The Afterlives

In his first story collection, Hall of Small Animals, Pierce penned a phenomenological 510dPPHKbeL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_meditation on the ephemeral and recurrent experiences that form the core of human existence. Here, in his debut novel, he reflects on life after death through the prism of quantum physics. A paranormal event on a staircase in town leads Jim Byrd on a journey to uncover the history of the home’s residents and the probability of supernatural phenomena. In this quest, he dabbles in New Age religion, falls in love, loses his father, and stumbles upon the ideas of discredited physicist Sally Zinker, who claims to have built a machine that can access the afterlife. Jim, along with his wife, Annie, eventually tracks down both Sally and the mythic Reunion Machine. Not sure who or what to trust, they both must ultimately weigh the possibility of a multiverse against the risk of vanquishing their accumulated experiences and memories in this one. VERDICT Pierce has a gift for probing the limits of the psychic realm to uncover the benevolence that manifests from metaphysical insight. Truly remarkable.

MLA Bibliography Fellowship Award

The awards ceremony will take place at 7:00 p.m. on January 6th in the New York Hilton (West Ballroom, third floor). MLA Executive Director Paula M. Krebs will present the MLA International Bibliography Fellowship Awards and announce the recipients of the seal of approval from the Committee on Scholarly Editions.

mla nyc



Few John Updike fans would enjoy Self’s splintered, swirling narratives. Yet drug-addled coverpsychiatrist Zach Busner, a recurring character in Self’s fiction, is startlingly similar to Updike’s Rabbit Angstrom in his inability to process new forms of eroticism and spirituality as the stability of a world founded in modernist principles crumbles around him. Here, in the final book of the trilogy begun with Umbrella and Shark, Self probes the absurdity of the information age through two seemingly disparate narratives: the trials and tribulations of a wayward spy engaged in an affair with a tank commander, and the struggle of Zach’s family to provide for him as he ages. Set against the backdrop of the Second Gulf War, Self’s story lines are folded into a meditation on the meaning of a “double life” in a technology-soaked era. Bewildered by a world of spiritual decay and hyperconnectedness, Zach (like Rabbit) ultimately runs from himself. VERDICT The narrative reads and feels like an endless data stream, underscoring Self’s deliberate attempt to bury the reader in an avalanche of information. A sardonic end to Self’s modernist trilogy.


As a member of Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign staff, Graham- Felsen helped articulate Obama’s message of empathy and cooperative change across social media outlets. Here, in his debut novel, he weaves those themes into a story about two 9780399591143friends navigating adolescence across the racial divide. Nicknamed Green, Dave is one of the few white kids attending Martin Luther King Middle School in Boston. His life is occupied with a daily struggle to fit in, which extends from his clothing to his demeanor. Through a shared admiration for Larry Bird and the Celtics, a black classmate named Marlon becomes one of Dave’s only friends and allies. Together, they manage the awkwardness of middle school under constant pressure to succeed from parents, teachers, and the larger community. As Marlon and Dave form their own individual identities, however, their similarities slowly become eclipsed by their differences, from family backgrounds to life goals. VERDICT Based on Graham-Felsen’s childhood in Boston in the 1990s, this work poignantly captures the tumultuous feelings of adolescence against the historical backdrop of a racially segregated city and country.

Stages of Change: Dialogue in a Liberal Arts Context

2017-10-16_13-23-20This event brings together faculty, staff, and students from Colgate, New York Six Liberal Arts Consortium schools, and others from Central New York region for a day of forums and workshops, to share research and best practices for using Intergroup Dialogue (IGD) to improving campus climate through curricular and co-curricular intellectual and community engagement. The name, “Stages of Change,” refers to the IGD 4-Stage dialogic process.

Crimes of the Father

Perhaps best known for the Booker Prize-winning Schindler’s Ark, released here as Schindler’s List and later adapted into an Academy Award-winning film, Australian1479080012982 novelist Keneally’s literary career spans six prolific decades and more than 30 novels. This book harkens back to both a theme in his first novel, The Place at Whitton, and to his career path before becoming a writer: the Catholic priesthood. The novel opens with Father Frank Docherty in a cab, returning to his hometown of Sydney, Australia, to visit his elderly mother after being sent to Canada for his outspoken views. A terse and confrontational conversation with the cab driver uncovers a sexual abuse scandal centered on the church’s revered defender, Monsignor Leo Shannon. As Docherty identifies the victims and reveals the truth, he begins challenging a hierarchy and power structure that has sanctified and defined his own existence. VERDICT Through the mind of his aggrieved and conflicted protagonist, Keneally pens an unflinching meditation on the ways in which canonical scripture, sacred tradition, and human conscience often coalesce to distort basic moral truths.

Looking Forward, Looking Back: The Evolution of Digital Scholarship

2017-bucknell-university-digital-scholarship-keynote-1080x380As colleges and universities commit more resources and staff in support of digital scholarship, they also face the challenge of creating sustainable programs. Despite the increase in faculty and staff hires, the growing demand for a range of technical expertise means that many institutions are continually working at or over capacity. Further, as faculty become more engaged in using digital methods and tools in their research, they look for ways to incorporate digital approaches in the classroom. Introducing students to digital scholarship is one way to increase capacity for this type of work on campus while simultaneously providing students with skills that will serve them as they move forward in their careers. The pre-conference workshop brought together a range of digital scholarship practitioners engaged in the question of how we create innovative and meaningful opportunities for students to learn digital methods and tools in order to facilitate learning, collaborate with faculty, and expand their own research interests.

The pre-conference attendees met on Friday, October 6, to discuss various approaches to student engagement in digital scholarship. The outcome is a public website that presents best practices, case studies, and other resources.

Participants in the Pre-Conference:

  • Lee Skallerup Bessette, University of Mary Washington
  • Joshua Finnell, Colgate University
  • Sarah Hartman-Caverly, Delaware County Community College
  • Aaron Mauro, Penn State, Erie
  • Megan Mitchell, Oberlin College
  • Courtney Paddick, Bucknell University
  • Carrie Pirmann, Bucknell University
  • David Pettegrew, Messiah College
  • Kelli Shermeyer, University of Virginia
  • Emily Sherwood, Bucknell University


The Multispectral Thermal Imager

So proud of Madeline Whitacre and her award-winning poster in the non-technical category at the 2017 Los Alamos National Laboratory Summer Student Research Symposium.

This year’s Symposium, Championing Scientific Careers: Highlighting Student Research, was held on August 9, 2017 at UNM-LA with over 200 students showcasing their hard work and tremendous talent. The intent of the Symposium is to broaden students’ expertise and prepare them for careers in science and nontechnical fields.

Spectral Bands Graph


Breaking Library Silos for Social Justice

The newest Innovation in Libraries AF Chapter grantee is hosting a one-day conference focused on understanding how Austin’s librarian community is currently meeting the needs of the city’s underserved communities and how the greater library community can work together to stand up for social justice. 940x470#.jpg

Good Booty: Love and Sex, Black and White, Body and Soul in American Music

From Britney Spears’s manufactured sex appeal to Jim Morrison’s toxic masculinity, NPR music critic Powers (Piece by Piece; Weird Like Us: My Bohemian America) explores the intersection between America’s musical landscape and its overwrought cultural views of sex. She opens with a meditation on the interplay between body and sound crystallized 9780062463692_p0_v3_s192x300in New Orleans’ Congo Square in the 19th century. Here, confluences of African and European musical styles blended to create the roots of jazz and what would become rock and roll. As a corollary, popular music became an amalgam of racial tension, sexual expression, and gender expectations that continue to reverberate into the new millennia. From Miley Cyrus’s twerking to Beyoncé’s “Formation,” Powers articulates how artists have manipulated or experimented with each of these threads to forge their own musical identity and sound. VERDICT With precision and wit, and across multiple musical genres, Powers contextualizes the complicated interplay of gender, sex, and race inherent in popular music within and against the backdrop of America’s puritanical founding.

Colgate University

Thrilled to announce I’ll be joining Colgate University this fall as an Associate Professor + Head of Research and Instruction in the University Libraries.


The Red-Haired Woman

Winner of the Nobel Prize in 2006 for his unflinching and exhaustive ruminations on Istanbul in such books as Snow and My Name Is Red, Pamuk’s tenth novel is once again kirmizisaclikadin_200pxset in his beloved Turkey. The story follows Chem, a boy who finds both an employer and a father figure in Master Mahmut, a local well digger. As they move across the countryside, excavating the hidden waterways underneath the Turkish landscape, they also trade stories and myths about civilization. Despite his age, Chem has a sexual awakening with the mysterious redhead of the title whose hair is cut short by an ethical choice that will haunt him into adulthood. After acquiring both wealth and a fascination with tales of patricide and filicide, Chem is drawn back to the land and wells of his youth. Reality and myth intertwine to create a twist that will send readers back to page one with hurried excitement. VERDICT As much a meditation on the inescapability of fate as a classic murder mystery, this novel will both appease fans of Pamuk’s bibliography and delight first-time readers.

Shake It Up: Great American Writing on Rock and Pop from Elvis to Jay Z

The Library of America series features a black-and-white photo of the author against a black background underscored by a patriotic ribbon and is as iconic as apple pie. It’s fitting that the cover of an anthology capturing the groundbreaking and rebellious 51aGahyKBAL._SX336_BO1,204,203,200_nature of rock and roll defies this convention. Inspired by Phillip Lopate’s introduction to American Movie Critics, Dettmar (English, Pomona Coll.; Gang of Four’s Entertainment!) and Lethem (A Gambler’s Anatomy; Chronic City) successfully canonize rock and pop writing as a distinctive branch of American letters. A survey more than a chronological history, this collection pulls from the multiplicity of genres embedded under the rock moniker: jazz, punk, rap, and even experimental music. As a corollary, the multitude of voices in this collection are varied and diverse—especially noteworthy in a genre historically dominated by white men. From Jessica Hopper’s deconstruction of gender politics in emo music to Kelefa Sanneh’s musings on the limitations of Jay-Z’s lyricism as poetic text, this compilation is a stark reminder that rock and pop music are often simultaneously a disdain for and reflection of the society, culture, and time period in which it is produced.

All Abilities Lending Collection

The Saline District Library (MI) is compiling a collection of gadgets and equipment available for check out by patrons called the All Abilities Collection. The purpose of the collection is to allow parents/teachers/caregivers of special needs childreSaline Photo.pngn and teens a chance to try out some of the many tools available for sensory integration and social skill development. Since children of all abilities respond differently to toys and equipment, it is often a challenge for parents of children with disabilities to know if any particular item is one that will work for their specific child. The lending nature of the collection will allow patrons to try these items out at home or school, allowing for a natural experience for the child and caregiver. It will also help the library serve their special needs community by showing that the library is inclusive and open to all. The special needs community is often underserved by or may feel excluded from traditional library programming. The library will be collaborating with local educators and an occupational therapist to select items that will offer a full spectrum of interests and needs, in addition to creating instructional guides that explain the operations of individual items as well as the therapeutic value they can offer.

Check out this project + other innovative library grants at the Innovation in Libraries Awesome Foundation Chapter.

Southside Branch 10th Anniversary Plaza Fair



The Southside Branch will celebrate its 10th Anniversary with a Plaza Fair on Saturday, May 20 from 11:00 AM to 4:00 PM.  This free event will feature over 25 booths from non-profit organizations serving the community.  The day will be celebrated with activities for children, information from local agencies for adults, music and numerous special


In addition, the 2017 Summer Reading Program will kick off at this event.  Children will be able to sign up for this program featuring the theme this year, “Build a Better World”. Sponsors of the Summer Reading Program include Dairy Queen, Genoveva Chavez Community Center, Friends of the Santa Fe Public Library, McDonald’s, Applebee’s, Santa Fe Century and Santa Fe Botanical Garden.

Plaza Fair Schedule

11:00 AM-noon: Mariachis Buenaventura (on the Library Plaza, in front of Library)

noon: Mayor Javier Gonzales, City Councilors welcome

12:30-4:00 PM: MakerSpace (in the Café)

12:30-1:30 PM: Wise Fool (on the Library Plaza)

1:00 PM: Face painter (in Café)

1:00 PM: Dahlia and Books and Babies and Spanish-Bi-Lingual (in the Children’s Room)

1:00-3:00 PM: Randi’s Reptiles (Community Room)

2:00-2:00 PM: Emi Arte Flamenco (on the Plaza, in front of the Library)

Progressive Librarians Guild

Very excited to join the PLG in their efforts + actions.

“Libraries are an important intersection of the individual, communities and knowledge. We see librarianship as a profession and practice that serves to enable the creation of and access to a multitude of forms of human expression, experience and aspiration. We also recognize that libraries are sites where structures of injustice, exploitation, control, and oppression are nourished, normalized and perpetuated. The Progressive Librarians Guild exists to expose and call out librarianship’s active and passive complicity and acceptance of those systems, to offer and practice alternatives to those systems, to empower the voices of those excluded from positions of power and/or the historical record and to develop a praxis that contributes to on-going pursuits of human rights and dignity.”


Lonesome Lies Before Us

51FceLUGWoL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Authenticity, failure, art, and identity would be a succinct, thematic description of Lee’s oeuvre (e.g., The Collective). Of course, it wouldn’t summarize the depth of his work. Here, Lee introduces us to Yadin Park, a failed musician who refused to let a major record label erode the purity of his work and sense of self. Leading a meager existence with his girlfriend Jeanette Matsuda, a housekeeper at a local hotel, Yadin yearns to record one more album before resigning himself to laying carpet for a living in the quiet town of Rosarita Bay, CA. However, a chance encounter with Mallory Wicks, his former bandmate and lost love, reignites his creative passion and simultaneously damages his relationship with Jeanette. As this love triangle unfolds, each character faces his or her own struggle to lead a life of quiet frustration and unrealized dreams. VERDICT With wit and humor, Lee pens a touching meditation on the obstacles, hindrances, and snags one encounters in the pursuit of being an artist. Readers for whom Dana Spiotta’s Stone Arabia resonated will enjoy Lee’s rumination on creative success.


In an article for the New York Times, Van Reet, a veteran of the First Calvary Division in Baghdad and recipient of a James Michener Fellowship, criticized the publishing phenomenon of the “War on Terror Kill Memoir,” exemplified by American Sniper and coverNo Easy Day. Rather than complicate the intricacies of death and combat, argues Van Reet, these books directly satisfy the American public’s morbid curiosity with body counts. Here, in his debut novel, Van Reet does something different, re-creating 2003 Baghdad and illuminating the confusion, patriotism, and regret experienced on both side of the battle lines. The triadic story unfolds around Cassandra, an American soldier captured by members of the Mujahideen Army; Abu Al-Hool, one of Cassandra’s captors; and Sleed, an American soldier searching for Cassandra. Focusing on the internal lives of each character, the author illuminates their individual quests for liberation—physically, spiritually, and ethically—amid the chaos of war. The narrative crescendos toward a bang-up ending involving all three protagonists, with the resolution a distressing commentary on what is gained and lost in the pursuit of victory. VERDICT Van Reet has penned an absorbing novel with an unflinching rumination on war’s ultimate sacrifice, reminiscent of Roy Scranton’s War Porn.

Everybody Had an Ocean

The opening vignette detailing Beach Boy Dennis Wilson’s initial encounter with Charles Manson sets the tone for McKeen’s (journalism, Boston Univ.; Mile Marker Zero, Too Old 51EprBoOGVL._SX332_BO1,204,203,200_To Die Young) latest foray into narrative nonfiction. With equal appreciation for the pop music emanating from Southern California’s musicians in the 1960s, McKeen also illuminates the lascivious, drug-addicted, and criminal activity undertaken by its makers. Though the central narrative is focused on the development of the Beach Boys and their enigmatic front man, Brian Wilson, McKeen relates their tragic success to seemingly unrelated artists of the same generation: Tina Turner and Joni Mitchell. In the tradition of music journalism, McKeen’s language oscillates between historian and superfan depending on the artist. His love for the Beach Boys, for example, is noticeable in prose and tone. VERDICT There is no shortage of literature dedicated to the music of this decade in American history. However, McKeen manages to hint at some larger forces, both dark and bright, that constellated this particular group of artists underneath the palm trees of La-La Land.

My Darling Detective

In his 2013 memoir, I Hate To Leave This Beautiful Place, Norman ref51d0UScgVYL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_lected on his maturation through an ever-shifting array of residences, from Michigan to Canada. The one form of continuity in Norman’s life was the public library, providing the spark for his luminous literary career. His new novel pays homage to the endurance and intrigue of libraries, as it is set in and around the Halifax Free Library. After his mother, recently retired as head librarian, inexplicably defaces a photograph during an art auction, Jacob Rigolet is left with questions about her erratic behavior, the significance of the photograph, and the true identity of his own father. Literally born in the Halifax Free Library, Jacob begins to piece together his childhood memories among the stacks in an attempt to solve the puzzle. Along with his fiancée, Martha, the detective assigned to the case, he soon discovers that the answers to his questions are tied to a cold murder case back in 1945. VERDICT Norman punctuates literary noir’s “darkness within” with both poignancy and a penchant for humor. Librarians will appreciate the nod to library and information science.

Mikhail and Margarita

Not unlike her main character, Himes is both a physician and a writer. Her debut novel reflects these two worlds, underscoring the necessity of artistry and imagination within cover_9781609453756_942_600the clinical application of objective science. Set during the Soviet famine of 1933, the story unfolds around Mikhail Bulgakov, a playwright and eponymous protagonist of the novel. Although struggling professionally and creatively under the Soviet censors, Mikhail finds an inexplicable fan in Joseph Stalin. While currying favor with the Soviet political elite, he is also being shadowed by Ilya Ivanovich, an agent of the secret police, for his association with Margarita, the mistress of his recently imprisoned friend. As Ilya’s interrogations of Margarita slowly evolve into affection, both men find themselves fighting for love and freedom within an oppressive system of order and discipline. VERDICT Drawing inspiration from Bulgakov’s novel, The Master and Margarita, unpublished in his lifetime, Himes pens a whirlwind tale of romance and intrigue that approximates, if not exceeds, the talents of one of Russia’s most heralded authors.

The World to Come

With the release of his fifth story collection, Shepard (You Think That’s Bad; The Book of Aron) continues to weave interlacing narrative threads that imaginatively evoke time and 51vEbW2H5CL._AC_UL320_SR222,320_place. Thematically, the ten stories in this collection illuminate both the comedy and the tragedy of humanity’s tethering to the vagaries of the universe. Whether it’s soldiers marooned on a radar station in the Atlantic Ocean or the racing mind of a parent moments before a tsunami destroys Crete in 365 CE, each of the tales in this collection re-creates the human circumstances around largely forgotten events. In the title story, the author beautifully narrates a tragic love story through a series of diary entries that presage the ungovernability of both the weather and the heart’s desires. Every page is a disturbing reminder that control is a mere illusion we employ to salve our consciences. VERDICT Shepard’s ability to rotate the masks of comedy and tragedy in a single story while poetically blending fact and fiction is on full display in this collection.

4 3 2 1

Critics were quick to describe Auster’s Invisible, a quaternary tale that told a contiguous narrative across a multitude of voices and authors, as a mere exercise i9781627794466n textual irony, lacking readability and substance. Here, the author has greater success as he returns to the four-part literary form with the coming-of-age story of Archibald Ferguson. Set in the 20th century, this novel chronicles Archibald’s maturation through four possible, yet divergent, life paths. Family fortunes, careers, and hometowns shift and change as Archibald’s life unfolds across each metaphorical fork in the road. However, one constant remains: his love for Amy Schneiderman. By interweaving each chapter into a single narrative and playing with metafiction, Auster winks at the multitude of universes contained within a single story and slyly presents the reader with essentially four drafts of a novel in progress. VERDICT Fusing the many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics with the bildungsroman literary genre, Auster illuminates how the discrete moments in one’s life form the plot points of a sprawling narrative, rife with possibility.

Los Angeles in the 1970s: Weird Scenes Inside the Goldmine

Both the Watts riots and the death of Meredith Hunter at the Altamont Speedway Free Festival signified an end to a 1960s, California-style counterculture based on peace, love,41mdfweby4l and happiness. The succeeding decade would become synonymous with smog, congestion, and crime, until the resurgence of Los Angeles on a global stage at the 1984 Olympics. In this collection of essays, Kukoff (Children of the Canyon) reclaims the seemingly lost decade of L.A.’s history through the voices of those who labored in obscurity in its stretches of concrete and streetlights. From actor/producer Del Zamora’s piece detailing the importance of the Brown Berets and the Chicano movement to Doors drummer John Densmore reflecting on the importance of the band’s L.A. Woman billboard at the entrance to Laurel Canyon, this collection captures the diversity, creativity, and ever-present weirdness that continues to define La-La Land. VERDICT Below a hazy L.A. sunset, Kukoff peels back the Hollywood façade and shows a city thriving with creativity and revolutionary action under a Nixon presidency.