Thursday, September 27, 2012

"To Know Her Own History": Book Talk on Thursday, October 25

You Are Invited . . . 

What:  A book talk by Professor Kelly Ritter on To Know Her Own History: Writing at the Woman's College. 1943-1963.

When: Thursday, October 25 at 4 pm

Where: Hodges Reading Room, Jackson Library


As Professor Kelly Ritter (English Department) describes in her introduction, "To Know Her Own History is a sociohistorical study that focuses on the intertwined histories of first-year composition and creative writing at a public Southern women’s college in the mid-twentieth century in order to examine how evolving definitions of literacy, as well as evolving views of women as writers, shaped American college writing instruction during the postwar era. I offer new historical insight into the historical happenings in women’s writing postwar through an extended case study of the English department of the Woman’s College of the University of North Carolina, and spotlight the national curricular trends and local institutional conditions that affected this college’s students and faculty. These include the difficult economic conditions inherent to a Southern women’s college during this financially precarious postwar period, wherein large,coeducational universities that served a variety of populations effectively grew to dominate the American educational landscape."

The book draws on interviews with alumnae as well as the extensive records held in the Martha Blakeney Hodges Special Collections and University Archives of the University Libraries.

Join the Friends of the UNCG Libraries as we celebrate the publication of this book and the important history of writing at Woman's College.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

New Diversity Resident Joins University Libraries

Nataly Blas has been named the 2012-2014 Diversity Resident at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro libraries.

Nataly was awarded a Master’s degree from the School of Library and Information Studies at Florida State University in August, 2012. While in the program, Nataly worked as a Graduate Assistant in the Robert Manning Strozier Library, providing reference and research assistance to graduate students.  In addition to coordinating Scholar Commons programs and events, she also developed collections for the Hispanic Marketing Communication program and assisted with acquiring resources for Latin American Studies.  Nataly received her Bachelor of Arts in Public Relations from Florida State University in 2010 and worked as a Library & Museum Assistant while obtaining her undergraduate degree.

The two year Residency Program at UNCG’s University Libraries was established to further increase the diversity of the  professional staff and foster the growth and development of a new librarian. The Residency encourages exploration of all aspects of academic librarianship. The Resident participates in the University’s diversity initiatives and collaborates with the UNCG Library and Information Studies program in developing programs related to diversity. 

Nataly’s first rotation during her residency will be in Reference and Instructional Services.


Monday, September 24, 2012

Friends of the UNCG Libraries Sponsor Screening of Documentary Film, Semper Fi, Always Faithful

Jerry Ensminger is an American hero to many.   His service to his country is inspiring, and his belief in his adherence to the Marine Corps motto, Semper Fi, meaning "always faithful" has been unswerving. 

Jerry served as a master sergeant in the United States Marine Corps at Camp Lejeune North Carolina, where he and his family were exposed to lethal levels of toxins in the drinking water on the base.  His daughter Janey died of childhood leukemia at age nine.  Since hearing  initial news reports about the contamination of Camp Lejeune in 1997, Jerry has spent 15 years advocating for justice due to Marines and their families as a result of this exposure. 

On Monday, October 22 at 7 pm in the Elliott University Center Auditorium on the UNCG campus, the Friends of the UNCG Libraries will present a screening of Semper Fi: Always Faithful, a documentary film by Rachel Libert and Tony Hardmon about Jerry’s story.  We do so to help inform the public about the tragedy at Camp Lejeune, and to present the compelling story of what tenacious and commited individuals can do to advance the cause of justice in the American political system.

Mr. Ensminger will be present to lead our presentation of the film.  Please join us for what promises to be a sobering and informative evening, examining an issue with repercussions for the more than 1 million persons believe to have been exposed to these toxins between 1957 through 1987 at a Marine base in our own state, a tragedy that may have even wider repercussions than we now know.

Please be with us for this free screening and discussion.  Complimentary parking will be available in the Oakland Avenue Parking Deck.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Exciting Changes at the Harold Schiffman Music Library

photo by Sarah Dorsey
What a difference color (and new shelving and furniture) make!   So says Music Librarian Sarah Dorsey, noting that visitors will find that the Harold Schiffman Music Library has undergone renovation following the recent naming of the library for composer and Greensboro native Harold Schiffman.

As reported in June,  the Music Library was named in honor of a large planned gift from Schiffman and his wife Dr. Jane Perry-Camp.  At the time, Dean John Deal of the School of Music, Theatre and Dance noted "This generous bequest from Harold Schiffman and Jane Perry-Camp, along with their previous gifts to the Jackson Library, constitute the largest gift to the School of Music, Theatre and Dance since its inception in 2010 and to the School of Music since 2001.  The scholarship endowment component will provide financial assistance to hundreds of future music students.  It is truly a transformational gift.  We are tremendously indebted to Harold and Jane for their generosity."

At the same time, the Harold Schiffman Music Library renovation based in part on the input of the interior architecture students in Dr. Patrick Lee Lucas' Interior Architecture Third Year Studio Class.  During the spring semester of 2012, Lucas and his students worked with the University Libraries to envision some possible scenarios for updating the identity of the library.  Among the recommendations was to use materials, colors and textures to envliven and animate the space.   New furniture, shelving, paint and signage were  installed over a period of several weeks.  Throughout the renovation, the Harold Schffman Music Library  blog enthusiastically chronicled the process.

Mentoring for Music: The Story of Three Librarians, and How They Worked to Further Develop the World’s Largest Cello Music Collection

(L-R) Mac Nelson, John Baga
Paul Hessling (photo by Carolyn Shankle)
Paul Hessling has been a cataloger at UNCG for 25 years. John Baga is beginning his career as a cataloger at Mississippi State after getting his M.L.I.S. degree from UNCG in 2011. They are linked by a passion for UNCG’s cello music collection, and their relationship with Mac Nelson, UNCG’s cello music cataloger.  Here is their story.

UNCG’s cello music collection is believed to be the world’s largest.  It has been built over nearly half a century, beginning with the acquisition of the Luigi Silva Collection by the Friends of the Library in 1964. Seven other collections have been acquired and processed in the intervening years, and the web site at  draws more than 6000 web page views per year from  students and scholars from throughout the world each year, as well as hundreds of visitors in person.  The collection is the result of collaboration and dedicated effort by a number of individuals in the School of Music and the University Libraries, and there are many people who deserve credit for creating this treasure for scholars, musicians, and students.

This story is about three of those people, and the relationship that continues to take the cello music collections at UNCG into new areas.  None of them work exclusively in the Martha Blakeney Hodges Special Collections and University Archives, where the cello music collection resides, but each works closely with the Department in developing the collections and making them more useful and more accessible.
Paul Hessling has been special collections cataloger at UNCG since 1986.  He is also a collector and the donor of numerous materials now in the Special Collections and University Archives at UNCG.  During his career, he has also mentored other librarians, among them Cello Music Cataloger Mac Nelson, who describes Hessling’s knowledge of special collections cataloging as “encyclopedic.”  Together, Paul and his wife Janice, a Greensboro physician, have also been generous donors to the University Libraries.  When Nelson, who is himself a talented guitarist, shared with them his dream to record and document the lives and careers of two cellists whose collections were given to UNCG, the Hesslings were enthusiastic about the idea.  In the course of their work together in the Cataloging Department, Paul Hessling encouraged Nelson and agreed that one of the most important things he could do with the cello music collection would be not just to catalog it and make it available to students and scholars, but also to pursue working with the two virtuoso cellists, Bernard Greenhouse and Laszlo Varga. 

Nelson acted upon his colleague’s advice.  He raised money and arranged for a recorded video interview with Beaux Arts Trio founder Bernard Greenhouse at his home on Cape Cod. Most scholarship about Greenhouse’s legacy had focused on his solo career and work with the Beaux Arts Trio.  There was also much interest in his ownership and playing of the "Paganini" Stradivarius cello dated 1707, but Greenhouse was also a great teacher and mentor.   In a short film produced by award-winning filmmaker Joanna Hay. the 93-year old Greenhouse may be seen teaching and mentoring an eleven year old Korean cellist, Ha Young Choi, the youngest student whom Greenhouse ever taught, and one whom he believed has great promise.  As he does so, Greenhouse reflects on the training he received from Pablo Casals as a young man.  In his later years, Greenhouse focused his efforts on creating a place where cellists could come and work with him before beginning their professional careers.  While Greenhouse died in 2011 at the age of ninety-five, this extraordinary footage of him teaching and reflecting on his long career still serves as a memorial to his greatness as a teacher and mentor, supplementing his library of annotated scores, papers and other materials which were given to UNCG.

Another of Nelson’s dreams was to record the life story of Laszlo Varga, who survived the horror of a Nazi labor camp in Hungary as a young man, escaping to become one of the world’s great cellists.  He was principal cellist at the NY Philharmonic under Leonard Bernstein and Dimitri Mitropoulos, among other achievements.  In the 1950s, he formed the first cello quartet in the U.S., which helped spawn a worldwide movement of cello ensembles. To date, he has completed over 50 transcriptions for solo cello, cello and piano, cello ensemble and mixed ensemble with cello.  Varga gave his collection to UNCG in 2006.

In 2005, Varga came to UNCG to participate in a celebration of Greenhouse, and came again in 2006, when UNCG celebrated his own work. Both celebrations were organized by Music professor Brooks Whitehouse, who was then at UNCG and is now at The University of North Carolina School of the Arts.  Nelson first met Varga at that 2005 celebration when he was assigned to escort him throughout the weekend.  As he had done with Greenhouse, Nelson became not just a cataloger of the cellist’s works, but his friend as well.   Encouraged by Hessling and supported by Dean Rosann Bazirjian and Cataloging Department Head Mary Jane Conger, Nelson began work on documenting the full range of Varga’s life and career. 

Here also is where John Baga enters the story.  The Winston-Salem native, while pursuing a graduate degree in library and information science at UNCG, was approached by Nelson and Professor Jim Carmichael of the Library and Information Studies program at UNCG about doing some projects relating to the cello music collections.  Also a pianist with a special interest in drawing attention to music that he considers  under-exposed, Baga eventually took an internship under Nelson’s direction, and, suffering perhaps from the contagious enthusiasm that characterized the entire project,  became fascinated with the collection and career of Varga.  Baga undertook a project to organize and further develop some notes Varga had prepared about his life and career. According to Nelson, Baga undertook the project with “palpable enthusiasm and single-minded concentration. “  After producing a forty page manuscript that he enhanced with parenthetical notes and indexing, Baga was hooked.  When he came into an unexpected inheritance from his father, Baga generously came to Nelson and offered financial support to do another video interview, this time with Varga.  Baga continues to believe Varga  is a cellist who is seriously under-represented in the scholarly literature, and is doing something about it.  Recently, he gave additional gifts to encourage published research about Laszlo Varga and support the development of the Libraries’ collection about  him with such projects as oral history interviews with his students.  The Hesslings also made two significant financial contributions to the project, which had stalled when ill health kept Varga from visiting Greensboro.  As a result, Nelson and the videographer went to visit him instead, at his home in Florida. The result was eight hours of video footage with a reinvigorated Varga that Nelson hopes eventually to distill into another film tribute to a great cellist.  As Paul Hessling notes, “the idea was too important to let a lack of money keep it from happening.  It was a project that had to be done.”

The relationship of Nelson and Baga is a close one.  The two plan to collaborate on presentations and articles about their projects, and Nelson notes with pride that Baga has recently been named monographic cataloger at Mississippi State University, his first professional position.

Students and scholars of music have long recognized the value of mentoring and teaching to the careers of newer cellists.  The “genealogy” of one’s training is one of the marks by which a cellist develops and becomes associated throughout a lifetime of music.  How appropriate that so too has the relationship of Hessling, Nelson and Baga come to define and give testimony to the value of mentoring for careers in librarianship that have deepened and enriched the cello music collections at UNCG.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Tools for Preparing for the 2012 Elections

As we close in on the 2012 elections, the University Libraries are making every effort to engage the campus in this exercise in civic engagement.

There’s a voter registration table on the first floor of Jackson Library where potential voters may register or change their voter registration.

Reference Librarian Lynda Kellam has prepared a 
LibGuide to help voters educate themselves about the candidates and their positions on the issues. 

Archivist Sean Mulligan has prepared an exhibit entitled Campaigns and Elections: the Race for Political Office now on display in the Hodges Reading Room on the 2nd floor of Jackson Library.
The Friends of the UNCG Libraries book discussion on October 29 features Dr. David Olson of the Political Science Department leading a discussion of Theodore White's classic, The Making of the President 1960 at 7 pm in the Hodges Reading Room, Jackson Library. Register on our website.

Even French television took an interest in the opinions of UNCG students when the Democratic National Convention was held in Charlotte, and visited Jackson Library to talk to them.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The University Libraries, a Community Resource: Programs & the Friends of the UNCG Libraries

The University Libraries at UNCG engage the community in a variety of ways and on a variety of levels.  In a series of three posts over coming weeks, I am outlining some of them.  This post will focus on programs.

One of the University Libraries’ longest-running engagements with the community is with the Friends of the UNCG Libraries.  Since 1959, the Friends have supported the libraries and have held an annual dinner with a major speaker each year.  This is historically one of the best attended community events of the year at UNCG.   The 2013 dinner is scheduled for the evening of Monday, April 29, 2013 when the speaker will be John Shelton Reed.

For the past ten years, the Friends have also sponsored a book discussion group led by faculty members.  This is a unique opportunity for community members to enjoy the fine teaching at UNCG without charge, and to read and discuss books chosen by those faculty members and a committee of the Friends board.

The Friends and the University Libraries also sponsor a number of programs each year ranging from author visits to documentary film screenings to lectures to celebrations of prominent authors.  Friends’ activities and programs are listed on our Friends blog at   This fall’s schedule may be seen at

Many of these programs are done in collaboration with community organizations such as the Greensboro Historical Museum and the Greensboro Public Library, including our recent celebration of Charles Dickens bicentenary, a community examination of the Abraham Lincoln and emancipation coinciding with a major traveling exhibition we hosted, and various documentary film screenings and author visits. 

Five years ago, the University Libraries created a children’s book author and storyteller series to reach out to elementary school students in the community (500-1000 4th graders, mostly from Title I schools, come to UNCG each September) and the general public.  See and especially the write-up linked at the end of that blog post, which is a story about the history of the series.

The University Libraries are very grateful to the Friends for the years of support that members have made, not only by making possible and attending many of our programs, but also for their support that helps us enhance and support the collections and services that make the University Libraries at UNCG an essential resource for students, faculty, researchers and the greater Triad community.