Library Gazette

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The Story of My Life Exhibit

Thursday, January 16, 2014 5:09 pm

Recently, I have been working with Phoebe Zerwick to install an exhibit called “The Story of My Life” which Phoebe created along with photographer Christine Rucker and journalist Michelle Johnson. The exhibit follows the lives of six adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities, telling their stories through photographs, written and spoken word, and various visual art forms. The exhibit was on display at the Sawtooth School for Visual Art in the Milton Rhodes Center for the Arts and is currently on display in the ZSR Library. I encourage everyone to take a look at this engaging and compelling exhibit featuring biographies, photography and original art pieces.

In addition, there will be an accompanying round table discussion in the ZSR Auditorium on Monday, January 27, 2014 from 4-5pm, presented by the WFU Humanities Institute. The round table discussion will feature the creative team behind the project: Phoebe Zerwick (WFU Writing Program, Department of English), Journalist Michelle Johnson, Photographer Christine Rucker, JoAnne Vernon (Executive Director, Sawtooth School for Visual Art), and Charlene Warren (Executive Director, Group Homes of Forsyth, Inc.). A screening of the documentaries that tell the stories of each artist/resident will follow the discussion.

Preservation of the Catesby

Friday, December 6, 2013 9:34 am

Spine of restored Catesby

I had to write about this. This book, with a lengthy title: The natural history of Carolina, Florida, and the Bahama Islands containing the figures of birds, beasts, fishes, serpents, insects, and plants: … with their descriptions in English and French. To which is prefixed, a new and correct map of the countries; with observations on their natural state, inhabitants, and productions, is a larger than life literary work. I mean this literally because this book weighs in at 45 pounds if it weighs an ounce. It is almost two feet in height (53 cm). It was printed in London in 1771 and is one of two volumes (we only have the first volume).

Small Owl illustration from Catesby

I am writing only about the preservation of this volume, not its history (Rare Book of the Month?). I’ll just say that the author, Mark Catesby (1683-1749) was an English naturalist. The “Catesby” had a detached board on the front (ie. the front cover fell off). It took some time to get it back onto the book. I first lifted the end sheets inside the book and attached a piece of Japanese paper to the board and the text block of the book. This repaired the interior hinge. On the exterior hinge, I also lifted the leather and attached a piece of Japanese paper to the board and then under the leather of the spine.

Catesby title page

I also had to repair both the interior and exterior hinges (or joints) on the rear of the book. These repairs take time: tearing the Japanese paper, glueing it up, attaching it to the book and smoothing it down with a bone folder, then allowing it to dry. I also did some small paper repairs on the inside pages where there was damage. When I had completed the repairs, I added several coats of Klucel-G, which is a leather consolidant composed of methycellulose dissolved in ethyl alcohol. This solution keeps the leather from getting too dry and rubbing off on everything it touches. The Catesby is now back in Special Collections and is well worth a visit. The 220 illustrations in the Catesby are hand-colored and amazingly vibrant after 243 years.

Woodpecker illustration from Catesby

ZSR Fall Exhibits

Monday, November 18, 2013 11:34 am

In the next few months, ZSR will host several exhibits I wanted to mention. In addition, I was invited to participate in the Letterforming exhibit at Scales Fine Arts Center.

Everyday Innovations exhibit

Currently, there is an exhibit based on the classwork of Lynn Book called Everyday Innovations. Lynn’s class on Entrepreneurship & Social Enterprise uses journaling to come up with innovations to improve everyday life. “One of the main course goals is to expose the students to the creative process and the associated forms of experimentation that come with the innovation and design process.” The exhibit has examples of the students journals-many of which are out for exploration by the Circulation Desk. In addition, Book and co-editor David Phillips compiled a book on creativity entitled Creativity and Entrepreneurship : Changing Currents in Education and Public Life which is in one of the cases. The book grew out of two creativity symposiums at Wake Forest.

Letterforming Exhibit- Scales FAC

Paul Bright and Marcus Keeley, who manage the Hanes Gallery at Scales FAC, asked me to contribute some letterpress work to this Letterforming exhibit, which runs from October 21-December 8. This exhibit expires the evolution of letters and type through history and covers everything from hand-made letterforms to conceptual use of letterforms in contemporary art.

My story of life exhibit

Over the holiday period, we will install an exhibit put together by Phoebe Zerwick, Senior Lecturer at Wake Forest along with Michelle Johnson and photographer, Christine Rucker.
The exhibit called The Story of My Life follows the lives of six adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The exhibit tells their stories through photographs, text and their artwork.

I encourage everyone to take a moment to see and experience these exhibits right on your doorstep.

ZSR Graffiti Wall Gets Out of the House to Support Gender Equality Allies

Friday, November 8, 2013 3:31 pm

ZSR Graffiti wall at Gender Allies Event

Like the little gnome in the movie, Amelie, our graffiti wall moved from ZSR to the Mag Quad today for a few hours. The Gender Equality Allies group on campus supports positive body image, positive role models and other issues on inequality. Last year, we partnered with this group, headed by Amy Shackelford to do the Love is Louder Than Postcard project.

This year, Gender Equality Allies held an event called “Love Your Body Week,” to urge individuals to post positive thoughts about the body or humanity in general on the graffiti wall. I met them on the loading dock in the morning with the wall, and they transported it to the stage area on the Mag Quad.

ZSR Graffiti wall at Gender Allies Event

People passing by were encouraged to write positive thoughts on the wall. This was an unusual way for the graffiti wall to be used, but one that was super positive. Great concept.

Halloween at Habitat

Thursday, October 31, 2013 2:55 pm

Habitat Oct. 31, 2013

On Halloween, some brave (and perhaps tortured) souls were transported to another dimension. A dimension where a house had unpainted interior walls. This house, being built by Habitat for Humanity on North Cherry Street, needed interior primer. Wanda Brown, Barry Davis, James Harper, Tim Mitchell, Chelcie Rowell, Bill Kane and Craig Fansler spent the day priming the interior of this house.

Habitat Oct. 31, 2013

Habitat Oct. 31, 2013

It was fun. People who don’t normally work together visited and found out about each other….we talked shop, sports and beer. Marvelous conversations abounded while we rolled and cut in white primer on sheetrock surfaces inside this new home.

Habitat Oct. 31, 2013

Habitat Oct. 31, 2013

I believe we went through three 5 gallon containers of primer. Some of it was used legitimately…for priming the walls of the house. Much of the primer need up on us from head to toe.

Habitat Oct. 31, 2013

When you are doing something for someone else, it feels good. When you are doing it with people you like, all the better. The universe was in perfect alignment and we managed to sing a few Johnny Cash songs as well.

Banned Books Week @ ZSR

Monday, September 23, 2013 9:13 am

Banned Books Week

This week (September 22-28, 2013) is Banned Books Week, a week set aside to take note of books that are banned across our country. Banned Books Week celebrates the freedom to read for everyone without censorship. Because we had a book banned right here in North Carolina, I chose to focus our exhibit on The Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison. This book chronicles the story of an African-American man who feels invisible because of his race. The book, published in 1952, and won the National Book Award for Fiction in 1953. The Invisible Man was recently banned in libraries in school of Randolph County, North Carolina. A parental complaint prompted a County board member to move to have this book banned.

The American Library Association simply wants everyone to be able to read whatever they wish without any censorship. There are lots of events centered around Banned Books Week.

According to ALA, the top 10 book banned in 2012 are:

Captain Underpants (series), by Dav Pilkey.
Reasons: Offensive language, unsuited for age group

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie.
Reasons: Offensive language, racism, sexually explicit, unsuited for age group

Thirteen Reasons Why, by Jay Asher.
Reasons: Drugs/alcohol/smoking, sexually explicit, suicide, unsuited for age group

Fifty Shades of Grey, by E. L. James.
Reasons: Offensive language, sexually explicit

And Tango Makes Three, by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson.
Reasons: Homosexuality, unsuited for age group

The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini.
Reasons: Homosexuality, offensive language, religious viewpoint, sexually explicit

Looking for Alaska, by John Green.
Reasons: Offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited for age group

Scary Stories (series), by Alvin Schwartz
Reasons: Unsuited for age group, violence

The Glass Castle, by Jeanette Walls
Reasons: Offensive language, sexually explicit

Beloved, by Toni Morrison
Reasons: Sexually explicit, religious viewpoint, violence

Mr. Penumbra’s 24-hour Bookstore exhibit on Twitter

Tuesday, September 17, 2013 3:38 pm

Open hands design  from Mr/ Penumbra's bookstore window

Mr. Penumbra’s 24-hour Bookstore was written by San Francisco writer Robin Sloan. It created quite a buzz when it was written and that buzz found its way into ZSR Library. I first heard of the book from Kevin Gilbertson, who mentioned he thought I might like it because of the content, which included books, bookbinding and typography. After I bought the audio version of the book on audible, I found I loved it from start to finish. Since then, I discovered a number of library staff who had read and liked Mr. Penumbra: Rebecca Petersen, Molly Keener, Susan Smith, Lauren Pressley (I think Carol Cramer is currently reading it). A book like this begged to have it’s own exhibit.

Mr. Penumbra’s 24-hour Bookstore is the story of Clay Jannon, an out-of-work web designer. He needs a job badly and lands one at the bookstore owned by Ajax Penumbra. The only thing is, this isn’t a normal bookstore: they don’t really sell books and Clay must take notes on every patron who visits. On top of this extraordinary bookstore, let’s add Google and a secret society known as The Unbroken Spine. I believe this book has a real attraction for librarians because it covers the birth of movable type, book printing and typography, as well as Google Books and current technology.

Mr. Penumbra's 24-hour bookstore exhibit

The exhibit has a synopsis of the book along with reader reviews and interesting facts about Mr. Penumbra (such as the idea for the book came from a tweet to the author, who worked for Twitter). Since there was a strong Twitter connection, I tweeted the exhibit to the author, Robin Sloan, who responded that he loved the pizza box in this exhibit. I soon heard from MacMillan Library who wanted to feature the exhibit on their blog. I mentioned that we had a sort of unofficial fan club and they loved this idea. The piece on their blog is called: “Monday Fun Day with MR. PENUMBRA’S Unofficial Fan Club.” I hope you have the opportunity to read and enjoy this fun book.

The Interlooking Eye self-portrait art exhibit

Thursday, June 13, 2013 12:50 pm

Self Portrait by Raed Al-Rawi

It is summer and time for the Asolare Art Foundation exhibits, which are always diverse and a real pleasure. The current exhibit, true to form, is a delightful one. It is entitled: “The Interlooking Eye” and features a group of self portraits in a wide variety of styles.

Self Portrait by Michael Presley

An additional feature of this show is it has self portraits from four family groups, a parent and their children.

Self Portrait by Logan Childress

I hope this is an enjoyable art show for everyone at ZSR as well as our patrons. Please visit the cases at the library entrance and check it out.

Self Portrait by Dave Urena

Hidden in Plain View

Monday, June 10, 2013 9:05 pm

This post falls into the category of- “Are you kidding me?” I really don’t know any other way to describe it.


Last week, my Student Assistant, Megan Blaney, pointed out a high school graduation program in a Bible for which she was constructing an archival box. The program was from a high school in Mooresville, NC, which got my interest because my mother’s family all lived in that town. The Mooresville High School program dated from 1926.

When I looked at the Bible itself, on the front flyleaf was the name, R. E. Brantley-my Great Grandfather. I have some of his letters from the 1880′s, so I recognized his signature.
Inside were four-leaf clovers, an embroidered bookmark with his initials and a pressed flower. I don’t know how Special Collections got my Great Grandfather’s Bible-but there it is. Does my family’s stuff follow me around? The funny thing is, my Great Grandfather’s Bible has been sitting in Preservation for several years and I’ve moved it around several times without noticing the owner’s name.

RE Brantley flyleaf

Inside the Mooresville High School program was the name of my Great Uncle, Wilson Brantley, who was a 1926 graduate. Wilson was my mother’s surrogate father after her Dad passed away at a young age, and the first in our family to attend college.


This is a photo of my Great Uncle Wilson Brantley, circa 1944 and my Great Grandfather, Robert E. Brantley.

wilson and papa

This whole thing made me realize how small the world is. You could be standing on the shore of Lake Lucerne in Switzerland, and run across a close friend.

Preserving the Jonathan W. Cameron Civil War letters

Friday, May 17, 2013 2:25 pm

Maj. John. W. Cameron Civil War letters

For the past few months, I’ve been preserving a collection of letters written during the American Civil War. These letters are all written by Major John W. Cameron, and were written during April and May of 1862. All the letters were sent from Goldsboro, NC by Major Cameron. These letters are what I believe to be copies of actual letters Major Cameron sent (otherwise, we wouldn’t have these letters at all because he would have sent them to the far reaches of the Confederacy). The letters are not very exciting….on the contrary, the letters are all basically asking people to send fodder for the animals, tents for the men or harnesses for the mules. There is also the vernacular of the time (the word “instance” is often used to indicate the word “day” as in “I received your letter of the 6th instance”). Regardless of the 19th century language, when you handle so many of these personal, hand-written letters, it is hard not to become engaged in the back story of this person. I have done a little searching for Major Cameron (he always signed his name as Maj. Jno. W. Cameron, QM CSA) but haven’t been able to find anything about him. Even though Major Cameron was stationed in North Carolina, I do not think he was a North Carolina soldier. I think he was one of the ‘national troops’ who served wherever they were assigned. I looked through every index in our collection of North Carolina Troops 1861-1865 but did not find John W. Cameron.

To underscore the mundane essence of Major Cameron’s letters, I’m including this transcription of one of Major Camerons’ letters:

Letter 487
Goldsboro, No. Ca.
May 9, 1862
Peter P. Johnson, Esq.
Hereafter you will not buy any more horses, but turn your attention entirely to mules. I have today sent Mr. Broadfoot $10,000 to be disbursed in the usual way.
Very respectfully
Your obt Servt
Jno W. Cameron
Major & QM CSA

Confirm the purchase of wagons & barrels, but I wish nothing in the way of animals, but mules.

The letters are, as I’ve said, copies written with iron gall ink on onion skin paper. Each letter has a printed number in the upper right corner. This is another reason I believe the letters are copies. I think the copies were made in a pre-numbered ledger of some sort that Major Cameron used. The paper is very thin and fragile. Many of these letters are torn and discolored. The entire group was exposed to water at some point because they were stuck together and had a large water stain on them which dissolved parts of many of these letters. Almost every letter has one or two folds and creases that covered the entire surface. Early on, I placed a call to Tahe Zalal, a Paper Conservator at Etherington Conservation Center. Tahe urged me to be careful and try to avoid using any moisture on the onion skin paper. As a result of this conversation, I flattened these letters with heat and placed them on an acid free paper liner and then into a polyester sleeve. These letters can now be read and handled easily without damaging them. I am hopeful a researcher can help us find this man and place him in historical context.
Preservation -finished letter

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