John Hay Night at the Hay Library with Authors John Taliaferro and Joshua Zeitz

513RZiM7VHLAvailable February 2014

Ever wondered who John Hay was? On Wednesday, October 1 at 5:30 p.m. in the Lownes Room of the John Hay Library, you will have the chance to learn more about Brown’s most illustrious alumnus, a poet and diplomat who served three presidents—two of them as Secretary of State. Two authors, John Taliaferro and Joshua Zeitz AM’98, PhD’02, will discuss and sign their recent books about Hay, which will be available for purchase on site. Associate Professor of History Michael Vorenberg will introduce the speakers. A Q&A and reception will follow the talk. This event is free and open to the public.

John Taliaferro

Taliaferro-1132 _8X12

John Taliaferro is a graduate of Harvard College and a former senior editor at Newsweek. He is the author of four previous books: Charles M. Russell: The Life and Legend of America’s Cowboy Artist; Tarzan Forever: The Life of Edgar Rice Burroughs; Great White Fathers: The Story of the Obsessive Quest to Create Mount Rushmore; and In a Far Country: The True Story of a Mission, a Marriage, a Murder, and the Remarkable Reindeer Rescue of 1898. He and his wife, artist Malou Flato, live in Austin, Texas, and Pray, Montana.

Taliaferro’s All the Great Prizes: The Life of John Hay, from Lincoln to Roosevelt, is the first full-scale biography since 1934 of John Hay, a major figure in American history for more than half a century.

See more at:

Joshua Zeitz


Josh Zeitz has taught American history and politics at Cambridge University, Harvard University, and Princeton University. He is the author of several books on American political and social history and has written for the New York TimesWashington PostLA Times, Smithsonian Magazine, The New RepublicThe AtlanticDissentAmerican Heritage, and Mother Jones. Josh also appeared as a commentator on two PBS documentaries: Boomer Century, and Ken Burns’s Prohibition.

A former gubernatorial speechwriter and policy aide, Josh earned his B.A. with highest honors at Swarthmore College and his Ph.D. in American History at Brown University. He lives in Hoboken and Ocean Grove, New Jersey with his wife, Angela Zeitz, an artist, and their two daughters.

Lincoln’s Boys: John Hay, John Nicolay, and the War for Lincoln’s Image by Zeitz is a timely and intimate look into Lincoln’s White House through the lives of his two closest aides and confidantes. Drawing heavily on Hay’s and Nicolay’s letters, diaries, and memoirs, Lincoln’s Boys is part political drama and part coming-of-age tale—a fascinating story of friendship, politics, war, and the contest over history and remembrance.

See more at:

Date: October 1, 2014
Time: 5:30 p.m.
Location: Lownes Room | John Hay Library

Rock Reading Room Construction Impacts, 9/21 – 9/25

Due to construction to renovate the Reading Room on the first floor of the Rockefeller Library, there will be no access to the Finn glass study rooms and window study carrels along College Street from Sunday, September 21 through Thursday, September 25th. The rooms and carrels will re-open on Friday, September 26.

Noisy work (grinding) will begin Sunday, September 21 at midnight through Monday, September 22 at 8:00am. Users of the Rockefeller Library between midnight and 2:00am on Sunday will be affected. Extra measures will be taken to help control dust and smell.

Guantanamo Bay Museum of Art and History Lecture & Exhibit in the DSL

Artist Ian Alan Paul

Artist Ian Alan Paul

On September 11 at 3 p.m. in the Patrick Ma Digital Scholarship Lab in the Rockefeller Library, artist Ian Alan Paul, a founder of the Guantanamo Bay Museum of Art and History, will give a talk about the Museum and the exhibit installed in the DSL. Part of the Bringing Guantanamo Bay Home event series, the exhibit will be on display and open to the public during certain hours, below, from September 11 – 18. The lecture and exhibit are co-sponsored by the DSL and the John Nicholas Brown Center for Public Humanities and Cultural Heritage.

The exhibit features a digital selection from the Museum’s collection. The fictional Museum, located at the former site of the Guantanamo Bay Detention Camp in Cuba, is an institution dedicated to remembering the U.S. prison which was active between 2002 and 2012 before it was permanently decommissioned and closed.

Ian Alan Paul is a transdisciplinary artist/theorist living between San Francisco and Barcelona, whose projects and writing engage with theories and philosophies of media, social movements, and the cosmopolitical. His work has been featured in The Atlantic, Al Jazeera, Le Monde, Art Threat, Jadaliyya, Art Info, and C Magazine and has been exhibited in galleries in Asia, North America, the Middle East, and Europe.

Click here for more information about the lecture event, artist, and exhibit.

Location: Digital Scholarship Lab (DSL), Rockefeller Library
Dates: September 11 – 18
3 – 5 p.m. on Thursday, September 11
1 – 3 p.m. on Friday, September 12
1 – 5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, September 13 and 14
1 – 3 p.m. on Monday, September 15
5 – 7 p.m. on Tuesday, September 16
1 – 3 p.m. on Wednesday, September 17
5 – 7 p.m. on Thursday, September 18


International Literacy Day


The University Library invites the Brown community to recognize and celebrate International Literacy Day. For over 40 years, UNESCO has celebrated International Literacy Day. The focus this year is on “literacies of the 21st century.”

As technology continues to change, the notion of literacy continues to evolve. Literacy has always been shaped by culture, history, language, religion, and socio-economic conditions, but for many years literacy was limited to reading, writing, and numeracy skills. Now other ways of understanding “literacy” or “literacies” have emerged.

With this year’s International Literacy Day dedicated to “literacies for the 21st century” the goal is to highlight the need for “basic literacy skills for all” as well as equip everyone with more advanced literacy skills as part of lifelong learning.

As always International Literacy Day strives to remind the international community literacy is a human right and the foundation of all learning.

More information on International Literacy Day.

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.