JHL Conservation Bulletin | June 2016

A quarterly installment highlighting Library Conservation in the Brown University community, conservation news around the internet, and ways for you to connect with conservation.

Book and paper conservation at Brown

Located in the John Hay Library, Brown University Library’s conservation lab mixes historical tools such as 19th century cast iron book presses and board shears with 21st century conveniences and innovations like a variable speed control HEPA vacuum cleaner and a deionized water filtration system. This amalgam of old and new allows the conservator to address collection needs such as: repair and other physical treatments, environmental monitoring, object handling, exhibition, storage, research, and education.

In house treatment at the Hay

Image: Before Treatment/ After Treatment

Before Treatment/ After Treatment

An 1841 pamphlet used in a class last fall had suffered tears, losses, and staining to the paper support since its creation, and had been over-sewn in a manner that made opening the already fragile pages even more hazardous. The pamphlet was disbound, the paper support treated and repaired, making new gatherings that were sewn through the fold and cased into a new lapped component binding.

Find conservation online and in person

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Florence Flood; the disaster that revolutionized conservation and preservation in libraries and museums around the world. If you are attending ALA in Orlando, you will have a chance to view the new digital restoration of the rare Franco Zeffirelli film, Florence: Days of Destruction.

Just because a thing is old doesn’t mean that it is better, or right, or wasn’t created by someone who was having an off day. But the human ingenuity poured into every aspect of a book-thing is awe-inspiring, and it is at the heart of my conservation efforts. The majority of special collections holdings look pretty good considering their age and everything they have been through. Bookbinding and book conservation communities continue to explore different ways of respecting history and original forms while improving on function and considering contemporary aesthetics. This practice in itself is a continuation of the tradition of fixing, mending, and making useful again these book objects we can’t seem to live without.


Paul Banks‘ 10 Laws of Conservation. #1: No one can have access to a document that no longer exists. See you in September for #2 and more.

-Rachel Lapkin, Library Materials Conservator

Alumni Reunion Forum | The Vietnam War: Our Veterans’ Stories


Please join the Library for an Alumni Reunion Forum on Saturday, May 28 from 3 – 4:30 p.m. in the Willis Reading Room at the John Hay Library. Professor Beth Taylor, Co-Director of the Nonfiction Writing Program, will moderate a panel of alumni veterans and family who will discuss their memories from the Vietnam War. This event is sponsored by the Brown University Library, Brown Alumni Association, and the Nonfiction Writing Program, Department of English.

Some of them attended Brown with the help of ROTC and they all went to the war before the campus protests. Come hear the surprising stories of Brown’s Vietnam Veterans and join in a discussion with alumni whose lives were changed forever by those difficult times.

The Vietnam Veterans of America will present the University Archives with personal artifacts of John Brooks Sherman ’62 (1st. Lt., U.S. Marine Corps, 1962-1966, d. 1966, Vietnam), recently unearthed in Vietnam. Learn about the newly curated Brown Vietnam Veterans Archive and website — featuring flight jackets, commissioning photos, military documents, and love letters.


Beth Taylor, Co-Director, Nonfiction Writing Program


  • David Taylor ’66 (1st. Lt., U.S. Marine Corps, 1966-1971), Real Estate Developer
  • Barry Kowalski ’66 (1st. Lt., U.S. Marine Corps, 1966-1970), Special Counsel for Civil Rights Division, Department of Justice
  • Elaine Zimmer Davis, widow of Jerry Zimmer ’66 (Capt., U.S. Marine Corps, 1966-1969, MIA, 8-29-69, Vietnam)
  • Augustus A. White, III, ’57, MD, PhD (Capt., Medical Corps, U.S. Army, 1966-1967), Orthopaedic Spine Surgeon and Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery, Ellen and Melvin Gordon Distinguished Professor of Medical Education, Harvard Medical School

A corresponding exhibit, also entitled The Vietnam War: Our Veterans’ Stories, will be on display in the Willis Reading Room at the John Hay Library from May 28 – August 19, 2016. The exhibit features photographs, letters, military clothing, and quotations from the Brown Vietnam Veterans Archive to depict how alumni transitioned from Brown to Vietnam and beyond. The Vietnam Veterans Archive preserves the stories of Brown University alumni who served in the military during the Vietnam War through oral histories and personal papers.

Date: Saturday, May 28, 2016
Time: 3 – 4:30 p.m.
Location: Willis Reading Room, John Hay Library, 20 Prospect Street, Providence

Commencement Forum | Word/Image/Text: Reading for the Philosophers’ Stone in Atalanta fugiens with Tara Nummedal

myofficialphoto cropped

Tara Nummedal, Associate Professor and Director of Graduate Studies in the History Department

The Library welcomes visitors to a Commencement Forum on Saturday, May 28, 2016 at 11 a.m. in the Patrick Ma Digital Scholarship Lab and Sidney E. Frank Digital Studio at the Rockefeller Library.

As part of Brown University’s new Digital Publishing Initiative, Professor Tara Nummedal will present on her upcoming publishing project. Project Atalanta will bring a multimedia seventeenth century text to life in digital form. This innovative digital publication will produce a dynamic, enhanced digital edition of Michael Maier’s extraordinary text, Atalanta fugiens (1617/18): an alchemical emblem book that re-casts the myth of Atalanta—the fleet-footed virgin—as a series of fifty emblems. Comprised of text, image, and music, each individual emblem engages sound, sight, and intellect; read together, these emblems serve as an interlocking guide to alchemical theory and the production of the philosophers’ stone.

As a pilot project of the Digital Publishing Initiative, Project Atalanta seeks to bridge the gaps between the readers of today and their seventeenth century counterparts. By transforming the Atalanta fugiens into a dynamic digital object through the collaboration of historians, musicians, rare book curators, linguists, scientists, artists, and other scholars Project Atalanta reflects a dynamic, emergent form of interdisciplinary scholarship. The University Library invites visitors to come and hear about this unique multimedia text, and explore along with Professor Nummedal the implications of reading across time, cultures, and technologies.

Tara Nummedal is Associate Professor and Director of Graduate Studies in the History Department. She is the author of Alchemy and Authority in the Holy Roman Empire and is currently completing her second book, “The Lion’s Blood: Alchemy, Gender, and Apocalypse in Reformation Germany.” Her work has been supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the American Council of Learned Societies, the Chemical Heritage Foundation, and, most recently, the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. She is Past President of the New England Renaissance Conference and a member of the editorial board of the journal Ambix. She teaches courses in early modern European history and the history of science.

Date: Saturday, May 28, 2016
Time: 11 a.m.
Location: Patrick Ma Digital Scholarship Lab, Rockefeller Library, 10 Prospect Street, Providence

Updates from Around the Library | May 2016


With the end of another semester, here are a few updates from the Library:

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



The works displayed in this exhibit were created by students in Professor Dietrich Neumann’s lecture course, “Contemporary Architecture,” which surveys stylistic, technological, and theoretical developments in architecture from the 1960s to the present.


Students were asked to create a model based on a building or industrial design object of this time period.


Date: May 18 – September 30, 2016
TimeRockefeller Library Hours
Location: Finn Reading Room Cases, Rockefeller Library, 10 Prospect Street, Providence


Events | Carberry Day on Friday the 13th

Josiah Carberry during the Blizzard of 2015, Providence, RI

Professor Josiah S. Carberry

Each Friday the 13th, the Brown University Library celebrates Josiah S. Carberry Day. We invite you to join us for these events on Friday, May 13, 2016:

3:30 – 4:30 p.m.
Tours of the John Hay Library
John Hay staff will be available in the Military Collection gallery and the Lincoln and Napoleon rooms on the third floor. View the exhibit curated by Professor Emeritus Don Wilmeth, “Actors and Other Monsters: Graphic Satire As Blood Sport, 1789–1830.” A reception will take place in the foyer.

5 – 6 p.m.
“Bigger Cracks than Carberry’s Pots:  Fracking and Earthquakes”
A talk by Terry Tullis, Professor of Earth, Environmental and Planetary Sciences, in the Rockefeller Library Digital Scholarship Lab. Open to the public.

6:30 p.m.
The Carberry Dinner at the Brown Faculty Club, with a cash bar from 6 p.m. 

Buffet dinner with recipes from The Carberry Cookbook. Cost is $45 per person, in advance.  Please make your reservations online at:


After dinner, Professor Terry Tullis will condense his afternoon talk.

Event | Online Learning and the MIT Approach with Sanjay Sarma

sanjay- high res photo

Sanjay Sarma

On Monday, May 9, 2016 at 12 p.m. in the Digital Scholarship Lab at the Rockefeller Library, Dr. Sanjay Sarma, Dean of Digital Learning at MIT, will give a talk entitled, “Online Learning and the MIT Approach.” This event is free and open to the public. A reception will follow.

MIT launched OpenCourseWare (OCW) 15 years ago, and since then it has reached over 200 million users. Five years ago, it launched MITx, and then edX with Harvard, and it has reached nearly 10 million users with MOOC’s. Dr. Sarma will talk about these advances in digital learning and explain what MIT’s approach is. In particular, he will discuss MIT’s interests in the science of learning and the new initiatives MIT has launched in primary, secondary, tertiary, and professional learning.

Sanjay Sarma is the Fred Fort Flowers (1941) and Daniel Fort Flowers (1941) Professor of Mechanical Engineering at MIT. He is the first Dean of Digital Learning at MIT. He co-founded the Auto-ID Center at MIT and developed many of the key technologies behind the EPC suite of RFID standards now used worldwide. He was also the the founder and CTO of OATSystems, which was acquired by Checkpoint Systems (NYSE: CKP) in 2008. He serves on the boards of GS1, EPCglobal and several startup companies including Senaya and ESSESS. Dr. Sarma received his Bachelors from the Indian Institute of Technology, his Masters from Carnegie Mellon University and his PhD from the University of California at Berkeley. Sarma also worked at Schlumberger Oilfield Services in Aberdeen, UK, and at the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratories in Berkeley, California.  He has authored over 75 academic papers in computational geometry, sensing, RFID, automation and CAD, and is the recipient of numerous awards for teaching and research including the MacVicar Fellowship, the Business Week eBiz Award and Informationweek’s Innovators and Influencers Award. He advises several national governments and global companies.

This event is part of the Teaching and Learning in the Digital Environment lecture series.

Date: Monday, May 9, 2016
Time: 12 p.m.
Location: Patrick Ma Digital Scholarship Lab, Rockefeller Library, 10 Prospect Street, Providence

2016 Library Innovation Prize | The Winning Game and More

Emma Gleeman ’15 describing her winning game, “Ruckus at the Rock”

The Library is pleased to announce that Emma Gleeman ‘15 is the winner of this year’s Library Innovation Prize. This year, the Prize asked students to design games that drew on the Library as a space for play or that used the Library’s collections as content for the game. Emma’s design is a collaborative storytelling game titled “Ruckus at the Rock.”

In her game, players face a catastrophe taking place in the Library drawn from a deck of cards: a swarm of bees in the Absolute Quiet Room! Josiah Carbery’s ghost is hurling cracked pots at you! The snack cart runs out of coffee! They then draw three items from a second deck—a rolling chair, a desk lamp, and a red velvet muffin—and must come up with a story that uses all three items to avert the ruckus at the Rock.

During the presentation in the Patrick Ma Digital Scholarship Lab, Gleeman presented her handmade game components in a cut-up copy of Boccaccio’s Decameron. She was careful to point out that the copy did not come from the stacks in the Rock! She also showed a video of friends play testing the game so attendees could better understand how it works. The judges praised Gleeman’s work for the cooperative nature of play, the creativity and fun it inspired, and how it highlighted many familiar aspects of the Rock and how students interact with it on a daily basis.

Alicia Stepanov

Brigitte Stepanov

Four other games were presented at the Innovation Prize Showcase, which took place April 15, 2016. Graduate student Brigitte Stepanov debuted “Library Quest,” which asked teams to complete a number of missions across the different libraries at Brown. These quests included trivia questions, finding good study spaces in a library, and finding paintings in the Annmary Brown Memorial or lounge furniture in the SciLi. Brigitte even designed her own game to be played within her game.

Alicia DaVos

Alicia DeVos

Alicia DeVos ’18 presented “To the Letter,” which gave players a list of clues to find around the library. These clues were all letters that would then be rearranged to solve the puzzle and lead players to a prize. For example, one clue asked individuals to find the twenty-third letter of the quotation by the entrance to the Rock. DeVos anticipated that “To the Letter” could be played in spurts, as a study break activity, with students tackling one clue at a time.

Rebecca Andrews

Rebecca Andrews

Rebecca Andrews ’18 similarly designed an experience for students who needed a break from their work. “Library Hunt” presents a game of hide and go seek in the Library. Those who are hiding grab the book that is closest to them and texts its title and author to the player who is “it.” The player who is “it” uses library resources to find those who are hiding, looking through the catalog and then navigating through the stacks. The hiders had to stay in place for four minutes after sending their text and then could try to make it back to base. Andrews reported that the game helped her become more familiar with both Library resources and with the layout of the Rock. She also recommended level A as the best place to hide!

Graduate Student Group

Public Humanities Graduate Student Group

Finally, a team of graduate students from the Public Humanities program—Leah Burgin, Maggie Unverzagt Goddard, Tyler French, Andrea Ledesma, and Inge Zwart—showed off “Collect Yourshelf.” Taking on the role of librarians, players in this game worked to build the best “shelf” of library materials they could find, having to pull from each of Brown’s different libraries. A player’s shelf can only hold one item from each library, so it is important to think carefully about what to put on your shelf. The whole game is driven by action cards, which give instruction for what to do on your turn. To create various levels of interaction in “Collect Yourshelf,” the team created regular, intensified, and extreme action cards.

The Library appreciates all of the hard work that went into these games and looks forward to seeing what Brown students do in next year’s Innovation Prize.

Event | Pizza Nights


It’s that time of year!

Pizza Nights are here!

Every semester the Library hosts two nights of pizza to fortify your studying. The first (Tuesday) night will be in the Sciences Library. The next night (Wednesday) there will be pizza in the Rock. Students that enjoy studying in a library as well as eating pizza are encouraged to attend.

Tuesday, May 10  |  9 p.m.  | Friedman Center (SciLi)
Wednesday, May 11  |  9 p.m.  |  Rockefeller Library Lobby

This semester’s pizza nights are sponsored by the Library, Campus Life, and an ever true Brown Family.

Good luck with exams!