Award-Winning Author Lee Smith to be the Featured Speaker at the Friends Spring 2017 Program on April 4

Author Lee Smith (photo credit: Diane Matthews Photography)

Author Lee Smith (photo credit: Diane Matthews Photography)

The Friends of Hackney Library are pleased to welcome celebrated author Lee Smith as guest speaker at the Spring 2017 Book Signing, Lecture, and Dinner.  The event will take place on Tuesday, April 4, 2017 in Hardy Alumni Hall on the campus of Barton College.  The book signing and wine reception will begin at 6:00 pm, followed by dinner at 6:30 pm and the program immediately after.  Books by the author will be sold both during the reception and following the program.

Lee Smith is the author of thirteen novels, including Oral History, Fair and Tender Ladies, Saving Grace, The Last Girls (a New York Times bestseller), On Agate Hill, and Guests on Earth, among others; four short story collections; an off-Broadway musical, Good ‘Ol Girls (based on the stories of Smith and her former student, author Jill McCorkle).   

Lee Smith Dimestore coverHer most recent work is a memoir, Dimestore:  A Writer’s Life (Algonquin Books, 2016).

Smith was born and raised in Grundy, Virginia, a small Appalachian coal-mining town less than ten miles from the Kentucky border, where her father owned a Ben Franklin five-and-dime store and her mother taught home economics.  She received a bachelor’s degree in English from Hollins College (now University) in Roanoke, Virginia.  This background gave birth to her deep understanding of and empathy for the people of Appalachia and its culture, which is reflected in the sense of place that infuses her work.

Smith was raised in a household in which stories were the currency of communication:  “I didn’t know any writers,” Smith says, “[but] I grew up in the midst of people just talking and talking and talking and telling these stories. My Uncle Vern, who was in the legislature, was a famous storyteller, as were others, including my dad. It was very local. I mean, my mother could make a story out of anything; she’d go to the grocery store and come home with a story,” according to the official biography on Smith’s web site.

As a child of parents steeped in the art of storytelling, Smith naturally followed in their footsteps.  “I started telling stories as soon as I could talk–true stories, and made-up stories, too. It has always been hard for me to tell the difference between them,” she says in “In Her Own Words” on her web site.  A 2003 Southern Living interview with Smith reveals that during her time at Hollins College, she began to appreciate her family’s ability to spin tales from everyday life:  “This language that I grew up with—this wonderful, spoken vernacular language—was beautiful and just so full of rich imagery.”  Not only has her penchant for storytelling found expression in her acclaimed novels, but also in her short stories.  Smith is described on the flyleaf of her short story collection Mrs. Darcy Meets the Blue-Eyed Stranger asa master of the short story [who] has been compared with such luminaries as Katherine Ann Porter, Eudora Welty, and Flannery O’Connor.”  She won O. Henry Awards for her short stories in 1979 and 1981.

That importance of storytelling has stayed with her.  “Narrative is as necessary to me as breathing, as air,” she says.  “I write for the reason I’ve always done so:  simply to survive. To make sense of my life.  I never know what I think until I read what I’ve written.  And I refuse to lead an unexamined life.  No matter how painful it is, I intend to know what’s going on.  The writing itself is a source of strength for me, a way to make it through the night.”

A common thread weaves through her work, from her first story, written at the tender age of 8 on her mother’s stationery, to her latest works.  Smith explains in “In Her Own Words” that she “was fixed upon glamour and flight, two themes I returned to again and again as I wrote my way throughout high school, then college.  Decades later, I’m still at it.”

In addition to the O. Henry Awards, Smith has won numerous accolades for her writing, including the Sir Walter Raleigh Award for Fiction for Oral History in 1983 and Fair and Tender Ladies in 1989; the North Carolina Award for Literature, 1984; the Weatherford Award for Appalachian Literature, 1988; the Robert Penn Warren Prize for Fiction, 1991; the Lila Wallace/Readers Digest Award, 1995 – 1997; the Academy Award in Fiction from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, 1999; the Southern Book Critics Circle Award, 2002 for The Last Girls; admission to the North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame, 2009; the Thomas Wolfe Award, 2010; and the Lifetime Literary Achievement Award from State of Virginia, 2010.  In 1991, she was elected as a member of the Fellowship of Southern Writers.

Her latest effort, Dimestore:  A Writer’s Life, is Smith’s most recent foray into nonfiction and explores the impact on her life and on her life’s work of a childhood rooted in Grundy.  As her web site recounts,

Although her parents were raising her to leave Grundy, Smith loved every aspect of her hometown—set deep in the rugged Appalachian Mountains—from the Ben Franklin dimestore her father owned and ran for many years, to the music played down by the river bank, to ice tea and gossip on the front porch, to the drive-in theater where The Stanley Brothers played before the movie began.  And while her education and travels took her far from Virginia, Smith’s appreciation of Appalachian culture never wavered. In telling the story of her enchanting childhood, revealing the mental illness that courses through her family tree, sharing her mother’s long-cherished recipes, and introducing readers to relatives, local characters, and people who changed her life, Smith portrays a time and place that most of us will never experience, a way of life that is fast disappearing.

Smith explains the inspiration for the 15 essays that appear in the memoir in this way:  “I always knew I wanted to set down some thoughts and reminiscences based around these themes – about place, memory, and writing – but this project got a real kick-start recently when the entire town of Grundy was demolished as part of a flood-control project. . . . Only last August, the house I grew up in was bulldozed too.”  Although the physical town of Grundy, Virginia may now exist only in memory, its influence continues to be felt in Smith’s work.

Praise for Dimestore has poured forth from myriad sources:    Author Annie Dillard (a fellow Hollins alum and college rock band go-go girl), proclaims, “Here’s Lee Smith at her best.  Dimestore is personal nonfiction, where her brilliance shines.  Her wide warmth blesses everything funny about life and–here especially–everything moving and deep.”  Pam Kingsbury of Library Journal concurs in a recent critique: “This memoir is Smith. . . at her finest. There is not one false note in the book. . . .This wonderful memoir—filled with tenderness, compassion, love, and humor—is highly recommended for fans of Smith’s fiction, lovers of Southern writing, and readers who are interested in the changes in small-town America.”  Author Elizabeth Spencer says of this latest effort, “In Lee Smith’s memoir, Dimestore, readers will gladly join her, finding her writing with the same lively spirit that has always informed her fiction. She never turns away from her Appalachian roots, revealing that remote region with discerning affection.”

In addition to crafting her own works of fiction and nonfiction, Smith taught writing for many years at various institutions in the Triangle, including Duke University, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and North Caroline State University.  She lives with her husband, writer Hal Crowther, in Hillsborough, North Carolina.

Smith is currently at work on her next book, to be titled Silver Alert.

Admission for the event is $30 each for Friends of Hackney Library members; for Barton faculty/staff, students, and spouses. For all other guests, admission is $35 each.

For more information about invitations for the event, please contact Luann Clark at (252) 399-6329, or email the Friends at Space is limited, and after invitations have been issued, reservations for the dinner must be received by March 27, 2017.

This event is sponsored in part by BB&T.

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Water Bottle Refilling Station Installed in Library

h20-station-with-treeHackney Library is going green—and we don’t mean the walls!  A new combined water bottle refilling station/water fountain has replaced the old water fountain at the foot of the stairs in the library’s Learning Commons.

It’s one of two Halsey-Taylor Hydroboost units  installed on campus to promote both healthy hydration and ecologically-sound practice (the other is located in Hamlin Student Center).

h20-station-soloThe new station is sensor-operated, allowing users to hold their own water bottles in front of the blue bottle icon and refill them instantaneously with filtered, chilled water.  A regular water fountain spout is part of the assembly as well, so even if water bottles aren’t handy, everyone can still get an H2O fix in the old-fashioned way.

The new station not only promotes healthful habits but also reduces the need for recycling used water bottles (as well as eliminating their improper disposal in the trash).  The new station counts each water bottle refill, so it’s easy for students and other users to see the positive impact of their green habits.

The impetus behind the new installation came from a Green Initiative Project competition among last year’s 2015-16 FYS classes.  Groups researched how Barton’s ecological footprint could be reduced campus wide, developing business plans, and presenting a variety of proposals; the best of each class was then presented to the entire freshmen class and a panel of judges.  FYS instructor Carolyn Hornick’s class won the competition for its proposal to install the new water stations; they presented it to the Barton College Board of Trustees at its April 2016 meeting.  Based on the Board’s enthusiastic support for the proposal, the College funded the installation of these stations, and it’s possible there may eventually be more to come across campus.

So show your green (and health-conscious) side and make good use of the library’s new water bottle station.  Bottoms up, everyone!

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New Student Art to be Exhibited in Hackney Library

shutter-clipart-camera-shutter-icon-pngTwo Barton students–junior art education major Megan Brinkley and senior art and design major Aaron Ellis–will soon be exhibiting their work in the student gallery area in Hackney Library near the elevator on the first floor.  Gerard Lange, Barton associate professor of art, explains the exhibition in this way:

What is a Photograph?

Beginning with the thought of what are the definitions of the word “photograph,” works in this exhibition have been created to either play towards these descriptions or intentionally against them. This is an interesting construct from which to examine what constitutes photography.  Is it specifically the capturing of images with a camera, or is it the reaction of light on photosensitive surfaces?

For each of these works, students Megan Brinkley and Aaron Ellis employed this kind of critical inquiry. Many of these images were made using a nineteenth-century photographic process where chemicals were hand-mixed from raw materials. This is how the particular hues and tonality in some images were created.

However, other works shown here follow the notion of scrutinizing definitions, then accepting or denying what appears in print.   This more conceptual way of working is reflected in Brinkley’s use of seawater to make images of the ocean and moonlight to craft pictures of earth’s satellite.  Likewise, this is seen in Ellis’ abstract compositions created from fading pieces of cardboard and a computer monitor displaying the alphanumeric code that is, in essence, the digital existence of an image.

Essentially, each of these artists is stretching the boundary of lens-based image-making by asking the simple question, what is a photograph?

The exhibit will be installed on Tuesday, December 6, so come by at your leisure (or when you need a break from studying!) to see these students’ exploration of the definition of photography.

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“Study ‘Round the Clock” Returns on Dec. 8 to Hackney Library

pocketwatchCalling all night owls!  Do you need a place to study in comfort and safety into the wee hours during reading period/exams?  If so, Hackney Library is just the place you’re looking for!

Once again, our popular “Study ‘Round the Clock” will return during final exams beginning Thursday, December 8 (Reading Day).  As always, over four nights of this exam period, the library will remain open 24/7.

The library will be open the following hours during Fall 2016 Reading Day and Exams:

  • Thursday, Dec. 8 (Reading Day) through Friday, Dec. 9: Open 8 am Thursday, remaining open continuously until closing at 8 pm Friday
  • Saturday, Dec. 10: 10 am – 7 pm (regular hours)
  • Sunday, Dec. 11 through Wednesday, Dec. 14: Open 2 pm Sunday, remaining open continuously until closing at 6 pm Wednesday
  • Thursday & Friday, Dec. 15 & 16: 8 am – 5 pm

“Study ‘Round the Clock” provides an additional 32 hours that the library will be open during exam period compared to the regular semester. In addition, during exams, free coffee, tea, and hot chocolate will be available while supplies last to Barton students, faculty, and staff.

During these 24/7 periods, library services will be available from 8 am until midnight only. From midnight until 8 am the following morning, no library services will be available, but a police officer will be on hand providing security during that time. (Access will be limited to Barton students only during the midnight to 8 am time slots.  Barton ID will be required for admission from midnight until 8 am).

So plan to visit Hackney Library during exams (remember to bring your ID for admission after midnight!) to get some extra study time in, and get your favorite hot beverage for free!

“Study ‘Round the Clock” is sponsored by Hackney Library, the Friends of Hackney Library, the Barton College Office of Student Affairs, and the Barton Student Government Association.

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Bye-Bye to Hackney Library’s Worn Out Carpet!

Update:  We have now learned that the College’s administration has authorized the re-carpeting of the second floor of Hackney library as well as the first floor over the 2016 Christmas break, so please be patient with some additional disarray as we prepare for the re-carpeting of the ENTIRE library–it will be well worth the temporary mess!

However, this will necessitate the closure of the library from December 15 through January 8 (regular hours will resume on Jan. 9).  As always, online resources will be available to the Barton community, and from off campus with a Barton login.

Original Post:
new-carpet-image-carouselPlease pardon our mess as Hackney Library prepares for the installation of brand new carpet on the first floor and stairs over the Christmas Break!  Our current green carpet has served us well past its expiration date, and it’s time for a change.

The remaining first-floor shelving ranges (which housed the pared-down reference collection, some print periodicals, and our audiovisual collection) are being dismantled as the items on them are either being relocated upstairs (audiovisuals) and elsewhere downstairs (reference), or are being discarded (print periodicals).

The installation of the new carpet is scheduled to begin following Fall Semester exams and to be completed by the start of Spring Semester classes in January, barring any unforeseen obstacles.  The carpet will consist of a series of patterned squares rather than the current broadloom style, which will make it possible to replace worn and stained sections without having to resort to a complete carpet overhaul.  Installation of new carpeting on the second floor is scheduled for a later date.

The project represents the first step in Barton’s commitment to renovate the library, as called for in the institution’s Strategic Plan. Guidance with the selection of the carpet has been graciously afforded by Friends of Hackney Library board members Eliza Stephenson and Leta Grey Williams, interior designers with ESP Interior Design and James Grey & Company, respectively.

Every effort will be made to keep disruptions to our service as minimal as possible during the project (which is one reason it will be undertaken during Christmas break when classes are not in session).  As always, our online resources will be available 24/7 both from on and off campus.

We look forward to welcoming you into our refurbished first-floor space come January!

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Rare Book Room Symposium Coming Oct. 20 to the Hackney Library Learning Commons

rbr-and-studentsHackney Library is pleased to host the third annual K. D. Kennedy, Jr. Rare Book Room Symposium on Thursday, October 20, 2016, from 3 to 6 pm.  

Titled  From Burns and Bibles to Barton Bulldogs: Using Rare Books for Teaching and Learning at Barton College, the event will take place in the library’s Learning Commons, and refreshments will be served.  The Barton community as well as the general public are encouraged to attend.

The schedule for the afternoon is as follows:

3-3:30 p.m. Reception, Hackney Library Learning Commons

3:30-4:00 Keynote address: Mr. John Lawrence. Mr. Lawrence is the Head of the North Collection at East Carolina University’s Joyner Library. He will speak on a program that ECU did for several years, in which all freshman English composition students (over 70 sections) used special collections  materials for their final research papers. He will speak to successes and challenges, and offer suggestions about how such a program can be successful.

4:00-5:00 Faculty/Student panel discussions (Panel participants will describe their work with these materials, and take questions from the attendees).

  • Rare Books–Professors Shawn McCauley, George Loveland and at least one student (student not yet confirmed).
  • Discipliana Materials–Mr. Shannon Wilson, Barton College Archivist, and two students: Nieimah Moore and Patricia Holliday.
  • College Archives–Dr. Susan Bane (Director of Barton’s Honors Program and Associate Professor of Physical Education and Sport Studies) and two or three students (student names not yet confirmed)

5:00-5:30 Ms. Elizabeth Sudduth, Director of the Irvin Department of Rare Books and Special Collections, University of South Carolina. Ms. Sudduth will speak on effective ways to promote rare books and special collections to increase undergraduate use of these materials.

5:30-6:00 Plenary Panel Discussion, with Q & A.

Special Collections at Barton College is divided into three distinctive divisions:

  • Rare Books
  • College Archives 
  • the Discipliana Collection  

These important and distinguished collections combine rare printed volumes; manuscripts; correspondence and personal papers; as well as sound and visual materials. Rare books focus on the works of Robert Burns and other volumes published in the British Isles in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.  College archives document the history of Barton College.  Discipliana materials contain published works dating back to the founding of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), and primary documents related to church founders, such as Alexander Campbell and Barton Stone.

The primary purpose of our special collections is to support the academic mission of Barton College.  The materials provide a great depth and richness to Hackney Library’s ongoing teaching mission. Students using special collections materials have presented their findings at Barton’s Day of Scholarship and other professional seminars and workshops.

The purpose of the October 20 symposium is to highlight this student research, and to invite input from the Barton and Wilson communities as to how special collections might be used even more extensively to stimulate undergraduate student research.

It is unique for a school the size of Barton to have a facility like the K.D. Kennedy, Jr. Rare Book Room. It is also important to understand that our rare book room is NOT a museum, where patrons view priceless objects through protective glass, but a learning laboratory, where students examine rare books to explore history,  theology, art, and cultural and political values in the 18th, 19th, and early 20th century.

We hope you will join us October 20 for a fascinating exploration of how special collections can be used to jumpstart and facilitate undergraduate research.

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Hackney Library Celebrates Challenged/Banned Books During “Banned Books Week,” September 25-October 1, 2016

bbw2016_poster_300-1What could E. L. James’s erotic novel Fifty Shades of Grey, the Holy Bible, and Susan Kuklin’s nonfiction Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out possibly have in common?

Surprisingly enough, they all share the dubious distinction of being among the top 10 most frequently challenged or banned books in the United States in 2015.

At #6, The Holy Bible makes its first appearance ever on an annual ALA list of challenged titles.  According to Alison Flood in a recent article in the Guardian, James La Rue, director of the ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom, theorizes that users object to the Bible’s presence in libraries because of its “religious viewpoint. . . . people who feel that if a school library buys a copy of the Bible, it’s a violation of church and state.”  La Rue explains further that “sometimes there’s a retaliatory action, where a religious group has objected to a book and a parent might respond by objecting to the Bible.”

What is a “challenged” or “banned book,” you may ask?  Here’s how the American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom defines both in paragraph 4 of its Banned and Challenged Books page:

A challenge is an attempt to remove or restrict materials, based upon the objections of a person or group. A banning is the removal of those materials. Challenges do not simply involve a person expressing a point of view; rather, they are an attempt to remove material from the curriculum or library, thereby restricting the access of others. As such, they are a threat to freedom of speech and choice.

To counteract these threats amounting to censorship, The American Library Association (ALA) sponsors Banned Books Week every year to encourage readers to check out challenged or banned books and make their own decisions about the books they read.  This year Banned Books Week is being celebrated from September 25 through October 1, 2016, and is focused on diversity. 

In celebration of Banned Books Week, Hackney Library will display copies of print books in our collection (just look for the bright yellow “Caution!” tape around the display near the library’s Technology Classroom on the first floor) that have made Banned Books lists in the past, including numbers 5, 6, and 7 on the list below for 2015.  All the books in the display are meant to be read, so please feel free to grab a title or more off the display to check out and read for yourself!

The ALA, which tracks challenges to various books in libraries and school curricula each year, recorded 275 challenges to books in 2015, the most recent year for available data.  The top ten “banned” or challenged books for 2015 make for strange bedfellows (so to speak); here are the titles on that list, and the reasons cited for their challenges:

  1. Looking for Alaska by popular Young Adult genre author John Green (Reasons cited: offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited for age group)
  2. Fifty Shades of Grey by E. L. James (Reasons cited: sexually explicit, unsuited to age group, poorly written, etc.)
  3. I Am Jazz by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings (Reasons cited: inaccurate, homosexuality, sex education, religious viewpoint, unsuited for age group)
  4. Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out by Susan Kuklin (Reasons cited: anti-family, offensive language, homosexuality, sex education, political viewpoint, religious viewpoint, unsuited for age group, etc.)
  5. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon (Reasons cited: offensive language, religious viewpoint, unsuited for age group, profanity, atheism)
  6. The Holy Bible (Reasons cited: religious viewpoint)
  7. Fun Home by Alison Bechdel (Reasons cited: violence, graphic images)
  8. Habibi by Craig Thompson (Reasons cited: nudity, sexually explicit, unsuited for age group)
  9. Nasreen’s Secret School: A True Story from Afghanistan by Jeanette Winter (Reasons cited: religious viewpoint, unsuited to age group, violence)
  10. Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan (Reasons cited: homosexuality, condones public displays of affection, etc.)

As you can see from the 2015 top-ten list, challenges to books run the gamut, coming from both the liberal and the conservative ends of the cultural spectrum; ironically, sometimes the same reason is cited by both extremes but in relation to completely different books.   It’s not unusual for books we now consider classics to have been challenged or banned. The most frequently-cited reasons for book challenges include the following:

  • Sexually explicit content
  • Offensive language
  • Content unsuited to the targeted age group
  • Violence
  • Homosexuality
  • Expression of religious viewpoint
  • Drug use

Feel free to come by to check out and read as many “banned books” from our Banned Books display as you’d like, and defend first amendment rights by being willing to Stand Up for Your [And Everyone Else’s] Right to Read!

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