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Falvey 2016 – A Year in Review

Public Relations 101: tell your brand’s story. Whether you’re Coca-Cola saving the polar bears or the Phillies revolutionizing the recycle bin, positive relations with your stakeholders begins with a story. It makes sense; after all, we are a culture that loves its narratives – “the comeback kid,” “rags to riches,” to name a couple.

Well, here’s a good story. It’s one of love and loss and even renewal right here at your campus library; we’ll call it: “Falvey 2016 – A Year in Review.”

The 100th year of the Villanovan, 2016, began with elucidating talks here at the Falvey coupled with what our own Gina Duffy referred to as the “notorious blizzard of ’16.” While the library played host to Todd Pitock’s talk on international journalism on Jan. 27, the first library-sponsored discussion took place on Jan. 29, a collaborative discussion titled “Replacement Parts.”

Caplan hosts first sponsored event of the year.

Caplan hosts first sponsored event of the year.

This event featured the internationally acclaimed bioethicist Arthur L. Caplan, Ph.D., speaking along with James J. McCartney, OSA, and Daniel P. Reid ’14 CLAS. These three co-editors assembled a collection of essays titled “Replacement Parts: The Ethics of Procuring and Replacing Organs in Humans,” and their talk centered around such issues as transplant tourism and using the media to gain transplant attention.

Two weeks later, on Feb. 11, Falvey played host to esteemed author Daniel Torday. As a part of the Literary Festival co-sponsored by the English Department, he read from and gave a talk about his 2015 novel, titled The Last Flight of Poxl West. The director of creative writing at Bryn Mawr College, Torday won critical acclaim for Poxl West, including the New York Times Book Review Editor’s Choice and the best debut of 2015 award.

Dig Deeper on Torday’s website:

The Falvey celebrated Valentine’s Day of last year by encouraging you to fall in love with a good book. Michelle Callaghan marked the month of February with her Four in February “‘Cat in the Stacks” series, centered on revisiting old video games. One may still wonder why the library chose to cover such a leisure activity as video games, to which Callaghan responds, “games can be quite serious business with intense depth and incredible cultural import.”

While events here at the library reached new heights of intrigue, grim news from the outside world prompted important responses from the Falvey. Most memorably, Zika virus caused quite the scare across the United States and the world, as news emerged of birth defects in various communities throughout the globe. Nursing, Life Sciences and Instructional Services librarian Barbara Quintiliano responded to the Villanova community’s concerns with a blog post covering what we should know.

The world community also lost a couple of outstanding authors in early 2016. On Feb. 19, To Kill a Mockingbird writer Harper Lee passed away in Alabama. Somewhat shadowed by the controversial 2015 publication of Go Set a Watchman, Lee will always be remembered as the author that brought us Atticus Finch and Scout and introduced a generation of young readers to the race issues of 20th-century America.

Umberto Eco passed away on the very same day – Feb. 19. An Italian semiotician, essayist and novelist, Eco brought the world Il nome della rosa (The Name of the Rose). Later converted into a movie starring Sean Connery, The Name of the Rose illustrated Eco’s virtuoso understanding of symbolism, biblical imagery, and medieval themes in fiction. His cherished quote, “I love the smell of book ink in the morning,” was featured in the Falvey’s “‘Caturday” blog.

Amidst all this loss came excitement renewed with fresh emotions surrounding the 2016 presidential election. On Tuesday, March 19th, Speakers’ Corner served as the stage for Professors Billie Murray, Heidi Rose and Camille Burge to discuss how emotions might alter the direction of the 2016 election. Retrospectively, we might say that these professors were really on to something.

March also witnessed the first Reading Villanova Event of 2016. Professors Douglas E. Norton, Mary Angela-Papalaskari and Heidi Rose gave an informed discussion on “Science and the Soul.” Their interdisciplinary talk featured subjects as diverse as mathematics and communication, and statistics and computer science.

The professors of "Science and the Soul," 2016's first Reading Villanova at Falvey.

The professors of “Science and the Soul,” 2016’s first Reading Villanova at Falvey.

April brought reason for celebration as the Falvey commemorated the 100-year anniversary of the Easter Rising of 1916 and invited Asali Solomon to campus at the same time the Wildcats were busy winning the National Championship. The Special Collections Library here at the Falvey launched their digitally curated collection titled “To Strike for Freedom! The 1916 Easter Rising” in memory of the Irish freedom fighters. Solomon celebrated the publication of her novel Disgruntled as a part of the Literary Festival and gave an entertaining reading and talk.

While this historical event and acclaimed author may remind us of the heights of human achievement, Callaghan kept us a little grounded by encouraging us to emulate Kris Jenkins. She reminds us, “when you do your best and truly believe that every shot is going in, you’ll know that every effort you give is a good effort.”

While April showers oft bring May flowers, the reverse occurred at Falvey last year, as April excitement gave way to two important May departures. Bill Greene announced his retirement from the Falvey after 47 years of service to the library, and Michelle Callaghan completed her master’s degree, forcing her to give up the ‘Cat in the Stacks persona to the next up-and-coming English graduate assistant – yours truly.

Bill Greene’s career spanned four decades and serves as an excellent example of the true value of your Villanova education. Greene began working at Falvey as a part-time summer job during his undergraduate years at Villanova. After earning a degree in education in 1972 and a graduate degree in library science in ’74, Greene took up a full-time position at the Falvey. In the next 44 years, he worked preparing bindery shipments, serving on various committees and wrote many articles for literary publication. He earned another graduate degree in liberal studies in 2007 before calling it a career in 2016. (We hope that science-fiction novel is going well, Bill!)

Bill Greene

William Greene

Transformation of Bill Greene from ’72 to ’16.

As the students departed from campus for their summer vacations, the Falvey staff prepared for continued programming and prepared the library, as a space, for the ’16-’17 school year. In June, a panel of alumni authors– including Fr. Paul Morrissey ’61 COE, Jim Dudley ’08 CLAS, ’15 VLS, and Tom Swick ’74 CLAS – visited Speakers’ Corner. Each member of the panel talked about not only writing but also about the publishing and marketing responsibilities of being an author.

Following the visits of the alumni to the Falvey, the periodicals in Speakers’ Corner were rearranged to provide ease of access and space for events. Meanwhile, the staff members began to prepare themselves for the most important rearrangement of space of the year – the opening of the Dugan Polk Family Reading Room.

Speakers' Corner reorganized.

Speakers’ Corner reorganized.

Along with the return of students to campus, August brought with it energies renewed here at the Falvey. Hunter Houtzer took over as the Programming Graduate Assistant. Her freshly launched weekly column “Peek at the Week” gives insight into the upcoming events at the Falvey Memorial Library. Social Sciences and Data Services Liaison Librarian Janice Bially Mattern and Technology Development Graduate Assistant Sravanthi Adusumilli also joined the team at the beginning of the fall term.

Then, with the school year upon us, the staff went hard to work providing space for and promoting the diverse events sponsored by and hosted here at the Falvey. September featured the launch of Hispanic Heritage Month and a visit by OneBook Villanova Author Elizabeth Kolbert.

Hispanic Heritage Month, co-sponsored by the Romance Language Department and the Latin American Studies Program, brought such important members of the local Hispanic community as Professor Raúl Diego Rivera Hernandez and Executive Director of the Mexican Cultural Center of Philadelphia Ana Flores. Regarding Hispanic Heritage Month and her work in Philadelphia, Flores reflected, “You get very nostalgic when you’re far away from home, and this was a way for me to have a piece of home here in my heart in Philly.”

Elizabeth Kolbert visited the library to sign copies of her OneBook Villanova selection “The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History.” She gave an amazing interview with our very own ‘Cat in the Stacks and even chatted with students about their studies as she signed their editions of her work.

'Cat and Kolbert.

‘Cat in the Stacks and Kolbert sit down to chat.

By October, as election fever began to heat up, many Americans and even the Falvey began to ask “Are We There Yet?” In order to whisk us away from our madness, the Special Collections team provided us with a new display, titled “Are We There Yet? Travel, Tourism & Exploration.” Displays on the first floor exhibited such spaces as North America, the World’s Fair, religious travel, exploratory expeditions, and imaginary travels.

The Falvey even opened up a new space of our own for you to explore: The Dugan Polk Family Reading Room. Replete with gorgeous windows, indirect lighting and Pietro da Cortona’s “The Triumph of David,” the Dugan Polk Family Reading Room offers students a tranquil place to study with all the up-to-date technologies required to succeed.

By late October and early November, however, news of the election was on everybody’s mind, and the Falvey sponsored and hosted two events to offer an academic space for discussion. First Dr. John R. Johannes of the Political Science Department, author of “Thinking About Political Reform: How to Fix, or Not Fix, American Government and Politics,” to give a talk about the implications of the election and the potential consequences. Then, following President Trump’s election to office, Political Science Chair Matthew R. Kerbel gave a talk titled “2016 Election Retrospective: What Happened – and What Happens Now?

Tall case resize

Special Collections: “Are We There Yet” display.

As November came to an end, and our tired thoughts turned toward a merrier tune, Sarah Wingo, English literature and theatre librarian, and Alice Bampton of the Communications and Marketing Department brought us all a bit closer with her Advent poetry series. As part of that series, Bill Greene (supra) gave us an excellent sign off from 2016: “Temporal Echoes in the vast night, / Memories sunken, faded from sight, / Awaken at the next encounter!”

In the world outside the library, 2016 chilled hearts and confused minds. For some, it represented a much-needed revolution in American politics; for others, 2016 provided an affront to their ideas of what truly makes America great. Here at the Falvey, though, our mission remained clear; 2016 gave us another opportunity to provide the Villanova community with innovative and accessible spaces to pursue all academic endeavors, while we still hosted and sponsored relevant events to keep the community informed on the latest news in various fields.

What makes this mission possible, however, is the dedication of our wonderful Wildcat community of professors, students, scholars, and professionals to the pursuits made possible here at the Falvey Memorial Library. Thank you for an amazing 2016, Wildcats. We look forward to assisting you throughout 2017.

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2015-2016 Year-in-Review

The Fall 2015 semester saw the launch of “Changing Landscapes: People and Places in the Mill Creek Valley, Lower Merion c.1870-c.1920 another collaboration with Dr. Craig Bailey’s junior history research seminar. Each student selected a property within the Mill Creek Valley area and studied its development over time.

Changing Landscapes

In Spring 2016, we launched “Remembering WWI,” in which graduate history students delved into personal accounts of the First World War — including scrapbooks, postcards, and more — to bring the war to life and explore how individuals chose to remember such a momentous event.

Remembering WWI


Looking back, looking forward

The end of the year is a time for reflection, to look back at what was accomplished and look ahead at what’s to come. Here at Aurelius, we’ve been keeping busy!

This past fall semester, we assisted with another digitally-enhanced class, this time in Classics. Students in Dr. Valentina DeNardis’s Cities of Ancient Greece (Classics 2051) class had a component to present their research on ancient sites on a course website. This website will be similar in appearance to the Ardmore Project, with a map and clickable locations that lead to students’ essays. Students are currently finishing up their coursework as the semester winds down, so this website will be ready for viewing early in 2015, with a launch party for the project scheduled for February 16 (more details to come). Complementing the class on Ancient Greece, we will be assisting with another of Dr. DeNardis’s classes in the spring semester, this time focusing on Ancient Rome. This course will also be discussed at February’s launch party.

Map of Greece

Map of Greece, from volume 8 of The Travels of Anacharsis the Younger.

Our other major project for the fall semester was organizing and hosting a series of Digital Humanities workshops for graduate students. The series consisted of five workshops, beginning with an Introduction to Digital Humanities, and followed by Coding Basics, Audio Editing, WordPress Beyond the Basics, and Mapmaking for Digital Humanities. These workshops were taught by local experts and focused on providing students with an introduction and overview to some useful tools and ideas. Students who participated enjoyed the workshops and learned a lot.

Looking ahead to the spring, in addition to our continued collaboration with Dr. DeNardis on describing the ancient world, we will be collaborating again with Dr. Craig Bailey of the History Department on a reiteration of the Ardmore Project. This time around, we will actually be expanding the project to encompass more of Lower Merion Township. We just met with Dr. Bailey and I’m pretty excited about his ideas for the future of this project!

Map of Lower Merion

Map of Lower Merion, from the Atlas of Philadelphia and Environs (1877).

We wish you a happy & healthy holiday season and we hope you’ll stay tuned for more about our new and continuing projects!


2013-2014 Year-in-Review

The first full academic year of the Aurelius Digital Humanities Initiative was a great success with two classroom-based projects and their respective launch parties.

Ardmore Project logoOn Tuesday, March 11, we launched our first digital humanities project, the Ardmore Project. Looking at “Suburban Life in the Early 20th Century,” this project profiles the town of Ardmore, PA, through an interactive map and case studies. Students in Dr. Craig Bailey’s junior research seminar for History majors learned how to conduct historical research by accessing primary source materials available through local archives and special collections. In addition, students got hand-on experience in editing a website as they compiled their research into biographies and case studies for inclusion in the project website.

El Peru project logoOn Wednesday, April 2, we launched our second project, a digital edition of El Perú en sus tradiciones, en su historia, en su arte. This project is a digital edition of a Spanish-language manuscript from the Special Collections of Falvey Memorial Library. Students in Dr. Chad Leahy’s special topics Spanish class learned about the process of creating and editing digital scholarly editions of texts and got hands-on experience in compiling a digital edition of their own. Students transcribed the text and added light annotations and Dr. Leahy provided the final textual review and corrections.

Both classes had an additional assignment of digitizing materials for Villanova’s Digital Library. In small groups, students made appointments to spend about an hour scanning documents with Digital Library staff. This gave students first-hand experience in how rare and fragile materials are handled and made available to a wider audience through digital copies. Students in Dr. Bailey’s class scanned issues of the Ardmore Chronicle from 1905 while Dr. Leahy’s students scanned Los dramas de la guerra, a serialized account of the First World War published in Barcelona during the war years.

We are really proud of both of these projects. Special thanks go to our faculty collaborators, Dr. Bailey and Dr. Leahy, for recognizing the value of getting digital skills into the classroom. These students now have high-quality digital projects with their names attached that they can refer to as they enter the job market or apply to graduate school. The digital humanities continue to grow and it is important to train the next generation of scholars in the tools and concepts that will become standards.

For the coming year, we are already planning a series of DH workshops for graduate students in the fall semester, putting together more classroom-based projects, and compiling an online exhibit of graduate History students’ research. There is already much to look forward to, so stay tuned as we continue to grow our DH community here at Villanova.

If you have a project idea or would just like to chat about anything digital humanities-related, please get in touch!



Last Modified: May 15, 2014

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