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Senior Showcase Highlights Undergraduate Research

L to R: Anna Nicodemus, Mallory Durr, Courtney Vris

On Tuesday, April 20, the Z. Smith Reynolds Library hosted the inaugural Senior Showcase, an event honoring exemplary research completed by Wake Forest College undergraduates. Students shared their thesis research in a three-part lecture in the Allen Mandelbaum Reading Room. The 2010 honorees were:

  • Anna Nicodemus (History, Division I), nominated by Reynolds Professor Paul Escott;
  • Courtney Vris (French Studies, Division II), nominated by Associate Professor Kendall Tarte; and,
  • Mallory Durr (Political Science, Division IV), nominated by Professor Helga Welsh.

Anna Nicodemus’ thesis, “Prudential Unionism: Southern Sentiment, Unionist Reasoning, and Maryland’s Allegiance in Early 1861,” examined the support given to the Union across Anna’s home state of Maryland at the outbreak of the Civil War. As Anna noted, Maryland’s unique position — south of the Mason-Dixon Line, yet north of Washington, D.C. — made the state geographically vital to the Union, but many citizens identified with the South. Interestingly, Southern sentiment is still enshrined in Maryland’s state song, which was written in April 1861 and adopted in 1939, but recently challenged. The song concludes: “She is not dead, nor deaf, nor dumb- / Huzza! She spurns the Northern scum!”

Courtney Vris’ thesis, “Renée Saccard et Paris, ville complice, dans La Curée d’Émile Zola” (Renée Saccard and Paris, Urban Accomplice, in Émile Zola’s La Curée), examined the role of the city of Paris in the character development of Renée Saccard, the central character in Zola’s novel. Focusing on four Parisian places — the Bois de Boulogne, the Hôtel Saccard, the Hôtel Béraud and the Café Riche — Courtney demonstrated how each location acted as an influence upon and reflection of Renée’s behavior and emotions. As later discussed during the question and answer session, Paris could be interpreted as a fourth main character in the novel.

Mallory Durr’s thesis, “Divided Societies: Power Sharing in Multilingual Democracies,” investigated four countries with differing multilingual traditions and codified linguistic policies, and how those policies impact democracy. Her research examined the role of official linguistic policies in addressing conflict and upholding democracy in Switzerland, Belgium, India and South Africa. Mallory found that no single overt, official linguistic policy best supports democracy through the engagement and protection of linguistic minorities. Instead unofficial, voluntary cultural policies must rise within the political realm to guarantee greater equality and protection.

Wake Forest senior Jermyn Davis first proposed the Senior Showcase because he felt that the level of scholarship attained by his classmates for their senior theses merited recognition. As originally envisioned, the Showcase would afford two or three select WFU seniors the opportunity to present their research before the Wake Forest community. As the Showcase evolved, the possible field expanded to five seniors: one honoree per division of the College. Even though only three divisions were represented in the nominations received this first year, the review panel of library faculty decided to respect the one-per-division structure in their selection of the 2010 presenters.

For the initial Showcase, only theses completed during the fall 2009 semester were eligible. Although this decision would restrict submissions from some departments, the review panel believed that a smaller pilot group would allow for easier assessment the first time. After receiving feedback from faculty advisers of ineligible students, plans for the 2011 Senior Showcase include adjusting the eligibility deadline to achieve representation from all five divisions of the College.

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Storage Facility to Preserve Materials, Make Them More Accessible

ZSR staff member Scott Adair examines the shelves during a visit to the Library Service Center at Duke University. The Wake Forest facility will use a similar high-bay shelving system.

The Z. Smith Reynolds Library building exceeded its storage capacity over a decade ago. Despite the rise of electronic media, the library still buys thousands of printed books and periodicals every year to meet faculty and student needs. To accommodate the overflow, the library currently leases space from a commercial storage business to house lesser-used books, periodicals, and archival materials. As storage fees continued to mount, campus officials took action to contain costs and provide better service for library users. Soon, the ZSR Library will operate a portion of the new University storage facility and, in so doing, will join many other research libraries in North America. With a convenient location near the Wake Forest Baseball Park, climate control to optimize preservation of rare and archival materials, and an on-site consultation space for faculty and students, this WFU-owned building will be a significant improvement over the current leasing arrangement. Needed materials can be scanned and delivered to your desktop, or the ZSR Delivers service can bring printed volumes directly to your office. The University is currently renovating the storage building to meet campus needs. Stay tuned for more details as the opening date nears, probably this fall.

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Returning a Book Now More Convenient Than Ever

The Z. Smith Reynolds Library has installed two additional book return sites to make returning materials to ZSR even easier. The Coy C. Carpenter Library on the Bowman Gray Campus kindly donated two surplus book returns for ZSR use, and the Facilities Department spruced them up before installing them. One return site stands just to the east of Tribble Hall on Gulley Drive. You can approach it by car, though you would need to lean out the passenger side to use it. The other site is next to the Reynolds Gym building just outside of the Student Health Center entrance. (See a map with all book return locations.)

ZSR staff will empty the book returns at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. each weekday. Don’t forget that the ZSR Delivers service can also pick up materials from your office.

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Teaching With Technology

Following a successful pilot and with the approval of the Committee on Information Technology, Wake Forest University will transition from Blackboard to Sakai, a free and open-source online collaboration and learning management system. Sakai will offer some new features including wikis, blogs and chat. Sakai orientation sessions for faculty will be offered throughout the summer. Sign up for a Sakai class through the PDC site. The transition timeline and answers to other frequently asked questions are also available online.

ZSR will host two workshops this summer on using Zotero, an open-source citation manager, to collect and cite your research sources. Additionally, supporting documentation for Zotero and other tools can be found online.

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ZSR Hosts Irish Scholar

Fiona Brennan, doctoral candidate from University College Cork, Ireland, was the inaugural recipient of the Provost’s Grant for Library Research. She was in residence for a week in March to conduct research in the Dolmen Press Archives. She also gave a public lecture on William Fitzmaurice, Abbey Theatre playwright. She contextualized Fitzmaurice’s work in terms of his cultural heritage, the local landscape, and his use of Hiberno-English dialogue. Her talk focused on her PhD research and the importance of archival sources to her studies.

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Database News


The ZSR Library recently negotiated a contract with Institute of Physics Publishing for access to the IOPscience collection of online journals. This agreement gives Wake Forest personnel increased access to physics journals while holding costs steady. Locate individual journal titles using the library catalog or the Find a Journal tool.

Electronic reference books

Due to the growth of ZSR’s collection of electronic reference books, such as those in the Gale Virtual Reference Library (GVRL), individual e-books are no longer listed on the library database Web page. GVRL is still cited as a collection on the databases page, and individual titles have entries in the library catalog.

The ZSR Library currently has access to more than 60 GVRL reference books and over 200 titles from other vendors. These online books can be found in the library catalog with the location “Reference Website.”

Databases on the Move

The publishers of Bibliography of the History of Art (BHA) have stopped adding new content. BHA is now available via a freely accessible site hosted by the Getty Research Institute. The ZSR Library continues to provide access through the databases page and the library catalog.


The following databases have been canceled by the library or discontinued by their vendors.

  • Cabell’s Directory of Publishing Opportunities
  • Civil War: A Newspaper Perspective
  • International Repertory of the Literature of Art (RILA)
  • Political Risk Yearbook
  • Répertoire d’Art et d’Archéologie (RAA)

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Let Me Hear from You

If you ever have comments, complaints or kudos about the library and its services, please let me know.

For ways to support the library and its mission, please see Giving to the Library.

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