Category Archives: Notes

Adopt-a-Book Program Preserves Library Treasures

“Old age isn’t for sissies,” Bette Davis once said. She wasn’t talking about antiquarian books, but she could have been. Many of the oldest, most significant works of history and literature require careful conservation treatments in order to stand the test of time.

That’s why we recently launched a new Adopt-a-Book Program. Library materials are put up for “adoption” based on their value, risk, and use, and donations to the program ensure that they are carefully preserved and maintained.

The Adopt-a-Book Program is a great way to honor someone special or commemorate an important event, such as a birthday or graduation. An electronic bookplate with the name of the donor or honoree is added to the item’s catalog record, and they are also listed on the library website as a contributor. Gifts to the program help keep library materials available for current and future faculty, scholars, and students.

Here’s a sampling of adoptable (and adopted) titles in the Duke University Libraries.


Grapes of WrathGrapes of Wrath (1939)
By John Steinbeck

A classic of American literature, Steinbeck’s masterpiece brought attention to the plight of migrant farmers during the Dust Bowl and made a stinging critique of the ruthlessness of American capitalism. This first edition is in fair condition, but the original dust jacket needs repair and the book needs a custom-made enclosure to protect it from further damage.

Adopt for $150


Cameron ScrapbookEdmund M. Cameron Scrapbooks

Eddie Cameron’s career as a football and basketball coach at Duke is legendary. His legacy lives on, not only in the roars of Cameron Indoor Stadium, but also in the contents of these scrapbooks, which document his illustrious career. The scrapbooks contain newspaper clippings, photographs, and ephemera from years of successful coaching, including some related to the Rose Bowl in 1942 and the Sugar Bowl in 1945. The bindings are brittle and in need of repair, along with some of the contents.

Adopt for $3,000



Diderot EnclyclopediaEncyclopédie, ou dictionnaire raisonné des sciences, des arts et des métiers (1751-1772)
Published by Denis Diderot

Diderot’s encyclopedia was the Internet of its day—an attempt to embody all of the world’s knowledge and disseminate it throughout society, changing and improving humanity. It was the ultimate embodiment of Enlightenment thinking. This complete set includes seventy volumes of text, illustrations, and supplements. Each volume requires a custom enclosure for protection, along with minor repairs to the text and fold-outs.

Adopt for $200 per volume


villette imageVillette (1853)
By Charlotte Bronte

Villette is arguably Bronte’s most refined and emotionally powerful novel, featuring a complex and vivid heroine. This first edition is in urgent need of conservation, with loose stitching, many tears, and damaged covers.

Adopt for $2,500






Audubon Birds of AmericaBirds of America (1837-1838)
By John James Audubon

A work of both art and science, Audubon’s Birds of America is one of history’s most iconic books. The pages of these double elephant folios stretch forty inches tall, each printed with Audubon’s vivid, life-sized illustrations. This rare, complete four-volume set was printed serially between 1827 and 1838. Three of the four volumes are in need of full conservation attention, including repairing damaged stitching and replacing the boards.

Adopt for $25,000 per volume 







These titles have recently been adopted and will undergo much-needed conservation treatments. To learn more, visit our Adopt-a-Book Program website.

The Catcher in the Rye (1951)
By J. D. Salinger
This first edition of Salinger’s rebellious coming-of-age tale is in good condition. However, in order to ensure that it remains so, the book needs a custom-made box for protection. These enclosures help to protect delicate volumes from wear and light exposure, while allowing the book to remain in circulation.

New Testament Gospel Lectionary
This manuscript was published in Venice sometime during the seventeenth century by the Eastern Orthodox Church. It contains excerpts of scripture used in liturgy, a calendar of Holy Days organized by month, and tables for incipits of the Gospels and Apostles.

Stephen Fuller Papers
Fuller (1716-1808) was a British iron manufacturer and colonial agent for Jamaica. His papers and correspondence cover a wide range of topics, including trade, the Wilberforce abolition movement in England, English politics, and the Anglo-French war of 1793.

Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral (1773)
By Phillis Wheatley
An important book by almost any definition, Wheatley’s Poems is the first book published by an African American—not to mention the first by a slave and only the third by an American woman. Duke owns a precious first edition signed by the author herself. The boards need to be reattached, and a custom enclosure is needed to help protect the book.


Riddles in Stone: The Curious Symbolism of Duke’s Library Shields

By Gwen Hawkes

Bustling among the Gothic archways of Duke’s West Campus, many students never realize that the walls around them are full of hidden symbolism. When the campus was built between 1927 and 1932, a crew of stone carvers employed by John Donnelly, Inc., of New York was commissioned to create the decorative flourishes, stately emblems, and sneering gargoyles that bedeck the university’s buildings and rooftops. Unfortunately, little else is known about the men responsible for these works of art. According to former University Archivist William E. King, it is thought that many of the workers were Irish craftsmen, drawn to America by the promise of work, only to return home upon its completion. (A few stayed in Durham for the rest of their lives.)

A sampling of the stone shields carved on the front of Rubenstein Library. Click on the image to see more on our Flickr site.

The larger mystery surrounding Duke’s stonework is the meaning of the decorations and symbols themselves— particularly those engraved on the recently renamed David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library. Beneath the windows of the Gothic Reading Room, the front of the library bears twenty-eight stone shields inscribed with various symbols. Because the sculptural designs were left up to the stone carvers themselves, the meaning of these shields has been, for many years, a mystery. The shields were further obscured by several holly trees, effectively blocking them from view, until the trees were removed this summer as part of the library renovation.

University comptroller Frank C. Brown, onetime chair of the English department and founder of the North Carolina Folklore Society, was one of the central figures who oversaw the construction of West Campus. In 1931, Brown contacted the Horace Trumbauer architectural firm in an attempt to discover the significance of the campus carvings. In particular, there was “a demand for an explanation of the various insignia in the Library,” Brown wrote, “because interest in these things increases with the years.” Regrettably, Brown’s letter apparently went unanswered, leaving us to decipher the mystery ourselves.

William Blackburn, legendary professor of English and creative writing at Duke, briefly mentions in his Architecture of Duke University (1946) that the shields on the library represent the various arts and sciences. However after much symbolic detective work, it seems this may be an oversimplification. The shield carvings, which range from the obvious (an open book) to the enigmatic (two rabbits supporting a globe on muscular shoulders) make use of a range of symbolic traditions, from Greek and Roman mythology to Masonic conventions.

The stone carvers who designed the library’s shields left no record of what they are supposed to symbolize. A case in point is this emblem of a rabbit and scroll underneath the sun. What could it mean?

Several of the emblems correspond with academic and intellectual endeavors: a lyre to represent poetry, a pair of scales for law or justice, a painter’s palette and brush denoting the visual arts. But most have more subtle meanings. A beehive perhaps represents diligence and industry. A winged hourglass warns against the rapid passage of time and shortness of human life. The lamp of knowledge burns brightly to symbolize enlightenment and education. Despite our best guesses, some of the shields remain stubbornly shrouded in secrecy, to the continuing puzzlement and delight of the viewer. However, each relays some snippet of wisdom to the stream of students racing along beneath them.

Gwen Hawkes (T’16) is an English major and Library Communications Assistant at Duke.

Cracking the Code


Visit our Flickr site to find a full gallery of the library’s stone shields and our best educated guesses about their meanings. A few of the images defied decoding. Their meaning remains tantalizingly elusive. If you can fill in the missing pieces, or correct our interpretations, let us know! Send your brilliant insights, wild conjectures, and learned annotations to Aaron Welborn, editor, at We’ll publish the most persuasive contributions as an update in the next issue of the magazine.

Libraries Acquire Papers of Direct Marketing Pioneer and His Agency

Lester Wunderman
Photo Credit: Wunderman

The John W. Hartman Center for Sales, Advertising & Marketing History has acquired the papers of direct marketing pioneer Lester Wunderman and will become the corporate archive of the global marketing firm he founded half a century ago. Lester Wunderman is the chairman emeritus and founder of Wunderman, one of the largest advertising, marketing, and consulting companies in the world. He is credited with pioneering a number of direct marketing concepts that are now firmly established practices of modern-day advertising—such as the toll-free 1-800 number, the credit card customer rewards program, and the tipped-in magazine subscription card. Even the term “direct marketing” is widely attributed to him. He was inducted in the Direct Marketing Hall of Fame in 1983. Now the papers of Lester Wunderman, along with those of the agency he founded in 1958, will be housed at the Hartman Center. It is the first significant collection documenting direct marketing to be given to the Hartman Center.

We’re Number 2!

Cover of Princeton Review

According to the Princeton Review, Duke University is home to one of the very best college libraries in the country (second only to Harvard). The Princeton Review, a college-preparatory company, asked students at 373 top colleges to rate their schools on dozens of topics (from professor quality to athletic facilities) and report on their campus experiences. The rankings are based on surveys of 122,000 undergraduates (an average of 325 per campus) during the 2009-10 academic year. The results are published in The Best 373 Colleges: 2011 Edition (Random House/Princeton Review).

Longley Kicks Off Visiting Filmmaker Series

James Longley, documentary filmmaker and 2009 MacArthur Fellow, visited campus on October 29 to inaugurate the Barbaralee Diamonstein-Spielvogel Visiting Filmmaker Series. Longley joined Diamonstein-Spielvogel, the series’ namesake, on stage at the Nasher Museum of Art for a public conversation about his films and current projects. He is the director of several award-winning documentaries, including Iraq in Fragments, Sari’s Mother, and Gaza Strip. The Diamonstein-Spielvogel Visiting Filmmaker Series features artists whose work addresses significant contemporary topics of social, political, economic, and cultural urgency. Filmmakers chosen to participate will have a recognized body of work and show promise of future contributions to documentary filmmaking.

James Longley
Photo credit: John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation

Duke Joins Compact for Open Access to Scholarly Journals

Duke University has joined a group of leading research institutions in signing a Compact for Open-Access Publishing Equity (COPE). The goal of the compact is to make it easier for researchers to publish their work in open-access scholarly journals, where it would be freely available online.

Open Access Logo

As part of its commitment to COPE, Duke has created a special fund to help pay for article processing fees associated with open-access publishing. COPE aims to encourage open access by supporting Duke authors who find such fees an obstacle to publication. The fund, which will be administered by the Libraries’ Office of Scholarly Communications, is supported by the Duke University Libraries and the Office of the Provost.

According to Provost Peter Lange, the aims of COPE are in keeping with Duke’s continued emphasis on knowledge in the service of society. “By establishing this fund, we hope to support the university’s commitment to promoting openness as an important value in scholarship,” Lange said. “Increased open access means more opportunities for the research of our faculty and researchers to reach a wide audience and have a meaningful impact on the world.”

Harvey Picked to Be Visiting Program Officer

Diane Harvey

The Association of Southeastern Research Libraries (ASERL) has selected Aisha Harvey, Head of Collection Development at Duke University’s Perkins Library, to serve as the organization’s first Visiting Program Officer. ASERL is the largest regional research library consortium in the United States. Harvey will lead the development of a cooperative print journal retention program for ASERL member libraries. The program will seek out new ways of sharing the costs and effort of archiving little-used print journals among libraries in the consortium. Her work with ASERL will be a six-month assignment, starting in October. Harvey worked on designing and implementing a single-copy agreement between Duke University and other research libraries in the Research Triangle. According to Harvey, “ASERL is uniquely positioned to make sure future researchers in the region can inherit a thoughtfully designed print archive of our collective assets.”

Daly Selected as “Emerging Leader”

Emily Daly

Emily Daly, Instruction and Outreach Librarian and Coordinator of Upper Level Instruction, has been selected by the American Library Association (ALA) as one of 83 Emerging Leaders for 2011. The Emerging Leaders program enables newer library workers from across the country to participate in problem-solving work groups, network with peers, gain an inside look into ALA structure, and have an opportunity to serve the profession in a leadership capacity. Participants must be under 35 years old or have fewer than five years of experience working in the library profession. Daly has worked for Duke University Libraries since August 2006. As Coordinator of Upper Level Instruction, she is responsible for developing innovative ways to make instructional materials and services available for upper level undergraduate and graduate students. As an ALA Emerging Leader, she will develop and work on a six-month professional project with two other program participants, the results of which will presented at the American Library Association annual conference in New Orleans in summer 2011.

A Little Library Music

A student string quartet performs at the entrance of Perkins Library as part of the Duke Arts Festival October 22-November 7. Throughout the festival, student artwork—including painting, photography, poetry, sculpture, performance, digital art, animation, music, and film—was on display throughout Duke’s campus, including bus stops and other casual locations, in order to create an immersive arts experience for Duke students.

String quartet performing outside entrance to Perkins Library

Hostage Nation wins WOLA-Duke Book Award

Book cover of Hostage Nation with photo of men holding guns

The Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA) and Duke University have selected Hostage Nation: Colombia’s Guerrilla Army and the Failed War on Drugs (Knopf, 2010) as the winner of the third annual WOLA-Duke Book Award for Human Rights in Latin America.

The authors of the winning book—Victoria Bruce, Karin Hayes and Jorge Enrique Botero—were honored at a special reception in the Biddle Rare Book Room on December 7, where they were presented with a $1,000 cash award.

WOLA, a human rights research and advocacy group established in 1974, and Duke University created the prize to honor the best current, non-fiction book published in English on human rights, democracy and social justice in contemporary Latin America. In addition to the Duke University Libraries’ Archive for Human Rights, the Duke Human Rights Center and the Duke Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies co-sponsor the award.