Event | A President Lincoln Hackathon with Parlor Monuments to the Illustrious Dead

lincoln hack

In honor of the 155th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s first inauguration, join us in the Sidney E. Frank Digital Studio for a 3D hackathon at noon on March 4, 2016.

We’ll use a 3D scanner and other tools to study “Parlor Monuments to the Illustrious Dead,” a 19th century Lego-like children’s game about the Civil War. The game’s instructions are lost: can we recreate them and remix the parts, and how can the digital technologies help us?

We will be joined by Holly Snyder, Curator of American Historical Collections at the John Hay Library.

Date: Friday, March 4, 2016
Time: 12 p.m.
Location: Sidney E. Frank Digital Studio, Rockefeller Library, 10 Prospect Street, Providence

lincoln cubes

Carberry Day | Leap Year


The Brown University Library celebrates Josiah S. Carberry Day every February 29, occurring only in a leap year.

In celebration, there will be fresh fruit and cookies available in the lobby at the Rockefeller Library and the Friedman Center at the Sciences Library.

Consider leaving your loose change in a Brown jug (AKA “cracked pot”). The jugs will be out near the fruit and cookies. All donations go toward the Carberry Fund.

Known to show up unannounced in unlikely places, Carberry has been seen but never verified on campus. Will you spot the elusive man himself? If you do, try to capture him with a photo and share on Twitter or Instagram with #JosiahCarberry.

To share on Facebook, friend Josiah Carberry and tag him in the photo.

Happy Josiah S. Carberry Day!

Event | The Story of Nova Persei 1901


A “new star” appeared in the constellation Perseus in 1901​ and was observed by Professor Winslow Upton at ​Brown’s ​Ladd Observatory. Eleven year-old H.P. Lovecraft also saw the cosmic sight, which inspired him to include the nova in his weird tales of horror.

Discover the story and history of Nova Persei 1901 through the collections of the Brown University Library and Ladd Observatory​ on Tuesday, February 23 at 3:30 p.m. in the Lownes Room of the John Hay Library​.

Brown Professor Ian Dell’Antonio will discuss the modern astrophysics of novae; Observatory Curator Michael Umbricht will describe the historic observations and present a demonstration using the astronomical spectroscope used by Upton; and Curator Holly Snyder will display rare items from the history of science special collections of the John Hay Library.

Learn more at the Ladd Observatory blog and ​Ladd Observatory’s ​Facebook event page.

This event is part of the Ladd Observatory 125th anniversary and is sponsored by the Department of Physics and ​the ​Brown University Library.

Date: Tuesday, February 23, 2016
Time: 3:30 p.m.
Location: Lownes Room, John Hay Library, 10 Prospect Street, Providence

Goodnight Lights at the Sciences Library


The Brown University Sciences Library

You might not expect a university library to be saying goodnight at 8:30 p.m., with many students studying into the wee hours. But for a few weeks now, the Sciences Library has been doing just that. Only, it isn’t saying goodnight to Brown students. It’s saying goodnight to patients at Hasbro Children’s Hospital.

The Library joins a handful of other Providence organizations that flash their lights four times in succession for one minute at 8:30 p.m. each night, signaling “good-night-Has-bro” to the children looking out the hospital’s windows. Other participants in the initiative include the Biltmore Hotel, the Hot Club, and the Providence Steamboat Company. Known as “Goodnight Lights,” this initiative began when Steve Brosnihan, Hasbro’s resident cartoonist and board member of the Tomorrow Fund for Children with Cancer, began flashing the lights on his bicycle as a way to wish goodnight to the children he had visited. He noticed that this simple act lifted the spirits of the children who saw the light, and lifted his spirits in turn.

Brosnihan wanted to expand the program by involving organizations in buildings visible from Hasbro. The Sciences Library (known at Brown as the “SciLi”) is clearly visible from many patient rooms, making it a perfect fit for the program. Brosnihan explains, “The Library looks like a lighthouse from Hasbro Children’s Hospital as it is. I also love the idea of connecting Brown, whose [Warren Alpert Medical School] works so closely with [Hasbro Children’s Hospital] and with the kids who are hospitalized.”

The Brown University Library and staff at the SciLi couldn’t agree more. Currently, a security guard stands on the 14th floor of the Library and blinks a high-powered flashlight for one minute each night at 8:30. “On some nights, as soon as the signal is received we see lights flashing in the hospital windows in return,” says Harriette Hemmasi, University Librarian. “The children wait for us and know the flashing lights are meant for them. It may seem like a small way of connecting but it’s one way of letting the children know we’re thinking of them and that they’re not alone.”

View of the SciLi from Hasbro Children's Hospital

View of the SciLi from Hasbro Children’s Hospital

Exhibit | Thousands of Little Colored Windows : Brown University’s Stamp Collections

Katanga, 1961 George S. Champlin Memorial Collection

Katanga, 1961
George S. Champlin Memorial Collection

Thousands of Little Colored Windows : Brown University’s Stamp Collections is now on exhibit at the John Hay Library. This exhibition is curated by students in Professor Steven Lubar’s Museum Collecting and Collections class (Fall 2015). Over the course of the semester, the students delved into Brown University Library’s extensive stamp collections.

Their research uncovers the breadth of the collections and highlights the numerous ways in which postage stamps and postal history hold relevance to social history, political and cultural studies. Thousands of Little Colored Windows : Brown University’s Stamp Collections approaches the stamp collections through varied lenses, revealing narratives of design, production, use, and collecting. The exhibition includes an interactive digital gallery of stamps from the George S. Champlin Memorial Stamp Collection.

Click here to view the complementary online exhibit.

The stamp collections housed at the John Hay Library range from comprehensive national and global catalogues to thematic albums. The personal collections of George S. Champlin, Webster Knight (class of 1876), and Robert Galkin (class of 1949) constitute the foundation of the Library’s philatelic holdings. In addition, the library maintains specialized collections of postal, historical, and design-related interests, such as special delivery stamps, first day covers, a set of patriotic envelopes addressed to Abraham Lincoln, and rare printing errors.

Admission to the John Hay Library is free and open to the public. Thousands of Little Colored Windows : Brown University’s Stamp Collections will remain on view through May 13, 2016. For additional information and standard operating hours consult the Library website: http://library.brown.edu/hay/.

Dates: February 10 – May 13, 2016
TimeJohn Hay Library Hours
Location: Exhibition Gallery, John Hay Library, 20 Prospect Street, Providence

Event | Panel: Experiments with Digital Education at Brown

Digital-Ed-Panel_emailableOn Wednesday, February 24, 2016 from 4 – 5:30 p.m. in List Art Auditorium (120), Maud Mandel, Dean of the College and Professor of History and Judaic Studies, will moderate a panel of four Brown faculty members who will discuss their own “Experiments with Digital Education at Brown.” This event is free and open to the public. A reception will follow.

These faculty members have integrated digital tools into their teaching in different ways, including the substantial inclusion of digital technology in the classroom as well as the development of fully online and blended courses. Panelists will consider how this technology has changed their teaching and what opportunities and challenges they have faced in creating and delivering these courses. The discussion will also consider student responses and how learning outcomes have been affected by the introduction of online and digital components. The panel inaugurates a new lecture series entitled Teaching and Learning in the Digital Environment.

Faculty Participants:

  • Pedro Dal Bo, Associate Professor of Economics
  • Gita Pensa, Clinical Assistant Professor of Emergency Medicine
  • Stephen Merriam Foley, Associate Professor of English, Associate Professor of Comparative Literature
  • Andy van Dam, Thomas J. Watson, Jr. University Professor of Technology and Education, Professor of Computer Science


pdalbo_thumbPedro Dal Bó, Associate Professor of Economics, received his Ph.D. in Economics from the University of California, Los Angeles in 2002. He works in the areas of game theory, experimental economics, and political economy. Recent work has examined the relationship between violence, corruption, and the quality of politicians; the effect of economic shocks and policies on social conflict; the determinants of cooperation in repeated games; and the effect of democracy and moral suasion on pro-social behavior.

GitaGita Pensa attended the University of Pennsylvania Medical School and completed her residency in emergency medicine at George Washington University. She was the chief resident from 2000-2001. Dr. Pensa returned to academics in 2014 after 13 years in community emergency medicine practice. She is currently Assistant Professor of Emergency Medicine (Clinical) at Brown Medical (Alpert School of Medicine), directing the “Asynchrony” course in Emergency Medicine (online emergency medicine curriculum) for the Brown emergency medicine residency. She created the new Brown Emergency Medicine residency educational blog (and serve as chief faculty editor): http://blogs.brown.edu/emergency-medicine-residency/ and won the Brown Emergency Medicine Residency Award for Innovation in Education in 2015. Dr. Pensa is interested in the Free Open Access Med-ucation Movement (‘FOAMed’), and the intersection of digital/traditional/bedside learning in medical education. You can find her on Twitter at @GitaPensaMD.

sfoley_thumbStephen Merriam Foley is a graduate of Brown, with a degree in Classics and English. He received the M.A. and Ph.D. in English from Yale University, where he also taught in the Department of English. He is the author of a book on the poetry of Sir Thomas Wyatt, co-author of Conventions and Choices, a handbook for writers, and co-editor of Sir Thomas More’s Answer to a Poisoned Book, a work of religious controversy published in the Yale Edition of the Complete Works of Thomas More, and co-editor of a collection of essays on More and Erasmus in Moreana, the journal of Thomas More Studies. He has served as chair of the department of English at Brown, as the editor of Modern Language Studies, and as research editor for the Yale Edition of the Works of Thomas More. His research includes European renaissance culture and letters, classical traditions, literary theory, and aesthetics. His article on Sir Thomas Elyot’s Dictionary was awarded the Beatrice White Prize for excellence in Renaissance studies by the English Association of Great Britain.

AvDsummer2008smallAndries van Dam is the Thomas J. Watson Jr., University Professor of Technology and Education and Professor of Computer Science. He has been a member of Brown’s faculty since 1965, is a founder of Brown’s Computer Science Department, and was its first Chairman from 1979 to 1985. From 2002 to 2006 he was Brown’s first Vice President for Research. His research includes work on computer graphics, hypermedia systems, post-WIMP user interfaces (including pen-centric computing), and educational software. Over the last four decades he has worked on systems for creating and reading electronic books with interactive illustrations for use in education and research.

He is the co-author of nearly a dozen books, including Computer Graphics: Principles and Practice with James D. Foley, Steven K. Feiner, and John F. Hughes (Addison-Wesley 1990). He received a B.S. degree (with Honors) in Engineering Sciences from Swarthmore College in 1960 and a Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Pennsylvania in 1966. He is a Fellow of ACM, IEEE, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, and is a member of National Academy of Engineering. His awards include the ACM Steven A. Coons Award for Outstanding Creative Contributions to Computer Graphics and the IEEE James H. Mulligan, Jr. Education Medal. He holds honorary doctorates from Swarthmore College and Darmstadt Technical University.

mmandel_photo__thumbnailMaud S. Mandel (Ph.D., University of Michigan, 1998; A.M., University of Michigan, 1993; B.A. Oberlin College, 1989) is Dean of the College and Professor of History and Judaic Studies. Her monograph, In the Aftermath of Genocide: Armenians and Jews in Twentieth Century France, was published by Duke University Press in 2003. Her book, Muslims and Jews in France: History of a Conflict, appeared with Princeton University Press in January 2014 and has been awarded fellowships from the American Council of Learned Societies and the American Philosophical Society. Her most recent article, “Simone Weil and Thinking Jewish Modernity after the Holocaust” will appear in the volume  Thinking Jewish Modernity in 2014. She teaches courses on many aspects of modern Jewish history, including history of the Holocaust, Zionism and the birth of the state of Israel, and antisemitism.

Date: Wednesday, February 24, 2016
Time: 4 – 5:30 p.m.
LocationList Art 120, 64 College Street, Providence


Exhibit | Works from Modern Architecture: A Course with Professor Dietrich Neumann


The works displayed in this exhibit were created by students in Professor Dietrich Neumann’s lecture course, “Modern Architecture,” which surveys the “classic” period of European and American modern architecture from the turn of the century to the 1950s. Students were asked to create a model based on a building or industrial design object of this time period.

Date: January 25 – April 4, 2016
Time: Rockefeller Library Hours
Location: Finn Reading Room Cases, Rockefeller Library, 10 Prospect Street, Providence


What to Expect in the Digital Studio


Scheduled to open in February, the Rockefeller Library’s Digital Studio will offer flexible work stations, 3D modelling equipment, and an audio/video recording suite. As University Librarian Harriette Hemmasi told The Brown Daily Herald this past September, the new space is intended to be “a production space for individual and collaborative scholarship.”

Following a somewhat different model than other media labs on campus, the Library’s Digital Studio will be a place where faculty and students from all the disciplines are actively encouraged to mingle, share their experiences, and learn through a series of workshops and project showcases.

Faculty and students can expect an exciting calendar of events ranging from hackathons, designed to remix and rethink special collections items, to trainings on a/v equipment and software. They can also expect to receive help on their digital projects from staff experts in everything from data curation and visualization, to developing new kinds of online publications.

During the Digital Studio’s first year of operation, the Library will test new programs and services based on feedback from users. We look forward to welcoming you into the space soon!

Exhibit | Vestiges of the Transatlantic Slave Trade

Thomas Clarkson, History of the Rise, Progress & Accomplishment of the Abolition of the African Slave-Trade, by the British Parliament (Philadelphia: James P. Parke, 1808), First American Edition, Vol. I, illustration between pp. 300-301

Thomas Clarkson, History of the Rise, Progress & Accomplishment of the Abolition of the African Slave-Trade, by the British Parliament (Philadelphia: James P. Parke, 1808), First American Edition, Vol. I, illustration between pp. 300-301

Slavery was a historical reality in the Americas, but many have little sense of the devastating impact of the “peculiar institution” on the lives of those who bore the burden of its chains and the brunt of its brutality. A new exhibit at the John Hay Library seeks to tell this side of the story with the display of a set of 18th century leg shackles accompanied by three narratives of African American men and women enslaved in the United States during the 19th century.

The leg shackles, which are displayed courtesy of the International Slavery Museum in Liverpool (UK), represent the Middle Passage – the sea voyage from Africa to the Americas, during which newly enslaved Africans were kept chained in the ship’s hold. Such shackles were identified by anti-slavery campaigners as emblematic of the violence deemed necessary to maintain captured Africans in a state of slavery and submission.

Jesse Torrey, “…but I did not want to go, and I jumped out of the window” in Torrey, A Portraiture of Domestic Slavery in the United States (Philadelphia: Jesse Torrey, 1817).

Jesse Torrey, “…but I did not want to go, and I jumped out of the window” in Torrey, A Portraiture of Domestic Slavery in the United States (Philadelphia: Jesse Torrey, 1817)

The narratives are drawn from the collections of the John Hay Library and represent the voices of three people who struggled within the strictures of the slave system: the poet George Moses Horton, enslaved in North Carolina until emancipated by Union forces during the Civil War; the church deacon James Mars, born into slavery in Connecticut and kept by white owners there until he turned 25 in 1815; and an un-named African American woman in Washington, D. C., interviewed by Dr. Jesse Torrey Jr. in 1816, who, faced with the prospect of being sold away from her husband and children, leapt from the third floor window of a tavern.

This exhibit is a collaboration between the International Slavery Museum in Liverpool, the Center for the Study of Slavery and Justice at Brown, and the Brown University Library.

Dates: January 7 – March 13, 2016
Time: John Hay Library Hours
Location: Lobby Cases, John Hay Library, 20 Prospect Street, Providence

Library Hours and Closures During Winter Break


All campus libraries will close on Wednesday, December 23 at 5 p.m.

The John Hay Library will be open 8:30 a.m. – 5 p.m.on Monday, December 28, Tuesday, December 29, and Wednesday, December 30.

All other Brown University Libraries will remain closed during the holiday break and will reopen on Monday, January 4, 2016.

(The John Carter Brown Library is separate from the Brown University Library and operates its own schedule.)

Click here to view the hours for all the Brown University Libraries in calendar form.

The Library wishes everyone a happy and healthy holiday season.