Event | American Sinologist Charles S. Gardner and the Chinese Collection at Brown with Dr. Li Wang

Dr. Li Wang in the East Asian Collection room at the Rockefeller Library

On Friday, May 10, 2019 at 12 p.m. in the Digital Scholarship Lab at the Rockefeller Library, Dr. Li Wang, Curator of East Asian Collection, will give a presentation, “American Sinologist Charles S. Gardner and Chinese Collection at Brown.”

This talk is free and open to the public. Coffee and cookies will be available.

The talk is based on Dr. Wang’s recent focused studies regarding Charles Sidney Gardner (1900-1966), a noted Sinologist and former Harvard University professor, who donated his entire personal collection, including a large number of Chinese rare books, to Brown University Library in his late years. It provides brief biological information on the family life, education, and scholarly career of Gardner, especially his link to China, a country where he lived as a visiting scholar during the 1920s and 1930s.

More information on Gardner and his collection

The talk will also address Gardner’s scholarly contributions and influences as a pioneer of American Chinese studies to the field. With regard to Gardner’s network and friendship with many Western and Chinese scholars, the talk will demonstrate various rare archival items recently found in the Collection. After reviewing Gardner’s insightful ideas and practices on building Chinese library collections, Dr. Wang will describe the process of Gardner’s valuable donations in the 1960s and present current developments at the Brown Library East Asian Collection.

For more information, please see the article by Li Wang: “A Cultural Envoy Who Should Not Be Forgotten: American Sinologist Charles S. Gardner and His Chinese Collection,” China Reading Weekly, April 3, 2019, available in Chinese and English.

Date: Friday, May 10, 2019
Time: 12 p.m.
Location: Patrick Ma Digital Scholarship Lab, Rockefeller Library, 10 Prospect St, Providence

Announcement | Amanda Strauss Named Associate University Librarian for Special Collections

The Brown University Library is pleased to announce the appointment of Amanda Strauss as Associate University Librarian for Special Collections.

As Associate University Librarian, Ms. Strauss will oversee the University’s outstanding collections of rare books, manuscripts, archives, and other unique and special materials. Reporting to and working in close partnership with Joseph Meisel, Joukowsky Family University Librarian, she will oversee the curators, staff, and operations of the John Hay Library and provide leadership for special collections stewardship, acquisitions, scholarly programming, research and education services, and resource development.

In the course of an extensive nationwide search, Ms. Strauss, who is currently Manager of Special Projects and Digital Services at the Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America at Harvard University’s Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, impressed Library staff and participating faculty members with her experience and compelling ideas for advancing the mission of special collections at Brown. University Librarian Meisel said, “I am delighted that Amanda will be joining the Brown University Library in this critical leadership position. She will bring a dynamic vision to the John Hay Library and raise its profile as one of the nation’s great special collections libraries.

”As a member of the Brown University Library’s senior leadership team, Ms. Strauss will be a key contributor to shaping the Library’s strategic directions, advancing Library-wide planning and evaluation, and developing policies and procedures to promote operational excellence. She will work with faculty and Library staff to promote the use of Brown’s special collections holdings in research, teaching, exhibitions, outreach, and public programs across all academic divisions, while also bringing to bear her knowledge of the array of current tools for developing innovative digital initiatives for enhancing delivery of special collections content and services to scholarly and non-scholarly audiences alike.

An essential part of Ms. Strauss’ work will be to actively develop and contribute to initiatives that advance diversity and inclusion in special collections and throughout the Library. She will direct the Hay’s curatorial staff in evaluating collections strengths, setting acquisition priorities, and establishing effective collection management practices. How special collections are understood and used—especially through the lens of equity and inclusion—is an area where she brings experience and insight. Drawing upon her success at promoting institutional collaborations at the Schlesinger Library, Ms. Strauss will also help build stronger programmatic ties with other institutions at Brown, such as the John Carter Brown Library, the John Nicholas Brown Center for Public Humanities, the Center for the Study of Slavery and Justice, and the Pembroke Center for Teaching and Research on Women, as well as exploring new opportunities for external partnerships.


Ms. Strauss earned both her MLIS with a concentration in Archival Studies and her MA in History from Simmons College. She also holds a BA in History and Spanish from Willamette University. The author of “Treading the Ground of Contested Memory: Archivists and the Human Rights Movement in Chile” (Archival Science 2015), she is a scholar of human rights archives as well as twentieth century women’s movements in the United States. Her path into special collections administration is rooted in research services, where she specialized in teaching with primary sources. While at Schlesinger, her particular focus has been on visioning and managing the library’s cutting-edge digital services program. Among other accomplishments at Schlesinger, Ms. Strauss developed and managed significant grant-funded projects, notably the Long 19th Amendment Project, which commemorates the centennial of the 19th Amendment, as well as the large-scale effort to document the digital footprint of the #metoo movement.


Ms. Strauss’ first day at the Brown University Library will be July 1. We look forward to welcoming her to Brown and working together to develop a compelling and creative vision to strengthen the activities and wider visibility of the John Hay Library as a center of scholarship and education.  

Announcement | Allison Levy & House of Secrets International Book Tour

Allison Levy, the Library’s Digital Scholarship Editor and Visiting Scholar in Italian Studies at Brown, is the author of a new book, House of Secrets: The Many Lives of a Florentine Palazzo (Bloomsbury, 2019), currently being promoted through the U.S. and abroad.

The book has been well received by critics and readers. Historian Ingrid Rowland describes it as “an enthralling tour through an extraordinary Florentine palazzo, complete with romance, murder, lives of the rich and famous, and layer upon layer of history ranging from the heart of the Renaissance to yesterday. A scholarly thriller that is virtually impossible to put down.”

Allison Levy

An art historian educated at Bryn Mawr College, Allison tells the remarkable story of Palazzo Rucellai from behind its celebrated façade in House of Secrets. While staying in Florence during a teaching sabbatical, Allison had the opportunity to live in Palazzo Rucellai and learn about its history firsthand, becoming inspired to tell the stories of the real life characters who have populated the house and bring its history to life.

Upcoming tour events:

  • Seattle: University of Washington Bookstore
  • New Orleans: Garden District Bookstore
  • Boston: Boston Public Library
  • Detroit: Pages Bookshop
  • Newport: Redwood Library and Athenaeum
  • Providence: Books on the Square
  • Washington, DC: Kramer Books

Completed tour events:

  • London: Daunt Books
  • Florence: Todo Modo Bookstore
  • NYC: Casa Italiana-NYU (video)
  • Providence: Brown University Library (video)
  • Providence: Providence Athenaeum (audio)

2020

Next year, Allison will visit China to promote the book, after its translation into Chinese this year. The English paperback edition of House of Secrets will be published April 2020.

Announcement | Charles S. Gardner and Brown University Library Chinese Collection by Li Wang

Charles S. Gardnder

During the conferences of the Association for Asian Studies in Denver, CO, Dr. Li Wang, Curator of the East Asian Collection, delivered a presentation, “American Sinologist Charles S. Gardner and Chinese Rare Books in Brown University Library,” at the SCSL forum on March 22, 2019. Soon after, on April 3, one of his articles, “A Cultural Envoy Who Should Not Be Forgotten: American Sinologist Charles S. Gardner and His Chinese Collection,” was published in an influential Chinese newspaper: China Reading Weekly.

This paper is a result of focused studies on Charles Sidney Gardner (1900-1966), a noted Sinologist and former Harvard University professor, who donated his entire personal collection, including a large number of Chinese rare books, to Brown University Library. It provides brief biological information on Gardner, especially his link to China, a country where he lived as a visiting scholar during the 1920s and 1930s.

It addresses Gardner’s scholarly contributions as a pioneer of American Sinological studies to the field. With regard to Gardner’s scholarship in Chinese studies and friendship with many Chinese scholars, the paper addresses in particular Gardner’s lofty character by examining his selfless activities in helping Chinese students and friends. After reviewing his insightful ideas and practices on building Chinese library collections, the paper summarizes the process of Gardner’s valuable donations in the 1960s. Following that, it also presents the current development of the Brown Library East Asian Collection in the new age. Finally, in commemorating Gardner’s legacy of contributions, character, and donations, the paper calls for continued efforts to promote cross-cultural exchange and Sino-American friendship.

The full paper in both Chinese and English (with a few updates; translation assisted by Whitney Su ’20) is available in Brown Digital Repository.

The article in China Reading Weekly.

The article on Wechat.

Announcement | Lydia Curliss, Physical Sciences Librarian

Photo of Lydia Curliss

The Library is pleased to welcome Lydia Curliss as the new Physical Sciences Librarian.

Lydia comes to us from Indiana University, where she worked as a copyright researcher for the IU Media Digitization and Preservation Initiative. While a graduate student, she worked in the IU First Nations Educational and Cultural Center and in the Libraries’ Moving Image Archive. She has also served as an AmeriCorps VISTA STEM volunteer in Boston, acting as a liaison between the Massachusetts Afterschool Partnership and the Zero Robotics programs.

She hold a dual MLS/MIS from Indiana University and received her Bachelor of Arts (Honors) from Oberlin College, majoring in geology. In addition to her educational background in libraries and in geology, she brings a passion for liberal arts education and for working with science education and outreach, particularly to historically underrepresented students. Her skills and knowledge will be invaluable in our work with Brown’s physical sciences and math departments and with the School of Engineering.

Lydia is a member of the Nipmuc Nation of Massachusetts. In her free time she enjoys baking, cooking, painting and drawing, and playing board games. She also has a love for collecting cookbooks.

Event | Laura Stokes on Composer Fanny Hensel

On Wednesday, April 24, 2019 at 12 p.m. in the Digital Scholarship Lab at the Rockefeller Library, Laura Stokes, Performing Arts Librarian and Head of Orwig Music Library at Brown, will give a talk based on her book Fanny Hensel: A Research and Information Guide.

Free and open to the public. Q&A and reception to follow the talk.

Laura Stokes

Laura K. T. Stokes is the Performing Arts Librarian at Brown University, where she has also been a Lecturer in Music. She holds a Ph.D. in musicology from Indiana University. Her scholarly work examines music and cultural politics in the nineteenth century, including music for public ritual, opera, sacred music, gender and composition, and music publishing history. Her current projects are on the composers Fanny Hensel, Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy, and Giacomo Meyerbeer, as well as music and politics, historiography, and nineteenth-century medievalism. From 2012–2018, she was an Assistant Editor of the journal Notes.

Fanny Hensel

Drawing of Fanny Hensel by Wilhelm Hensel

Fanny Hensel née Mendelssohn Bartholdy (1805–1847) was one of the most prolific female composers of the nineteenth century. The sister of the famous composer and conductor Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy and granddaughter of the Jewish Enlightenment philosopher Moses Mendelssohn, she was educated alongside her brother, including in music composition. Upon reaching maturity, however, she faced restrictions on the pursuit of a public career—restrictions based on gender and social status. Hensel nonetheless continued to compose, with an output of over 450 musical works, and she became the organizer and hostess of a famous salon/private concert series.

After her death, Hensel’s work as a composer and musician was largely forgotten or dismissed; however, inspired by the field of women’s history, new research from the 1980s to the present day has promoted awareness of Hensel’s life and work. Fanny Hensel: A Research and Information Guide helps researchers navigate the vast world of research on Hensel. The author will talk about Hensel and her music as well as challenges and conundrums in this research area.

Date: Wednesday, April 24, 2019
Time: 12 p.m.
Location: Patrick Ma Digital Scholarship Lab, Rockefeller Library, 10 Prospect St, Providence

Announcement | Sarah Potter, Director of Library Human Resources and Organizational Development

The Library is pleased to announce the appointment of Sarah Potter to the position of Director of Human Resources and Organizational Development.

Sarah is currently the Director of Human Resources at Clinton Community College, a member unit of the SUNY system, in Plattsburgh, NY. In addition to her leadership of employee and labor relations, Sarah is responsible for staff and faculty recruitment and retention. In her capacity as Chair of the College’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee, she facilitated the writing of a five year Diversity & Inclusion Plan.

Previously, Sarah served as Assistant Vice President for Career Services and, prior to that, Sr. Director of Human Resources and Organizational Development at Champlain College in Burlington, Vermont. Among her accomplishments there, Sarah launched a peer coaching leadership development program as well as staff professional development initiatives.

Sarah earned a master’s degree in human resources management from Mercy College in Dobbs Ferry, NY and holds a bachelor’s degree in administrative and commercial studies from The University of Western Ontario, in Canada. Sarah lived and worked in Montreal, Canada and Grenoble, France, before immigrating to the U.S. She believes diverse perspectives and inclusive work environments are key to growth and success.

Sarah’s first day at the Library will be May 1.

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 | Book Published by Author and Performing Arts Librarian Laura Stokes

As part of the Music Bibliographers Series, Routledge has published Fanny Hansel: A Research and Information Guide, written by Laura Stokes, PhD, Brown University Performing Arts Librarian and Head of the Orwig Music Library.

The book is an important addition to the growing study of women composers and performers.

Publisher Description:

Fanny Hensel: A Research and Information Guide provides scholars in Hensel studies with a resource to navigate the research surrounding the composer’s over 450 musical works. As part of the larger blossoming of women’s music history, new research in the 1980s and 1990s promoted an awareness of Hensel’s output, in particular in the genres of the lied and the solo piano work. This research guide includes an introductory chapter, a summary paragraph at the beginning of each chapter, and annotations for more than 500 entries, focusing on scholarly works as well as selected articles from trade publications, catalogs, and Internet resources.

The Brown University Library congratulates our colleague on this remarkable accomplishment.

Announcement | Laurie Rossi, Senior Library Associate Specialist, Special Collections, Reader Services

The Brown University Library welcomes Laurie Rossi to Reader Services as a Senior Library Associate Specialist for Special Collections.

Laurie comes to Brown from the Pawtucket Public Library and, prior to that, the West Warwick Library, where she ran many music programs in addition to working in circulation.

A classically trained vocalist, Laurie also plays guitar, piano, clarinet, and saxophone.

Laurie’s first day at the Library was March 18.