Event | Guided Relaxation Study Break


The Library invites students to a guided relaxation session in the Zero Decibel area of the Friedman Center in the SciLi on Thursday, April 30 from 4 – 5 p.m.

Work/Life Program Specialist Jen McKay from Brown’s Office of Human Resources will lead the session, which will include diaphragmatic breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, and then either guided imagery or loving kindness meditation.

To effectively combat stress, we need to activate our body’s natural relaxation response. The relaxation techniques Jen will lead the group through will help to create calm and boost your energy and mood.

We at the Library hope students will find this session a calming and helpful break from the stresses of reading period.

Date: Thursday, April 30, 2015
Time: 4 – 5 p.m.
Location: Zero Decibel Area, Friedman Study Center, Level A, Sciences Library

Event | G. Thomas Couser ’77 to Deliver Annual Yoken Lecture

G. Thomas Couser '77

G. Thomas Couser ’77

G. Thomas Couser ‘77, Professor Emeritus of English at Hofstra University, will deliver the annual Mel and Cindy Yoken Cultural Series Lecture on Monday, April 27 at 5:30 p.m. in the Lownes Room at the John Hay Library. In his talk, “A Life in Letters – Letters as Life,” Couser will discuss the process of writing his father’s memoir and how that process led him to appreciate the many values of correspondence.

A reception will follow the lecture. This event is free and open to the public.

Couser based the memoir on letters he found in a closet when his father died. The writing process led him to appreciate  correspondence as historical and biographical evidence, as a medium of self-expression, and as the very stuff of relational life.

Couser received his Ph.D. from Brown in 1977 and is the author of several books on disability studies and American literature, including Memoir: An Introduction, a survey of the memoir genre.

Friends of the Library is an association interested in fostering the growth and usefulness of the Brown University Library and in encouraging gifts of books, desirable collections, other scholarly materials and funds.

Date: Monday, April 27, 2015
Time: 5:30 p.m.
Location: Lownes Room, John Hay Library, 20 Prospect Street, Providence

Winner of the 2015 Undergraduate Prize for Excellence in Library Research: Beatrice Senocak ’15

SenocakThe Brown University Library is pleased to announce the winner of the 2015 Undergraduate Prize for Excellence in Library Research. Beatrice Selen Senocak ’15 was selected for her paper entitled “A Providence Affair.” Undertaken for Senior Lecturer in English Elizabeth Taylor’s class, Narrating History, Senocak’s paper employs creative non-fiction to tell the story of the delicate courtship of Sarah Helen Whitman and Edgar Allan Poe.

In her research, Senocak drew heavily on primary source documents including the papers of Sarah Helen Whitman in the John Hay Library and the online archives of the Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore, which provided transcripts of the Whitman-Poe correspondence. She also scoured local libraries, archives, museums, and historical societies to discover details of the fashion, music, dancing, public transportation, etiquette, and architecture of the period in Providence to set the stage for her story. In addition, Senocak made use of Brown’s own online collections to discover digital images of original daguerreotype portraits of both Whitman and Poe.

As one of the judges observed, “This is an elegantly written essay about the relationship between Poe and Whitman that is based on a rich array of print and archival sources….She has transformed the sources in creative ways and drawn out a compelling story full of contextual details drawn from the meticulous research.”

In partnership with the Office of the Dean of the College, the Brown University Library sponsors the annual Undergraduate Research Prize, awarded each April. The purpose of the prize is to recognize excellence in undergraduate research projects that make creative and extensive use of the Brown University Library’s collections including, but not limited to, print resources, databases, primary resources, and materials in all media. The project may take the form of a traditional paper, a database, a website, or other digital project. Please click here to visit the Prize’s webpage for more information.

Event | The Art of American Book Covers 1875 – 1930 with Richard Minsky

Richard Minsky--  photo by Richard Grosbard-4x4

On April 22, 2015 at 5:30 p.m. in the Lownes Room of the John Hay Library, Richard Minsky will give a talk, “The Art of American Book Covers 1875 – 1930: One Hundred Great Covers from the Brown University Library.” Minsky will look at selections of books from the Library’s holdings that exemplify book cover styles and their changes during this time period. A Q&A, book sale and signing, and reception will follow the talk. This event is free and open to the public.

A complementary exhibit of the same name will be available for viewing in the Lownes Room cases from April 15 – May 14, 2015 by appointment only. To make an appointment to view the exhibit, please contact the John Hay Library at hay@brown.edu.

In his presentation, Minsky will discuss how Modernism entered the American home on book covers. Proto-Constructivism and Futurism came in 1880, Art Nouveau in 1881. Surrealism and Abstraction in 1904. This period  saw the transition from covers designed by die-engravers to those created by visual artists, many of whom were women. The presentation will include stunning examples from Eastlake style, Arts and Crafts, Aesthetic movement, Poster style and Social Realism.

Richard Minsky is an internationally known book artist, author, historian, curator, and bibliographer. Minsky is the author of American Decorated Publishers’ Bindings 1872-1929, The Art of American Book Covers 1875-1930, The Art of the American Book, The Golden Age of American Book Design, The Book Cover Art of Thomas Watson Ball, and American Trade Bindings with Native American Themes, 1875-1933. In 1974 he founded the Center for Book Arts in New York City, the first organization of its kind.


The hardcover edition of The Art of American Book Covers 1875-1930 sold out two printings and won the Worldwide Books Award for Publications from the Art Libraries Society of North America in 2011.

Date: Wednesday, April 22, 2015
Time: 5:30 p.m.
Location: Lownes Room, John Hay Library, 20 Prospect Street, Providence

Updates from around the Library | April 2015

April Blog Updates

Image from the Brown Digital Repository’s Herbarium Collection.

Spring has finally arrived at the Library.

New Eresource: Early American Imprints, Series I and Series II: Supplements From the American Antiquarian Society 1652-1819.

The initial release of a major new enrichment to the Evans and Shaw-Shoemaker collections has just occurred. Rare items from the American Antiquarian Society, available for the first time in Readex digital editions of Early American Imprints, are highlighted below.

The Gosport Tragedy (1776)

From Early American Imprints, Supplements from the American Antiquarian Society.

The Gosport Tragedy, or The Perjured Ship Carpenter, is a murder ballad set to the tune of Peggy’s Gone Over Sea. The folk song tells of a young woman lured by her lover into the forest where she is killed and buried in a shallow grave. In this version of the story the woman, Molly, is murdered by a ship’s carpenter, William, who had promised to marry her after she became pregnant. When William returns to sea, he is haunted by Molly’s ghost and confesses to the murder before going mad.

The life of a virgin, sweet William, I prize,
For marriage brings sorrow and troubles likewise;
I am loath to venture, and therefore forbear,
For I will not wed with a ship-carpenter,
For in the time of war to the sea you must go,
And leave wife and children in sorrow and woe.
The seas they are perilous, therefore forbear,
For I will not wed with a ship-carpenter.
But yet all in vain she his suit did deny,
Though he still did press her maker her comply,
At length with his cunning he did her betray,
And to lewd desire he led her away.

In other versions the woman is named Polly and the song is titled Pretty Polly. Some have suggested the ballad is the musical basis for Ballad of Hollis Brown by Bob Dylan who, in his early career, played the song under the title Pretty Polly. Woody Guthrie also used the tune for Pastures of Plenty.

The Solar System Displayed (1789)
By Bartholomew Burges
From Early American Imprints, Supplements from the American Antiquarian Society

Bartholomew Burges dedicated this intricate and surprisingly accurate map of the known solar system to the Academy of Arts and Sciences in the State of Massachusetts and to the Philosophical Society of Pennsylvania. Although this map was created 48 years prior to the discovery of Neptune and only eight years after the official discovery of Uranus, labeled here after its discoverer William Herschel, it includes Saturn’s rings and five of its moons as well as four of Jupiter’s moons. Even more amazing is the accuracy of the table showing the various planets’ distances from the sun.

Sciences Library Renovation

The top of the Sciences Library

In preparation for renovation of several floors for new tenants and services, the Sciences Library is undergoing some significant changes.  Workers are moving and shifting materials around, materials are being transferred off-site, and there will be a lot of changes—some temporary, some permanent—in what is housed in the building and where.  A fuller description of the project, including its rationale, timeline, and impact, is available here: Sciences Library Renovation

Celebrate National Library Week


Celebrate National Library Week, April 12 – 18, with the theme “Unlimited possibilities @ your library®.”

First sponsored in 1958, National Library Week is a national observance sponsored by the American Library Association (ALA) and libraries across the country each April. It is a time to celebrate the contributions of our nation’s libraries and librarians and to promote library use and support. All types of libraries – school, public, academic and special – participate.

Best-selling author David Baldacci will serve as Honorary Chair of National Library Week 2015. Baldacci’s novels have been translated into more than 45 languages and have been adapted for film and television. Over 110 million copies of his books are in print worldwide. In addition, Baldacci is involved with several philanthropic organizations, including his family’s Wish You Well Foundation®, which fosters and promotes the development and expansion of literacy and educational programs.

Click here for more information about National Library Week from the American Library Association.

Extended hours at the Rock

Student Studying in the Rock
Beginning this week, the Rockefeller Library will extend its hours. It will be open 24/5 for the rest of the semester and then 24/7 during reading/exam period.

The Rock will open at 8:30am on Wednesday, April 8 and remain open until 10pm on Friday, April 10. Hours on Saturday, April 11 will be normal hours (10am to 10pm). The Rock will open on Sunday, April 12 at 10am and remain open until 10pm on Friday, April 17.

The extended hours are in response to student requests to make available additional and alternative 24-hour study spaces.

Hours will be further extended to 24/7 for reading/exam period. Thus, the Rock will open at 10am on Sunday, April 19 at 10am and remain open 24 hours per day thru Friday, May 15 at 5pm.

The updated Library hours are available on the website.

Event | Sinai Rusinek: Unraveling Intertextualities in “The Star of Redemption”


On Wednesday, April 15, at noon in the Patrick Ma Digital Scholarship Lab, Sinai Rusinek will give a talk entitled, “Unraveling Intertextualities in ‘The Star of Redemption.'”

The “annotated star” is a project aiming to create a collaborative, dynamic digital edition of Franz Rosenzweig’s Star of Redemption that will combine the tradition of the critical edition with the developing possibilities of open, web-based text annotation. We aim to create a tool which will unveil and display a plethora of sources embedded in the book, as well as the richness and diversity of sources and themes that have characterized its Nachleben since its publication in 1921.

Rusinek is a post-doctoral fellow of the Polonsky Academy at the Van Leer Jerusalem Institute. Her main interests are the History of Concepts and Digital Humanities. Her doctoral dissertation, “Criticus, Kritikos, Critick” was written under the supervision of Prof. Yemima Ben Menachem and Dr. Amiel Vardi at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. It dealt with the way these words functioned in various contexts and discourses from antiquity to Early Modernity, and with how they changed and were formed through these uses. (http://www.vanleer.org.il/en/people/sinai-rusinekhttp://www.thedigin.org/en/)

This lecture is sponsored by Judaic Studies and by the Brown University Library.

Date: Wednesday, April 15, 2015
Time: 12 p.m.
Location: Patrick Ma Digital Scholarship Lab, Rockefeller Library, 10 Prospect Street, Providence