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Curious Cat: Fall or Spring Semester

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Happy Thursday, Wildcats! This week, the Curious Cat team wanted to know which academic semester students preferred. We asked library patrons, “Do you like the fall or spring semester better?”

“Spring!”
-Peyton Walker ’26 CLAS

 

“Fall”
-Ella Heckman ’26 CON

 

“Spring”
-Molly O’Connell ’26 CLAS

 


Rebecca AmrickRebecca Amrick is a first-year graduate student in the English Department and a Graduate Assistant at Falvey Library.

 

 

 

Julia Wagner ’26 CLAS is a second-year Economics major and student worker at Falvey Library.

 

 

 


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Villanova Theatre’s 2024 Debut: Crazy for You

By Rebecca Amrick

Photo courtesy of Villanova Theatre

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to see Villanova’s Theatre’s production of Crazy for You. This musical, written by Ken Ludwig, features Bobby Child, a reluctant uptown banker, who dreams of dancing on Broadway–but instead of getting his foot in the door, it seems he’s always stepping on toes. When Bobby is sent to foreclose on a rundown theatre in Nevada, his luck takes an unexpected turn as he falls head-over-heels for the theatre owner’s daughter, Polly Baker. Set in the 1930s and scored with the infectious songs of George and Ira Gershwin, this firecracker of a musical showcases classic tunes like “I Got Rhythm,” “Embraceable You” and “Someone to Watch Over Me.” Winner of the Tony Award for Best Musical, this madcap comedy “makes everything old feel new again” (New York Times).

This show was directed by Villanova University’s President, Rev. Peter M. Donohue, OSA, PhD. Father Donohue served as Villanova’s chair of theatre department from 1992-2006 before he became the University’s 32nd president.

This musical was such a joy to watch. It’s colorful, funny, and full of great characters. This show’s got everything: hilarious wit and physical comedy, multiple love stories, catchy songs, and lots and lots of tap dancing! All the dance numbers were amazing and truly took my breath away. Truly a wonderful show!

 

To learn more about Crazy for You, check out this virtual playbill which includes a note from the dramaturg as well as information about the playwright and musical composers.

Check out the education guide for more information about this show’s director and dramaturgs as well as some context for the show’s setting.


Rebecca AmrickRebecca Amrick is a first year graduate student in the English Department and a Graduate Assistant at Falvey Library.


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Cat in the Stax: Leap Year

As Falvey’s Cat in the Stax, Rebecca writes articles covering a broad range of topics, from academics to hobbies to random events. All the while highlighting how Falvey Library can enhance your Villanova experience!

Happy Wednesday, Wildcats! March is almost here, which means spring break is right around the corner! I wish you all a safe, relaxing, and fun week off. Enjoy it, I know I will!

I don’t know how many of you noticed, but this year is a leap year! That means this year will last 366 days and the month of February is 29 days instead of the usual 28.

Fun Fact: Did you know that Ireland has an old tradition where women can propose to their boyfriends on Leap Day, Feb. 29? This day is known as either “Bachelor’s Day” or “Ladies Privilege.” Not only that, but according to Irish folklore, any man who rejects a proposal must compensate the woman with a gift—either a kiss, a silk gown, or gloves. This tradition is the premise for the 2010 movie Leap Year, starring Amy Adams, which you can get through Falvey’s Interlibrary Loan Program.

Image by wongmbatuloyo from iStock.com

 

But why do we have leap years? Basically, the purpose of a leap year is to keep our calendars aligned with Earth’s revolution around the Sun. We attribute one year to the amount of time it takes for the Earth to make a complete revolution. The Gregorian Calendar has 365 days in a single year, but in reality, it takes Earth approximately 365.242189 days to circle the Sun, which leaves an extra 5 hours, 48 minutes, and 45 seconds unaccounted for in our calendar. That means we’re getting behind Earth’s orbit by almost 6 hours every year, so we add a day every few years to make up for this extra time.

 

People tend to think leap years occur every four years, but this is actually not true! Julius Caesar, the Roman General who first introduced the concept into western calendars, established the formula that a leap year should occur every four years. However, this led to too many leap years in the Julian Calendar which placed religious holidays out of sync with fixed dates such as equinoxes and solstices by several days. Pope Gregory XIII developed his own calendar, the Gregorian Calendar, in 1582 to fix this error. His new formula determines whether a leap year should occur based on three criteria:

  1. The year must be divisible by four
  2. If the year can be evenly divided by 100, then it is not a leap year; UNLESS
  3. The year is also evenly divisible by 400—then it is a leap year

So there you have it, the long and somewhat complex history and understanding of leap years boiled down into a few paragraphs. An occasional event that we all take for granted has some interesting history and a bunch of science behind its origin.


Rebecca Amrick

Rebecca Amrick is a first-year graduate student in the English Department and a Graduate Assistant at Falvey Library.


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Curious Cat: Spring Break Plans

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Happy Thursday, Wildcats! Spring break is less than two weeks away, and the Curious Cat team wanted to know what students had planned for the week. We asked students at Falvey, “What are you doing over spring break?”

“Going to South Carolina with friends”
-Gianna Angelone ’27 CLAS

 

“Miami!”
-Madeline Cunningham ’26 COE

 

“Going home”
-Taylor Dillon ’26 CLAS

 


Rebecca AmrickRebecca Amrick is a first-year graduate student in the English Department and a Graduate Assistant at Falvey Library.

 

 

 

Julia Wagner ’26 CLAS is a second-year Economics major and student worker at Falvey Library.

 

 

 


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TBT: “Twinkles in Their Eyes”

Image courtesy of the Villanova Digital Library (Bell Air 1964, p. 166)


Villanova’s 2024 Winter Gala has concluded, and students will now wait another year to dress up and take some pictures in Driscoll all while freezing in their suits, dresses, and heels in the chilly Pennsylvania weather.

Today’s TBT features a Junior Week formal from 1964. Would you wear any of these styles? Don’t forget, vintage styles are making a comeback! Maybe keep some inspiration in your back pocket for next year’s Gala.

Now that this Winter Gala is over, students are forced to face a long two weeks before they can bask in the relief of spring break, which is coming up after classes end on March 1. We hope that for those who attended the Winter Gala this past weekend, you enjoyed every minute with your friends dancing on the floor and saw “twinkles in their eyes and glows on their faces,” and that those memories will hold you over these next two weeks (and until the Winter Gala next year!)

Happy Thursday!


AJ Balinski ‘26 CLAS is a Communication major from Gibraltar, Mich. She works as a Communication & Marketing Student Assistant at Falvey Library.

 

 


 


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Cat in the Stax: Author Spotlight: Zadie Smith

As Falvey’s Cat in the Stax, Rebecca writes articles covering a broad range of topics, from academics to hobbies to random events. All the while highlighting how Falvey Library can enhance your Villanova experience!

Happy Wednesday, Wildcats, and welcome to a new segment I’m introducing into the Cat in a Stax Blog: Author Spotlight. I love to read, it’s probably one of my favorite pastimes. And as an English grad student, I’m constantly introduced to writers and texts I might not have otherwise have heard of, let alone read. I want to use this platform to expand your readership and hopefully help you discover some new interests in literature. Every month, one Cat in the Stax post will be dedicated to informing about and celebrating a  writer whose work is available at here at Falvey. Our very first featured author? Zadie Smith.

Photo by David Levenson/Getty Images

Zadie Smith is a British writer whose work includes novels, essays, and short stories. She was born in London, England on Oct. 27, 1975 to a Jamaican mother and an English father. She studied English Literature at Cambridge University and graduated with her B.A. in 1998. In 2010, she became a tenured professor of Creative Writing at New York University. For Smith, fiction is “a medium that must always allow itself . . . the possibility of expressing intimate and inconvenient truths.” She explores many of these truths in her work, which often ponder questions of race, religion, and cultural identity.

Her debut novel, White Teeth, was published in 2000. It explores a contemporary multicultural London through the lives of three different, but connected, families. The book was an immediate literary sensation and won many awards, including the Guardian First Book Award, the Whitbread First Novel Award, and the Commonwealth Writers Prize (Overall Winner, Best First Book). Her second book, titled The Autograph Man, examines loss, obsession, and the nature of fame. This book won the 2003 Jewish Quarterly Literary Prize for Fiction. It was also this same year that Granta magazine named Smith as one of 20 “Best of Young British Novelists” and published her short story Martha, Martha in their 2003 issue. On Beauty is Smith’s third novel (published in 2005), and tells the story of two families living in the fictional town of Wellington, Massachusetts. On Beauty won the 2006 Orange Prize for Fiction.

Smith is also the author of NW, a story focused on the friendship between two women in London that is tested by the trials and tribulations of adulthood, and Swing Time, which follows the lives of two aspiring dancers whose lives take drastically different turns. Smith’s most recent book, The Fraud, is set in Victorian London and based on the historical Tichborne Trial. The Fraud can be found on Falvey’s new Popular Reading Shelves.

Zadie Smith’s work includes essays and short stories as well. A collection of her short stories was published in 2019, titled Grand Union. She has three essay collections: Changing My MindFeel Free, and Intimations. Smith also wrote a play called The Wife of Willesden, a reimagining of Geoffrey Chaucer’s Wife of Bath’s Tale from his Canterbury Tales.

If you’re looking to read something different that will make you think, definitely check out this incredible and prolific writer!


Rebecca Amrick

Rebecca Amrick is a first year graduate student in the English Department and a Graduate Assistant at Falvey Library.


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Curious Cat: Favorite Campus Food

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Happy Thursday, Wildcats! This week, the Curious Cat team wanted to know what campus foods students enjoyed. We asked library patrons, “What is your favorite food to eat on campus?”

“Cova Nachos”
-Kayleigh Wallis ’25 CLAS

 

“Spicy Breaded Chicken Conn Sammy”
-Kelsi Membrino ’25 CLAS

 

“Smoothies”
-Peyton Gibbs ’27 CLAS

 


Rebecca AmrickRebecca Amrick is a first-year graduate student in the English Department and a Graduate Assistant at Falvey Library.

 

 

 

Julia Wagner ’26 CLAS is a second-year Economics major and student worker at Falvey Library.

 

 

 


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Panel on Land Acknowledgements: 2/21


Join us on Wednesday, Feb. 21 from 12-1:30 p.m. in Falvey Library’s Speakers’ Corner for a conversation on the impact of Land Acknowledgements at academic institutions and why they are merely a starting point to supporting indigenous communities. We will be joined by panelists Adam DePaul, Chief of Education and Tribal Storykeeper; Lenape Nation of Pennsylvania; as well as Modonna Kongal, Meg Martin, and Autumn Coard from N.I.S.A, the Native Indigenous Students Association. Elisha Chi, a registered descendent of the Inupiaq of the Bering Straits region and Irish/British Catholics, is moderating this panel.

After the panel, Adam DePaul, Chief of Education and Tribal Storykeeper; Lenape Nation of Pennsylvania, will lead  a conversation about approaches to including and teaching Lenape material in the classroom. This event will primarily be driven by questions and thoughts from the audience, so we welcome participation across the university community. Join us from 1:45-3 p.m. in Falvey Library’s Speakers’ Corner.

These ACS-approved events are co-sponsored by Falvey Library/ Falvey’s DEI Committee, the Center for Peace and Justice Education, and the Albert Lepage Center for History in the Public Interest, and N.I.S.A, the Native Indigenous Students Association. A light lunch will be served.


 


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The Visual Representation of Data

By Jutta Seibert

Elmer R. Kottcamp, Weather
Vane, c. 1941, watercolor and
graphite on paper, 43.9 x 31 cm.
Courtesy of the National
Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.

Visual representations of data help us understand numbers and their relationships with each other at their best, at their worst they misrepresent and distort what they represent. In our data-driven world visual literacy has become a critical component of information literacy. Thus, it should come as no surprise that this year the Library included a data visualization competition in its Love Data Week lineup.

Humans are remarkable adept at creating and understanding visual representations of data. While experts are divided on whether or not to count paleolithic cave drawings as early examples of data visualization, there is general consensus that maps are visual data communication tools. The information encoded on maps can be highly complex but nevertheless easy to grasp given a basic familiarity with coding conventions for maps. Some of these conventions are so ubiquitous that they are at times considered universal. This may be true today, but visual codes have changed over time. The four cardinal points are an interesting case in point. While we may consider the placement of the North at the top of a map as universal, not all maps follow this convention: Some Medieval European maps show East, where Jerusalem was situated, at the top of the map, Islamic maps often show the South at the top, and last, but not least, modern GIS systems show the travel goal and not one of the cardinal directions at the top.

Modern computing technology has put a wide range of data visualization tools at our fingertips. We are only a few clicks away from transforming data points on a spreadsheet into picture-perfect pie charts, bar graphs, tree maps, and scatter plots. In fact, creating visualizations is generally easier than understanding some of them. There is evidence that many data visualizations produced today are either nonsensical, pedestrian, or outrightly misleading. Numerous websites and publications are dedicated to the misrepresentation and distortion of data through visualizations. Similarly, a range of academic journals are dedicated to the topic of data visualization in various fields ranging from business to science, and the humanities. In a world where enormous amounts of data are continuously collected, both intentionally and unintentionally, data analysis and data communication are considered basic skills in many professions. Today, visual and data literacy are important components of basic information literacy.

Minard, Charles Joseph. “Representation of successive human loss during the Russia campaign of the French Army, 1812-1813.” Courtesy of the Bibliothèque Nationale de France.

Truly great data visualizations are rare. They tell a story and focus our attention. No specialized data analysis training is needed to understand their message. One of the most widely referenced examples is Charles Joseph Minard’s visualization of the human loss suffered by the French Army during the 1812-13 invasion of Russia and subsequent retreat. Minard’s mash-up of a map and flowchart poignantly shows the stark realities of human loss caused by war. Edward Tufte, a widely respected authority on visualizations and author of multiple works on the topic, calls it “the best statistical graphic ever drawn” on his website.

Explore our recommended reading list below if you are interested in the topic and join us on Friday, February 16 at 10 a.m. for Falvey’s first Data Visualization Competition awards ceremony.

Recommended Readings and Websites

Jutta Seibert is Director of Research Services & Scholarly Engagement at Falvey Memorial Library.

 

 



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I Love FRED

Some Falvey librarians love data, but I love FRED. Since FRED and I don’t have an exclusive relationship, I’d like to introduce you.

My job is to help students and faculty find the data they need. FRED stands for Federal Reserve Economic Data. Its a free online database that evolved to give researchers access to data needed to “understand the Fed’s policy decisions.”(St. Lewis Fed., n.d.) FRED is my helpmate.

Unlike most governmental data sites, FRED is not limited to serving up data gathered and created by it’s parent agency, the Federal Reserve. And you’d be wrong if you assumed that it only covers wonky economic indicators such as GDP, CPI, FDI,  interest rates, unemployment rates or disposable income.

FRED certainly does make data from key federal and international agencies such as the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Bureau of Economic Analysis, and the International Monetary Fund and Eurostat available. But it also hosts lesser known data series from the Energy Information Agency, Federal Highway Administration, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. These data sources are of interest across the social sciences and in STEM fields.

Like most librarians I’m on a budget so I appreciate a cheap date. FRED is free and for me. It hosts a pretty amazing range of select, private data sets from the likes of Haver Analytics, Indeed, National Association of Realtors, Moody’s, Realtor.com, Wilshire and Nikkei. There are robust indices and models built by academics too.

I could go on singing the praises of FRED data, but I’d risk being called a lovesick librarian. Still I can’t help mentioning that the FRED user interface is dreamy. Finding data to download, graph or map is done by keyword or browsing categories or sources. Adding data layers to graphs is intuitive and the options for formatting visualizations are many.

Many relationships involve a bit of regret. Last week I took FRED for granted, FRED wasn’t top of mind when a student stopped by my office looking for big data on housing conditions. She could have had just what she was looking for if I had been more attentive to FRED. Hope she sees this now!


St. Lewis Fed. (n.d.) What is FRED? https://fredhelp.stlouisfed.org/fred/about/about-fred/what-is-fred/


Linda Hauck, MLS, MBA, is Business Librarian at Falvey Library.

 

 


 


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Last Modified: February 14, 2024

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