Be the Difference—the Library Hosts Martin Luther King Community Events

The theme of this year’s Martin Luther King celebration (Be the Difference) has special significance for UVA and Charlottesville—the targets last summer of racist violence that showed the nation how far it has yet to travel in search of King’s dream of racial harmony and social justice. In keeping with the theme, the Library will host three events featuring people who are striving to make a difference.

Thursday, January 18, from 4:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. in the Auditorium of the Harrison Institute and Small Special Collections Library, Loretta Ross, author and expert on human rights and women’s issues—a victim herself of rape and incest, and a campaigner for the reproductive rights of all women—will present her talk “CALLING IN the CALLING OUT Culture—Accountability Through Love.” A reception will follow from 5:30–6:00 p.m.

Monday, January 22, from 5:00 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. in the Auditorium of the Harrison Institute and Small Special Collections Library, lecturer, Holocaust survivor, and former refugee Marion Blumenthal Lazan will talk about her family’s experiences in Nazi Germany and Nazi-occupied Holland, and about her resettlement in the United States following WWII. She is among the last of a generation that can speak first-hand about the horrors of Nazi extermination camps. Her talk, “Four Perfect Pebbles: A Message of Perseverance, Determination, Faith, and Hope,” is being cosponsored by the Albert and Shirley Small Library as “An MLK, Jr. Call for Peace: Marion Lazan.” There will be a reception immediately following in the Multicultural Student Services Center on the basement level of Newcomb Hall near the Theater.

Friday, January 26, from 5:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. in the University of Virginia Music Library (Old Cabell Hall), the Music Library’s Making Noise series will present “Josh St. Hill: A Live Performance and Conversation with A.D. Carson.” St. Hill is a Monticello High School student who wrote A King’s Story—a play with the awful ring of truth, about a black teenager killed by a white police officer, told in part through narrative rap. Set against the violence of August 12, St. Hill’s play has won praise for his writing and performance, and will be moderated by UVA Assistant Professor of Hip-Hop, A.D. Carson. There will be a reception following the performance.

The title of the key-note for this year’s celebration—We Are the Change We Seek—is from a campaign speech by former president Barack Obama in which he said: “Change will not come if we wait for some other person or if we wait for some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.” The key-note event is sold out, but please attend one or more of the other events.

View the complete calendar of events and be part of the change.

Alderman Renovation Update: Winter 2018

In an effort to keep communication lines open during these early days of renovation planning, “mini-newsletters” like this one will be periodically posted here, on the Library’s News page, and are simultaneously being circulated as bookmarks with a portion of ILS books. 

What’s new?

  • HBRA was selected to be the architect for the Alderman renovation project, which will be  taking shape in a tangible way during 2018. HBRA has been reviewing current documentation, and will be at UVA in  early 2018 to articulate programming for the renovated building. The programming study will determine the services  and collections for Alderman Library, positioning it to meet the needs of the UVA community. Opportunities to talk to  the Architects are forthcoming in early 2018: check the renovation site below for updates.
  • Planning for the first floor of Clemons Library is underway and will include compact shelving for browsing the collection. In addition, the 1980s infrastructure will be modernized, including the restrooms and electrical capacity.  Student seating is an important priority and is part of the plan.
  • Clemons Library will be CLOSED over the summer of 2018 in order to replace the HVAC system, and the first floor  will remain closed for the academic year 2018-19 for renovation. More information will follow.
  • Find ongoing updates about this exciting project here:

What’s happening in Ivy Stacks?

  • The walls for the new stacks room were put into place in December. The walls were poured on-site and lifted into place with the aid of an enormous crane, which arrived in parts on several wide-load semi-trucks and was then assembled. The roof is being added early in the spring semester, and the building is expected to be completed on time in April 2018.
  • Visit our live webcam to check in on the construction progress!
  • SERVICE NOTE: During the construction project, books requested from Ivy Stacks will be picked up on Tuesday mornings. Any requests made on Monday before noon will be picked up and any requests submitted later will be picked up the following week.

Enjoying these updates? Great! You can subscribe to the Library news blog to get them in your inbox! 

Browsing Section of Current Titles in Clemons is Being Suspended

The browsing collection of current fiction and non-fiction books on the 4th floor of Clemons Library is going away—temporarily at least. The service is being suspended because the Library’s contract with McNaughton, who supplies the popular titles, is ending in February, and there is no suitable space to continue the service while Clemons’ HVAC system is being replaced this summer. Staff will begin removing the collection during the week of January 8–12.

Decisions will be made on when and if the browsing service will be resumed. Please contact collection manager Beth Blanton-Kent if you have questions or comments about the Clemons browsing section.

Adventures in Film Preservation

Gillian Lee was an intern with Preservation Services in the summer of 2017. She contributed this guest post, which even features a visit from Santa!

Several frames of film in good shape
This summer I tackled an accession from the WSLS-TV (Roanoke, VA) News Film Collection, 1951 to 1971. This accession consisted of more than 200 boxes and cans of film that needed to be inspected, inventoried, and rehoused before they can be digitized for research and scholarship.

A more fragile clip of film
The film arrived in various states of damage and disarray; sometimes I would open a can and find that the film inside was already on a reel and, on top of that, gorgeous, needing only for me to check that it was wound heads out (i.e., that we wouldn’t accidentally digitize it backwards) and rehouse it. Other times the film was fragile, torn, or hurriedly (read: dangerously) stored, with 13 little rolls of film crammed into one can, leaving it warped and often dirtied with fingerprints and dust.

Equally as frequent an issue, indeed something of a recurring nightmare, was the makeshift compilation reel. Back in the day, WSLS would splice together anywhere from 2 to 10 clips of film. Sometimes they would sometimes use cement splicing, an acceptable, professional method which, upon my testing the splice 50 years later, often broke, but which could be fixed with a tape splice without damaging the film. Other times they would wrap several inches of masking, Scotch, or a stretchy, red, electrical-esque tape around the two pieces of film.

Taped end of film--masking tape is not good for film

Now, I have only ever been taught to handle film with the utmost gentleness and care. After encountering a battery of these guerrilla splices, the hurry that WSLS was in to meet deadline after deadline as a news station was glaring. Tackling this collection means that I got to use patience with material which until that point had been handled with a complete lack thereof. I got familiar with three machines as beautiful as they are invaluable to working with film: the MoviScop, the squawk box, and (of course) the tape splicer. I learned to watch for one (or more, if you’re lucky) of the four major indicators of whether a piece of film has been wound backwards: people walking, cars driving, smoke rising, and rain falling. I learned how important a steady hand is if you’re ever going to actually listen to a piece of film on a squawk box (it’s impossible).
Moviscop viewer with upsidown image of Santa

No film, it seems, gets abused like news film—its job, after all, is more or less done after it rolls the first time. When it comes to processing archives, the hurry with which the material is treated has serious consequences, and the amount of work and patience required to abate the damage is equally serious. On one hand, it meant that I got to experience the frenzy of the news station from fifty years in the future, theoretically getting to know the people whose hands labelled the film and spliced it together. I didn’t just catch the news 50 years late, but I saw the fossils, the evidence of what they went through in order to get these films aired on time and keep the show running. On the other hand, it meant I spent a long time squinting at handwriting and scrubbing at tape residue. The theoretical connection I was able to make to filmmakers past is satisfying, but not so much as it is important for everyone (seriously, everyone, go look at the already-digitized collection) to catch more than just a glimpse of what the local news was like before video, in Southern Virginia, in the 1950s, ’60s, and ’70s. It was a phenomenal and totally unique experience, and I thank UVA’s Preservation Services (and the Lee Endowment) that helped make the internship possible.

Film forever,

Gillian Lee

Learn more about Preservation Services →

With IIIF the Library offers Unprecedented Access to Digital Archives

The Library is making it easier to study archives at UVA and other institutions by providing access to images that had once been viewable only with locally built applications. UVA’s participation in the International Image Interoperability Framework (IIIF) means that scholars at UVA can now more fully compare editions of books and maps, study differences in artistic style, and analyze the complete manuscripts and correspondence of writers, statesmen, philosophers, and theologians—getting closer to collections that had been essentially locked away.

The goal of IIIF (pronounced “Triple-Eye-Eff”) is to develop a common set of APIs that work together, allowing scholars to virtually hold versions of the same document from different archives side by side for minute comparison. Imagine the potential for discovery in being able to simultaneously view printings of books at UVA with other printings at different institutions, or the insights scholars might derive by having access to letters that fill gaps in Jefferson’s correspondence.

With IIIF’s Mirador, comparing images is as simple as dragging and dropping:

1. Find an image in Virgo from the Library’s digital collection—a 1755 version of Joshua Fry’s and Peter Jefferson’s A Map of the Most Inhabited Part of Virginia, for example. Click the IIIF icon to open the image in Mirador.

2. To compare the 1755 with the 1753 version of the same map, click the grid icon in Mirador to create another viewing slot.

3. Open the 1753 version in another browser window, click the “share” icon under the image, then click the IIIF icon and drag the image to the Mirador viewer.

4. Zooming in to the western region for a side-by-side comparison shows that the 1755 printing was changed to include the words “Irish track” under “Beverley Mannor,” and shows the road “thro Virginia to Philadelphia”—also called the “Indian Road by the Treaty of Lancaster.”

Click to enlarge.

But Mirador isn’t limited to a collections at UVA. From Stanford’s catalog you can use the same drag-and-drop process to pull a similar map into Mirador and compare it to the Fry-Jefferson map in UVA’s Special Collections. The interoperable standards developed by the IIIF community, of which Stanford and UVA are a part, means there is no proprietary wall to breach.

UVA’s Fry-Jefferson map (left), Stanford’s “A Map of Virginia and Maryland (right)

Bibliographical Society announces Battestin Fellowships—Applications due February 1st

The Bibliographical Society of the University of Virginia is pleased to announce its sixth round of Battestin Fellowships, a program of summer fellowships in bibliographical and textual studies, named in honor of Martin Battestin, former professor of English at UVA, and his wife Ruthe, a literary scholar and member of the Society’s Council. The fellowships are intended to support research in the collections of the UVA Library by UVA graduate students, with an emphasis on physical or textual bibliography. The Society is prepared to award up to three fellowships of $3,500 each for the summer of 2018.

Proposals may concern books and documents in any field as long as the primary focus is the physical object (in whatever form) as historical evidence. Potential fellowship topics include studies in the history of book production, publication, distribution, reception, or reading; the history of collecting or bibliographical scholarship; and the tracing of a work’s textual history or the establishment of its text from the extant witnesses. Projects that incorporate the application of digital methodologies to the study of books and documents, and their texts, are also encouraged. Please note: these fellowships do not support projects of enumerative bibliography (i.e. the preparation of lists).

Awards are limited to current UVA students, that is, students who will be continuing their graduate studies at UVA in the following fall semester.

Students interested in applying for a Battestin Fellowship are encouraged to familiarize themselves with the profile of the BSUVA and the fellowship guidelines at

Applications are due February 1, 2018, and should consist of the following: an application (available at, a project proposal of no more than 1,000 words, the applicant’s Curriculum Vitae, and two signed letters of recommendation.

Questions about the Battestin Fellowships should be sent to Anne Ribble at

Winners will be announced at the Society’s Annual Meeting on March 23, 2018.

Reaxys, the One-stop Chemistry Database for Chemistry Literature and Data

Whether you’re an experienced chemist, a faculty member, or an undergrad just getting into in the field of Chemistry, Elsevier’s Reaxys database has something for you. The new Library resource has 500 million published experimental facts and potential access to 16,000 journals and periodicals, as well as data on 105 million organic, inorganic, organometallic compounds, and 42 million chemical reactions.

Undergrads can feel comfortable using natural language to enter keyword searches into the intuitive Reaxys user interface. For instance, if you type in the common term “opioid,” you’ll get more than 92,000 hits. Filtering to include only the latest Publication Year (2017) and Document Type (article) narrows the results to 2,654. Sort by the number times the article’s been cited and you’ll find a toxicology report, “Loperamide Abuse Associated With Cardiac Dysrhythmia and Death,” at the top of the list—cited 20 times. More practiced students and chemists may also search using structure drawing and molecular formula building.

Researchers can use Reaxys to look up chemical properties and cross-check experimental data with Reaxys data to establish the identity of unknown compounds. You can synthesize derivatives from unknown compounds, verify the originality of experiments, check for possible reactions, design compounds and propose synthesis routes, and find citations and patents. Reaxys is a valuable tool for teaching, used worldwide by undergraduate and post-graduate programs to prepare students for their careers.

For more helpful databases, please check the Library’s list of online resources regularly; it’s updated daily!

Colonial America—Files of the British Colonial Office now Online from the Library!

The files of the British Colonial Office in London’s National Archive have long been available in the Library on microfilm rolls of variable quality. However, the days of juggling rolls and threading film in readers is over. The Library has Modules I & II in the Colonial America online resource—pristine, archival quality images of letters, legal documents, orders, printed pamphlets, maps, and other material types, downloadable as PDFs and fully searchable for easy reference. Online publisher Adam Matthew is delighted to be able to deliver groundbreaking Handwritten Text Recognition (HTR) technology for keyword searching of manuscripts.

Modules I & II give researchers access to an invaluable collection covering colonial affairs of the 17th and 18th centuries—the first Anglo settlements, colonial charters, reaction to England’s Glorious Revolution, piracy and the rivalry with France and Spain for control of the Atlantic, military records from the French and Indian War, the social and political protests that led to the Declaration of Independence, the legal aftermath of the Boston Tea Party, and a wealth of information on military affairs and Native Americans.

The files cover events both momentous and small. For instance, clicking the “Not sure where to start” button, selecting “captive” from the list of popular searches, and filtering the search by Document Type “correspondence”; Colony/Region “Virginia”; Module “Towards Revolution”; and Theme “American Indians” takes you to a July 12, 1768 letter from Virginia Representative John Blair to Lord Hillsborough “touching on a boundary with the Indians,” but also on the story of “an unfortunate young Algerian.” The seventeen-year-old was sailing to Fez but was captured by a French ship, transported to North America, and taken to live among Native Americans for 3 years. He made his escape and found his way to a frontier settlement in Augusta County, and eventually home—just one of many nuggets of life in the files that enrich and humanize the study of History. Please read the brochure.

Page of a letter from Virginia Representative John Blair relating the story of a Muslim man and his adventure in the American wilderness.

Sounds You can Take out of the Library—the Thomas Rex Beverly Sound Files!

What does distance sound like—a bird calling in a desert valley? Does loneliness sound like the ring of a hammer against stone? If you need just the right sound to go in a video, in a musical composition, an image slideshow, or to enhance narration, you may be able to find it in the Thomas Rex Beverly sound files—available from the Library for any media production that “contains at least one additional media element to the Sounds (music, voice, image, etc.).”

The files includes the beat of wings, birds calling, mule deer snorting, and rivers flowing through the American Southwest in a collection of “High Desert Ambiences.” You’ll also find the nuances of “High Desert Thunderstorms,” the blustery qualities in “High Desert Winds,” and the rushing torrents of “New York Gorges and Waterfalls.” Machine sounds include the violence of a “High Desert Chainsaw” and the speed and power of “High Desert Trains.” In “Ringing Rocks,” Beverly explores the tonal possibilities of stone, playing on it like the classically trained musician he is.

To get to the files:

  1. Click a category (e.g. High Desert Ambiences).
  2. Choose “Open” in the dialogue box and click OK. Be patient; the containing folder takes a while to load.
  3. Click the containing folder, then double click the sub-folder.
  4. Inside will be a zip folder that contains another folder with audio files you can copy and use in your project.

You may get an error message, but be persistent. The sounds are worth the trouble it takes to get to them!