Dancy Box by Caitlín R. Kiernan & Kathryn A. Pollnac

The Brown University Library recently acquired the papers of award-winning science fiction and dark fantasy writer Caitlin R. Kiernan.

“In April 2011, I wrote a story featuring my recurring character Dancy Flammarion. The story was titled “Bus Fair,” and it concerns Dancy having to play a riddle game with a werewolf to get back a cigar box containing her most precious possessions. The story became the basis for the first issue of Alabaster, the graphic novel series I scripted for Dark Horse Comics between 2011 and 2015.

In October and November of 2010, after I’d gotten the idea for “Bus Fair,” Kathryn and I created Dancy’s cigar box, because sometimes we do things like that. To pay bills, we auctioned it on eBay, where it brought a very respectable $785 from a longtime fan from Virginia. In July 2017, the fan offered to return the box to me, so that it could be kept with my papers at the John Hay Library. The New Testament in the box was donated by another fan (it had been her mother’s), and the cigar box itself was given to us by Kathryn’s cousin.”  —Caitlín R. Kiernan

The Dancy Box is currently on view.

Dates: November 3 – November 30, 2017
TimeJohn Hay Library Hours
Location: Second Floor Landing, John Hay Library, 20 Prospect Street, Providence


Event | Snapchat and the SnapMap: Collective, Ephemeral Stories about Public Events with Jill Rettberg

On Wednesday, November 29, 2017 at 4 p.m. in the Digital Scholarship Lab at the Rockefeller Library, Jill Rettberg will give a talk entitled, “Snapchat and the SnapMap: Collective, Ephemeral Stories about Public Events.” This event is free and open to the public. A light reception will follow the talk.

On Snapchat, you can view “Stories” about specific events or locations that consist of a sequence of snaps from different users. Some Stories are curated and carefully composed by Snapchat’s staff, like the Live Stories about Trump’s inauguration and the Women’s March the following day. Others are automatically generated, and and be viewed by browsing the SnapMap or doing a text search. The Stories are ephemeral, disappearing from the platform after 24 hours.

In this talk, Jill Walker Rettberg discusses these stories as public yet ephemeral media on a closed, proprietary platform. If, as Wendy Chun has argued, digital media are inherently ephemeral, then Snapchat is eminently digital. But we are used to public media being archived and accessible to researchers. What does it mean that Snapchat is creating curated and algorithmically generated stories about everyday and extraordinary events? How should we think about a new media genre that is seen by tens of millions of viewers, but that disappears after 24 hours? Should libraries be archiving this material?

Jill Walker Rettberg is professor of digital culture at the University of Bergen in Norway. Her main research topic has been storytelling and self-representation in social media, building upon a foundation of digital art, electronic literature and digital humanities. Her recent work has made use of digital methods to visualize network relationships in electronic literature and the digital humanities. Rettberg is currently focusing on visual technologies and machine vision and our relationship with them. She is a visiting scholar at MIT from August-December 2017, where she is writing a book titled Snapchat: Visual, Ephemeral and Conversational Social Media. It is under contract with Polity Press to be published in 2018 or 2019.

Professor Rettberg’s previous book Seeing Ourselves Through Technology: How We Use Selfies, Blogs and Wearable Devices to See and Shape Ourselves was published as an open access monograph by Palgrave in October 2014, and can be freely downloaded. Her book Blogging was published in a 2nd edition by Polity Press in 2014, and she has also co-edited an anthology of critical writing on World of Warcraft (MIT Press 2008).

Date: November 29, 2017
Time: 4 p.m.
Location: Patrick Ma Digital Scholarship Lab, Rockefeller Library, 10 Prospect Street, Providence, RI

Event | Combinatory Poetics in Electronic Literature and Cinema with Scott Rettberg

On Monday, November 20, 2017 at 12 p.m. in the Digital Scholarship Lab at the Rockefeller Library, Scott Rettberg will give a talk entitled, “Combinatory Poetics in Electronic Literature and Cinema.” This event is free and open to the public. A light reception will follow the talk.

Aleatory and combinatory poetic methods have been an ongoing concern of the avant-garde stretching back to the early 20th century, and have crystallized as one of the main threads of practice in electronic literature. Scott Rettberg will discuss how an interest in combinatory poetics reflected first in projects such as the poetry generators “Frequency,” “Tokyo Garage,” and “After Parthenope” emerged in collaborations with Roderick Coover and Nick Montfort in the combinatory film “Three Rails Live” and subsequently with Coover the feature-length combinatory film “Toxi*City” and the new work-in-progress (recently filmed in Ireland) “Circe.”

Scott Rettberg is Professor of Digital Culture in the Department of Linguistic, Literary, and Aesthetic Studies at the University of Bergen, Norway. He holds a Ph.D. in English and is the author or co-author of novel-length works of electronic literature including The Unknown, Kind of Blue, Implementation, Toxi*City, Hearts and Minds: The Interrogations Project·—winner of the 2016 Robert Coover award for a work of electronic literature—and others. His creative work has been exhibited online and at art venues around the world, including the Venice Biennale, the Nobel Peace Prize Forum, ISEA, the Santa Monica Museum in Barcelona, the Beall Center, the Slought Foundation, the Krannert Art Museum, and elsewhere. Rettberg is the cofounder and served as the first executive director of the nonprofit Electronic Literature Organization.

Date: November 20, 2017
Time: 12 p.m.
Location: Patrick Ma Digital Scholarship Lab, Rockefeller Library, 10 Prospect Street, Providence, RI

Rockefeller Library Space Closures | CNI-ARL Digital Scholarship Planning Workshop

From Wednesday, November 8 through Friday, November 10, 2017, the Brown University Library will host the CNI-ARL Digital Scholarship Planning Workshop at the Rockefeller Library. During this time, some of the spaces in the Rock will be unavailable.

You will be able to access the stacks in every area of the Rock. 

These spaces will be unavailable during the workshop:

Wednesday, November 8th:

  • Absolute Quiet Room and Side Room (all day)
  • Finn Reading Room (3 – 7 p.m.)

Thursday, November 9th:

  • Absolute Quiet Room and Side Room (all day)
  • Conference table area next to the art books on Level A (8 a.m. – 4 p.m.)
  • Study area under the artichoke lights on Level A (8 a.m. – 4 p.m.)
  • Room A42 on Level A (8 a.m. – 4 p.m.)
  • Sidney E. Frank Digital Studio (8 a.m. – 4 p.m.)
  • Seminar Room 160 (8 a.m. – 4 p.m.)
  • Consultation Room 158 (8 a.m. – 4 p.m.)
  • Conference Room 134C (8 a.m. – 4 p.m.)
  • Glass Conference Room 131 (8 a.m. – 4 p.m.)
  • Glass Conference Room 133 (8 a.m. – 4 p.m.)
  • Finn Reading Room (8 a.m. – 4 p.m.)
  • Sorensen Family Reading Room (8 a.m. – 4 p.m.)

Friday, November 10th:

  • Absolute Quiet Room and Side Room (8 a.m. – 6 p.m.)
  • Conference table area next to the art books on Level A (8 – 11 a.m.)
  • Study area under the artichoke lights on Level A (8 – 11 a.m.)
  • Rom A42 on Level A (8 – 11 a.m.)
  • Sidney E. Frank Digital Studio (8 – 11 a.m.)
  • Seminar Room 160 (8 – 11 a.m.)
  • Consultation Room 158 (8 – 11 a.m.)
  • Conference Room 134C (8 – 11 a.m.)
  • Glass Conference Room 131 (8 – 11 a.m.)
  • Glass Conference Room 133 (8 – 11 a.m.)
  • Finn Reading Room (8 – 11 a.m.)
  • Sorensen Family Reading Room (8 – 11 a.m.)

The upper floors of the Rock will be completely open and available and the Rock will operate under its normal hours. All other libraries will be open as usual.

Thank you for your understanding!

Event | Stars in his pocket… : A Conversation with Samuel R. Delany & Kara Keeling

On Wednesday, November 8, 2017 at 5:30 p.m. in the Lownes Room of the John Hay Library, join us for “Stars in his pocket… : A Conversation with Samuel R. Delany and Kara Keeling.” The event will include an exhibit of Samuel Delany’s works and manuscripts from the Library’s collection. Free and open to the public. A reception will follow the talk.

Sponsored by the Brown University Library, the Malcolm S. Forbes Center for Culture and Media Studies, the Marshall Woods Lectureship Foundation of Fine Arts, the Brown Arts Initiative Fitt Artist-in-Residence Grants Program, the Department of Modern Culture and Media, and the Department of English, this event is part of Samuel Delany’s residency at Brown from November 6 – 10, 2017.

Samuel R. Delany

Samuel Delany is a highly laureled writer of science fiction and cultural criticism, in which he explores questions of sexuality, gender, race, language, perception, and the fluctuating conceptions of “the human.” His prodigious literary talents are intimately informed by his experiences as a gay black man, the grandson of a freed slave and nephew of famous civil rights workers. He is also an acute observer of off-the-grid urban spaces, the textures of micro-neighborhoods, and queer locations.

Kara Keeling

Kara Keeling is Visiting Associate Professor of Modern Culture and Media. Keeling’s research has focused on African American film, theories of race, sexuality, and gender in cinema, critical theory, and cultural studies. Her current research involves issues of temporality, media and black and queer cultural politics; digital media, globalization, and difference; and Gilles Deleuze and liberation theory. Keeling’s book, The Witch’s Flight: The Cinematic, the Black Femme, and the Image of Common Sense (Duke University Press, 2007), explores the role of cinematic images in the construction and maintenance of hegemonic conceptions of the world and interrogates the complex relationships between cinematic visibility, minority politics, and the labor required to create and maintain alternative organizations of social life. She is co-editor (with Colin MacCabe and Cornel West) of a selection of writings by the late James A. Snead entitled European Pedigrees/ African Contagions: Racist Traces and Other Writing and author of several articles that have appeared in the journals Qui Parle, The Black ScholarWomen and Performance, and elsewhere.

Date: November 8, 2017
Time: 5:30 p.m.
Location: Lownes Room, Second Floor, John Hay Library, 20 Prospect Street

Victorious Secret by Angela Lorenz ’87, P’18

Victorious Secret: The “Bikini Girls” are Winning the Pentathlon on view at the Rockefeller Library, from August 31 – November 20, 2017

Surprise! The nearly two-thousand-year-old mosaics from Villa Romana del Casale  in Sicily, known simply as the “bikini girls,” are really female athletes from prestigious Roman families. Brown University is the tenth venue for this traveling suite of triptychs, made of buttons and hairpins, which sets the record straight on women in sports.

Meet artist Angela Lorenz, class of 1987, P’18 to learn about her visual arts project and the impact of study abroad on Friday, October 13, 2017, at 4 p.m. in the Digital Scholarship Lab, Rockefeller Library.

Dates: August 31 – November 20, 2017
TimeJohn D. Rockefeller, Jr. Library Hours
Location: John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Library, 10 Prospect Street, Providence

Scenes from Cuba’s War of Independence, 1895–1898

Chocolates E. Juncosa Advertising Cards
Scenes from Cuba’s War of Independence,1895–1898.

These advertising cards for the firm Chocolate E. Juncosa, in Barcelona, depict scenes from Cuba’s War of Independence, 1895–1898. Founded in 1835, the company offered cocoa and sugar of the finest quality. This set contains 36 numbered chromolithography cards with color illustrations and caption titles. The reverse of each card contains text advertisement for the company.

Dates: October 5 – October 31, 2017
TimeJohn Hay Library Hours
Location: Second Floor Landing, John Hay Library, 20 Prospect Street, Providence

OCLC WorldCat Down for Maintenance from 11 p.m. on August 5 to 8 a.m. on August 6

A new OCLC Community News item has been posted: “Reminder: OCLC system downtime planned 5-6 August”.

Reminder: As part of ongoing work to maintain and advance our systems, we will be performing a disaster recovery exercise on 5-6 August that will require system downtime.

This work will be done in our U.S. data center and will impact all OCLC services.

While we schedule maintenance on dates and times to minimize service disruption, we recognize that this work will impact users. We apologize for any disruption this may cause.

System Downtime Window:

United States Data Center: Saturday, 5 August 2017, 23:00 EDT–Sunday, 6 August 2017, 08:00 EDT (Eastern Daylight Time UTC -4)

JHL Conservation Bulletin | June 2017

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

Now that you have met him and seen his work: Gary Frost and the Sewn Boards Binding.

“The classical ‘before and after’ contrast reveals the character of the treatment. Following treatment, the appearance is where much of the outcome is assessed. The intent is an elegant ordinary appearance with a timeless quality. Such an aesthetic of the ordinary conveyed by an attractive yet omissive appearance is an inviting artistic challenge.”

This is typical Frost prose, which I come back to often through his writings. He speaks as he writes, and my internship with him years ago was filled with discourses on bookbinding through art history, world civilizations, philosophy, etc., along with hands on instruction. By incorporating the historical sewn boards binding model into conservation he achieves everything I strive for in my repairs; aesthetics, simplicity, function, and longevity, all with minimal invasion into the existing structure, minimal adhesive in the new construction, and durable materials. Innovation springs from tradition.

In house treatment at the Hay

With over 10,000 pamphlets bound in over 1900 volumes, Brown’s Metcalf Collection materials are popular in classes and in the reading room. Although the collection spans three centuries, they were bound in different iterations with leather, paper, and cloth throughout the latter of the three. Of greatest concern are the half leather bindings failing in the most dramatic way. It isn’t only the deterioration of the binding that disrupts access to these volumes, it is the itinerant red rot drifting from shelf to patron and back again that also requires a remedy.

Perfectly suited for sewn boards conservation bindings, approximately one-third of the Metcalf collection will receive this treatment over the next few years. Intact text blocks receive new endpapers, layered boards, drummed on cotlin spines and paper sides.

Find conservation online and in person

An incredibly affordable and promising one-day symposium on the codex in Ohio is now open for registration. Speakers Julia Miller and James Reid-Cunningham are reasons enough to attend, but there will also be a Morgan Conservatory representative there and the Dard Hunter Mountain House is a mere hour away by car. The codex, again this month? Yes, again.

I champion the use of paper in book repair, even when treating damaged leather. While paper is durable it isn’t perfect, but its deterioration doesn’t cause the mess and threat to the collections that comes from leather. Not that all animal products age badly, paper is not necessarily vegetarian.

***View these links as a list.



It has been fun and rewarding to contextualize my conservation work in this format over the past year, and I’ve especially enjoy reading your comments about these posts- please keep them coming! More to come from me in September.

-Rachel Lapkin, Library Materials Conservator