University of Tennessee Libraries Purchases James Agee Materials

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ageeIn early 2008, the University of Tennessee Libraries purchased a significant collection of materials relating to writer James Agee, a Knoxville native. Agee is best known for his Pulitzer Prize-winning autobiographical novel, A Death in the Family, and as screenwriter for the movie The African Queen.

The Agee materials were originally given to the UT Special Collections Library as a deposit in 2005 by Paul Sprecher, head of the James Agee Trust, and his wife Deedee, Agee’s oldest daughter. The UT Libraries and the Department of English raised funds for the permanent acquisition of the collection.

The collection contains a wealth of correspondence to and from Agee, drafts of various manuscripts, screenplay material, and more. The scholarly value of the UT Libraries’ Agee collection is undeniable: “The recent acquisition of James Agee materials, particularly the entire archives of the James Agee Trust, has placed the Special Collections Library at the University of Tennessee in the enviable position of housing more of these materials than any other research library,” UT English Professor Michael A. Lofaro said.

Lofaro utilized parts of the collection while editing A Death in the Family: A Restoration of the Author’s Text. Agee died in 1955 before finishing A Death in the Family, and his friend David McDowell edited the 1957 edition. McDowell made extensive revisions to Agee’s narrative and added the novel’s memorable opening passage: “We are talking now of summer evenings in Knoxville, Tennessee in the time that I lived there so successfully disguised to myself as a child.” In Lofaro’s reconstruction, published in 2007, the novel has been revised to reflect the original text of Agee’s masterpiece.

The Agee materials, with some restrictions, are available for viewing at the Special Collections Library at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

Student Art in the Library

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The Fall 2008 Student Art in the Library Juried Exhibition is now on view in the Hodges Library reference room. The contest was open to all undergraduate and graduate students currently enrolled at The University of Tennessee, Knoxville. The Student Art in the Library Committee made its selections from over 70 submissions.

Congratulations to our exhibiting artists and thank you to everyone who participated!

Come by and see it when you have a chance or view the exhibited works online.

The Centaur Excavations at Volos

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Students walking through the first floor of the John C. Hodges Library at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville may be surprised to see the skeleton of a “centaur” on display. The hoax is intended to draw attention to the mythological and poetic dimensions of science and history, and to remind students not to believe everything they see or read. “The Centaur Excavations at Volos” is staged like an authentic exhibition, depicting a “centaur” burial and a group of related ceramics.

This work of archaeological fiction went on permanent display in the Jack E. Reese Galleria of the Hodges Library in May 1994. The centaur was originally constructed in 1980 by Dr. William Willers, a Professor of Microbiology at the University of Wisconsin at Oshkosh. After several showings at museums and galleries in the Midwest, the exhibit was put in storage. In 1993, after a fund-raising campaign organized by professors Beauvais Lyons from the UT Department of Art and Neil Greenberg from the UT Department of Zoology, the display was acquired by the University of Tennessee.

Before installing the exhibit on campus, Professor Lyons chaired an installation committee consisting of faculty from the departments of art, psychology, classics, archaeology, zoology, theatre, geology and the library. The committee decided on the design of the showcase and drafted the text which accompanies the display. The showcase also includes a simulated marble base and faux wood panels which were painted by Professor Bob Cothran, Professor and Scene Designer from the UT Theatre Department.

The project was funded by the UT Cultural Affairs Board, the Office of Student Affairs, University Studies, the Student Exhibit Committee, the Hokes Archives and private donations.

For more information, visit Dr.Beauvais Lyons (Department of Art) and the Hokes Archives.

A Tiny Gift of History

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University of Tennessee Special Collections Library Acquires Miniature Literature

The Special Collections Library at the University of Tennessee has acquired a copy of the miniature book Orphan Willie, a story of a young boy who grows up to fight in the Union Army during the Civil War. Published in 1862, the book is 64 pages long and measures just over two inches tall and an inch and-a-half wide.

Miniature books, books that are smaller than three inches, are both a curiosity and a subject of serious scholarship. Miniature manuscripts occur throughout the history of human record keeping. Cuneiform tablets in miniature were in use as early as 4000 B.C.

Orphan Willie was published in Buffalo by Breed, Butler and Company and written by Frances Elizabeth Barrow. Barrow published under the pseudonyms “Aunt Laura” and “Aunt Fanny,” and wrote a number of children’s books with moral and religious themes. Nearly all of Barrow’s publications were printed as miniatures. The Special Collections Library purchased the book in the spring of 2007 from eBay.

Printing in miniature is technically challenging, and miniature books were often produced to display the techniques of the bookmakers. In the letterpress era, this ranged from designing type, cutting punches, casting type, and developing paper and inks suitable for use with them.

Miniature books sometimes provided the medium for sensitive subject matter because they are easily concealed. The book will be of interest to scholars of publishing history, children’s literature, the Civil War, and the Victorian era.

Only 11 other institutions own copies of Orphan Willie, including the Indiana University, the University of Virginia, and the University of Texas-Austin libraries. This portable treasure is now cataloged and available for use at the Special Collections Library, in the historic James D. Hoskins Library at the University of Tennessee. Visit for more information.

Aaron Purcell, Special Collections Library, (865) 974-3674
Nick Wyman, Special Collections Library, (865) 974-4480

Got Research? UT Libraries’ Research Assist Provides Individualized Assistance

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The UT Libraries offers a service that provides individualized help to students with research projects. So whether you have a paper due for English class or a project in business, a librarian can help you plan your research process and identify sources.

“Doing library research can be very challenging,” Jeanine Williamson, a reference librarian who founded Research Assist, said. “With Research Assist, you can get one-on-one help finding, selecting and locating other sources that make a research project complete.”

Students often rely too heavily on Internet resources that may not be reliable. Some universities, such as the history department at Middlebury College in Vermont, have limited students’ use of sites like Wikipedia.

“Whereas Wikipedia is extraordinarily convenient and, for some general purposes, extremely useful, it nonetheless suffers inevitably from inaccuracies deriving in large measure from its unique manner of compilation,” a statement from the Middlebury College department reads. “Students are responsible for the accuracy of information they provide, and they cannot point to Wikipedia or any similar source that may appear in the future to escape the consequences of errors.”

Librarians at UT look forward to helping students identify appropriate scholarly sources for their research. “Internet sites like Wikipedia can be a great place to start, but it isn’t the place to do real research,” Rita Smith, associate dean of libraries, said. “We look forward to helping students broaden their information-gathering skills, and to teaching them how to analyze the accuracy of the information they use. Information literacy is one of the best ways to get ready for the world,” Smith said.

Students can make an appointment for Research Assist by filling out the form at There are also drop-in hours described on the web page.

PLoS One — The Next Generation of Scholarly Publishing

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Public Library of Science or PLoS has launched a peer-reviewed open access online journal.

UT authors receive 40% off the publication fees in PLoS journals because UT is an institutional member of PLoS.

For more information about PLoS, please visit their Web site or contact Ann Viera, Pendergrass Library, 865-974-9015.

The Stanford School of Education faculty have just joined many other faculties in mandating Open Access.
If your faculty is considering mandating Open Access, see the ROARMAP list.

Watch interviews of scientists speaking about the advantages of open access.

Recognition and Alleviation of Distress in Lab Animals: New ILAR/NRC Book

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Read this book online for free at
or get it from Pendergrass Library:

Recognition and alleviation of distress in laboratory animals / Committee on Recognition and Alleviation of
Distress in Laboratory Animals, Institute for Laboratory Animal Research, Division on Earth and Life
Studies, National Research Council of the National Academies.
Washington, D.C. : National Academies Press, c2008.

Ag-Vet. Med Library = Stacks * SF406 * .R43 2008