take advantage of Tropy’s capabilities including metadata creation and management, transcription, and organization. Importing batches of files into Tropy is pretty easy: you can even quickly drag and drop materials into your virtual workspace.

The 29 image files you see above are related to two issues of the 1990s comic book anthology series Dark Horse Presents. There are images of various story installments, front and back covers, advertisements, letters, columns, and editorial commentary. While this collection includes extensive photos (there are duplicates in cloud storage just in case something is blurry or cropped!), the researcher might not want to wait too long to revisit the material. Even though cloud storage allows us to quickly migrate images from our phone to spaces that can be accessed by a range of devices, the convenience of these features can also make it easy for us to forget important contextual information related to our research. And sometimes, even when we take extensive notes by hand or on digital devices, that material can get lost or be difficult to retrieve if we’re not careful.

Tropy makes it easy to connect contextual materials directly to research files through its notes, metadata, and tagging capabilities. (You can even get this work started in Tropy right in the Special Collections Reading Room at the Hay, if you’ve got a camera, a laptop, a wifi connection, and enough time!)

Tropy allows you to use metadata in the way that works best for your particular research projects and workflows: it offers generic categories and Dublin Core fields, but you can also import templates or create customized templates with fields most relevant to your work. You can export metadata created in Tropy to use elsewhere. Whether you’re interested in documenting context for the purposes of searching and later citation, or you’d like to create organized data for use in Omeka S or other contexts, Tropy can help keep your work organized in the present and the future.

As you organize, it’s important to keep in mind the terms Tropy uses. A “Project” refers to the larger research project (in this case, research into the Dark Horse Presents publication). Items only live in one project. “Lists” allow you to further organize the various parts of your project: in this case, we’re using this feature to organize images related to individual publications (issues of Dark Horse Presents), stories (Sin City: The Hard Goodbye, a serial that appears across several issues of DHP), and particular content we’ll be focusing our research on more generally (advertisements, letters columns, and company editorials). “Tags” are ways to link items by particular people, themes, or other keywords. We’re using tags to track names of artists and editors of interest, names of characters and franchises, and kinds of artwork. You can edit, rename, reorganize, and revise lists and tags as you go. We’ve already tweaked our organizational habits a few times this week as our research has developed and we’ve grown more comfortable with Tropy.

As you can see, we’ve come a long way to organizing our material. There’s detailed documentation on what Tropy can and can’t do over at the project’s web site, and we’ve highlighted a few features that seem of particular interest to general users. You can register for the Tropy workshop here. We hope to see you there!

Date: Thursday, January 31, 2019
Time: 11 a.m. – 12 p.m.
LocationPatrick Ma Digital Scholarship Lab, Rockefeller Library, 10 Prospect Street, Providence, RI
Workshop Leaders: Ashley Champagne, Jim McGrath

Event | House of Secrets: The Many Lives of a Florentine Palazzo with Allison Levy

Join the Brown University Library on Tuesday, April 2, 2019 at 12 p.m. in the Digital Scholarship Lab at the Rockefeller Library for a presentation on the book House of Secrets: The Many Lives of a Florentine Palazzo (Bloomsbury, 2019) by author Allison Levy (Digital Scholarship Editor, Brown University Library and Visiting Scholar in Italian Studies) in conversation with Sheila Bonde (Professor of History of Art and Architecture, Brown University).

House of Secrets: The Many Lives of a Florentine Palazzo

House of Secrets tells the remarkable story of Palazzo Rucellai from behind its celebrated façade. The house, beginning with its piecemeal assemblage by one of the richest men in Florence in the fifteenth century, has witnessed endless drama, from the butchering of its interior to a courtyard suicide to champagne-fueled orgies on the eve of World War I to a recent murder on its third floor. When the author, an art historian, serendipitously discovers a room for let in the house, she lands in the vortex of history and is tested at every turn—inside the house and out. Her residency in Palazzo Rucellai is informed as much by the sense of desire giving way to disappointment as by a sense of denial that soon enough must succumb to truth. House of Secrets is about the sharing of space, the tracing of footsteps, the overlapping of lives. It is about the willingness to lose oneself behind the façade, to live between past and present, to slip between the cracks of history and the crevices of our own imagination.

Allison Levy

Allison Levy

Allison Levy is Digital Scholarship Editor at Brown University Library. An art historian educated at Bryn Mawr College, she has taught in the US, Italy, and the UK. Allison has published widely on the visual culture of early modern Italy and serves as General Editor of the book series Visual and Material Culture, 1300–1700, published by Amsterdam University Press.

Discover more about House of Secrets and discuss on social with #houseofsecrets.

Sheila Bonde

Sheila Bonde is an archaeologist and architectural historian specializing in the study of medieval sites and their representation. Currently Professor of the History of Art and Architecture and Professor of Archaeology, she has excavated in England, France and Israel. She currently directs the MonArch excavation and research project in northern France at the Augustinian abbey of Saint-Jean-des-Vignes in Soissons, the Carthusian house at Bourgfontaine, the Cistercian monastery at Notre-Dame d’Ourscamp, and the motherhouse at Tiron.

Date: April 2, 2019
Time: 12 p.m.
Location: Patrick Ma Digital Scholarship Lab, Rockefeller Library, 10 Prospect Street, Providence, RI

Announcement | Dr. Zhuqing Li Appointed Faculty Curator, East Asian Collection

Dr. Zhuqing Li

The Brown University Library is pleased to announce the appointment of Dr. Zhuqing Li, Visiting Associate Professor of East Asian Studies at Brown, as Faculty Curator, East Asian Collection. Professor Li has taught in the Department of East Asian Studies since 2014. Her role as Faculty Curator began on January 1, 2019.

In this new role, Professor Li will work with the curatorial staff of Brown’s East Asian Collection and other Library experts to explore ways to strengthen the use of these materials for teaching and research on campus, and to increase their visibility to the broader scholarly community through a variety of means including description, exhibits, digital projects, workshops, programs, and publication. Professor Li will also continue to teach in the Department of East Asian Studies.

Zhuqing Li

A linguist specializing in Chinese historical linguistics and dialectology, Professor Li received her Ph.D. in East Asian Language and Literature from the University of Washington and taught at Boston College for 13 years before coming to Brown. Her research has focused on the study of the Chinese language, the historical experiences of Chinese returnees, and the linguistic aspects of Chinese-English translation.

Professor Li’s research began with the study of the phonology and grammar of Fuzhou dialect, which has the most complicated sound-change system in the Chinese language family and is a window into how Chinese sounded in ancient times. Her work on Chinese returnees looks at the social phenomena of Chinese-born citizens who study abroad and return home, reintegrating into Chinese society. She is currently exploring the prosodic and scientific properties of the Chinese language.

Professor Li is the author of four books: Reinventing China: Experience of Contemporary Returnees from the West (Bridge 21, 2016), Minnan-English Dictionary (Dunwoody Press, 2008), The Structure of Fuzhou Dialect (Dunwoody Press, 2002), and Fuzhou-English Dictionary (Dunwoody Press, 1998), as well as numerous academic articles.

Brown’s East Asian Collection

The East Asian Collection, located on the third floor of the Rockefeller Library, holds nearly 200,000 volumes of East Asian language print books in addition to print serials, audio-video materials, and electronic resources. The Collection was developed from an initial gift of approximately 30,000 volumes donated to Brown in 1961 by the noted sinologist Charles Sidney Gardner. Dr. Li Wang, Curator of the East Asian Collection, and Toshiyuki Minami, Senior Library Specialist, offer students and researchers support in their use of the Collection and will be collaborating with Professor Li throughout her work with the Library.