Around the Libraries

Celebrating a History Book for the History Books

On October 24-25, the Duke University Libraries and North Carolina Central University (NCCU) co-hosted a symposium on one of the most definitive and enduring books written about the experience of Black people in America. Written by John Hope Franklin, a pioneering scholar who taught at both Duke and NCCU and whose scholarship was key to launching the discipline of African American studies, From Slavery to Freedom: A History of African Americans is still relevant more than sevety-five years after it was first published.

The symposium featured leading scholars in history and African American Studies, including (left to right) professors Mark Anthony Neal (Duke), Adriane Lentz Smith (Duke), and Brandon K. Winford (University of Tennessee). Photo by Bill Snead.

The symposium, “From Slavery to Freedom: From Durham to the World” honored the legacy of Franklin (1915-2009) and his seminal work, featuring panel discussions and receptions on both campuses with leading scholars in history and African American studies.

Portrait of John Hope Franklin (1996), by Simmie Knox. Gothic Reading Room, Rubenstein Library.

Published in 1947, From Slavery to Freedom traces the story of Black Americans, starting from their ancestral roots in Africa through the centuries of enslavement in the Western world, to their place and contributions in modern America. The book, now in its tenth edition, has endured as an authoritative work of history, written by one of its most respected practitioners. Franklin originally wrote it while a professor of history at NCCU. But he continued updating the work on it throughout his life, even after he came out of retirement to serve as the James B. Duke Professor of History at Duke (1982-2009). He was also a professor of legal history at the Duke School of Law (1985-1992).

In 1995, Franklin donated his personal and professional papers to the Duke University Libraries. In recognition of this and his many other achievements, the university established the John Hope Franklin Research Center for African and African American History and Culture, a division of the Rubenstein Library. It was the first of many things at Duke named for Franklin, and since then it has grown into one of the foremost repositories documenting the history and culture of people of African descent.

Artificial Intelligence Goes to College

Like it or not, ChatGPT and other forms of generative artificial intelligence (AI) have become a part of daily life. But the rise of free, user-friendly tools that can generate convincing text and imagery in response to virtually any command has raised important questions about how students and faculty should engage with these new technologies.

Photo by Jared Lazarus

Now, Duke is joining forces with other universities across the country to develop policies and guidance around the appropriate uses of AI in higher education. Over the next two years, a team of staff from the Duke University Libraries and Duke Learning Innovation will represent the university in a nationwide study on how schools can harness the potential benefits of AI, not simply regard it as a threat to academic integrity.

The study, “Making AI Generative for Higher Education,” includes nineteen large and small universities and is led by Ithaka S+R, a nonprofit organization that provides research and strategic guidance to libraries and academic institutions on navigating technological change.

“As the rapid growth of emerging technologies like generative AI makes innovation and deeper engagement possible, it is also disrupting the situation in which we all learn and work. It is in this environment that Duke has both an opportunity and a responsibility to impact not only the future of learning at our institution, but the future of higher education in our society,” said Joseph A. Salem, Jr., the Rita DiGiallonardo Holloway University Librarian and Vice Provost for Library Affairs. “Collaborations like these allow us to be a part of a much bigger conversation—one that will shape how we teach and learn.”

Together, the partners in the Ithaka S+R project will assess emerging AI applications and explore the long-term needs of institutions, instructors, and scholars as they navigate this new environment.

In Memoriam: David Lee Kim, 1959-2023

On June 14, 2023, the Duke University Libraries lost a longtime and cherished friend. David L. Kim T’82 had been a member of our Library Advisory Board since 2010.

David Kim, 2005

Born in New Jersey, David grew up in Pennsylvania and attended the prestigious Hill School there before graduating from Duke with a bachelor’s degree in political science. After graduation, he remained an active and loyal member of his Duke fraternity, Beta Phi Zeta. Years later, he joined the Duke Library Advisory Board, giving back to a place that meant so much to him while enriching his own love of reading.

David had a distinguished and varied career in marketing and public relations, including senior-level positions at Anheuser-Busch, the United States Mint, AARP, and other major brands and organizations. Most recently, he served as President and CEO of the National Asian Pacific Center on Aging. Consistent across David’s many professional and volunteer roles was his desire to be a champion for Asian Americans, to represent their interests in the corporate, government, and nonprofit worlds, and to secure their place in our multicultural society. We are grateful for David’s many years of support and service to the Duke University Libraries and will deeply miss his witty repartee, energetic spirit, and talent for making (and keeping) lifelong friends.

Headline from History

As we prepare to celebrate Duke’s centennial in 2024, we’re looking back at our own library milestones over the last hundred years.

Lilly Library on Duke’s East Campus can boast several firsts, including being the first library to serve the fledgling Duke University. (After Trinity College was renamed Duke in 1924, the old Trinity library was torn down and replaced by the building you see today, which opened to students and faculty before construction on the Gothic West Campus was complete.)

But did you know that Lilly was also Duke’s first art museum?

From the February 25, 1931, issue of the Duke Chronicle.

On February 25, 1931, the Duke Chronicle published this item announcing the first exhibition of the newly formed Duke Art Association in the Woman’s College Library—as Lilly was known back then. On display were many examples of Chinese art, etchings by Pieter Bruegel the Elder and William Blake, plus a hodgepodge of antique furniture, including a complete Queen Anne bed set. (Imagine trying to keep that safe from sleep-deprived students today.)

Almost all of it came from a single private collection on loan to Duke (with option to purchase) by Margaret L. Barber of Missouri, who inherited part of the Diamond Match fortune and spent it collecting art and antiques. William K. Boyd, first director of the Duke University Libraries, negotiated the collection loan, which he hoped would inspire additional loans and donations of art.

The library continued to serve as Duke’s art museum until 1969, when a science building on East Campus was renovated for that purpose. It wasn’t until 2005 that Duke’s Nasher Museum of Art opened, finally giving the university the world-class art museum it deserved.

In the end, Duke opted to purchase only two items from Barber’s art collection. One was a circular Chinese teakwood table, now in Lilly Library’s Thomas Reading Room. The other—more valuable by far—was a complete original set of the double elephant folio edition of John James Audubon’s masterpiece, The Birds of America.

Yes, THAT Birds of America—the bigger-than-life volumes you can still see today on permanent display in the Rubenstein Library’s Mary Duke Biddle Room. Almost a century later, they’re still a draw for library visitors looking for inspiration, artistry, and perhaps a touch of Duke history.

Audubon’s Birds of America, on display in the Mary Duke Biddle Room, Rubenstein Library.

Happy Camper Department: Looking Back at Libraries Summer Camp 2023

By Will Shaw, Digital Humanities Consultant

From June to August, most Duke students may be off, but summer is still a busy time here in the Libraries. At the same time, summer often means less face-to-face time with our colleagues. Lucky for us, that’s when Libraries Summer Camp rolls around.

Summer Camp began in 2019 with two goals: to foster peer-to-peer learning among library staff, and to help build connections across the many units of our organization. This was the third Summer Camp I’ve helped organize (the pandemic scuttled our plans in 2020-2021), and it’s starting to feel like a Duke Libraries tradition. Over one hundred staff came together to teach with and learn from each other in twenty-five sessions this year.

What did they learn? Professional development workshops are the core of Summer Camp. But over the years, our focus has broadened to include a wider range of personal enrichment topics. This year’s “campers” could learn how to crochet or play the recorder, explore native plants, create memes, or practice ​​Koru meditation. At the same time, we had opportunities to teach each other the essentials of data visualization, discuss ChatGPT in libraries, learn fundraising basics, and improve our group discussions and decision-making skills. That balance has helped us find the right tone: learning together, as always, but having fun and focusing on personal growth, too.

Like any good Summer Camp, we wrapped things up with a closing circle and snacks—sharing lessons learned, favorite moments, and hopes for future camps. It’s hard not to feel excited for Summer Camp 2024.

Proud Duke Parent and All That Jazz

Every October, we look for a parent of a Duke student who has an interesting job and invite them to share their experiences with other Duke moms and dads during Family Weekend. This year, we were proud to welcome world-renowned saxophonist, bandleader, composer, and Duke dad Branford Marsalis.

University Librarian Joseph A. Salem, Jr. (left) poses with Duke first-year student Thaïs Marsalis (center) and her father, saxophonist and bandleader Branford Marsalis.

Best known as the leader of the Grammy-winning Branford Marsalis Quartet, Marsalis has over thirty albums to his name and has been honored as a Jazz Master by the National Endowment for the Arts. He has played alongside artists as diverse as the Grateful Dead, Tina Turner, and Sting, and he formerly led the house band on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno. In classical music, he’s sought after as a featured soloist with acclaimed orchestras around the world.

Needless to say, he filled the room. Marsalis and his wife, Nicole, live in Durham. They are the parents of Thaïs, a first-year student at Duke, who introduced her dad at the event. No stranger to being on stage, Marsalis shared insights and anecdotes from a long career of making beautiful music.

Fun fact: After Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans in 2005, Marsalis teamed up with his friend and fellow NOLA native Harry Connick, Jr., to found Musician’s Village, a neighborhood in the city’s Upper Ninth Ward built by Habitat for Humanity as an affordable housing community for local musicians and artists who lost their homes to the storm.