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Breast Cancer Awareness Month: Writers, Survivors

breast cancer awareness ribbonFrom time to time stories circulate about famous writers or actors who survived breast cancer. In October, during National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, they become even more prevalent. Whether photographs appear in a tabloid on the newsstand or in the corner of your computer screen while you surf the internet, they get our attention. Of course, celebrities are no more important than everyday citizens who battle breast cancer and who live and work around us, but fame can draw attention to the need for ongoing breast cancer research.

Breast cancer is blind to financial status, religion, race, talent or politics. It affects men and women, young and old. Those diagnosed with breast cancer, and their family and friends, may encounter physical, mental, emotional and spiritual distress and often turn to the written word as a source of hope and inspiration.

Writers, in particular, are well placed to convey in words what breast cancer patients may encounter as they contend with treatment. We have noted a few names and suggested titles below.

brightsidedBarbara Ehrenreich is an American feminist, activist, writer and self-described “myth buster” who wrote, among other works, Bright-Sided: how the relentless promotion of positive thinking has undermined America. Her report for Harper’s Magazine, “Welcome to Cancerland,” focuses on the breast cancer experience.

Edward Brooke, a former senator and the first African American man popularly elected to the Senate, was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2002. He took on the role of raising awareness of male breast cancer and wrote the autobiography, Bridging the Divide: My Life.

Judy Blume is an author of children and young adult novels which include Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret and Tiger Eyes. Blume is known for tackling difficult “coming of age” topics in her books. Blume talks about her diagnosis and breast cancer treatment on her blog.

enormous changesGrace Paley (1922 – 2007) was a writer and poet. Her volumes of short stories and poetry include Enormous changes at the last minute; stories and Begin again : collected poems. Although she never wrote specifically about the breast cancer that took her life, she was quoted in The New York Times as saying “I’m not writing a history of famous people,” she said. “I am interested in a history of everyday life.”

(Because things can change very quickly in life, I would be remiss if I didn’t advise everyone reading this to perform regular breast self-examinations and to get regular mammograms. Early detection is key.)

Article by Luisa Cywinski, team leader of Access Services and editorial coordinator on the Communication and Service Promotion team.


George Bernard Shaw’s “Pygmalion” Marks Its Centennial

One hundred years after the first performance of George Bernard Shaw‘s “Pygmalion,” theaters still perform it, evincing the enduring popularity of Shaw’s influential play.

Pygmalion and GalateaThe story originates from ancient mythology: Pygmalion, a sculptor, chisels his ideal woman, Galatea, out of stone and subsequently falls in love with his creation. Incidentally, the notion of an artist sculpting a statue of his ideal woman and then falling in love with it formed the plot of a 1987 film titled “Mannequin.”

Shaw’s play, with a professor (Henry Higgins) instead of a sculptor and a live person (Eliza Doolittle) instead of a block of stone, also includes the notion of a man creating his ideal woman. Rather than focus on appearances, Henry Higgins uses language as the means to transform Eliza. Shaw’s “Pygmalion” inspired a motion picture with the same title and a musical, “My Fair Lady,” that also became a film.

Shaw’s play was even spoofed in the 1983 film “Trading Places,” which replaces Eliza Doolittle with a street hustling Billy Ray Valentine, memorably portrayed by Eddie Murphy. Seven years later, the “Pygmalion” motif would emerge in another motion picture, this time a love story: “Pretty Woman.”

Do you know of other stories that use the “Pygmalion” motif? Tell us in our “comments” section.

GeraldDierkes  borderGerald Dierkes is an information services specialist for the Information and Research Assistance team, senior copyeditor for the Communication and Service Promotion team, and a liaison to the Department of Theater.


One Million Plus

That’s how many people visited the Falvey home page in one year—1,295,841, a 77% increase over the previous year! There were 3,832,623 page views and 2,767,839 catalog page views. All Falvey web traffic, except to the Databases A-Z and course guides, increased dramatically, ranging between 44% and 116%. Traffic to the databases (99,134 visits) decreased by 19% and to the course guides (163,470 visits) by 5%. Nevertheless, these are still impressive numbers. – See more at: http://blog.library.villanova.edu/news/2013/09/09/one-million-plus/#sthash.ClmlZoYK.dpuf


During the same period (May 2012-May 2013) Research Support librarians were busy answering questions and offering research workshops: 3,411 questions answered and 255 library research workshops held for 5,412 students. Villanova students preferred electronic contact with librarians. The most popular form of contact was through “Ask a Librarian: Live Chat”; it is available by clicking the labeled gray rectangle at the bottom of the Falvey home page. Fifty percent of students asked their research questions this way. Other ways that students contacted librarians were by walk-up (637 students), email (1,280 students), research appointments (407) and telephone (192 students).

Melanie Wood, Academic Integration technical specialist, provided the statistics for this blog.

Photograph of student Erin Sheerin at the turnstile by Alice Bampton.


Wearing White after Labor Day: Faux Pas or Fashion Statement?

Planning to wear white after Labor Day? Go right ahead, but keep in mind that donning your summer whites after the first Monday in September wasn’t always appropriate.

White clothing emerged as approved summer attire in the early to mid-twentieth century, but the reasons have been debated. Some say this custom was born out of the need to stay cool in the hot (New York) city. Others cite social status as a reason for dressing down. Those who could afford to go to the country for the summer would shed their dark clothing for sportier, summer whites. Dark suits signified work; white clothing signified play. Of course, there were those who always bucked this fashion trend. Even as early as the 1920s Coco Chanel, for one, wore white year round.


Twain-2Some of our favorite writers also deferred to solid white clothing. Mark Twain took a stance on his fashion favorites when he told New York Times reporters in Washington on December 7, 1906 that he chose to wear all white because, at 71 years old, “the continual sight of dark clothing [was] likely to have a depressing effect upon him.” He felt that white clothing lifted the spirit and that he had earned the right to wear whatever he chose.


Wolfe2Tom Wolfe, author of The Right Stuff, A Man in Full and Bonfire of the Vanities,  to name a few, also prefers white suits. According to a book review in USA Today, Wolfe’s trend started in 1962 while he worked in New York as a reporter for the New York Herald Tribune. Having ordered a white silk twill suit that was too hot for the summer months, he wore it in the winter instead. Wolfe so loved the stir this fashion faux pas created that he adopted his “ice cream white suits” as his trademark.






Photo: Jerome Liebling, Mt. Holyoke Art Museum

Photo: Jerome Liebling, Mt. Holyoke Art Museum

Sometimes it’s not what you wear every day but what you leave behind that defines you. Mabel Loomis Todd said of Emily Dickinson, “She dresses wholly in white, & her mind is said to be perfectly wonderful” (Richard B. Sewall, The Life of Emily Dickinson). But even though Todd made this observation, Dickinson never mentions wearing white and seemed to favor calicoes as her fabric of choice. Regardless, it is the delicate hand- and machine-stitched white cotton dress with mother of pearl buttons that remains a symbol of Dickinson’s unique character.

Regardless of the stance you take on post Labor Day whites, rest assured that Emily Post’s Etiquette gives permission for us to wear white after Labor Day.


Laura Hutelmyer is the photography coordinator for the Communication and Publications Team and Special Acquisitions Coordinator in Resource Management


Falvey West Stacks Reopen

After several days of being closed for cleaning & maintenance, we are reopening the Falvey West stacks to library patrons. Patrons with any concerns about the condition of library materials or the space in general are encouraged to notify library staff. (Below is the message we originally posted on August 20.)

“Due to the need for critical maintenance in the Falvey West stacks and the presence of heavy equipment, we cannot permit patron access to the stack area for the next 7-10 days. Staff at the front desk will do whatever they can to fulfill your need for specified titles. Staff can place holds on titles for library patrons or mark titles missing so that E-Z Borrow requests can be placed. Items requested through E-Z Borrow are often delivered within 3-5 days.

We greatly appreciate your patience during this brief service interruption. Please call the service desk at 610-519-4270 if you have any questions.”



Director of The Avengers Tackles Shakespeare

much ado posterIn a modernization of “Much Ado About Nothing” from Joss Whedon, who is known for “The Avengers”, “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and “Firefly”, the closest thing to a superhero is Benedick (who impressively body rolls across the lawn in order to eavesdrop on Leonato, Don Pedro and Claudio).

Contrary to the typical summer-blockbuster, Whedon uses a minimalist approach on his treatment of Shakespeare’s “Much Ado About Nothing.” He makes as little “ado” as possible on the production, using black & white film and completing the film in just 12 days. His decision to use his own home and grounds for the set lends an intimacy to the story that gives it the authentic feel of a reunion of friends.

There are parties, music and a sultry climate to transform the household of the Prince into a love nest as he and others try to sway the hearts and kindle the passions of his guests.  While Whedon stays true to Shakespeare’s language, he also makes it more accessible to non-Shakespeare scholars. The California skies, the American accents, and the suits and guns exchanged for uniforms and swords, all give the film a distinctly cosmopolitan feel. (One might even call it shiny. Wink, wink.)

There are slick villains, a nonstop flow of alcohol, and a shimmering pool with undercurrents of deceit. These are great ingredients, but the players trip a bit here and there, and transitions aren’t always smooth. In this way, it feels more like a stage production than a film production, with unexpected foibles that aren’t edited out or reshot. Perhaps that is Whedon’s intent, to make it feel like a live performance.

Whedon doesn’t depart much from the original play and the characters deliver their lines very well. They all play their parts. And yet only Benedick (Alex Denisof) and Beatrice (Amy Acker) made an impression on me. Sadly, Dogberry (Nathan Fillion), whose comedic role was memorable in the Kenneth Branagh version, was at times inaudible. It’s possible that twelve days of filming may not have been enough time for the actors to fully inhabit their roles.

This isn’t the first time, nor will it be the last, that a director seeks to modernize Shakespeare. Whether or not they are successful is up to the audience and the critics to decide. Did you see the film? What did you think?

Either way, “sigh no more,” we have some Shakespeare “reboots” in our collection and some Shakespeare apps to recommend.  You can also find more commentary and suggestions on the Wired blog.

SHAKESHOLLY3Romeo and Juliet (October 2013)

Coriolanus (National Theater Live – January 2014 with screenings in the U.S.)

Richard III

The King is Alive (King Lear)

Scotland, PA (Macbeth)

Titus (Titus Andronicus)

The Tempest (iPad App)

The Sonnet Project (iPad App of Shakespeare’s Sonnets)



Luisa Cywinski is the editorial coordinator on the Communication and Service Promotion Team and the team leader of the Access Services team.


Forgotten Treasures: Paper for the People (From White Hunters to Steampunk)


Having opened for the VuPop Conference on June 10, Forgotten Treasures: Paper for the People: Dime Novels & [sic] Early Mass Marketing Publishing will remain on display until mid-November. Demian Katz, library Technology Development specialist, curated the exhibit. Michael Foight, Special Collections and Digital Library coordinator, and Laura Bang, Digital and Special Collections curatorial assistant, aided Katz in mounting the exhibition, which includes an online component. Falvey’s team leader for Communication and Service Promotion, Joanne Quinn, created the graphics for both the physical exhibit and its online counterpart.

This presentation and the VuPop Conference were inspired by the 2012 discovery of a collection of dime novels, reprint libraries and other late-nineteenth-century printed works in Falvey Memorial Library’s basement. The collection is now housed in Special Collections where the publications are being digitized to make them available for online reading.

The show offers eight categories of publications:

Early Dime Novels (Dime novels are “cheap melodramatic or sensational novel[s], usually in paperback, especially of the period c1850 to c1920.” – Random House Webster’s College Dictionary),
Bertha M. Clay,
Science Fiction,
Reprint Libraries (a placard in the display defines this category), and
Famous Characters.

Each group of publications is accompanied by informative texts.

malaeskaKatz tells us “The first dime novel is widely considered to be Malaeska: The Indian Wife of the White Hunter” published in1860 and reprinted circa 1864. A copy of Malaeska, albeit the circa 1864 edition, is on display. Other early dime novels in the case were published from 1861 to 1887.

Dime novels are primarily considered an American phenomenon, but many American titles were translated and published abroad in such locations as the Netherlands, Denmark, Italy, France and Spain, as shown in the International section.

Three early examples of science fiction (1892, 1901 and 1902) provide a rare view of a genre that remains popular today. Katz tells us that “today’s ‘steampunk’ movement owes a debt to dime-novel heroes …”

The Historical portion features a dime novel, Percy Greville: The Scout of Valley Forge (1906) by Jas (sic) A. Gordon, one of many with ties to our area.

This exhibit, with its informative placards and sometimes colorful book covers, provides both visual and intellectual views of popular reading of the era circa 1860 through the early 1900s.

Alice Bampton is an digital image specialist and senior writer on the Communication and Publications Team.


A Halfway-to-Labor-Day Ode (with titles for feeding your summer reading)


Traveling the summer 2013 highway,
we’ve just passed a big mile marker: Independence Day.
Some of us suggest half the summer still lies ahead;
others gloomily assert, “The summer is half dead.”

Summer, we’d hoped, with its tranquil pace held such promise.
Have we accomplished all that we had planned? Be honest.
Before guilt, regret or panic your thoughts start leading.
There’s still time; refresh your spirit with summer reading.

Portrait of a Spy,
Snow White Must Die,
White Dog Fell From the Sky

(Find out) How It All Began;
All I Did Was Shoot My Man

Wedding Night,
Live by Night,
Ancient Light,
(and) Ghost Lights

Bay of Fires,
Earth Afire,
(and) The Girl Who Played With Fire

Gone Girl,
Silver Girl,
Shanghai Girls,
The Chalk Girl

Zone One,
The Poacher’s Son,
The Smart One,
Carry the One

The Coffeehouse,
A Painted House,
The Yellow House,
The Red House,
The Round House,
Silent House,
Habits of the House

Just a sample of titles here, to give you the gist,
This video shows you how to find the complete list.

Gerald Dierkes is an information services specialist for the Information and Research Assistance team, senior copyeditor for the Communication and Publications team, and a liaison to the Department of Theater.


Paper for the People: A Conference on Dime Novels and Early Mass Market Publishing

dime novels banner

Falvey Memorial Library is holding a conference, “Paper for the People: A Conference on Dime Novels and Early Mass Marketing Publishing,” to celebrate the recently discovered collection of dime novels and other late-nineteenth-century popular materials. To register for this free conference, to be held on June 10-11, go to the vupop registration page. The registration deadline is June 7.

On June 10, presentations and panel discussions on dime novels will begin at 9 a.m. in Speakers’ Corner. Joe Rainone, an expert world-class collector, will discuss “the origins of science fiction in ‘steampunk’ dime novels.” A tribute to a legendary bibliographer, Edward T. LeBlanc, will be presented. The Falvey Memorial Library Dime Novel Exhibit, featuring some fascinating rare items, will officially open. Lunch will be provided for attendees.

You might also want to explore the Blue Electrode, which offers a number of digitized dime novels for your reading pleasure.

An “unofficial post-conference get together” will follow the scheduled conference on June 11. Tentative plans include tours of the Library and its digitization laboratory and also brainstorming sessions on future digital initiatives.

Falvey plans to host another conference—Popular Culture Series 2—in summer 2014.

Alice Bampton is an digital image specialist and senior writer on the Communication and Publications Team.


And the Winner of Author Madness Tournament is…

The lights were low in Falvey Memorial Library as Mark Twain and William Shakespeare, two literary titans, two gentlemen of consummate wit and profound insight, entered the building for the final match in the library Author Madness tournament.


Posey Whidden (class of ?)

But in the words of another literary master (whoever wrote Mad Max 3: Beyond Thunderdome) “two men enter, one man leaves” in this high stakes competition. And that man happened to win by just a single vote!  With an ever-so-narrow victory of 42 votes to 41, Falvey Memorial Library is proud to announce that this year’s Author Madness champion is none other than Mr. William Shakespeare.

The Great Bard had some tough match-ups on his way to the title, including a game with Dr. Seuss that many expected he may not win, but in the end Shakespeare’s hold on the Western cannon proved persistent. Congratulations, Billy! We knew you had it in ya.

As an added bonus, students who voted in the final match were eligible for a raffle giveaway of a book by the winning author. This year’s prize winner is Posey Whidden. Posey will be receiving a handsome edition of the complete works of Shakespeare (1300 pages!), which we expect she’ll read in its entirety this summer. There’s nothing like King Lear for a little beach reading if you ask me.

Posey-2Thanks to everyone who voted in this year’s tournament and to all the readers of the Author Madness blog series. Be sure to check the library catalogs when you’re picking out summer books, and from everyone here at Falvey Memorial Library we’d like to wish you happy reading.

Corey Waite Arnold is a writer and intern on the Communication and Publications Team. He is currently pursuing an MA in English at Villanova University.

Image courtesy of the Encyclopedia of World Biography.


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Last Modified: May 16, 2013