By Lee Sorensen, Librarian for Visual Studies and Dance
The treasures of Duke’s branch libraries are often hidden. The circulating collections and services of these smaller libraries often claim pride of place. However, both Lilly Library and the Music Library on East Campus hold precious materials relating to their subject collections. Known somewhat humorously in the library world as “medium rare” (as opposed to the rare materials located in the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library on West Campus), such primary source materials allow students to examine history first-hand.
This fall, Lilly Library added a lobby display case to highlight its medium rare collections. The inaugural display is one volume of our three-volume Vitruvius Britannicus, a large and early folio devoted to the great buildings of England to be seen in 1717.
An outstanding example of the folio format, the Vitruvius Britannicus is also perhaps the most important architectural book in English. The architect Colen Campbell (1676-1729) was an early enthusiast of the sober, renaissance architectural style as opposed to the bombast of the baroque. Taking inspiration from the ancient Latin architectural theoretical work, De architectura, by Vitruvius (c. 70-15 B.C.), Campbell published text and plates of what he considered the best examples of British architecture—including, not incidentally, his own.
Published in 1715 and 1717, the volumes each consisted of 100 large folio plates of plans, elevations, and sections chiefly illustrating contemporary secular buildings. Many of these plates also provided lavish illustration of the best-known houses of the day, such as Chatsworth and Blenheim Palace. The publication appealed to the widespread desire for prints of such buildings—not to mention the desire for publicity by their architects. Indeed, the Vitruvius Britannicus established the precedent of architects publicizing their work, which, then as now, is key to winning major commissions.
Although items like the Vitruvius Britannicus are kept in our locked stacks and cannot be checked out, students can study these treasures unencumbered whenever they wish, and so can you! We invite you to visit Lilly Library on East Campus and enjoy our rotating menu of “medium rare” items on display.
We are very pleased to share with you our new strategic plan. It is the culmination of a long process of thinking, sharing, discussing, and synthesizing diverse ideas, and it represents our library-wide roadmap for the next five years.
The work of a research library has grown more complex in the past decade, and this plan reflects both that transformation and our aspirations. It is an ambitious plan, but we think that’s a good thing. We reached our present level of success by being ambitious and by being open to new challenges and opportunities. The Duke University Libraries are one of the top private research library systems in the country. We enjoy the respect and support of the community we serve precisely because our staff are creative and willing to try new things, take chances, grow, collaborate, and reach very high and very far.
We hope you enjoy this preview of what’s in store over the next five years. We look forward to reaching higher and farther still!
Recent years have been transformative for the Duke University Libraries. We have continually redefined ourselves, through significant change that is perhaps most visible to our communities in the renovations to our physical spaces. But transformation is also evident in our nimble, responsive services, in our approaches to collection-building and providing expanded access to information, and in our staff’s collective knowledge and skills.
Our previous strategic plan, Sharpening our Vision, articulated five primary directions that guided us through these years of change: 1) Improve the User Experience, 2) Provide Digital Content, Tools, and Services, 3) Develop New Research and Teaching Partnerships, 4) Support University Priorities, and 5) Enhance Library Spaces.
This document identifies five new directions for the Duke University Libraries that build upon the innovations made possible by the previous plan:
Our Libraries Create Platforms for Scholarly Engagement
Our Libraries Teach and Support Emerging Literacies
Our Libraries Advance Discovery
Our Libraries Partner in Research
Our Libraries Transform the Information Ecosystem
The strategic directions, goals, and guiding principles that follow were informed by many rich resources and conversations available to the Duke University Libraries Strategic Planning Steering Committee. Among those resources are the draft frameworks for Duke University’s strategic plan and for the revisions to the undergraduate curriculum. The committee also had access to thoughtful and creative pre-strategic planning documents prepared by more than 20 library department heads in early 2015, as well as assessments such as the Ithaka S+R Faculty Survey. Members of the committee met face-to-face with student and faculty advisory boards to solicit their projections for the future of research, teaching, and libraries. Crucially, we also convened gatherings of nearly 100 library staff members, and from the notes to those meetings we drew this plan’s several goals.
The Duke University Libraries and the staff of the Libraries are international leaders. The vision expressed in our strategic directions and goals is representative of the revolutionary changes taking place within research libraries across the world, but our ideas are uniquely Duke. This plan provides an ambitious and innovative roadmap for the Duke University Libraries for the coming five years.
Our goals can only be achieved within a culture that embraces the principles found below. These principles define who we are and who we strive to be. They inform the five strategic priorities and goals that follow, and will guide our actions and decisions as we implement this plan.
We design and deliver user-centered services: We are responsive, innovative, and rigorous. We are dedicated to collaborating with patrons to achieve their learning objectives and research goals. We are committed to providing outstanding service based on respect and empathy for the diverse backgrounds and needs of our community. We work as a team to guide, instruct, consult, and partner with our users. We are integral to our patrons’ pursuit of scholarship, and we anticipate and advocate for their needs in an ever-changing information landscape.
Staff development leads to innovation: We foster a work environment that promotes learning, intellectual growth, and skill development in our workforce in order to keep pace with constant change. We empower all staff to explore, experiment, and cross boundaries. We leverage professional development to provide a more expert, informed, and innovative organization to support and collaborate with tomorrow’s faculty and students.
Diversity strengthens us: We rely on diverse opinions, backgrounds, and experiences to make better decisions and invigorate our organization. We are inclusive, supportive, and respectful, ensuring that all points of view are heard and understood. We seek to reflect the diversity of our patron communities in our services, collections, staff, and spaces. We build, maintain, and provide access to an international and multilingual collection, representing the broadest possible spectrum of cultures, ideas, and information.
We cultivate and connect communities: As new technologies and spaces enable new ways of networking, and as Duke University itself becomes increasingly global, our understanding of who comprises our intellectual communities evolves. We take pride in our ability to identify, engage with, and support the many learning, research, and service communities thriving at Duke, in Durham, in the Triangle and beyond. The Libraries serve as a physical and intellectual hub, facilitating connections, collaborations, and interdisciplinarity.
We break down barriers to scholarship: We recognize the incalculable benefits that open access, open source, and open standards confer, and we prefer their use whenever appropriate. We support and advocate for openness in all forms. We actively participate in regional and national organizations, and we partner to ensure the proper stewardship of the world’s cultural heritage. We encourage patrons and partners to embrace an open mindset to scholarship, increasing their work’s impact on knowledge and society and empowering those who follow in their footsteps.
I. Our Libraries Create Platforms for Scholarly Engagement
We strive to be a virtual and physical communal space that provides high-quality teaching, research, and publication environments. We will provide platforms for collaborating, creating, collecting, exhibiting, and communicating new forms of scholarship and expression. We will build and cultivate online environments where patrons can view, discuss, annotate, and/or interact with digital objects. We are a host within an international library network that gathers and curates collections while preserving them for future users.
Develop the Duke Digital Repository to support all formats of research and scholarly work, increasing the diversity of resources for scholars and expanding the Libraries’ capacity to store, publish, and publicize unique digital and digitized collections.
Expand the Libraries’ role in open access and web publishing in order to increase the scope of freely available digital resources and support scholarship at Duke.
Expand the DUL’s digital content capturing tools and services in partnership with local, regional, and national research communities to contribute to the international effort to archive digital content and to ensure that Duke community needs and interests are represented in that effort.
Enhance the services and spaces of Lilly Library and Duke Marine Lab Library to provide excellent research and learning environments and to support scholarly engagement.
II. Our Libraries Teach and Support Emerging Literacies
Our communities look to us to help them understand, utilize, and transform information, both within the curriculum and beyond. As modes of information gathering and processing change, we must embrace and support evolving practices. We will educate successive generations of students and scholars, developing their fluency in technological, data, visual, and cultural literacies. We will bridge the gaps between these new literacies and those we have traditionally supported. We will commit to an ongoing dialogue with the new, in order to remain vital to the scholarly endeavor in all its forms.
Expand the presence of library staff in the student experience in order to understand and support emerging scholarship, information, data, and literacy needs
Mentor first-year students in scholarly research and learning practices, embracing and building upon their diverse backgrounds, prior knowledge, literacies, and expectations as they begin their Duke experience.
Partner with faculty to develop research methods, curricula, and collaborative projects connecting their courses to our collections.
Enhance the library instruction curriculum, focusing on standards and best practices for pedagogy that will prepare users for lifelong learning in a global and ever-changing research environment.
III. Our Libraries Advance Discovery
New technologies and emerging opportunities for collaboration enable more sophisticated and effective tools for finding and accessing information. We will engage with our communities to build and expand access to collections of global significance and to make information more discoverable, regardless of format, origin, and ownership.
Improve discovery and delivery of physical and electronic information resources, including resources that are not held or hosted by Duke University Libraries as well as those that are.
Improve the discovery and delivery capabilities of the Duke Digital Repository, including the creation of metadata and linkages to catalog records.
Conceptualize and implement description (cataloging and metadata) in ways that assure its usefulness in and interoperability with national and international discovery systems.
IV. Our Libraries Partner in Research
Our engagement throughout the research lifecycle enhances the quality and impact of researcher projects and student scholarly expression. We actively seek partnerships in scholarly projects in order to expand our involvement throughout the scholarly enterprise.
Increase awareness of the integrated services the Libraries offer for teaching and research at all levels through broad communication, publicity, and branding.
Increase support to assist faculty and students with the deposit, preservation and discovery of their research materials, as appropriate, in local or domain-specific repositories.
Ensure that Libraries staff possess or acquire advanced knowledge of discipline-based research processes, outputs and scholarly communication, in order to become active, contributing members of a research team.
Highlight and promote the scholarly activities and contributions of faculty, students, and library staff in creative ways through the DUL’s public programming and exhibition programs.
V. Our Libraries Transform the Information Ecosystem
As champions of intellectual freedom, we actively represent the interests of Duke University in a global effort to revolutionize the way information is distributed, evaluated, made available, stored, and preserved. Through innovative and broadly collaborative approaches to the creation, collection, and dissemination of knowledge, we work to create a future in which the full diversity of the human record is openly accessible.
Deepen involvement with and commitment of resources to collaborative projects with other libraries, museums, and open collections efforts to diversify and expand access to materials not presently freely available online.
Encourage the strengthening of Duke’s open access policies, provide active outreach to faculty, and identify ways to make open access publishing easier to accomplish.
Recognize and invest in the Libraries’ staff as leaders in the cooperative development of library and information tools, capacities, collections, and communities.
On February 19, 2016, the Duke University Libraries lost a long-time friend. Virginia Price Barber G’60 ‘69, known to all as Ginger, had been a member of our Library Advisory Board since 1994.
Born May 18, 1935, in Atlanta, Georgia, she spent her childhood there and in Galax, Virginia, where she graduated valedictorian of the Galax High School class of 1953. She was a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Randolph-Macon Woman’s College and went on to attain a master’s and Ph.D. in American literature from Duke. Her dissertation was on the poetics of William Carlos Williams.
At Duke, Ginger met Edwin Ford Barber, who was pursuing graduate studies in literature and history. They married and moved to New York City, where they would live for forty years and raise two daughters, Anna and Genevieve.
In New York, Ginger became a part-time professor at Hunter and then at Columbia University Teachers’ College, but she found her true calling when a friend invited her to join a literary agency. In 1974 she founded the Virginia Barber Literary Agency and built a career over the next three decades as a highly regarded literary agent, concentrating on fiction writers. The short list of authors with whom she worked is a veritable Who’s Who of the most critically celebrated and commercially successful writers in recent years. It includes Anne Rivers Siddons, Peter Mayle, Rosellen Brown, Paul Ehrlich, Andrew Delbanco, Elinor Lipman, Lauren Acampora, Sue Monk Kidd, Anita Shreve, and Nobel Laureate Alice Munro. A highlight of her career was traveling to Stockholm for Nobel week, and witnessing the ceremony honoring her long-time friend and client, Alice Munro, and other recipients of the 2013 award.
In a 1994 interview with Duke Magazine, Ginger said that it was the creative contact with authors, more so than negotiating on their behalf, that made her job so satisfying. “I love making comments, working directly with the authors on manuscripts,” she said. “It comes out of my teaching. I’m still, in a way, a teacher involved with literature.”
In 2000, Ginger sold her agency to William Morris, and she and her employees joined that company, where she worked for three years before retiring. For several years thereafter, she worked as an editor-at-large for Grove/Atlantic Publishers, living primarily in Charlottesville, Virginia, but still travelling frequently to New York.
A founding member of New York’s Women’s Media Group, Ginger served on the board of New York’s Literacy Partners for many years. She supported numerous causes, organizations, and people throughout the years, including the Duke University Libraries. As one of our longest-serving board members, she witnessed Duke’s library system grow and transform over a period of two decades.
“We will always remember Ginger for her intelligence, her wit, her charm, her amazing accomplishments as an agent and editor, and her deep appreciation for and love of the libraries here at Duke,” said Deborah Jakubs, Rita DiGiallonardo Holloway University Librarian and Vice Provost for Library Affairs.
Harsha Murthy, Library Advisory Board chair emeritus who served with Ginger for fifteen years, remarked, “Ginger Barber embodied in so many ways the great spirit of the Duke Libraries and the Library Advisory Board—an abiding love of learning and books; a boundless generosity of spirit to teach and help; a fierce commitment to making sure that the right thing was done at the right time to preserve the gifts of the past for present and future generations; and a fun-loving embrace of people. Up until her very last days battling cancer, she was keenly interested in the Libraries’ events, meetings, and progress. We are grateful for the support she and her beloved husband Ed showed the Libraries and will deeply miss her spirit and friendship.”
Ginger died peacefully at home at the age of eighty. She is survived by her husband of fifty-two years, Edwin; her two daughters, Anna Barber Luhnow, and Genevieve Barber; her two grandsons, Edwin and August Luhnow; and her brother, Stuart Price. Needless to say, she also leaves behind many friends at Duke and around the country.
National Library Week has been sponsored by the American Library Association and observed by libraries around the country since 1958.
This year at Duke we decided to celebrate National Library Week (April 10–16) by asking people to tell us how a librarian has helped them—and gave them a chance to say thanks. Teams of librarians armed with whiteboards and markers spread out across East and West Campus (and even the Duke Marine Lab!) taking pictures and posting them on our Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook accounts using the hashtag #ThankALibrarian.
Our goal was to make the contributions of Duke librarians more visible by having other people tell us what we do for them. In the process, we hoped to make our staff feel valued and appreciated. (They only blushed a little.)
We weren’t surprised when people lined up to tell us their stories. They range from the kind of help you might think of—like recommending that perfect book or article for a research paper—to some ways you might not know we’re helping, like data analysis.
Here in the Libraries, we are always trying to up our game. To help us serve our students and faculty better, we conduct periodic surveys to understand how they view our services, spaces, and materials, and how satisfied they are with their overall library experience.
Earlier this semester, we sent out a brief survey to approximately 6,000 Duke students. Slightly more than half of them responded, almost evenly split between undergraduates and graduate students. Their answers were both candid (“The librarians are always extremely helpful and eager to assist”) and imaginative (“Official napping areas would be a huge bonus”).
What follows are a few of the more interesting highlights. Over the next few months, we will be analyzing the survey data and ultimately use it to make service enhancements, expenditures, and other library improvements. The more feedback we get, the better equipped we are to improve the services we already offer and develop new ones to meet students’ emerging needs.
The collection includes some 1,367 songs recorded in the 1920s and 1930s on wax cylinders and aluminum discs. The recordings were made in the field by folklorist, professor of English, and Duke University administrator Frank Clyde Brown (1870–1943), who traveled across North Carolina collecting folk songs, sayings, stories, and other folklore between 1912 and his death in 1943. Brown collected songs from at least fifty-two of North Carolina’s one hundred counties, representing all regions of the state.
“The recordings include music unique to North Carolina, as well as popular American folk songs, traditional British ballads, and a range of other tunes,” said Winston Atkins, Preservation Officer for Duke University Libraries and the principal investigator for the project. “Taken together, they represent an important and untapped primary source of American folk music in the early twentieth century.”
The songs have never been widely accessible due to the age and fragility of the recording technology Brown used, as well as the difficulty of transferring them to more modern media formats.
“Until recently, there has been no non-destructive way to recover audio on historical wax cylinders and aluminum discs, which require a mechanical stylus and can be damaged if played today,” said Craig Breaden, Audiovisual Archivist in Duke’s David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library.
The Duke recordings will be digitized using a new non-contact technology, known as IRENE, at the Northeast Document Conservation Center in Andover, Massachusetts. IRENE takes ultra-high resolution visual scans of the grooves imprinted on the cylinders and discs and mathematically translates those into digital sound files that are remarkably faithful to the original recordings. Because there is no actual contact with the recording,
IRENE’s scans can also capture sounds from damaged media.
Digitization will begin in the summer of 2016 and take approximately one year. The recordings will then be described and processed, and the collection will be made freely and publicly available through the Duke University Libraries website in 2018.
About Frank C. Brown
Born in 1870, Frank Clyde Brown began his career as a professor of English at Trinity College in Durham (the forerunner of Duke University) in 1909 and later became chairman of the department. Between 1924 and 1930, as Trinity expanded into Duke University, Brown served as the institution’s first comptroller, overseeing the construction of West Campus and the renovation of East Campus. He also served as university marshal, entertaining distinguished visitors to the new university.
In 1913, at the urging of legendary folklorist and musicologist John A. Lomax, Brown founded the North Carolina Folklore Society and was elected its first president. He later served as its secretary-treasurer, program chairman, and primary collector until his death in 1943. His efforts to record the sounds and nuances of North Carolina’s “folk” were part of a national trend in the early twentieth century to preserve American folk culture, aided by new technologies that allowed folklorists to make recordings in the field. The 1,367 songs captured by Brown are a significant part of that legacy.
The seven-volume Frank C. Brown Collection of North Carolina Folklore, published posthumously by Duke University Press between 1952 and 1964, represents Brown’s lifetime of collecting. It is widely regarded as one of the premier collections of American folklore ever published and is available online. Four of the seven volumes are dedicated to the music Brown recorded and include transcribed melodies and song lyrics.
However, the editors of Brown’s work left out an estimated 400 songs he recorded. These “bonus tracks,” which are found on the wax cylinders and aluminum discs but not in the published collection, will be digitized as part of the project.
In 2015, two Duke faculty members—Victoria Szabo and Trudi Abel—incorporated some of the Frank C. Brown recordings into NC Jukebox, an interdisciplinary Bass Connections course introducing undergraduate and graduate students to digital history. Students conducted original research on the history of the recordings and tracked down the descendants of some of the singers and musicians. The course will be offered again in Spring 2017.
The grant to digitize Brown’s recordings is part of CLIR’s Digitizing Hidden Special Collections and Archives awards program, a national competition that funds the digitization of rare and unique content held by libraries and cultural memory institutions that would otherwise be unavailable to the public.
In 1991, I was the head of Collection Development and the Librarian for Latin America and Iberia. Research and teaching at Duke were starting to take a more international turn, and I conceived of IAS as our response to the university’s deliberate internationalization. I wanted to bring together and make more visible a group of librarians with specialized language skills and deep knowledge of world regions.
When I started working at Duke, more than thirty years ago, the books and journals in the library weren’t selected by librarians themselves, but by faculty library representatives. The system we have today of dedicated librarians who order materials and specialize in certain subjects or world regions came about gradually through the late 1980s and 1990s. IAS was part of that transition.
Duke has long had extensive library collections from around the world, with special strengths in Western Europe, Latin America, Slavic Studies and, related to the university’s longstanding focus on Commonwealth Studies, South Asia. In recent years, collection growth has been especially rapid in East Asian, Middle East, Jewish and African Studies, and the IAS team has played a key role in this development. Like other librarians at Duke, they have moved well beyond collection building and developed skills with digital tools, data management, publishing, and other areas. IAS librarians are highly valued partners with faculty doing global research, teaching, and digital projects.
For this special anniversary, we asked each librarian in IAS to share a little about their work—whether it’s a recent project, a class they worked with, or something about the collections they find particularly interesting. What follows are brief snapshots of the individuals who make up this cosmopolitan corner of the library. Taken together, they convey the wide range of ways our librarians support Duke’s global teaching, research, and outreach.
In addition to her roles as the head of IAS and the Japanese Studies librarian, Kris Troost is the Director of Graduate Studies for the master’s program in East Asian Studies, which is run by the Asian/Pacific Studies Institute at Duke. The program provides training in the languages and cultures of China, Japan, and Korea for students wishing to pursue careers in government, law, and the media, or a Ph.D. in the humanities or social sciences. Kris has been involved since the program’s creation, serving on twenty-six masters’ committees, chairing three, and serving as Director of Graduate Studies since 2008.
In this capacity, Kris coordinates the review of applications and admissions. Between eight and ten students are admitted each year. Once they arrive, Kris meets with them as they make decisions about courses and capstones. She also makes sure that the library is involved in their orientation and is responsive to their needs.
Serving as Director of Graduate Studies has had many valuable synergies with Kris’s job as a librarian. The joint responsibility allows her to bring detailed knowledge of the program together with her role as a librarian, and to integrate student interests with materials and the means to develop those interests. And just as the students benefit, Kris gains energy from working with them.
One of the primary goals of the humanities at Duke is to facilitate original research by students. In order to do that, students need to be able to move beyond secondary sources and interact with primary material, to put their hands on the actual historical sources.
Heidi Madden is devoted to forming connections that will allow this type of original research to happen—connections within the department, between students and the Libraries, and with international research institutions. It all begins in the ubiquitous Writing 101 class.
Heidi, who is also an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of German Studies, recently co-taught a Writing 101 course titled “Images that Shock: Obscenity from the Middle Ages to the Present.” Along with Professor Ann Marie Rasmussen, she worked to introduce first-year students to the world of research through a uniquely fun and unexpected historic oddity—medieval badges. The badges are small metal disks emblazoned with vivid, often sexually themed images that were made and worn during the Middle Ages. Each student was instructed to research a single badge for the final paper, and in the process dive into the world of academic research.
Teaching the class put Heidi on the front lines of the first-year research experience, and allowed her to form relationships with students, ensuring that she is better able to help them in the future.
But these relationships are only the beginning of her work. Through her involvement with the International Relations Committee of the American Library Association, Heidi actively fosters a relationship with German libraries via a library exchange program. Not only does this program allow a flow of ideas between libraries in both countries, it also brings Heidi closer to the materials and resources in Germany. So when an honors thesis undergraduate is looking to do primary source research in Germany or other European countries, Heidi is already familiar with the institutions there and can help the student find exactly what they need.
It is these sorts of relationships—both on the small, personal level and on the large, institutional level—that foster a creative and ambitious atmosphere which make the Duke Libraries and the university as a whole a special place.
Several years ago, KJ Hunt attended a graduation party thrown by the African and African American Studies department. Looking around, she realized she didn’t know many of the graduating students, students who had spent four years studying in the department. She was determined to change that.
Many Duke classes are assigned a subject librarian, but KJ decided to take it a step further. She approached faculty from the department about the possibility of sitting in on their courses so that she could really engage with the students and the class. They agreed and a new relationship (the AAAS course librarian) was born.
Since then, she has kept participating in classes, often attending several each semester. Sitting in on a class gives KJ the opportunity to see exactly how the professor approaches the course material, which allows her to create tailored research guides specific to the class and the professor. When students need help with a research paper, KJ knows exactly what has been discussed in class. Instead of having to make the student explain the background behind their research projects, she already has a sense of the course’s emphasis and the professor’s expectations. Most importantly, she becomes a familiar face, a person students know and connect with.
KJ makes a point of sitting in on introductory classes as well as higher-level lectures so that she is introduced to students from the very beginning. Her work has not gone unnoticed by students—in 2014 she was nominated and won a Julian Abele award (Mentor of the Year) in recognition of her devoted work for the student population. It’s safe to say that when this year’s seniors graduate from the African and African American Studies department, they will all know KJ.
As the Librarian for Latin American, Iberian, and Latino Studies, Holly Ackerman works in a vast and diverse field, but one of her particular research focuses is more specific. As part of her work as a librarian scholar, Holly has done in-depth research on migration in the Caribbean and the many experiences of migrants—when people from countries like Cuba, Haiti, and the Dominican Republic move to and from other Caribbean countries and perhaps eventually come to the U.S.
Recently, however, she has expanded her focus to consider parallel cases of migration in the Mediterranean. Migrants in the Mediterranean often move from Libya and Tunisia up to Italy and Malta and from Morocco into Spain. Though extensive research has been done on migration both in the Caribbean and in the Mediterranean, no one has yet compared the situations. This coming summer, Holly will be visiting refugee camps in Italy and Malta to begin this research. Though she received a research grant before current events unfolded, the refugee crisis in Europe makes her research all the more timely and crucial. She focuses her research on people—seeking to learn about their motivations and experiences, what sort of relationships they formed, and what type of reception they received. Using this information, she can begin to explore how all these small-scale factors influence policies and decisions at the national and international level.
Ultimately, Holly hopes that her research will help to facilitate humanitarian aid and policy changes that benefit and protect the migrants of the world.
Sean is new to Duke, having come from McGill University after the recent retirement of our longtime Middle East and Islamic Studies Librarian, Christof Galli. He has traveled extensively in the Middle East, having studied Arabic in Tunisia, Syria, and Oman. One of his academic interests is the history of manuscripts and printing in the Middle East.
Over the past decade, Duke’s Middle East collection has grown significantly and broadened in scope. The expansion has been driven by shifts in Middle East scholarship under the influence of theoretical developments, curricular innovations, and political and social developments in the region. As Duke has grown into a dynamic center for Middle Eastern studies, so has the library collection grown with it.
The events that have become known as the Arab Spring and their aftermath are just the latest geopolitical tremors originating in the Middle East which have spawned new threads of scholarly and curricular activities for which library collections are an integral building block.
The Middle East collection now includes extensive holdings on Islam and its historical development, both classical and modern; contemporary literature and visual arts; social and economic issues; and the study of Middle East history.
Buying trips to the Middle East have added rich holdings of newly published material as well as coveted “gray” literature. These include popular literature and works on street art, cartoons, comics, and other ephemera with graphic content, as well as publications by non-governmental organizations and social movements. Another recent collection highlight is the addition of a trove of late Ottoman periodicals and two hundred Ottoman monographs which Duke digitized and made available on the Internet Archive.
As a subject specialist for Judaica and Hebraica, Rachel collects materials from and about Israel as well as many other parts of the world, in Hebrew and in other languages. She serves as a liaison to the Center for Jewish Studies at Duke and provides specialized reference assistance, research consultations, and instruction to library users.
Among her other duties, Rachel has found a passion for developing and curating exhibits. Her first project was an exhibition entitled “Illustrating the Hebrew Bible,” which was composed of a collection of illustrated religious texts. The illustrations were not mere depictions of biblical figures, scenes and stories, but works of art in and of themselves, each celebrating and sharing a rich tradition of Jewish creativity and skill.
As she selected and curated the exhibition materials, Rachel learned to develop a thesis for the exhibit—a story or a statement that it seeks to share with the viewer. Every piece included in the display is a line of this story, embellishing and elaborating on the central message.
For Rachel, part of the appeal of crafting exhibits is the chance to share extraordinary materials with the public. Books and documents are freed from the quiet of the stacks and opened to the gaze of passersby. Rachel has worked on several exhibits since her first experience, including one showcasing children’s books from the 1950s, which offered an irresistible glimpse back into the culture and views of the past, and, most recently, an exhibit celebrating the twenty-fifth anniversary of IAS.
Over the last several years, Luo Zhou has been working closely with Chinese documentary filmmaker Wu Wenguang, one of the founding figures of Chinese independent documentary film. In 2010 Wu Wenguang launched the Memory Project to collect oral histories from survivors of the Great Famine (1958-1961), one of the most traumatic episodes in modern Chinese history. Between 20 and 43 million people died in what official Chinese histories call the “Three Years of Natural Disasters,” or “The Difficult Three-Year Period.”
Many young filmmakers have joined Wu Wenguang’s project. Since 2010 they have been to 246 villages in twenty provinces and interviewed more than 1,220 elderly villagers. In 2012, Luo and Duke professor Guo-Juin Hong arranged for Wu and three young filmmakers to visit Duke for a film screening of the Memory Project.
During his visit, Wu chose Duke’s Rubenstein Library as the repository for the raw footage of the project. Wu envisions Duke University Libraries as a safe home for these interviews to be preserved and shared with researchers around the world.
In 2015, Duke University Libraries received a $40,000 grant from the Council of East Asian Libraries of the Association for Asian Studies to support the processing of the Memory Project archives. The grant comes from the Innovation Grants for East Asian Librarians program, inaugurated in 2015 with funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Library staff have already begun to arrange and describe this extensive collection of more than 1,000 interviews. Once the two-year project is complete, all of the oral histories will available through the Duke University Libraries website. As a pilot, fifty-one segments from the project have already been posted, along with Chinese transcripts of the films.
According to Carson Holloway, one of the pleasures of working in IAS is collaborating with students and faculty. A recent example is his work with Professor Karin Shapiro’s class on South Africa for a student-curated exhibit to be displayed in the Duke History Department next fall.
Carson got to know each class member as he worked with them individually on sources and approaches for their term projects. He was delighted to participate in a session to discuss the raw materials for an exhibit of South African documentary photographs.
Professor Shapiro enlisted the assistance of Lisa McCarty, curator of the Rubenstein Library’s Archive of Documentary Arts, as well as photographer and Center for Documentary Studies professor Alex Harris to help the group study possible images. Harris has edited two books of photography from South Africa in the closing days of apartheid. After a brief introduction to Duke’s collection of photography by South Africans, the class examined several groups of prints that Harris had been instrumental in bringing to Duke.
The class met late one winter afternoon in the freshly renovated Rubenstein Library to examine and discuss the images and their meanings. As they examined one large, crisp image after another, professors Harris and Shapiro answered questions and spoke about the difficulties of living in racially divided South Africa, and especially about the hazards of being a black documentary photographer during this period. The students were particularly engaged since they were traveling to South Africa as a group just a few days later.
For Carson, the chance to see, discuss, and be moved by the portrayal of apartheid by those who experienced it was a rare opportunity, made all the more enjoyable by collaborating with students on an exhibition.
After earning a bachelor’s degree from Ewha Womans University in Seoul, South Korea, Miree Ku pursued graduate study at Long Island University’s Palmer School of Library and Information Science, later receiving her master’s degree in Library and Information Studies from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.
Since 2007, she has been the Korean Studies Librarian at Duke. In 2012, Duke’s Korean collection was selected as a member of the Korean Collections Consortium of North America (KCCNM), receiving a grant of $100,000 from the Korea Foundation. Miree is active in several professional organizations and has dedicated herself to leading initiatives designed to promote Korean studies in North America, serving as chair of the KCCNM and the Subcommittee on Korean Studies E-Resources. She is currently a chair of the Committee on Korean Materials of the Council on East Asian Librarians in North America.
The Duke University Libraries began building a Korean collection even before there was a Korean Studies program at Duke. In 1994, Carl Wesley Judy and his family, who were missionaries working in Korea, established an endowment to fund the collection of Korean materials.
Since the endowment’s beginning, a university program and dedicated faculty have come to Duke, with an increasing number of Korean students and researchers coming here. Although the program is still relatively small, it is the only one of its kind in the Southeast, making it a crucial representative for Korean Studies and culture in this part of the country.
Duke has one of the largest and most extensive Slavic collections in the Southeast, and Ernest (Erik) Zitser works closely with Duke faculty as well as his library colleagues down the road at UNC to make sure that it stays so.
Since the late 1950s, Duke and UNC librarians have cooperated in building collections in the humanities and social sciences for Slavic, Eurasian, and East European area studies. Duke is responsible for building collections in the Polish and Ukrainian languages, while UNC is responsible for building collections in Czech and Slovak, Hungarian, Bosnian, Croatian, and Serbian. Both institutions collect Russian language materials broadly and are experimenting with cooperative collection development for Russian literature and literary criticism.
In addition to supporting the teaching and research of Slavic studies faculty at Duke, Erik has worked to make the Slavic holdings of the Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library better-known and more widely accessible. He has worked to digitize documentary photographs of early Soviet Russia from the Robert L. Eichelberger collection and, most recently, has spearheaded the digitization of the Russian Posters Collection, 1919–1989.
As an adjunct professor of the Slavic and Eurasian Studies department at Duke, Erik also carries out his own research in Russian literature and history. In 2011, he became the first librarian ever to be named a fellow at the National Humanities Center. He also founded ВИВЛIОθИКА (Vivliofika), an online, peer-reviewed, open-access journal of eighteenth-century Russian studies, hosted by the Duke University Libraries.
While he was conducting research in India, Edward Proctor learned about a monastery called Menri, which is devoted to Bön, the indigenous pre-Buddhist religion of Tibet. He was fascinated and decided to find the secluded place. After a three-day journey full of wrong turns and rough driving through the Himalayas, he arrived at a golden roofed monastery tucked among the mountains.
He remained less than a week, but that brief visit was enough to discover that scattered throughout the monastery were hundreds of manuscripts and block-print books dating back hundreds of years. They had been hidden in Northeast India by the monks during the Chinese Cultural Revolution (during which almost every Tibetan monastery was looted and burned). Edward realized that this was a truly unique collection of materials. But at the time he had no thoughts of how to preserve it, other than advising the monks about the general care and handling of manuscripts.
A few years later, Edward learned about the British Library’s Endangered Archives Programme, which provides funds to help preserve at-risk materials. He applied for and was awarded a pilot grant as a step towards digitization. With the aid of four monks, he spent two months at Menri conducting a survey of the monastery’s holdings and assessing the technical abilities and interests of the monks in carrying out the project. He then applied for a larger grant and was awarded funding to purchase digital photographic equipment and return to Menri for six months in 2015.
During his time in Menri, Edward and several monks digitized over 62,000 pages of manuscript text and almost 500 hand-painted initiation cards, illustrated with vibrantly-colored depictions of saints, deities, and symbols. The manuscripts covered a large range of material, from metaphysics and grammar to music. Many of documents were ritual texts detailing aspects of spiritual life, from cycles of prayers to instructions for elaborate ceremonies requiring hundreds of people to perform. While some of the manuscripts were in immaculate condition, others were heavily damaged, perhaps with the occasional spilled cup of butter tea. But these priceless documents are now preserved for future generations and scholars throughout the world.
Special thanks to Gwen Hawkes, T’16, Library Communications Assistant, for her contributions to this article.
On August 24, the first day of fall classes, the doors of the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library finally opened after nearly three years of careful renovation.
The moment represented the crowning finish of the Perkins Project, an ambitious fifteen-year-long initiative to renovate and expand Duke’s West Campus libraries that began in the year 2000.
The Perkins Project called for several phases—beginning with the construction of the Bostock Library and the Karl and Mary Ellen von der Heyden Pavilion; continuing with the renovation of Perkins Library and the construction of the Link, along with the relocation of acquisitions and cataloging operations to the historic Smith Warehouse; and finishing with the construction of The Edge: The Ruppert Commons for Research, Technology and Collaboration in Bostock Library and the top-to-bottom renovation of the Rubenstein Library.
It has been a busy fifteen years. Earlier this October, friends and benefactors gathered to dedicate the Rubenstein Library and celebrate the generosity and support that allowed such an ambitious project to come to fruition.
“The Rubenstein Library is the home Duke has long needed and deserved to showcase our remarkable rare book and manuscript collections and their use in research and teaching,” said Deborah Jakubs, Rita DiGiallonardo Holloway University Librarian and Vice Provost for Library Affairs. “Students and visitors can now see researchers at work and take classes examining rare materials. Expanded galleries provide new venues for faculty, staff, and students to curate exhibitions drawn from the collections, and for the wider community to enjoy and learn from the public programming.”
The Rubenstein Library holds items that can be found nowhere else. In this digital era, when research libraries subscribe to the same e-journals and e-books, and their circulating book collections hold many of the same titles, it is the primary sources that distinguish one library—indeed, one university—from another. Duke students, faculty, and visiting scholars now find in Rubenstein the appropriate setting to carry out their work.
The Duke University Libraries have a longstanding tradition of excellence in public service. We now have the spaces to complement that service. If you have not visited recently, we hope these images will inspire you to come see us soon and see Duke’s newest point of pride.
From the academic quad, visitors pass through the main library entrance and arrive in the Sperling Family Lobby, an inspiring point of entry to the Perkins, Bostock, and Rubenstein library complex.
The Gothic Reading Room is one of West Campus’s most popular spots for events and study. During the renovation, special care was taken to preserve and restore the original windows, wood vaulting, and light fixtures of the room that novelist William Styron ‘47 called his “sanctuary.” The portraits on the walls depict members of the Duke family, past Duke presidents, the original Duke Endowment trustees, Duke’s architects, and the celebrated historian John Hope Franklin.
Another new exhibit space is the Photography Gallery, which provides a dramatic setting to showcase the Rubenstein Library’s outstanding collection of documentary photography.
A large window from the Photography Gallery looks onto the Rubenstein Library’s reading room, where researchers from Duke and around the world come to use our rare books, manuscripts, and archival collections. The rib-vaulted ceiling was designed to reflect the collegiate Gothic architecture of Duke’s West Campus.
The Papyrology and Paleography Room houses the Libraries’ reference collection on papyrological studies, used extensively by the Department of Classical Studies. Duke’s collection of ancient papyrus is one of the largest in North America, and Duke was an early leader in cooperative projects to digitize papyri to make them more broadly accessible.
From the Biddle Room, visitors can walk into the Josiah Charles Trent History of Medicine Room to view historical artifacts collected by Dr. Trent and donated by Mary Duke Biddle Trent Semans as part of the History of Medicine Collections, including surgical instruments, microscopes, anatomical ivory manikins, and glass eyeballs.
On the first floor of the Rubenstein Library is the Holsti-Anderson Family Assembly Room, a highly versatile and AV-equipped event space that can accommodate up to a hundred chairs. The room can be used for a wide variety of library and university events.
The Mary Duke Biddle Room was originally designed to resemble a “gentleman’s library.” The renovation preserved the original charm and character of the room, but new exhibit cases have been installed to showcase rare and unique materials from the Rubenstein Library, including Virginia Woolf’s writing desk, recently acquired as part of the Lisa Unger Baskin Collection and now on permanent display.
Just off the Photography Gallery is the Harry H. Harkins Seminar Room, an instruction space where classes of fewer than ten students can meet and work with Rubenstein Library collections.
Three consultation rooms adjacent to the reading room provide space for teams of researchers to work collaboratively with special collections or consult with Rubenstein Library staff.
The third floor of the Rubenstein Library houses several meeting rooms, collaborative group work rooms, student study space, and the Library’s Human Resources and Business Office. This room is used for classes using Rubenstein Library materials, such as the new semester-long Archives Alive classes, which allow students to get up-close and personal with original primary sources.
A portrait of Reynolds Price (1933-2011), who taught literature and creative writing at Duke for more than fifty years, overlooks the Pamela and Bradley Korman Reception Area, which leads to the Library Administration office suite.
With the renovation, the former Perkins Gallery outside the von der Heyden Pavilion was moved closer to the library entrance and renamed the Jerry and Bruce Chappell Family Gallery. The opening exhibit traced the history of medical visualization, starting with the work of Andreas Vesalius and his groundbreaking 1543 study of human anatomy, De Humani Corporis Fabrica (On the Fabric of the Human Body).
The new secure stack area of the Rubenstein Library has the capacity to accommodate 50,000 linear feet of books, archives, and manuscripts, an increase of 52 percent over the previous special collections stacks. Books are shelved by size (duodecimo, quarto, octavo, folio, double folio) and Library of Congress classification.
A special cold storage unit houses sensitive photographic materials from across the collections, which must be kept at low temperatures to prolong their life.
Directly across from the main entrance are the doors to Mary Duke Biddle Room, which has been transformed into a state-of-the-art exhibit space for the treasures of the Rubenstein Library. Exhibits play an important role in the outreach mission of the Libraries. They also showcase the breadth and diversity of what a great library system like Duke’s has to offer.
Outside the Gothic Reading Room in the Ahmadieh Family Commons is a new permanent exhibit on Duke University’s history. Prepared by University Archives staff, the exhibit traces the institution’s rise from a one-room schoolhouse to an internationally recognized research university.
The Doug and Elise Beckstett Rare Book Library Classroom is the primary teaching space for the Rubenstein Library. It can accommodate larger classes than the Harkins Seminar Room and features a document camera for projecting rare materials on a screen for discussion.
Adjacent to the History of Medicine Room is the Michael and Karen Stone Family Gallery, a new exhibit space designed to feature some of the Rubenstein Library’s most extraordinary treasures. The opening exhibit, American Beginnings, featured a very rare copy of the first book printed in what is now the United States—the Bay Psalm Book (1640)—belonging to David M. Rubenstein ’70, who generously loaned it for our opening. Viewers could also see rare early maps of North America from the collection of Mike Stone ’84.
The renovation of the Rubenstein Library and the completion of the Perkins Project would have been impossible without the help of many loyal and generous library donors. Their philanthropic support represents the foundation upon which Duke’s world-class library system is built.
We are particularly grateful to those donors whose names you will find in the many classrooms, exhibit galleries, offices, and common areas throughout the renovated library. A few of them joined us for the Rubenstein Library dedication ceremony on October 3 and are pictured here in the spaces named in their honor.
Ahmadieh Family The Ahmadieh Family Commons outside the Gothic Reading Room is named in honor of Aziz (left) and Vahdat Ahmadieh, pictured here next to their portrait.
Chappell Family Jerry WC’62 (left) and Bruce E’61 Chappell pose in the Jerry and Bruce Chappell Family Gallery, located near the main library entrance.
Gravatts Cary G’66 and Ann G’64 Gravatt pose in the seminar room named in their honor on the third floor of the Rubenstein Library.
Harkins Harry H. Harkins, Jr. T’73 outside the seminar room named in his honor on the Rubenstein Library’s first floor.
Holsti-Anderson Family Members of the Holsti and Anderson families pose in the Holsti-Anderson Family Assembly Room on the first floor of the Rubenstein Library. Pictured here (left to right): Aksel Anderson, Ole Holsti, Brad Anderson, Mikko Anderson, and Maija Holsti.
Smith and Ferracone Family Robin Ferracone T’75 P’05 and Stewart Smith P’05 in the Smith-Ferracone Reception Area, adjacent to the von der Heyden Pavilion.
Sperling Family Laurene Sperling T’78 in the Sperling Family Lobby, just inside the main library entrance.
Stone Family Michael Stone T’84 at the entrance to the new Michael and Karen Stone Family Gallery.
Trent and Semans Families (left to right): James Semans, Beth Lucas, Charlie Lucas, Sally Trent Harris WC’63, Rebecca Trent Kirkland WC ’64 M’68, John Kirkland, Barbara Trent Kimbrell, Joe Lucas, and Sally Lucas.
Wakil Family Members of the Wakil family stand outside the Wakil Family Consultation Room, located in the Rubenstein Library Reading Room. Pictured here (left to right): Maya Wakil Thompson, Sonya Wakil T’79, Alexander Wakil Thompson T’18, Salih Wakil, and Fawzia Wakil.
The following remarks were delivered by Drew Gilpin Faust, President of Harvard University and Lincoln Professor of History, at the dedication ceremony of the renovated David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, on October 3, 2015. They are reprinted with her permission. A video of the complete ceremony appears above.
I am so honored to be here and to say a few words about the specialness of special collections and the specialness of this collection in particular. I regard rare book and manuscript libraries as sacred spaces—spaces of transcendence where we reach beyond ourselves in the effort to discover and understand other places and other times. Now, those who use the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library will be able to do so in a physical space that does not just enable but uplifts that effort. What a rare and precious gift—it’s a gift that will enhance collections that have supported scholarship and teaching for many decades. Thank you very much, David.
These collections have in fact supported my scholarship. For thirty-five years now, a large blue volume—two inches thick, weighing in at 5 pounds, 2 ounces—has stood on a bookshelf near my desk. Gold letters on its scarred blue-cloth cover read: Guide to the Catalogued Collections in the Manuscript Department of the William R. Perkins Library, Duke University, Richard C. Davis and Linda Angle Miller, Editors. I have treasured this book. It is filled with penciled notations made next to names of collections I wanted to explore, and I scribbled lists on the book’s endpapers of highest-priority collection titles and catalogue numbers. Now, this volume is a curious and obsolete artifact—first because of the many materials that have been accessioned since it was printed, but more fundamentally, of course, because the catalogue of holdings of the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library are online for anyone anywhere in the world to see.
Duke’s special collections department was one of the first I visited when I embarked on my dissertation research in the early 1970s—almost a decade before the invaluable blue volume appeared. I set forth knowing some of what I would find in Duke’s holdings, but the state of bibliographic and search tools in that distant era provided me with nothing like a complete or comprehensive view. So part of the wonder and excitement of this first real “research trip” was that I was an adventurer, an explorer setting out on a search for the past not knowing precisely what I would find. The knowledge and help of manuscript librarians would be critical, but I also knew from other historians that at Duke I would find a card catalogue unsurpassed in its detail about what each manuscript collection contained. There would be not just names but subject headings and cross references that would make searching the catalogue more efficient and far more productive. A researcher’s dream. Duke held materials indispensable to my dissertation project. I spent many days at a table here, with documents arrayed before me, as I sought to understand pre-Civil War southerners who had chosen to become active defenders of slavery—advocates of what we today would find unthinkable.
In the years after I completed that study, as I began to shift the focus of my interest from the antebellum period to the Civil War itself, the Duke collections became in many ways even more significant for my work. The very first collection listed in the large blue book is the William Abbott Papers, just a few items documenting damage done to Abbott’s Virginia property by Confederate troops in 1862; the last listing in the volume, collection number 5991, 648 pages later, is the diary of a Pennsylvania soldier who served as a wagon driver in Sherman’s March to the Sea. Civil War material doesn’t just bookend the old catalogue; it abounds in these collections. Many of the war’s most famous names are present here: Alexander Stephens, Confederate Vice President with a collection of some 3,000 items; the Stonewall Jackson Papers, 4,700 items. But this library houses Civil War materials of a somewhat different character as well, materials that enabled me, and many others as well, to pursue new directions in Civil War history. Duke’s librarians had been very foresighted in acquiring the records not just of generals and statesmen, the Jacksons and Stephens, but of ordinary people—that farmer in Virginia, that wagon driver from Pennsylvania. These were the men and women whose lives and experiences would become the foundation of a new approach to the war that began to emerge in the 1980s. As Civil War history began to turn towards exploring the social as well as political and military history of the war, as scholars sought materials to document the lives of women or of common soldiers, or to describe the wartime experience of slavery and liberation, Duke’s collections could offer remarkable riches. For me, as I wrote a book about women and then another about death, Duke manuscripts proved invaluable. I discovered Lila Chunn of Georgia, who in moving and eloquent letters corresponded with her husband Willie at the front about her fears of staying alone without him, about her distress as war rendered her a refugee, about her desperate hope that he could get a furlough and be with her as she delivered their child. Another collection described for me the sad tale of Margaret Gwyn, unable to afford mourning attire after her son’s death in the army in 1862. She recounts in her diary how she dyed old clothes black so she could display the depth of her grief. As she worked, she explained, “my eyes was often filled with tears which is a relief to the troubled mind.”
Documents like these enable historians to enter into conversation with people of another era, to see a different world and to look through others’ eyes—eyes sometimes filled with tears. If we are to understand what makes a society go to war and stay at war, we must understand the homefront as well as the battlefront, the soldiers who follow orders as well as the generals who issue them. The Civil War looks different to us now than it did a generation ago, and the kinds of collecting Duke’s librarians so wisely pursued is an important part of what has made that possible. Special collections librarians are people who must predict the future—must make guesses and bets about what will be of interest to students and scholars decades—even centuries—from now. They must look forward to look back and decide what to preserve as the record of our lives. They and the choices they make, the collections they create and preserve, become our history. Do you want to make history? Become a librarian!
I have always thought that the textured record of human life represented in the letters of Lila Chunn or the diary of Margaret Gwyn tells a far more powerful and engaging story than any novel possibly could. And I must also confess to a bit of the antiquarian in me as well: I never cease to be awestruck by the knowledge that a page lying before me once was delivered to a Confederate camp, was carried in a knapsack or a bedroll and was purposefully saved to be passed onto us—a voice from the past projected into the future from individuals who wanted us to know what they had lived through. As Emily Dickinson has written in a marvelous poem about antique books, their “presence is enchantment.” These books and manuscripts become the magical vehicles of time travel, transporting us into worlds at once old and new.
It is, of course, an undeniable blessing that now many of the rare or unique materials housed here have been digitized, and made widely accessible. But it seems highly unlikely that the entire manuscript record of the past will ever be digitized. The David M. Rubenstein Rare Book and Manuscript Library contains 350,000 printed volumes and 20 million manuscript and archival items. And I must confess that I think the convenience of digital access to these materials comes at a cost—the cost, we might say, of enchantment. Like Emily Dickinson, I cannot resist the magic of the real thing—whether it is a letter from Lila Chunn, or the Bay Psalm Book or the Magna Carta. These artifacts matter because their words and ideas have relevance for our contemporary lives, but they matter too as actual physical and material embodiment of a past that still shapes us. They constitute a bridge between what was and what is—a bridge they invite us to cross.
So far, I have been speaking about what has engaged me over many years in the collections of the Rubenstein Library. But Southern and Civil War history make up just a portion of what this repository holds, and students and scholars interested in many other times, places and subjects could tell similar stories of discovery and changed understanding. The visionary collecting and foresight of Duke’s librarians are evident throughout the larger whole. So many subjects vital to our perceptions of the world today are represented in these collections—from advertising and popular culture to human rights and fundamental questions of race, gender and sexuality. From the original Mad Men of the J. Walter Thompson Company, to comic superheroes, straight and openly gay, to utopias and dystopias, to 1,800 Egyptian Papyri texts, to Virginia Woolf’s desk—part of an extraordinary recent acquisition in women’s history. This library is a stunning resource for Duke students and faculty and for the world.
Today we celebrate a beautiful new home for these treasures, a place designed at once to protect them and to share them, to preserve them for the future and to make them readily accessible to the present. And all this has been made possible by someone who believes fervently in books and reads them voraciously, who believes just as fervently in philanthropy, and, I think it is safe to say, embraces and wants to share the enchantment of the real thing—of the Bay Psalm Book he purchased and has placed on exhibition here, of the Emancipation Proclamation he has loaned to hang in the Oval Office, of the Magna Carta he acquired to display at the National Archives. And clearly he venerates the institutions that care for these treasures as he has shown in his support not just for this library but for the National Archives, the Smithsonian, the Library of Congress—as well as for numerous universities—including my own—and museums and historic buildings and monuments. David Rubenstein is himself, as others have said before me, a national treasure, and thanks are due to this library and this university for all it did to make him so, through the education it provided him and the job in the library that helped to support him while he was here.
Emily Dickinson wrote that she found it “a precious, mouldering pleasure” and “a privilege” to meet an antique book. It has been a pleasure and a privilege for so many of us—students and scholars—to meet these collections—these books and manuscripts—over the years. So I am grateful to be able—more than four decades after my first visit—to say a public thank you. Thank you to Duke University, to its imaginative and knowledgeable librarians, and to David Rubenstein, who has ensured that generationsof students and scholars to come have the opportunity to be enchanted and enlightened by the preservation of the record of human thought, experience, and aspiration.