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When the Comet is Right: Proving Lovecraft’s Astronomical Observations

Astronomy professors pointing at a projection of the night sky.

Falvey Library’s Distinctive Collections and Villanova Astronomy Faculty collaborated in order to show that H.P. Lovecraft, famed horror writer, viewed Halley’s Comet in his recently acquired one-of-a-kind astronomical journal, now available to the public online.

“This manuscript—hitherto held privately—has long been a ‘Holy Grail’ to scholars of Lovecraft eager explore connections between Lovecraft’s literary output and his ventures into amateur science and journalism. Villanova University brings a commitment to open scholarship for a global community of inquiry by sharing rare resources,  such as this manuscript, through making high resolution digital surrogates freely available,” says Michael Foight, Director of Distinctive Collections and Digital Engagement.

One class of Villanova undergraduate students received a chance to view them in person, as Foight brought Lovecraft’s astronomical journal as well as other rare documents for a special presentation. It was a unique opportunity to look over primary works by prominent figures in the field, including Galileo, and another way Falvey staff reach out to the community to enrich the academic experience.

But the students were also on hand to see history, literature, and astronomy lead to discovery.

Edward Guinan, PhD, Professor of Astronomy & Astrophysics, and Frank Maloney, PhD, Associate Professor, Astronomy & Astrophysics, used software to recreate the sky the night that Lovecraft indicated he made a rare observation of Halley’s Comet.

Lovecraft journal page with Halley's Comet

A page from the digitized astronomical journal of H.P. Lovecraft showing Halley’s Comet.

It turns out that, exactly as the author indicated, Halley’s comet was visible on May 26, 1910, 9 p.m., in the exact direction indicated.

Lovecraft’s work, which is heavily influenced by astronomy and mythology, may have roots in this unearthed journal, which was used by Lovecraft from age 18 to 25.

Currently, S.T. Joshi, a leading Lovecraft biographer, is reviewing the recently digitized journal. There are also scholars around the world poring over the work for new revelations about Lovecraft’s work.

Falvey Library is helping write a new chapter in Lovecraft’s legacy*, one which still holds the imagination of authors today, from Stephen King to Brian Lumley to Jordan Peele.


* Note: In recent years, Lovecraft has been criticized for his personal views, including strong racism, which resulted in his appearance being removed from the statute given for lifetime achievement in the World Fantasy Awards.

headshot of Shawn Proctor

Shawn Proctor is Communication and Marketing Manager at Falvey Library. His favorite Lovecraft story is “The Shadow Over Innsmouth.”


How We Help: Honoring Our Military Heroes

Villanova Veterans Voices Postcard

Villanova’s strong connection to service is reflected in the University’s proud tradition of military service.

Its Naval Reserve Officer Training Corp includes more than 90 Navy and Marine Corps midshipmen, under the advisement of a staff of highly trained and motivated sailors and marines. The program has produced more Navy Admirals and Marine Corps Generals than any other institution outside of the Naval Academy. The University also has an Army ROTC program, which trains and produces top level Cadets to serve as Army officers.

The University’s Office of Veterans and Military Members and Falvey Memorial Library’s Distinctive Collections and Digital Engagement Department are collaborating on a Villanova Veterans History Project called “Lest We Forget: The Villanova Veterans History Project” that will capture the unique voices and stories of veterans with connections to Villanova through digital recordings. It also features an interactive memorial map that honors Villanovans who have died in service to their country.

“Through extensive research and collaboration, our team created an interactive memorial map that will memorialize and remember the service of these Villanovans. In doing so, we hope to educate present and future generations about the cost of freedom and Villanova’s legacy of service,” said Michael Brown, Director of Villanova’s Office of Veterans and Military Service Members and an Army Veteran.

The launch of the digital project will be celebrated in Falvey Memorial Library’s Speakers’ Corner on Tuesday, Nov. 12, 4:30–7 p.m. The launch event will feature several project participants and Villanova University President the Rev. Peter M. Donohue, OSA, PhD.

This event is co-sponsored by the Office of Veterans and Military Service Members and Falvey Memorial Library.

Visit the digital project online at


Falvey Library Celebrates Open Access Week!

Open Access Week is an opportunity for the academic and research community to continue to learn about the potential benefits of Open Access, to share what they’ve learned with colleagues, and to help inspire wider participation in helping to make Open Access a new norm in scholarship and research.

Open access to information–the free, immediate, online access to the results of scholarly research, and the right to use and re-use those results as you need–has the power to transform the way research and scientific inquiry are conducted. It has direct and widespread implications for academia, medicine, science, industry, and for society as a whole.

open access week photoOpen Access (OA) has the potential to maximize research investments, increase the exposure and use of published research, facilitate the ability to conduct research across available literature, and enhance the overall advancement of scholarship. Research funding agencies, academic institutions, researchers and scientists, teachers, students, and members of the general public are supporting a move towards Open Access in increasing numbers every year. Open Access Week is a key opportunity for all members of the community to take action to keep this momentum moving forward.

Falvey Memorial Library has committed to support open access journal publication with the Scholarship Open Access Reserve (SOAR) Fund.  This program is designed to provide financial support to Villanova faculty who are interested in publishing in high quality open access journals. Faculty may be eligible to have article processing fees incurred for publishing in open access journals paid by the library.

Learn more about how to engage with Falvey Library’s Scholarship Open Access Reserve (SOAR) Fund!


How We Help: Demian Katz Makes Technology Work for Library Patrons

At some point during your time at Villanova you worked with Demian Katz—you probably just did not realize it at the time. Think back to the last time you searched for a book on the homepage, or that day you painstakingly scoured for scholarly connections to your light-bulb-moment intuition, or even when you attended that one event in Speakers’ Corner. If any of these anecdotes sound familiar, you have already interacted with Demian Katz.

Katz is the Director of Library Technologies and has been at Falvey in some capacity since 2009, when he first came on as a Library Technology Development Specialist. His work, and that of the entire tech department, stretches across many responsibilities and operations of the library. His role is an “interfacing” one that he embraces wholeheartedly.


Making Sure Everything Works 

“Tech is probably the most interfaced with other departments of the library…” Katz said during my interview with him, a rare opportunity considering the rapid speed of his day-to-day operations and his schedule replete with meetings, training calls, and near-disaster control 

“By ourselves we don’t do anything,” Katz remarked. We’re really here to support the needs of all the other departments, in terms of making sure they have the technologies that they need and that the systems that support their work are operational.” 

If you navigate the alphabetic traverse of the Library’s staff directory and pay attention to the numerous departments listed, a simple fact becomes quite clear. There is a lot going on at the Library, presenting new challenges and changes to address and adapt to. Katz fully embraces this adaptive role when asked about the challenges and opportunities of directing the technological network behind the scenes.  

“In technology, opportunities and challenges are both about the same thing which is constant change, because nothing ever sits still,” he explained. “Everything we do is a moving target, so you can’t solve a problem, and have it stay solved for more than a couple years. Something is changing that needs to be updated, and you have to think of the implications. But there’s also endless opportunities and always new things to learn and to accomplish.”


A Better View of VuFind 

It was one of these very opportunities, the ongoing development of VuFind, that brought Katz to Falvey, working on the open-source resource portal started at Villanova. To many, VuFind is just the unassuming search bar that we haphazardly issue queries to, hoping one of our partiallyformed questions pans out with an applicable result, but there is much more going on behind the scenes. The fact that our searches consistently return meaningful and accessible results is the product of tremendous labor. One only needs to look back to what came before VuFind to appreciate it.  

“When a student did a Library search on the web,” Katz recalled, “they were expecting something like Google, and they were getting something like a card catalogue on a screen.” 

Improving the user experience of finding pertinent materials is an important part of bibliography, the systematic description of a book, its author(s), publishing information, and other defining elements of its creation. That bibliographic work has always interested Katz, even before his time at Falvey, starting with his personal efforts to catalogue Choose Your Own Adventure books.  


Dime Novel Discovery 

“I maintained a bibliography of Choose Your Own Adventure-type books which I have long collected,” he told me. So, I wrote software to manage that stuff, I have a website people use to inventory their collections and to see which author wrote which books.”  

This long-held fascination found unexpected connections when an off-hand comment during a meeting led to the discovery of forgotten collections. The story of the Dime Novel Collection started with finding of a pile of unsorted turn-of-the-century booklets in the dusty depths of the Falvey West basement. Katz recognized these immediately as dime novels and started an exhaustive search for other collectors and curators.  

After time, they were able to negotiate the rights to publish a portion of the bibliographic work of Eddie LeBlanc, late editor of the journal Dime Novel Roundup. Building off of LeBlanc’s efforts, Katz and his peers were able to secure grant funding to digitize a bibliography of dime novels. These nearly forgotten texts are now a feature of Falvey’s Special Collections, and Katz views that inclusion as an important indicator of a growing appreciation for different cultural artifacts.  

“I am hopeful that through the digitization work we are helping to spearhead, these dime novels will become more visible and maybe will be recognized for the position they hold in popular culture.” 


Check in next month for another profile in our ongoing How We Help series! 

Nathaniel Gosweiler is a graduate assistant in the Communication and Marketing Department at Falvey Memorial Library. He is currently pursuing an MA in Communication at Villanova University.


Celebrate the Launch of Villanova’s First Peer-Reviewed Undergraduate Research Journal

Read the current issue here!

Kallie Stahl ’17 MA is Communication and Marketing Specialist at Falvey Memorial Library.



Motivation Monday with Millicent Gaskell

Need some extra motivation this Monday? With the University’s Annual Day of Giving beginning tomorrow at 12:00 a.m., University Librarian Millicent Gaskell has pledged to match the amount donated to Falvey Library as part of the 1842 Day celebration up to $1,842.

“A gift to the Library is a gift to the whole University” says Gaskell. “Those gifts have have lasting impact. They allow the Library to adapt to our students’ ever-changing needs and, over time, to realize our vision that will transform the Library facility, collections, and resources.” 

With more than half a million visitors each year, the library continues to evolve. Gifts to Falvey Library in 2018 allowed University Archives to purchase preservation supplies in order to rehouse thousands of at-risk, rare materials—including 10,000 photo negatives; 35 scrapbooks, photographic albums, and University logs—and inventory more than 1,100 CDs and DVDs. 

Help us unite to ignite: your gift will enhance and impact the Library’s collections, including books, databases, e-journals, Special Collections, and the University Archives. An essential part of life at Villanova, the benefits of your gift will impact students and faculty for generations to come.

1842 Day, the Villanova University Official Day of Giving, will run from 12 a.m., Tuesday, Sept. 17, to 12 a.m., Wednesday, Sept. 18. You can make your donation to the Library via the 1842 website.

Kallie Stahl ’17 MA is Communication and Marketing Specialist at Falvey Memorial Library. 








Villanovans, Gain Complimentary Access to the New York Times, Courtesy of Villanova

How good is the sequel novel to The Handmaid’s Tale?* What writing routines does your favorite writer practice?** Discover all of this and more with complimentary access to The New York Times, courtesy of Villanova University.

Connect to the people, places, and topics that matter most with unlimited news, videos, and multimedia; anytime, anywhere.

To activate access:

  1. Visit
  2. Create a account using your school email address.
  3. Download your free NYT mobile app. Visit

* Based on early reviews, very good. In fact, The Testaments has been shortlisted for the Booker Prize and is poised to shake up the bestseller lists. A book three decades in the writing appears to have been worth the wait.

** Colson Whitehead, author of The Nickel Boys, sets a goal of writing about eight pages a week. But he says that he doesn’t accomplish it by writing every day.

Shawn Proctor, MFA, Communication and Marketing Program Manager at Falvey Memorial Library, finally read The Handmaid’s Tale two years ago, only weeks before the Hulu Original show premiered. 


Welcome To Falvey: Erica Hayes Joins Research Services and Scholarly Engagement

Erica Hayes recently joined Research Services and Scholarly Engagement (RSSE) as Digital Scholarship Librarian. RSSE works to support research, teaching, and learning at Villanova University; enabling the discovery of, access to, and stewardship of a vast array of scholarly resources.

Hayes earned a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature from Chapman University in Orange, CA; a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing, specializing in poetics from California State University, Long Beach; and a Master of Library Science and Master of Information Science from Indiana University, Bloomington.

She is passionate about scholarship and was an Adjunct Professor teaching English Literature and Composition courses when a colleague’s spouse, who was a Digital Humanities Librarian, introduced her to the world of digital scholarship. Encompassing a variety of subjects, digital scholarship lies at the intersection between technology and research. She is excited to collaborate with Villanova faculty and students to help bring their research to life.

“Integrating digital tools into research methods can extend traditional methods of scholarship, sharing knowledge and pedagogy beyond the page,” she says.

While at IU Bloomington, Hayes worked on several projects including the Petrarchive Project, an open access “rich-text” digital edition of Francesco Petrarca’s songbook Rerum Vulgarium Fragmenta. “The project proposes a new digital way of visualizing, studying, and investigating Petrarch’s work by offering a more ‘authentic’ text as well as multiple indices and tools to access the diverse strata of the work’s composition and cultural contextualization.”

Exhibit: Bird by Bird
She also worked at the Lilly Library, IU Bloomington’s Rare Books and Special Collections Library, as the Web Development Assistant, managing digital collections, Omeka online exhibits, and their website. Collaborating with faculty, Hayes assisted in developing touchscreen exhibits for the library’s special collection exhibits: One of which accompanied the permanent exhibition of John James Audubon’s double elephant folio, Birds of America. “The touchscreen exhibit featured 50 plates of North American bird species from the collection and was created to make the volumes more accessible to library visitors. The touchscreen helped make the collection more interactive while offering an opportunity for patrons to learn more about Audubon and his life,” she explains.

Before starting at Falvey Memorial Library, Hayes completed a two-year fellowship at the NC State University Libraries working in the Copyright and Digital Scholarship Center and the User Experience Department. She led a variety of Digital Scholarship workshops including storytelling with GIS, georeferencing historical maps, and text and data mining.

As the Project Manager on the Immersive Scholar Andrew W. Mellon Foundation grant at the NC State University Libraries, Hayes also worked with a group of scholars to create large-scale visualizations and extensible models for the James B. Hunt Jr. Library’s visualization walls. She says, “managing the grant’s workflows, I worked closely with creative residents we hosted at the NC State University Libraries on developing open source visualization projects to be shared across institutions.”

Mapping African Coinage
In her free time, Hayes enjoys traveling, experiencing new cultures, and is looking forward to exploring Philadelphia. Currently, she is also collaborating with her friend, Dr. Kacie Wills, on a digital humanities project, entitled “Exploring the Collections of Sarah Sophia Banks,” which was recently awarded a research grant from the Keats-Shelley Association of America. Sarah Sophia Banks was the sister to Joseph Banks, President of the Royal Society and famed botanist on the Cook Voyages. “While her life has often been overshadowed by her brother, Sarah Sophia was an avid collector of coins, medals, and tokens from around the world. It was most unusual for a woman to study numismatics during the eighteenth century and some of her coins are incredibly rare.  For our project, we are mapping the African coins detailed in her coin catalogues that are housed at the British Museum and the Royal Mint,” she says. “Our GIS map features coins from her catalogues, which connects the coin’s location of authority to their places of issue in order to display these unique coins, tokens, and medals while showing how money was being distributed during the growing British Empire.”

As she works to build a digital scholarship program at Villanova, Hayes invites the campus community to reach out and set up an appointment with her: “I can help students incorporate digital tools into their scholarship and assist faculty with developing digital pedagogy assignments in the classroom.”

Hayes’ office is in the Learning Commons of Falvey Memorial Library, room 229. Email:

Kallie Stahl, MA ’17 CLAS, is Communication and Marketing Specialist at Falvey Memorial Library. 


Feels Like Fall Already: Falvey Welcomes New Faculty at Orientation 

Falvey’s librarians, including Erica Hayes, the Digital Scholarship Librarian, welcomed new faculty to Villanova Thursday, Aug. 21.

Falvey’s librarians, including Erica Hayes, the Digital Scholarship Librarian, welcomed new faculty to Villanova Thursday, Aug. 21.

Each year, before the fall semester begins, the Villanova Institute for Teaching and Learning (VITAL) sponsors a new faculty orientation program that supports faculty new to Villanova University. Partnering with VITAL, Falvey Memorial Library co-sponsored a continental breakfast on Wednesday, Aug. 21, in Falvey’s Speakers’ Corner.

Library Director Millicent Gaskell welcomed new faculty, highlighted library services, and discussed library initiatives, including the Affordable Materials Project (AMP) and the Scholarship Open Access Reserve (SOAR) Fund. The assemblage provided new faculty members the opportunity to gather according to discipline for informal discussions with liaison librarians.


What’s Missing From This Picture? Suggest a Title for the Library’s Collection

bookcart with books

This is not just any cart filled with books. These are the newest print titles that the Library has added to its collection of over a million print and electronic books.

Each was selected due to its ability to support the teaching, learning, and research needs of the entire Villanova University community, including undergraduate and graduate students, faculty, and staff. It is part of the Library’s effort to advance knowledge on campus, promote information discovery and access, encourage intellectual curiosity, and empower users by providing timely and critical information resources.

The Library understands the impact of evolving information technologies, changing scholarly communication practices, new forms of information seeking behaviors, and learning styles in a networked world.

The library also acknowledges the interdisciplinary nature of academic resources and firmly believe in free and open access to knowledge, freedom of expression, diversity, interculturality, and inclusion in all its collections. As such, it promotes open access educational resources, zero-cost classroom texts, and DRM free e-resources whenever possible when making collection building decisions.

Learn more about the Library’s process of developing its collection here:

But we also rely on faculty and students to help guide the selection process.

If you discover a resource that should be added to the collection, the Library staff welcomes you to visit the website and suggest the purchase of a title. It may be just the thing students will need for their next groundbreaking research project!



headshot of Shawn ProctorShawn Proctor, MFA, is Communications and Marketing Program Manager at Falvey Memorial Library. He most recently read Dar Williams’ book What I Found in a Thousand Towns.


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Last Modified: August 20, 2019