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Falvey Library Staff Offer Summer 2023 Reading Recommendations

We’re happy to share reading recommendations by the staff at Falvey Library. Once you’ve explored the list below, check out some summer reads suggested by Falvey’s Distinctive Collections and Digital Engagement. Villanova’s English Department faculty also shared summer reading recommendations on the department’s blog. You can see more recommendations in the display on Falvey’s first floor.

My summer reading rec is A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson. Anyone planning to spend time in the great outdoors of North America should consider reading this book before or during their nature vacation! Bryson’s book is a cautionary tale filled with humor, adventure, information, and human emotion. I’m still finishing it up, so the library copy is checked out. Try EZBorrow or ILL!  It was also made into a movie starring Robert Redford, which I haven’t seen. I’m a “book first” kind of person.

Christoforos Sassaris, Distinctive Collections Coordinator 

Sarah Wingo, Librarian for English Literature, Theatre, and Romance Languages and Literature

Babel: An Arcane History, by R.F. Kuang

This book begins with a trope readers know well-intelligent young people with special abilities go away to school to learn a kind of magic, and along the way they make friends and have adventures. But unlike the other books that follow this narrative this one asks the question that most aren’t even aware needs asking, which is “at what cost?.” I haven’t been able to stop thinking about this book since I finished it early in 2023, it is a scathing condemnation of colonialism and also a loving exploration of the beauty and magic of language.

Noor, by Nnedi Okorafor

I discovered Nnedi Okorafor’s writing first through her novella trilogy Binti, and so when Noor came to my attention I knew I wanted to read it. Nnedi Okorafor who coined the term Africanfuturism in a 2019 blog post defined it as a sub-category of science fiction that is “directly rooted in African culture, history, mythology and point-of-view…and…does not privilege or center the West.” This is a short (214 page), fast paced book that immediately sets the reader on an adventure with OA, a young woman who has had major mechanical body augmentations to allow her to live and be mobile, in a society that does not look kindly on such augmentations.

The Marriage Portrait, by Maggie O’Farrell

This book is on my to-read list for summer. I’ve been a big fan of Maggie O’Farrell’s writing ever since a grad school friend gifted me a copy of The Hand That First Held Mine over a decade ago. O’Farrell’s writing is intimate and often switches between multiple timelines exploring multiple generations within the same family.

Linda Hauck, Business Librarian 

Danielle Adamowitz, Metrics and Assessment Librarian 

Shawn Proctor, Communication and Marketing Program Manager 

Laurie Ortiz Rivera, Social Sciences Librarian

Meg Schwoerer-Leister, Access and Collections Coordinator 

Roberta Pierce, Resource Management and Description Coordinator 

Joanne Quinn, Director of Communication and Marketing

Darren Poley, Theology, Classics and Humanities Librarian

Jutta Seibert, Director of Research Services & Scholarly Engagement

  • In Smoking Typewriters: The Sixties Underground Press and the Rise of Alternative Media in America (Oxford University Press, 2011) historian John McMillian explores the appeal of underground newspapers as instruments of political dissent at the example of a range of geographically diverse student newsletters such as the Berkeley BarbThe East Village Other, and The Rag (Austin). The author captures the idealism that fueled underground newsrooms and student protest movements throughout the decade. He makes it abundantly clear that women were relegated to the role of assistants and girlfriends and African Americans were simply not present despite the calls for political change. Segregation persisted even in the underground: women and African Americans spoke on their own behalf through their own publications. While these are not covered in Smoking Typewriters a wide range of underground newspapers can be found in the Independent Voices archive (JSTOR).
  • Unexpectedly, print culture also plays a key role in Nile Green’s How Asia Found Herself: A Story of Intercultural Understanding (Yale University Press, 2022) albeit in a different time and place. Green, an award-winning historian of “the multiple globalizations of Islam and Muslims,” takes on a whole continent in his latest monograph. The book is full of surprising bits and pieces that provoke a fundamental rethink of how Asia came to be. Given the sheer size of the continent it comes as no great surprise that “Asia” did not feature prominently, if at all, in the self-understanding of Asian peoples until fairly recently. Increasing awareness of other Asian cultures came with the imperialist expansion of Europe into Asia accompanied not just by trading posts but also by missionaries and printing presses. Asian participation in inter-Asian trade led to engagement with other Asian languages and religions often by way of books in European languages. The immense popularity of Edwin Arnold’s Light of Asia Being the Life and Teaching of Gautama, Prince of India and Founder of Buddhism re-introduced Buddhism to India. Buddhism had basically disappeared from the Indian subcontinent centuries ago to the extent that Indian languages had no word for Buddhism other than idol worship. ‘Abd al-Khaliq, a contemporary Indian Muslim author called it the religion of Burma for lack of a better label. How Asia Found Herself is an utterly fascinating account of how Asia came to define itself as Asian. Reading it made me rethink much of what I know about Asia and reminded me of Hermann Hesse’s Siddhartha a book with a similar footprint to Arnold’s Light of Asia. It hence comes as no great surprise that Siddhartha has been translated into many Indian languages and while the first English translation by Hilda Rosner is still under copyright, the German original has recently moved into the public domain and the Internet Archive offers various English translations published in India as well as the German original. Happy reading!

Kallie Stahl ’17 MA is Communication and Marketing Specialist at Falvey Library. She recommends Our Andromeda by Brenda Shaughnessy. 

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Flip or Flick: The Hate U Give

By Anna Jankowski

Photo courtesy of

Welcome back to another edition of Flip or Flick! For this week’s post we will be discussing Angie Thomas’s 2017 novel, The Hate U Give, and the film adaptation released in 2018 starring Amandla Stenberg. 

This book is extremely powerful and has won several awards including the Coretta Scott King Award for its commitment to nonviolent social change. The story follows the life of sixteen-year-old Starr Carter and the relationships she has to navigate as both a young Black teenager and a key witness to a massive injustice. Thomas was inspired by the 2013 Black Lives Matter movement that was founded in response to the murder of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin

Thomas’s prose is relatable and easy to read. Starr’s innermost thoughts are relayed directly to the audience and we get an in depth look at how she struggles to make sense of the world around her and fights to find her voice. Among the difficult systemic societal issues Starr encounters, she also faces the typical fights with parents and friends that most teenagers can relate to. Thomas tells the story with unflinching honesty and a fresh perspective that speaks to today’s culture and the roots of discrimination that have plagued our nation for centuries.

In 2018 the novel was adapted into a film by George Tillman Jr. The stunning visuals evoke a strong emotional response and depict the raw intensity of racial conflicts in America. Instead of using our mind’s eye to imagine the differences between the city of Garden Heights and the preparatory school of Williamson, we see the stark contrast represented through the ambience of the two locations. The film has an eclectic soundtrack that includes Tupac (whose lyrics inspires the name of the story) alongside Travis Scott and Billie Eilish. The cast ranges from well established and respected actors to less experienced fresh-faced talent.


FLIP! The original source material was critically acclaimed for a very good reason, and the end of the film differs in several key ways from the end of the novel. The movie is beautiful and brings a visual perspective to some key scenes throughout the story. However other scenes, and even other characters, are completely omitted. Both the novel and film are powerful in their own way, but I personally think Angie Thomas’s authentic voice is something not to be missed. The film packs a poignant emotional punch but the novel does a much better job at allowing the nuances of each character to be fully explored. I highly recommend this story to everyone in the Villanova community because the injustices Starr encounters are still just as prevalent today as they were in 2017.

Anna Jankowski ’23 CLAS is a Senior Communication Major from just outside Baltimore who ​​works as a Communication & Marketing Assistant in Falvey.






Flip or Flick: The Talented Mr. Ripley


Welcome back to Flip or Flick! This edition will tackle Patricia Highsmith’s 1995 classic psychological thriller The Talented Mr. Ripley. The narrative follows the iconic character Tom Ripley through his adventures to Italy. Ripley is off to meet the wealthy Dickie Greenleaf and his travel companion Marge Duval. Tom has been hired by Dickie’s father to convince him to come back to America to run the family business. His time in Europe suddenly takes a turn as murder, theft, and a thick web of deceit ensue. The novel is written entirely from Tom’s point of view and readers are able to see his psychological unraveling as the events go on. It is difficult not to root for Tom as all of the interactions in the story are from his lens.

I’d compare the storyline to Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby as both include luxurious accommodations, an unreliable narrator, and a main character with dreams of mythic proportions. I loved analyzing the twists and turns in the novel and trying to evaluate what my perception of Ripley said about my own sense of self. The 1999 film adaptation stars Matt Damon, Jude Law, and Gwyneth Paltrow. It is extremely visually appealing with gorgeous actors and a picturesque setting. There are several characters added to the film that completely change some of the story arc and ultimately the conclusion. Dickie and Tom’s motivations are characterized a bit differently but the central themes of the story remain true to the original.

So, flip or flick? FLIP!

I loved both, but the book is a classic for a reason. Highsmith’s prose gives us intimate access to Ripley’s inner monologue that is difficult to replicate in cinema. To me, Ripley’s inner thoughts are what make this narrative so special from others in the same genre. I adored the movie and I highly recommend consuming both if you have time! Watching these extremely talented actors in their prime portray complex characters is definitely a special treat. The story has been adapted in several different ways throughout the years, most recently with a new limited series adaptation starring Fleabag’s Andrew Scott coming soon to Netflix. Falvey Library has the critically acclaimed French adaptation from René Clément available to stream for free which includes breathtaking visual scenes that give new life to the story.

Anna Jankowski ’23 CLAS is a Senior Communication Major from just outside Baltimore who ​​works as a Communication & Marketing Assistant in Falvey.






Weekend Recs: Homelessness and the Housing Crisis

Happy Friday, Wildcats! Falvey Library is delivering you another semester of Weekend Recs, a blog dedicated to filling you in on what to read, listen to, and watch over the weekend. Annie, a graduate assistant from the Communication department, scours the internet, peruses the news, and digs through book stacks to find new, relevant, and thought-provoking content that will challenge you and prepare you for the upcoming week. 

As most of us are aware, homelessness is a humanitarian crisis that has existed for decades (and centuries) in the U.S., and the incredibly high rent and real estate prices have not made things any easier. In addition to the economic and logistical hardships, people who experience homelessness can often be dehumanized in society. This weekend’s recs will share some pieces that shine light on the diverse stories and experiences of homeless people.

If you have 10 minutes…and want to debunk some of the common misconceptions about homeless people, read this NYU piece.

If you have 15 minutes…and aren’t aware of how inefficient the system is, read this New York Times piece chronicling a college student’s struggle to find an apartment that would accept her Section 8 housing voucher.

If you have another 15 minutes…and want to learn about a potential solution to high housing prices, read this article about tiny homes, as an alternative to large, exorbitantly priced houses.

Bonus: if you want to learn about another solution to the housing crisis, check out this article that details the Marcy Lab School program spearheaded by Restoration, an organization with goals of aiding and developing low-income areas in New York.

If you have 20 minutes…and want to hear from homeless people, read this New York Times profile of 30 people who have experienced homelessness. This piece follows a Q&A format to share the diverse experiences of people without homes.

If you have 40 minutes…and want to watch a recent documentary on homelessness, watch Lead Me Home. This Netflix documentary shares the stories of homeless people living on the West Coast.

If you have 1 hour and 48 minutes…and are interested in the trials and tribulations of van-life, watch Nomadland. Directed by Chloe Zhao, this film follows the adventures of a 60-year-old woman who travels across America in a van after her life is upended by the 2008 recession.

Bonus: listen to the book the movie is based on, available as an audiobook through Falvey.

If you have 8 hours…and want to read one of the most popular books that shares the stories and shines humanity on homeless women, read Elliot Liebow’s Tell Them Who I Am: The Lives of Homeless Women, available at Falvey.

If you have 9 hours and 5 minutes…and want to watch an emotional series that grapples with homelessness and domestic abuse, watch Maid on Netflix. This series, following young mother Alex who escapes an abusive boyfriend with her 3-year-old daughter Maddie, balances the heart-wrenching hardships that come from domestic abuse and homelessness with moments of finding joy in unsuspecting places.

Bonus: if you want to read the memoir that this series is based on, read Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother’s Will to Survive, available through Inter-Library Loan.

Annie Stockmal is a graduate student in the Communication Department and Graduate Assistant at Falvey Library.


Weekend Recs: Dark Academia

Happy Friday, Wildcats! Falvey Library is delivering you another semester of Weekend Recs, a blog dedicated to filling you in on what to read, listen to, and watch over the weekend. Annie, a graduate assistant from the Communication department, scours the internet, peruses the news, and digs through book stacks to find new, relevant, and thought-provoking content that will challenge you and prepare you for the upcoming week. 

Photo by Henry Be on Unsplash

Freshly shined oxfords, leather-bound books, knee-high socks, secret societies, argyle sweater vests, Greek mythology, and plaid, lots of plaid. The dark academia genre of literature and media blends a romanticization of academia, especially the Classics, with a plot rife with mystery, murder, romance, and intrigue. Since it’s growth in the 1980s and 1990s, it has also become a thriving Internet subculture and, more recently, a mod aesthetic on social media. For the interested or unaware, this weekend’s recs will help you explore the dark academia subculture.

If you have 5 minutes…and know nothing about dark academia, check out L’Officiel‘s dark academia guide. The article discusses dark academia both as a social media trend, rooted in a dark prep aesthetic, and a thriving subculture.

If you have 7 minutes…and want a grounded glimpse into dark academia, read this article from the New York Times. Pamela Paul is able to balance the elegant and, perhaps misguidedly, nostalgic allure of dark academia with the current, less glamorous realities of modern academia.

If you have 10 minutes…and aren’t aware of some of the common critiques of dark academia, read this article. The main critique of dark academia is its overwhelming whiteness, which often can discourage and marginalize People of Color within the subculture (This article also helps shed light on these criticisms).

If you have 15 minutes…and want to hear how a Black queer woman negotiates a love for dark academia with its Eurocentric tendencies, read Mel Monier’s “Too Dark for Dark Academia?” essay. Monier’s essay is both a firsthand critique and a hopeful love letter to dark academia (and truly worth the read).

If you have 20 minutes…and are interested in exploring or adopting the dark academia lifestyle for yourself, check out this style and subculture guide. It provides some big-sister-style advice for getting into the dark academia subculture, including outfit ideas, shopping and styling tips, and movie and book recommendations.

If you have 1 hour and 45 minutes…and are in the mood for a based-on-a-true-story dark academia film, watch Kill Your Darlings, available online through Falvey. The film follows the poets Allen Ginsburg (played by Daniel Radcliffe) and Lucien Carr (played by Dane DeHaan) as they attend Columbia University and get wrapped up in a plot of murder, romance, and poetry.

If you have 12 hours…and are looking for a queer dark academic novel, read Victoria Lee’s A Lesson in Vengeance, available through Interlibrary Loan. This modern take on dark academia centers (obviously) academia, queer romance, secrecy, and the occult.

Bonus: If you want to get some POC-centered dark academia book recommendations, check out this list.

If you have a free weekend…and want to read a dark academic cult classic, read Donna Tartt’s The Secret History, available through Interlibrary Loan. Set in (my favorite state) Vermont, the novel features Classical academia and a murder mystery.

Bonus: Check out this list of dark academia literature essentials for more book recommendations.

Annie Stockmal is a graduate student in the Communication Department and graduate assistant in Falvey Library.


Freedom To Read: Celebrate Banned Book Week with These “Most Challenged” Books From Falvey Memorial Library

American Library Association's poster announcing Banned Books Week 2020.

American Library Association’s poster announcing Banned Books Week 2020.

Banned Books Week commenced on Sept. 18! Beginning in the early 1980s, the annual event, celebrated the last week of September, spotlights “current and historical attempts to censor books in libraries and schools.” Show your support for “the freedom to read” and checkout these frequently challenged titles available at Falvey Memorial Library.

The titles listed below are featured in the “Top 10 Most Challenged Books” lists spanning from 2001-2021. “Lists are based on information from media stories and voluntary reports sent to the Office for Intellectual Freedom from communities across the U.S.

Books are accessible through Falvey’s collection and Interlibrary Loan.

For more information about Banned Books Week visit the American Library Association’s website. Looking for a specific title not available at Falvey Memorial Library? Villanova students, staff, and faculty can use the E-ZBorrow service to request print materials from regional libraries. Chat with a librarian during business hours: Monday–Friday, 9 a.m.–5 p.m. for inquires regarding Falvey Library’s collection.

Kallie Stahl ’17 MA is Communication and Marketing Specialist at Falvey Memorial Library. *Article originally published on Sept. 28, 2020.




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Flip or Flick: Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood

Image is the cover of the novel, "Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood."

Image courtesy of Google books.

By Allie Reczek

Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood was written in 1996 by Rebecca Wells. This story shifts back and forth between telling stories from the youth of the Ya-Yas—Vivi, Teensy, Caro, and Necie—in 1930s Louisiana, and the current life of Siddalee Walker, Vivi’s daughter, in the 1990s.

After a slanderous review of her mother in a public journal, Vivi disowns Sidda, sending her in a tailspin that results in Sidda traveling across the country and breaking off her engagement with her fiancé, Connor. In an effort to rekindle the relationship between Sidda and Vivi, the Ya-Yas send Sidda a scrapbook, detailing their lives, so that Sidda could better understand why her mother is the way she is. This seemingly complex, yet rather simple story between mother and daughter forces readers to confront their own family relationship and realize that everyone has a past we cannot judge them for. 

The movie adaptation, directed by Callie Khouri in 2002, generally follows the meaning behind this story but fails to provide as much detail as the novel. Instead of isolating herself and traveling alone, in the movie, the Ya-Yas kidnap Sidda, played by Sandra Bullock, and bring her to their childhood cabin in Louisiana, telling stories about Vivi and her troubling childhood. Themes stay relatively the same, but significant details about Vivi’s life and Sidda’s relationship are missing. This movie lacks a certain emotional pull that the novel poetically conveys. This movie received a 44% on Rotten Tomatoes and is rated PG-13. 

So… Flip or Flick?

Flip! Every recount from the childhood of the Ya-Yas, every letter exchange between Sidda and Vivi, every interaction between the Ya-Yas, from youth to old age, provides readers with an understanding about the value of love and friendship over anything else.

This story teaches us that no matter what you have been through, family is forever and will always be by your side.

Allie Reczek headshotThis is the last Flip or Flick by Allie Reczek ’22 CLAS. She graduated with a BA in Psychology from Villanova University. Congratulations, Allie! Falvey Library wishes you all the best in your future endeavors. Rebecca Wells’ novel Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood was published 26 years ago on May 22, 1996.

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Weekend Recs: MLB

By Jenna Renaud

Happy Friday, Wildcats! Falvey Memorial Library is delivering you another semester of Weekend Recs, a blog dedicated to filling you in on what to read, listen to, and watch over the weekend. Jenna, a graduate assistant from the Communication department, scours the internet, peruses the news, and digs through book stacks to find new, relevant, and thought-provoking content that will challenge you and prepare you for the upcoming week. 

The MLB season is finally upon us, despite delays that pushed opening day from Thursday, March 31, to Thursday, April 7. The 2021-22 MLB lockout was the first since 1994; however, negotiations have now been settled, and the season can begin!

So let’s root, root, root for the home team (Go, Phillies!) and learn a little more about what’s happening currently in baseball with this week’s weekend recs, whether you have two minutes or an entire afternoon. 

If you have 2 minutes… read about MLB Opening Day and the decline in ticket sales. 

If you have 7 minutes and 39 seconds… watch this video from December breaking down the MLB lockout, what both sides want, and what the consequences are. 

Bonus: Watch this 8-minute-and-37-second video updating people on the MLB lockout. 

If you have 1 hour and 48 minutes… watch “Bull Durham,” arguably the best baseball movie of all time. 

If you have 8 hours and 20 minutes… read Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game, the story about the Oakland Athletics baseball team and its general manager Billy Beane. 

If you have the afternoon… buy tickets to support Philadelphia’s very own Phillies in their opening weekend games against the Oakland Athletics.  

Jenna Renaud is a graduate assistant in Falvey Memorial Library and a graduate student in the Communication Department.


Weekend Recs: 2022 Oscars

By Jenna Renaud

Happy Friday, Wildcats! Falvey Memorial Library is delivering you another semester of Weekend Recs, a blog dedicated to filling you in on what to read, listen to, and watch over the weekend. Jenna, a graduate assistant from the Communication department, scours the internet, peruses the news, and digs through book stacks to find new, relevant, and thought-provoking content that will challenge you and prepare you for the upcoming week. 

Beyond the Wildcats clinching their spot in the Final Four, the weekend brought additional excitement with what was poised to be the first “normal” Oscars since pre-COVID. However, in actuality, the Oscars were anything but. From a big win for Deaf culture to the slap heard ‘round the world, we’re breaking down everything Oscars-related, whether you have 2 minutes or 14+ hours. 

If you have 2 minutes and 39 seconds… watch Megan Thee Stallion perform “We Don’t Talk About Bruno.” 

If you have 5 minutes… read this article breaking down everything you need to know about Will Smith slapping Chris Rock and why Chris Rock’s joke was problematic. Synopsis: You don’t joke about a Black woman’s hair. 

Bonus: On a lighter note, look up the memes that have resulted from the incident! 

If you have 1 hour and 14 minutes… Listen to Hans Zimmer’s score for Dune, winner of best original score category in last weekend’s awards. 

If you have 1 hour and 52 minutes… watch the 2022 Oscar’s best film CODA, a movie bringing Deaf culture and Deaf actors to the forefront. 

If you have 14 hours (and no work to do)… read the novel Dune. Because let’s be honest, the books are better than the movie nine times out of 10, and the movie had a pretty good showing Sunday night. 

Jenna Renaud is a Graduate Assistant in Falvey Memorial Library and a Graduate Student in the Communication Department.


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Dig Deeper: Villanova Theatre Presents The Revolutionists

By Jenna Renaud

“I write plays that I like to describe as having endings with hard hope…It makes the characters and hopefully the audience want to keep fighting, keep going, keep living, and keep learning at the end of the play.”
Lauren Gunderson 

The Revolutionists: A Villanova Theatre Production

Villanova Theatre is back for the spring semester with its newest comedy production, The Revolutionists. The show runs Feb. 1020 in the Court Theatre housed in the John and Joan Mullen Center for the Performing Arts. The show is written by Lauren Gunderson and directed by Valerie Joyce. 

The Cincinnati Inquirer describes The Revolutionists as follows: In the shadow of an overworked guillotine, four badass women collide and collude in Paris during the Reign of Terror: fugitive queen Marie Antoinette, idealist assassin Charlotte Corday, Caribbean spy Marianne Angelle, and beleaguered playwright Olympe de Gouges (who just wants to make the plot work out). Lauren Gunderson’s breakneck comedy of ideas is a fiercely funny fever dream as well as a timely rumination on the role of violence in the quest for change, a “sassy, hold-on-to-your-seats theatrical adventure.” 

Dig Deeper into The Revolutionists 

Women and the French Revolution 

Photo provided by Kimberly Reilly & Villanova Theatre

The French Revolution took place from May 1789 to November 1799 and is considered one of the largest and bloodiest upheavals in European history. French citizens eliminated the absolute monarchy and feudal system and created an entirely new political and social framework. Following the death of the King, a radical group called the Jacobins took over, ushering France into what would be later known as “The Reign of Terror.” During that time, they murdered over 17,000 people. In 1795, a new, relatively moderate constitution was adopted and opposition was stopped through the use of the French army, led by Napoleon Bonaparte. Political corruption and unrest continued until 1799 when Napoleon staged a coup to declare himself France’s “first consul.”

During the time of the French Revolution, women began to speak up and fought for their own rights. Following the storming of the Bastille in 1789, women began to join in riots, demonstrate for their rights, and attend the political clubs of men. Although there was no major change regarding the rights of women following the Revolution, they made their presence known and are depicted in the majority of revolutionary art for being symbols of revolutionary values. 

Dig Deeper into Women and the French Revolution 

Jenna Renaud is a Graduate Assistant in Falvey Memorial Library and a Graduate Student in the Communication Department.


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Last Modified: February 17, 2022

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