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Happy Lunar New Year!

By Ethan Shea

"Paper Lanterns"

On Feb. 1, it will officially be Lunar New Year 2022! Because of the lunar calendar that dictates when festivities occur, this celebration can take place, on any given year, between Jan. 21 and Feb. 20. Lunar New Year is celebrated throughout most of Asia, and although many Lunar New Year celebrations take place on the same date according to the Chinese Lunisolar Calendar, there are several differences in how celebrations are carried out in different nations.

The term “Chinese New Year” is often used synonymously with “Lunar New Year,” but celebrations in Vietnam or Thailand, for example, are obviously not the same as Chinese New Year, even if they fall on the same date. Not to mention the Lunar New Year celebrations that take place in other parts of the world like the Middle East and North America.

"Phases of the moon"

Phases of the moon

Regarding the Chinese Lunisolar Calendar, 2022 will be the first Year of the Tiger since 2010, as the calendar operates upon a 12-year cycle. Anyone who was born in 2010, 1998, 1986, 1974, 1962, 1950, or 1938 is in luck this year, as those are all the most recent Years of the Tiger.

To celebrate Lunar New Year yourself, there will be many opportunities to do so near our area, especially in Center City. If you’re able to take a trip to Philadelphia over the weekend, you should check out the festivities in Dilworth Park on Jan. 29. There will be dancing, ice skating, and lots of delicious food!

Additionally, we have plenty of resources here at Falvey Library to help you celebrate or learn more about Lunar New Year. For example, you can take a look at the book The Spring Festival, which is titled after another name for the holiday period surrounding Lunar New Year, to find out more about these holiday traditions.


Headshot of Ethan SheaEthan Shea is a first-year English Graduate Student and Graduate Assistant at Falvey Memorial Library.

 

 


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Stax in the Cat: Opposite Day

By Ethan Shea

""

It’s a classic ruse. Your parents tell you to do something, and you proceed to do precisely the opposite. They’re shocked by your actions. “Why would you do such a thing?” they say. You smile as you triumphantly declare it to be Opposite Day.

This hallowed holiday is generally treated as a means to evade chores, but in fact, Opposite Day officially occurs on Jan. 25. To honor this annual tradition, I’m doing the opposite of what’s expected by publishing this blog the day after Opposite Day. It wouldn’t be very festive of me to actually post a blog about Opposite Day on Opposite Day. That’s just too predictable.

"President Calvin Coolidge"

President Calvin Coolidge

Opposite day is a tradition dating back to the 1920s. The holiday originates from everyone’s favorite president, the one and only “Cool Cal,” or Calvin Coolidge if you’re a fan of formality. Before campaigns for the 1928 election began, Coolidge, who was President at the time, claimed “I do not choose to run.” The ambiguity of his statement led many people to believe Cal meant the opposite of what he said.

I don’t know about you, but the fact that Opposite Day is really just a way of making fun of a politician’s poor choice of words makes the holiday even more entertaining.

To complicate things a bit, whether Opposite Day can even exist is an ongoing debate. If I declare it to be Opposite Day, and it becomes Opposite Day, does that not mean the opposite of my statement is true, so it would just be a normal day, right? Contrarily, if I say it is not Opposite Day, it is just a normal day, so my statement stands, and it really isn’t Opposite Day. I guess if we all agree to celebrate Opposite Day on Jan. 25, no one has to say anything, and Opposite Day can finally prevail.

There are plenty of ways to celebrate Opposite Day here at Falvey Library! One way is to take a minute to look through our collections on polar exploration. There are several artifacts and stories about voyages to both the North and South Poles. It doesn’t get more opposite that that!

If you’re feeling hungry, check out some of Falvey’s culinary books and search for a recipe with sweet and sour sauce. Who would’ve thought opposites could taste so good!

Lastly, if you can’t find the words to describe how you feel about Opposite Day, look through a thesaurus to browse an endless number of synonyms and antonyms, the epitome of opposites in the world of words.


Headshot of Ethan SheaEthan Shea is a first-year English Graduate Student and Graduate Assistant at Falvey Memorial Library.


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Cat in the Stax: Winter Break Reading Follow-up

By Ethan Shea

"Woman reading on park bench in winter"

It feels like I spend more time talking about books I intend to read than I actually spend reading, but during winter break, I surprised myself by following through with most of my reading plans! In spite of the chaos of the holidays and a hectic travel schedule, it was a refreshing change of pace to briefly turn off the English student part of my brain and fall into a habit of reading solely because I feel like it. Rather than dwelling on every adjective and metaphor or digging into deeper meanings behind each text’s symbolism, I just kicked back and let the words flow through me.

As you can see in this blog from December, curated by Falvey’s very own Kallie Stahl, I set out to read a few specific books during break, so in this blog, I’m going to let you know what I think of the books I read and whether or not I recommend them.

"'The Picture of Dorian Gray' Book Cover"The Picture of Dorian Gray – Oscar Wilde

I had high expectations for this book… and Oscar Wilde exceeded all of them. As Wilde’s only novel, A Picture of Dorian Gray has earned a mythical status as a nearly perfect novel, and now I understand why.

Poetry is Wilde’s usual form of choice, but he mastered the novel on his first attempt. I found that Wilde’s prose almost reads as poetry. His passages flow like melted gold, showing just how meticulous he is about choosing each and every word.

Dorian Gray may also be the most quotable book I’ve ever read. The character Lord Henry is always armed with a pithy retort or epigram that will make you re-evaluate your philosophy of life. My only warning is that in the wrong hands, this book could turn its reader to a narcissist, but Wilde might say that’s nothing to be weary of. I’m not sure if this novel has any morals or if its value is simply found in its beauty, like Dorian himself. I’ll leave that for you to decide.

So, would I recommend this book..? Yes!

"'One Day in December' Book Cover"One Day in December – Josie Silver

The spontaneous formation of a book club put together by my extended family led me to read One Day in December. It isn’t something I would usually gravitate toward, but nonetheless, I decided to listen to my aunt’s recommendation and give romance a chance.

I want to begin by saying I have nothing against the romance genre. Indulging in a melodramatic love story from time to time can be a lot of fun, but fun is not how I would describe my experience reading One Day in December.

Perhaps if this story were condensed a bit it would have been a quick and entertaining read, but One Day in December is nearly 500 pages long and takes place over the course of ten long years. Replace the content of the Lord of the Rings trilogy with a drawn-out plot from the most lifeless Hallmark movie you can imagine, and you’ll have an idea of what it was like reading this book. I wish I could tell you the experience was forgettable, but unfortunately, the particulars of the protagonists’ personal lives are tattooed to the backs of my eyelids. And yes, receiving these tattoos was as painful as you’d imagine.

In spite of this novel’s tedious narrative, both Reese Witherspoon and Mindy Kaling have shown interest in adapting the text to the big screen. I’ll be sure to follow up with a film review when pigs fly.

So, would I recommend this book…? No, but I had a good time tearing it apart with my family.

"'The Song of Achilles' Book Cover"The Song of Achilles – Madeline Miller

I’ve heard endless buzz about The Song of Achilles for years now, and during winter break, I finally took the plunge. This story about a romantic relationship between two men of royal descent, Patroclus and Achilles, is written beautifully, and considering the liberties Miller takes in adapting the ancient story, she remains fairly true to the era.

Miller does not whitewash the harsh realities of the Greek Heroic Age and successfully creates several vivid characters with distinct personalities. The protagonists are forced to grapple with the power of Fate while planning their time left together.

So, would I recommend this book..? Yes, and I’ve already purchased Miller’s second book, Circe.

Although I claimed I would read Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart over break in Kallie’s blog, I chose not to because I wanted to experience it for the first time in Professor Chiji Akoma’s class “Chinua Achebe and the African Novel,” which I am excited to be taking this semester!

Hopefully I keep this habit of personal reading throughout the semester, as it always seems to slip away when the coursework begins to pile up. At the very least, my family’s book club will hold me accountable for reading at least one book not related to my studies each month!


Headshot of Ethan SheaEthan Shea is a first-year English Graduate Student and Graduate Assistant at Falvey Memorial Library.


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New Exhibit: “That Fairyland of Ice”: Polar Exploration in Mind and Memory

Falvey Memorial Library is pleased to announce the opening of a new exhibit, both in the Library’s first floor display cases and online.

“That Fairyland of Ice”: Polar Exploration in Mind and Memory highlights the generous donation of a collection of books and items about the Arctic and Antarctic recently given to the Library’s Distinctive Collections by Dr. James Wheeler. “In organizing this exhibit, we really wanted to share the depth and range of this new collection,” says Laura Bang, Distinctive Collections Librarian and co-curator of the exhibit. “It was also important that we make connections with our other collections materials as well as current issues affecting the polar regions today such as global warming and climate change. These connections really enhance the relevancy of this collection.”

“The title reflects these themes of ‘imagining’ and ‘remembering’ that are present throughout the exhibit,” says Rebecca Oviedo, Distinctive Collections Archivist and the other co-curator. “Many of the items on display are published narrative memoirs of expedition journeys written for general audiences.” From the exhibit introduction:

While these explorative voyages were scientific in nature, the books satisfied public fascination with the polar regions by visualizing previously unknown territories through word and image. But even as explorers filled in and corrected maps and myths, we continue to imagine and construct—from works of pure fiction to conjectures of lost expeditions. And as we read about “that fairyland of ice” we watch it slowly disappear as dire warnings about climate change threaten what we have come to know of the Arctic and Antarctic—once again to mind and memory.

The online exhibit contains additional materials beyond what is on display in the Library. “We are physically limited by what will actually fit in the cases,” says Oviedo, “and we can only show one page of a book at a time, for example, whereas online we can show several pages or even an entire book if we want.” Links to items that have been fully digitized in Villanova’s Digital Library are included when applicable. The online exhibit includes additional section headings as well as a Q & A with Dr. James Wheeler about collecting and acquiring the eclectic collection that now bears his name.

The exhibit was curated by Oviedo and Bang. Graphics created by Joanne Quinn, Director of Communication and Marketing. Photos courtesy of Kallie Stahl, Communication and Marketing Specialist.


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A History of Martin Luther King Jr. Day

By Ethan Shea

"Martin Luther King Jr. Statue"

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was born on Jan. 15, 1929, yet we will celebrate the life of Dr. King on the seventeenth of the month this year. MLK Day does not fall on January 15 every year due to a law known as the “Uniform Monday Holiday Act” of 1968. This law moved several federal holidays to Mondays permanently in order to create more long weekends for federal workers, a move also meant to boost the travel industry. However, as you probably recognize, not all federal holidays fall on Mondays. Veteran’s Day, for example, was moved back to its traditional date of Nov. 11 by Congress in 1975.

Although Martin Luther King Jr. day was not yet a federal holiday when the “Uniform Monday Holiday Act” was first implemented, the law set the precedent that brought the holiday to be celebrated on the third Monday of January rather than January 15. According to current laws, the earliest the holiday will be celebrated is January 15, and the latest it can occur is January 21.

Compared to many holidays, Martin Luther King Jr. Day is a relatively new one, as it did not become a federal holiday until 1983, but it is worth noting that ten years earlier, in 1973, Illinois became the first member of the union to declare MLK Day a state holiday. An increasing number of people wanted the United States to officially celebrate MLK Day at the national level, and eventually the holiday garnered enough support to be signed into law.

Leaving the logistics of the holiday aside for a moment, as fascinating as they are, no matter which date the third Monday of January happens to fall upon, it is important to recognize the immense social and cultural impact Dr. King had on not only the United States, but the entire world. King’s leadership throughout the Montgomery bus boycott, Birmingham civil rights campaign and 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, where King delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech, among countless other accomplishments, were critical to the strides toward equality King engendered during his lifetime. Acknowledging Dr. King’s achievements and working to continue his undying push for social justice are critical when recognizing this immeasurably important holiday.

MLK Jr Marching

MLK in the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday, August 28, 1963.

If you are interested in learning more about Martin Luther King Jr. Day or the life of Dr. King himself, here are a few resources available at Falvey Memorial Library worth reading:


Headshot of Ethan SheaEthan Shea is a first-year English Graduate Student and Graduate Assistant at Falvey Memorial Library.


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Disposable Mask Waste on Campus: Please Be Mindful of Your Environmental Impact

Disposable mask near statue of St. Thomas of VillanovaAfter reading about the 130 billion disposable masks used globally each month during the height of the pandemic, according to the Sierra Club, I couldn’t help but see all of the masks littered across the campus, even nearby the statue of St. Thomas of Villanova, the University patron.

Additional research revealed the personal protective equipment (PPE) waste has been observed in the ocean and washing up on shores. It threatens ocean life, like whales and turtles.

And, according to a story from the MIT News Office, the cost to our environment will only continue. “The Covid-19 pandemic is estimated to generate up to 7,200 tons of medical waste every day, much of which is disposable masks. And even as the pandemic slows down in some parts of the world, health care workers are expected to continue wearing masks most of the time.”

I reached out to Villanova’s Sustainability Office to ask “what can we do?” Turns out masks are difficult to recycle, but the office found a company that handles them and responded, “If you collect them, we will fund a recycling solution.”

I expected to find a handful, maybe 50. But the problem of one person accidentally dropping a mask was magnified when there are thousands of students, faculty, staff, and visitors. I would collect what I saw along 2-3-mile runs, circling, eventually, the whole campus.

Map of running route

An example of a typical day’s route around campus.

Yet each morning I ventured out, there were new masks to find in the same places. Some days topped 40-60 masks, but it wasn’t until I passed 400 masks in less than a month that I understood the scope of the  problem.

Why was this happening?

I never saw anyone drop a mask, so I pondered where they appeared and reflected about how they may have appeared there. While the whole campus had a least some mask litter, most was squished near cars, frozen on pathways, dangling from plants in front of academic buildings and residence halls…even blown against the fences of our beloved campus community garden.

As of this morning, Jan. 13, I have collected 729 disposable masks, along with 65 reusable ones. 

Disposable Mask Chart

It’s clear that this is not one person or group. It is a community problem. Likewise, this could be solved by the community. It takes all of us.

I know. Masks are no fun. Just one more thing to carry. And disposable masks (vital protection during a public health crisis) are treated like plastic bags or soda cans. If they are dropped, people don’t go back to find them, and if seen on the ground, they are ignored. But if everyone ignores them, what then?

Disposable mask hanging from plants on Villanova's campus.

A disposable mask, one of more than 794 masks collected, hanging from plants on campus.

In a community of thousands, nearly 800 masks left on the ground is completely avoidable. If our community can be mindful of their masks and reuse them, or discard them when they are worn out, we can reduce the issue, at least in our small community.

Better yet! Drop them off to me, and I’ll recycle them.

A big improvement would be to invest in reusable masks, but, at the very least, be as mindful of those items as you are of your phone.

If you dropped your phone, you’d go back to get it.

Villanova can be a model for how sustainability can succeed beyond campus. And working together to make small changes, just as we have to ensure campus environmental health and safety, we can model how to make a big difference in our world.

Learn more about the impact of mask waste (and possible solutions) during the pandemic through the Library’s digital resources:

Face Masks, PPE and Throwaway Cutlery — After Covid, Where’s Next for Sustainable Packaging? The Global Pandemic Pushed Consumer Behaviour Back Toward Single-use Plastics to Avoid Contamination. So How Can Short-term Hygiene Requirements Be Balanced with Long-term Sustainability Goals?The Guardian (London, England), 2021.

Hartanto, Broto Widya, and Dyah Samti Mayasari. “Environmentally Friendly Non-medical Mask: An Attempt to Reduce the Environmental Impact from Used Masks During COVID 19 Pandemic.” Science of the Total Environment, vol. 760, 2021.

Majerník, Milan, et al. “Environmental Waste Management of Disposable Surgical Coverage.Polish Journal of Environmental Studies, vol. 30, no. 6, 2021, pp. 5163-5174.

Torres, Fernando G., and Gabriel E. De-la-Torre. “Face Mask Waste Generation and Management During the COVID-19 Pandemic: An Overview and the Peruvian Case.Science of the Total Environment, vol. 786, 2021.

Venesoja, Anu, et al. “Healthcare Workers’ Experiences and Views of Using Surgical Masks and Respirators, and Their Attitudes on the Sustainability: A Semi-Structured Survey Study During COVID-19.” Nursing Reports, vol. 11, no. 3, 2021, pp. 615-628.


Shawn ProctorShawn Proctor is Communication and Marketing Program Manager at Falvey Memorial Library.

 


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Cat in the Stax: Another Resolutions Blog

By Ethan Shea

"Woman writing New Year"

Setting New Year’s resolutions is a tradition dating all the way back to the Ancient Babylonians. There’s something to be said about a custom that adapts to several millennia of changes, but I remain hesitant to write yet another blog about resolutions. It’s almost cliché at this point; as soon as January begins the gyms overflow and everyone’s lifestyle changes on a dime. But I’ll admit, the beginning of the year is especially apt for making new habits, so why not take advantage of this opportunity that only comes once a year?

Personally, I’ve never been too invested in New Year’s resolutions. I believe every day is a chance for a fresh start, but it feels obligatory to write something about resolutions during this time of year. Turning the subject into something original isn’t an easy task either, so rather than treating this ‘Cat in the Stax’ as a personal blog like I usually would, I’m going to talk about some resolutions I think everyone can add to their list.

Read more!

I know this goal isn’t very specific, and I’m breaking my own rules about setting “SMART” goals, but that’s sort of the point of this list. Besides, this resolution is very simple. It just means read more than you did last year! If you didn’t read any books last year (surely that’s not true), just try to read one book. One is a lot more than none! Contrarily, if you’re a bookworm who read 30 books in 2021, shoot for 32 this year.

Do something new!

I think it’s important to try new things, whether it’s food, travel destinations or board games, so make sure to keep 2022 fresh by getting out of your daily routine every once in a while. Can we really call the New Year “new” if we keep doing the same things every year? The best way to put the “new” into 2022 is to seek new experiences.

Make time for hobbies!

Having something fun to look forward to is essential to staying sane during a busy semester, so make sure you have a hobby or two to pass the time. These hobbies can often take a backseat in your life when work or school becomes overwhelming, but making sure they don’t slip away entirely is important for maintaining mental health. I know if I don’t make time for hobbies at least a couple times per week, everything in my life becomes more difficult, so I’m making sure to leave time for some fun in 2022.

At the risk of sounding like every other blog during this time of year, those are a few very broad resolutions I think everyone can make use of. You can adjust and specify these as you please to fit your personal goals by perhaps attempting to read twenty novels this year or aiming to try a new food once per month. Regardless of how you craft your resolutions, I hope your 2022 is off to a great start.


Headshot of Ethan SheaEthan Shea is a first-year English Graduate Student and Graduate Assistant at Falvey Memorial Library.


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Falvey Memorial Library: Spring 2022 Service Hours

Banner of spring semester hours. Text on banner listed below.


Falvey Memorial Library service hours for the spring 2022 semester are listed below:

  • Sunday: 12 p.m.–12 a.m. (book stacks close at 11:30 p.m.)
  • Monday—Thursday: 8 a.m.–12 a.m. (book stacks close at 11:30 p.m.)
  • Friday: 8 a.m.–5 p.m. (book stacks close at 4:30 p.m.)
  • Saturday: 9 a.m.–5 p.m. (book stacks close at 4:30 p.m.)

Masks must be worn on all floors and spaces of the building, regardless of vaccination status.

Villanova University students, faculty, and staff with a valid Wildcard have 24/7 card access to the first, second, and ground floors of the Main Library, and all three floors of Old Falvey. Electronic collections (articles, e-books and more!) are accessible through the Library’s website 24/7. Research librarians are available Monday–Friday, 9 a.m.–5 p.m., or by appointment. View the full list of service hours here.


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

 

 


 


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Photo Friday: Villanova Winters Through the Years

By Ethan Shea

"Campus Snow Scene: Alumni Hall"

Photograph of a snowy Alumni Hall (c. 1899 – 1903)

"Campus Snow Scene"

Campus snow scene (c. 1920s)

"Photograph Campus Alumni Hall Winter Scene circa 1920s"

Alumni Hall in the winter (c. 1920s)

"Campus View Snow Scene - Dougherty Hall"

Photograph of a snow-clad Dougherty Hall (1960)

"Campus Snow Scene with view of St. Thomas of Villanova Church and St. Rita's Hall"

Campus snow scene with view of St. Thomas of Villanova Church and St. Ritas Hall (c. 1970s)

If warm weather is preventing you from getting into the holiday spirit, Falvey Memorial Library is here to help! Our Digital Library curates countless collections, including the photographs above, creating windows to the past. These images date back to the 19th century and allow us to reminisce on times when our campus was covered in the snow we all (okay, maybe not everyone) know and love. Whether you’re looking forward to winter weather or hoping for continued warmth, here at Falvey, we hope you enjoy the holidays and have a relaxing winter break!


Headshot of Ethan SheaEthan Shea is a first-year English Graduate Student and Graduate Assistant at Falvey Memorial Library.


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Cat in the Stax: Semester Rewind

By Ethan Shea

"women rewind a cassette tape Vintage compact cassette on white background, Close up set of old audio tapes, Retro"

For my last “Cat in the Stax” of the semester, I thought it would be fun to write a semester recap and reflect on some of my favorite moments from fall 2021 while looking ahead toward what the new year holds!

To get the obvious out of the way, this was my first semester at Villanova University and first time publishing “Cat in the Stax” blogs. In my humble opinion, I think the transition to life as a wildcat has gone smoothly, and I couldn’t be happier to be part of the Villanova community.

"Cow Community" by Yunuen Cho

“Cow Community” by Yunuen Cho

As for my favorite “Cat in the Stax” blog, I have to say I’m particularly attached to my post for Hispanic Heritage Month, “Appreciating Hispanic Visual Artists.” I really enjoyed the research that went into that blog, and I loved having the opportunity to promote an upcoming artist.

Writing these blogs has had a substantial impact on my day-to-day life too. After writing about Fantastic Mr. Fox in the “Fall Films for the Faint of Heart” blog, I put the movie on repeat for the next month and started listening to the soundtrack while studying. A couple songs from the film even made it onto my Spotify Wrapped! Additionally, since writing the blog on “Hayao Miyazaki’s (Un)retirement” a few weeks ago, I’ve been watching Studio Ghibli movies whenever I get the chance. I won’t be surprised if some Ghibli scores make it onto my wrapped playlists in 2022.

And speaking of music, my “What are you listening to ?” blog from early in the semester was definitely a highlight for me. It forced me to narrow down some of my favorite musicians and choose a group of artists with diverse styles to present. I enjoyed the process of putting what I love about each album to words too. It helped me appreciate the music even more than I already did.

""

Scene from “Fantastic Mr. Fox”

"Album cover of the album 'Mood Valiant" by Hiatus Kaiyote"

“Mood Valiant” by Hiatus Kaiyote

“Cat in the Stax” blogs also taught me lots of fun facts. For example, who knew the Department of Transportation oversees timezones in the United States? I certainly didn’t until I wrote “Why Daylight Saving Time Scares Me.” Moreover, discovering that late-night study sessions can actually be productive by writing the “Answering All Your Study Questions” blog has made me feel a lot better about my nocturnal habits.

And we can’t forget the memorable events tied to “Cat in the Stax” blogs this semester. My personal favorite was Wildcat Thrifting. Not only was this the first student-run Wildcat Thrift ever, I also discovered some more places to thrift near campus while writing the blog for it.

"Photo from Wildcat Thrift Event"

Photo from Wildcat Thrift

As for next semester, there are plenty of occasions I’m looking forward to. For one, Lit Fest 2022 is sure to be a hit, and I’m excited to learn about all the amazing writers that will be there!

There are plenty more “Cat in the Stax” blogs to come next year, and I truly appreciate everyone who reads these posts!

To wrap things up, I hope everyone enjoys winter break and finds time to read a good book. Happy holidays!

 


Headshot of Ethan SheaEthan Shea is a first-year English Graduate Student and Graduate Assistant at Falvey Memorial Library.


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Last Modified: December 15, 2021