Updates From Around the Library (August 2014)


As summer transitions into fall and the Library prepares for the upcoming semester, here are a few recent highlights from various Library blogs:

Summer Activity in the Library

Library Summer Activity

Some might view the summer as a slow time on a college campus, but the Brown University Library remains committed to supporting users. Many groups find themselves using the Library over the summer months including: pre-college students, undergraduates, and high school students. The summer is also a time for renovation and an opportunity to install new technologies.

Here’s a brief look at some of the groups passing through the Library as well as a few of the summer activities.

    • Summer Pre-College Students: This summer Brown is offering over 200 courses selected to reflect the University’s curriculum. It isn’t long after these classes start that pre-college students find themselves in the Library.
    • Undergraduate Summer Session: About 450 students enroll in summer session classes at Brown each year. Subject Librarians have remained busy meeting one-on-one with a number of undergraduates.
    • Brown Summer High School Program: Now in its 46th year—the Brown Summer High School is a daytime program open to Providence-area high school students. Instructors from this program can often be found in the Rock Lobby tutoring students.
    • Renovations: The University Library is renovating both the Rockefeller Library and the John Hay Library. In the Rockefeller Library, the first floor computer cluster, Reference Room, and Hecker Center will be renovated. The John Hay Library is finishing up a year-long renovation of the entire building.
    • New Technology: In response to faculty requests, the Library recently acquired a “Bookeye 4” scanning station for users to easily scan books and other materials. As part of the Hecker Center renovation, a new laptop loaner cart will be added.
    • Other Summer Activities:
      • Thesis writing: Many current students—both undergraduates and grad students—use the summer as an opportunity to work on their thesis.
      • Professional development: Librarians and staff are busy attending conferences and continuing their research.
      • Student workers: A number of student workers have been hired to help with shelving and the digitization of materials during the summer months.
      • First Readings: In partnership with the Dean of the College, the Library created the First Readings website to introduce incoming students to the Brown community.

Summer Renovation of the Rock’s Central Reading Room

5513_2014-07-01_Scene 4.1

The central reading room on the first floor of the John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Library at Brown is undergoing a major renovation this summer.  

Based on feedback collected from Brown students who frequent the Library, the area will be transformed into a more comfortable and functional study space with improved lighting, updated computer workstations, and more data and electrical outlets.  The space will also feature open areas combined with private group study rooms, including a mix of large and small study tables along with casual seating.

Expected to be completed by the end of September, the Library looks forward to welcoming new and returning students and faculty to this terrific new space in the fall.


Construction Begins on Addition to Library Collections Annex

Annex Module 2
This summer, ground was broken on a new addition to the Library Collections Annex, the University Library’s off-site materials storage facility, located approximately four miles from College Hill. When fully outfitted, the additional module will increase the Annex’s total storage capacity to approximately 2.3 million items.  Completion is set for mid-December 2014.
The current Annex module was opened in 2005 with an estimated capacity of 1.5 million volume equivalents. At its opening, the Annex was expected to provide sufficient storage capacity for 15 years of collection growth. Several on-campus construction projects, such as the John Hay Library renovation, required more items to be sent off-site than initially planned. As a result, the facility is almost completely filled 9 years after its first day of operation. The new module will provide space for another 1 million volumes. Because items in the Annex are housed by size, the ultimate number of items held depends on the mix of materials stored.

Like the current module, the new addition will feature sophisticated climate controls and a state-of-the-art security system to ensure the long life of materials stored there. Items requested from the Annex are delivered to campus within 24 hours on workdays; shorter articles and chapters may be scanned and sent directly to users as well.


Happy Birthday to John D. Rockefeller, Sr. from the John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Library

John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Library

John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Library

As the Brown University Library celebrates the 50th anniversary of the John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Library, we pause to acknowledge the incredible life and accomplishments of John D. Rockefeller, Sr. and, most notably, the tradition of philanthropy that he engendered within his family and throughout his groundbreaking charitable organizations.

One hundred seventy five years ago today, John Davison Rockefeller was born on July 8, 1839 in Richmond, NY. Born into a modest household, the second of six children, Rockefeller, Sr. was raised to value hard work, saving money, and charitable giving. At the age of 12, with savings earned raising turkeys, he loaned money to a local farmer at 7% interest and discovered he had a knack for putting money to work for him. At 16, he began a job at Hewitt & Tuttle, commission merchants and produce shippers, as an assistant bookkeeper in Cleveland, OH, where the family now lived. Before long, he had impressed his employers and the business community with his hard work and business acumen.

A few years later, in 1859, he started his own commission merchant business—Clark & Rockefeller—with neighbor Maurice Clark. The business did well and boomed during the Civil War; however, Rockefeller realized there was a limit to the success of the commission merchant business in Ohio and instead turned his focus to oil.

In 1870, after two permutations of oil companies, Rockefeller and his brother William plus four other partners formed the Standard Oil Company. From this union, the Standard Oil Trust was created in 1882—a vertically integrated organization that controlled the twenty companies that comprised Standard’s entire oil enterprise. The Trust was incredibly successful, supplying products to 80% of American towns by 1904 and providing the country with affordable fuel for lighting. After losing an anti-trust suit, the Trust was dissolved in 1892, though all the companies continued on, with shares instead of trust certificates held by the stakeholders.

During the days of the Trust, Rockefeller became extraordinarily wealthy. (His worth was estimated at $900 million in 1912.) He hired Frederick Gates to manage his fortune, including investments and charitable giving. Gates was joined in this endeavor by John D. Rockefeller, Jr. in 1897. Retiring that same year, Rockefeller, Sr. turned all his energy toward philanthropy. When he died in 1937, his worth was estimated at $26.5 million, with most of his fortune having been given to charity and his heirs.

A trustee for his church by age 21, Rockefeller, Sr. had always made charitable giving part of his approach to earning, saving, and spending. He gave to and supported the causes he thought would have the greatest positive impact on the human condition, and indeed, many of his philanthropic efforts had a profound influence. He is credited with the creation of the University of Chicago; he founded the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research (now Rockefeller University), which developed, among many things, a serum treatment for spinal meningitis and pneumonia; he founded the General Education Board (now the Rockefeller Foundation), which bolstered public education in the South; he established the Rockefeller Sanitary Commission, whose efforts resulted in the elimination of hookworm in the South and laid the blueprint for modern public health services.

Many organizations received Rockefeller’s financial support, including Brown University, where his son, John D. Rockefeller, Jr., attended college, matriculating in 1893. While at Brown, Rockefeller, Jr. met Abby Aldrich, a Rhode Island native, who would become his wife (and a prominent philanthropist in her own right). Rockefeller, Jr. took up his father’s doctrine of philanthropy, giving generously to Brown, which he loved so well. Known at Brown as “Johnny Rock,” Rockefeller, Jr. received an honorary master of arts degree in 1914 at the time of Brown’s sesquicentennial celebration. The John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Library was dedicated 50 years later in 1964. As the University celebrates its 250th anniversary, we remember and honor the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Rock and the spirit of giving that made its existence possible, begun over a century ago by a remarkable man who considered charity as important as industry.





First Readings 2014: Oil & Water

oil and water first readings

This year’s First Readings selection is the film Oil & Water. Here are a few things of note about Oil & Water and the First Readings program.

  • The library has created a website as a part of the First Readings Program.
  • Oil & Water is the story of two boys (Hugo Lucitante and David Poritz ’12) coming of age as they confront one of the world’s worst toxic disasters.
  • The film was directed by Francine Strickwerda and Laurel Spellman Smith.
  • Francine Strickwerda, Laurel Spellman Smith, and David Poritz ’12 will visit campus in the fall to speak to the first-year students.
  • This is the First Readings program’s eighth year.
  • The First Readings program provides first-year and transfer students with a common experience that introduces them to the pleasures and rigors of academic life at Brown University.
  • First Readings is sponsored by the Dean of the College and Brown Alumni Association.
  • Make sure to check out the @firstreadings twitter feed for updates.

For more information about Oil & Water or the First Readings program visit the website.

Video | Library’s Commencement Forum with Professor James Egan, “Continuity Amidst Transformation”

Professor Jim Egan delivers Commencement Forum in the Rockefeller Library DSL

Professor Jim Egan delivers a Commencement Forum in the Rockefeller Library Patrick Ma Digital Scholarship Lab

On Saturday, May 24, the Brown University Library hosted James F. Egan, Brown Professor of English, when he delivered a Commencement Forum titled “Continuity Amidst Transformation in the Humanities” in the Rockefeller Library Patrick Ma Digital Scholarship Lab.

Click here to watch a video recording of the forum on Brown’s YouTube Channel. 



Astronaut David Scott Gives the Apollo 15 Flight Data File to the Brown University Library

University Librarian Harriette Hemmasi and NASA Astronaut David Scott

University Librarian Harriette Hemmasi and NASA Astronaut David Scott

The Brown University Library is honored to have received a gift that is truly out of this world. In late 2013, David Scott, retired U.S. Air Force Colonel and NASA Astronaut, gave the Library the world’s only complete collection of flight literature that has traveled to the Moon’s surface. On April 19, 2014, Scott, along with Brown University Professor of Geological Sciences James Head, space flight historian and appraiser Lawrence McGlynn, University Librarian Harriette Hemmasi, Director of Special Collections and the John Hay Library Tom Horrocks, and a small handful of awed Library staff members gathered in the Rockefeller Library Patrick Ma Digital Scholarship Lab (DSL) for an informal ceremony, during which the items in the Flight Data File were viewed, discussed, and transferred to the Library.

Since his role as spacecraft commander of the 1971 Apollo 15 mission, the fourth to land men on the Moon, Scott has carefully maintained his copy of the many paper-based materials used during the manned spaceflight: flight plans, checklists, timelines, star charts, logs, maps, and manuals. Leading up to and throughout the mission, each item was continually consulted and new entries were made. Scott’s own handwriting can be seen on the checklists and logs and the maps are visible in photographs of the Lunar Roving Vehicle (LRV) as it explores the Moon’s surface. Lawrence McGlynn, who spoke about the historical significance of the individual pieces and the collection as a whole, counseled the Library, “Whatever you do, don’t dust them off! That’s lunar dust.”

Lawrence McGlynn points out the lunar surface maps in a photo of the LRV

Lawrence McGlynn points out the lunar surface maps in a photo of the LRV

Before the presentation began, Scott and Head had the opportunity to look at a detailed image of the Moon’s surface on the massive, high-resolution screens in the DSL. Scott grabbed a ruler and pointed out the site where the Lunar Module Falcon landed on July 30, 1971 (Hadley Rille/Apennine Mountains) and the areas in which the crew collected rock and soil samples. Scott was also able to point out the tracks left by the LRV, still there today. When Head asked Scott jokingly why he didn’t pick up more of the rocks, Scott responded, “I left those there for you.”

Scott and Head have been colleagues for many years, a working relationship that has become a close friendship. Head, prior to his appointment as a faculty member of the Geological Sciences Department at Brown, worked for NASA and took his place in the Control Center during every mission to the Moon. His connection to Scott and the space program is what led Scott to think of Brown as the home for this valuable collection. Unlike other astronauts who have sold off pieces of their flight literature, Scott recognized their importance as historical artifacts and their value to scholarship. He sought to find a home for the collection that would keep it intact and fulfill his desire to have it used for research and study. His relationship with Head, Head’s history of collaboration with NASA, and the good work and reputation of Brown’s Geological Sciences Department convinced Scott to give the collection to the University Library. As Scott stated during the event, “Brown is the right place for this.”

Brown Professor Jim Head and NASA Astronaut David Scott

Brown Professor Jim Head and NASA Astronaut David Scott

After jovial discussion and reminiscences about the Apollo program between Scott, Head, and McGlynn—fascinating to all others fortunate to be in the room—the presentation of the collection began. The large box of materials was opened, and McGlynn, wearing protective gloves, gently lifted the launch checklist and handed it to Scott, who then handed it to University Librarian Harriette Hemmasi, signaling the official transfer of the collection from Scott to the Library.

McGlynn gave a brief online presentation about the rarity and value of the collection and highlighted several items. Thirty days prior to launch, over 26,000 pounds of paper copies of the Flight Data File were sent to the various NASA field centers. Significantly, the set donated by Scott is the only copy that went to the Moon. The items McGlynn highlighted include the launch checklist, timeline book, star charts, logbook of lunar surface collections, and the stowage list.

Each facet of the mission, from pre-launch to splash down, was planned and documented in the File’s timelines, to the minute, and checklists for the crew included everything from when and how to operate the equipment to reminders to eat and drink. The astronauts themselves created most of the checklists as they practiced over and over during the two and a half years of training prior to the mission—so that the steps became second nature. McGlynn mentioned the “T3” motto: “train ‘em, trust ‘em, and turn ‘em loose,” developed by the team made up of faculty from several universities, members of the United States Geological Survey (USGS), and staff members at NASA who trained the astronauts. But with the complexity of the mission and the constant time pressure the astronauts faced, the checklists proved invaluable to the crew during the round trip to the Moon.

Scott and James Irwin, lunar module pilot, made most of the handwritten entries in the Flight Data File. One of the items containing the largest amount of handwriting is the logbook of lunar surface collections. It reads as a diary of sorts, written in natural language by Scott and Irwin, documenting the locations in which items were found, their weight, and general descriptions. Among the items Scott and Irwin found and collected on this mission are the most famous Moon rock, the Genesis Rock, a sample of the ancient lunar crust, and green clods of volcanic glass beads, all of which led to the recent discovery of water on the Moon by Brown Professor Alberto Saal.

Logbook of lunar surface collections

Logbook of lunar surface collections

Star charts were used throughout the flight to locate where the Falcon was in space. The astronauts had to find 36 specific stars, look at the stars through a sextant, and signal the computer, which then recorded the exact location of the spacecraft. Amazingly, the on-board computer contained merely 36K bytes of memory. Despite its limited computing power, the software code written for the mission computer contained such precision that it provided the necessary intelligence to support a manned flight to the Moon and back to Earth. That alone is worthy of study.

Star chart

Star chart

Indeed, the entire space program remains a marvel of planning, coordination, and engineering that had several important ties with Brown University. Mentioned with great respect by McGlynn was Brown alumnus Howard “Bill” Tindall, Jr. ‘48, whom NASA named Honorary Flight Director in honor of his illustrious service. Tindall coordinated the efforts of all the engineers involved in the Apollo missions. Well known for his humorous and folksy memos, coined “Tindallgrams,” Tindall ensured the many successes of the Apollo program through his meticulous planning and skillful handling of debate and discussion among the hundreds of people integral to putting human beings in space. This collection of Apollo 15 flight literature is a testament to Tindall’s planning and coordination and will serve as an enduring example of excellence in engineering.

Though David Scott had a significant financial incentive to sell the flight literature, he commendably chose to give this collection to the Brown University Library so that it can be preserved for posterity and made available to scholars and students around the world as a unique resource to enhance research and understanding of how a complex mission like Apollo 15 could be successfully completed. In all, the collection is a vital record of one of humankind’s most impressive achievements, a tangible artifact from the Moon, and a model of planning and engineering. And, as McGlynn stated during his presentation, “When you touch this today, you have touched the Moon.” Now it is up to the researchers and students at Brown and elsewhere to discover where this collection will take them next.

Commencement Forum | Continuity Amidst Transformation in the Humanities with Professor Jim Egan


Professor James Egan and two of his students

Professor James Egan and two of his students, Samantha (Sami) Isman ’15 and Miranda Olson ’17

The Brown University Library will host James F. Egan, Brown Professor of English, as he delivers a Commencement Forum titled “Continuity Amidst Transformation in the Humanities” on Saturday, May 24 at 11 a.m. in the Rockefeller Library Patrick Ma Digital Scholarship Lab.

The study of the humanities is undergoing transformation with the increased use of digital technologies and methodologies. Professor Egan will discuss the enduring value of the humanities to society even in this changing environment. Professor Egan’s presentation will reveal important synergies between research and teaching, with a focus on new approaches to analyzing canonical works and authors of American literature.

Refreshments will be served. Seating is limited and will be provided on a first-come, first-served basis.

Date: Saturday, May 24, 2014
Time: 11 a.m.
Location: Patrick Ma Digital Scholarship Lab, Rockefeller Library, 10 Prospect St.


Zumba Class


The Brown University Library and Brown University Athletics & Recreation are hosting a complimentary Zumba class, open to all who will be on campus during Commencement Weekend. This session is appropriate for all levels of exercisers. No special equipment or clothing is required. Attendees must sign-in at the OMAC Welcome Center before class.

Please join us for what is sure to be an enjoyable and invigorating class!

Olney-Margolies Athletic Center (OMAC) Dance Studio, 229 Hope Street
Saturday, May 24 from 10 – 11 a.m.