An Evening with Forensic Anthropologist Bill Bass

Posted on

BassPortraitLibrary Society members are invited to a scintillating evening with renowned forensic anthropologist Bill Bass. (The squeamish need not attend.)

Over his fifty-year career as an anthropologist, Bass has excavated ancient skeletons and recovered the remains of murder victims.

Bass is the creator of the “Body Farm” — as well known to the general public and to readers of crime novels as to the scientific community. The Body Farm (officially the Anthropological Research Facility) was the world’s first laboratory for conducting research on the processes and timetable of human decomposition. Bass’s pioneering research launched a revolution in forensic science and has helped solve more than a few murders.

Bass is also the co-author of a series of “Body Farm” novels that draw on his real-life expertise to solve fictional crimes.

Bass is professor emeritus at UT, where he headed the anthropology department and the Forensic Anthropology Center for many years. He recently donated his collection of research and teaching material — including lecture notes, correspondence, and original field study notebooks — to the UT Libraries. The Dr. William M. Bass III Collection will be preserved and made available for study in the Libraries’ Special Collections.

Please join us at the John C. Hodges Library* on Thursday, October 30, for a reception in the Jack E. Reese Galleria at 5:30 p.m. and a talk by Dr. Bass in the Lindsay Young Auditorium at 6:30 p.m.

*John C. Hodges Library, 1015 Volunteer Blvd., Knoxville, Tennessee. Questions? Contact or 865-974-6903.

Big Orange Adventure — a scavenger hunt to benefit the libraries

Posted on

BigOadventureThe UT Graduate Student Senate will host a scavenger hunt, dubbed “The Big Orange Adventure,” to benefit the UT Libraries. The race will take place Saturday, April 5, 2014, on the UT campus. Check-in is at 9 a.m. at the outdoor amphitheater between Hodges Library and the Humanities Building, and the hunt begins promptly at 10 a.m. This event is open to the public.

For several decades, the Graduate Student Senate has sponsored the Love Your Libraries 5K to benefit the libraries. Profits from the race are donated to the library to help provide De-Stress For Success activities during Finals Week. This year, the format of the race has changed to a scavenger hunt.

Teams of 4 to 6 members will race around campus, searching for clues and completing tasks in order to figure out the location of the finish line. Whichever team completes the scavenger hunt first, wins. At the start of the race, participants will receive race packets, which will include a map, the rules of the race, and a list of items around campus that can be photographed and posted to social media for the #hashtag wars.

Prizes and trophies will be awarded to the first, second, and third place finishers and to the team that posts the most #hashtag items. Costumes are encouraged, and there will be prizes awarded to the Best Theme Costume and Best UT Themed Costume.

Registration is $10 until April 1 and $15 thereafter. T-shirts are guaranteed to participants who register by March 24. Register and read more at the Graduate Student Senate website.

Introducing The Library Society of UT Knoxville

Posted on

After many years of people confusing the UT Libraries’ Friends group with the Friends of the Knox County Public Libraries, we are thrilled to announce that our own Friends group has a new name – The Library Society of UT Knoxville. The Library Society of UT Knoxville will offer our donors more opportunities for engagement with the library and greater recognition for their support – and some fun along the way. Check out The Library Society’s new logo and website and watch for opportunities to support The Library Society. Contact Erin Horeni-Ogle with any questions at 986-974-0055.

Ron Rash: A Unique Appalachian Voice

Posted on

Ron Rash

View a recording of this event

The Library Society of UT Knoxville and the Friends of the Knox County Library are proud to sponsor Ron Rash on March 4th at 7:30 PM at the East Tennessee History Center. The talk is free and open to the public, but registration is required.  Visit the to register. This lecture is part of the Knox County Library’s Wilma Dykeman lecture series. Rash will be introduced by Jim Stokely, the son of Wilma Dykeman and the president of the Wilma Dykeman Legacy foundation.

The Appalachia of Ron Rash is the land we are familiar with: the beautiful mountains, the small hamlets, family farms and the legacies of the past.  But to Rash, it is also the land of methamphetamine addicts, environmental destruction, ignorance and sudden, violent death.  His second novel, Saints at the River, opens with a tourist family picnicking alongside a picturesque mountain creek, standard territory for regional novelists.  Within a few minutes, however, a young girl is pulled under by the current and drowned, her body trapped under the rushing water by hydraulic force.  Thus is ignited a showdown between the girl’s family, political friends, protectors of the tourist industry and fervent environmentalists.  In The World Made Straight, the young man at the center of the novel is caught, literally, in an animal trap as he attempts to raid a marijuana grower’s crop and, figuratively, between his inherent intelligence and potential and the downward tug of ambitionless friends, a doubting father and his own bad impulses.  Interwoven in the contemporary story line is the Civil War era journal kept by a doctor that recounts the tremendous struggles that existed in the mountain region during the conflict that not only divided families and communities at the time but created divisions that continue to resonate.

Rash’s first book, a collection of short stories entitled The Night the New Jesus Fell to Earth was published in 1994.  In the twenty years since then he has written four collections of poetry, four more short story collections, five novels and a children’s book.  His work has earned him numerous awards including the prestigious Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award for Burning Bright and the 2004 Fiction Book of the Year for Saints at the River (given by both the Southern Book Critics and the Southeastern Booksellers Association).  He has twice been a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction and was awarded the James Still Award by the Fellowship of Southern Writers.

Rash writes about the world he has always known.  His family has lived in the southern Appalachian Mountains since the mid-eighteen century.  A native of Boling Springs, North Carolina –about thirty miles west of Charlotte – Rash graduated from Gardner Webb University in Boiling Springs and then from Clemson University.  He holds the John Parris Chair in Appalachian Studies at Western Carolina University in Cullowhee, North Carolina.

Ron Rash’s life may be about to change.  A film version of his most ambitious novel, Serena, is set to be released in April of this year.  Directed by Danish film maker Susanne Bier and starring perennial Oscar nominees Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence, the film was primarily filmed in the Czech Republic with some footage shot in the Cataloochee Valley in Haywood County, NC.   A second film based on a Rash novel is also in the works.  A smaller scale production, “The World Made Straight,” based on Rash’s novel of the same name, is being filmed in Buncombe and Madison counties, NC and features actors Jeremy Irvine (“War Horse”) and Noah Wyle (“E.R.”).

The novel Serena has received very positive reviews and was a New York Times Bestseller.   While Rash claims not to read reviews of his work if he can help it, his most recent short story collection, Nothing Gold Can Stay, has garnered reviews any author would be proud of.  USA Today stated, “A terrible beauty, to use Yeat’s poetic phrase, colors many of Ron Rash’s stories filled with violence, dark humor and surprise endings.  His prose is spare, clean and often haunting.”

Are you ready? Join the Big Orange Give, Nov. 4-9

Posted on

Give_smallUT Libraries donor Dr. Bill Bass is ready; are you ready? We have 125 hours, and we need your help. It’s time for #BigOrangeGive!

It’s Homecoming week, and Big Orange pride is peaking. Show your pride and love for the university by making a gift during the Big Orange Give. The goal is to raise $125,000 within 125 hours. The campaign concludes at 9 p.m., Saturday, November 9.

Help move the university forward on its journey to becoming a Top 25 public research university. You can earmark your gift for the UT Libraries. You’ll be supporting:

  • Expert research assistance
  • Robust research collections
  • Inspiring, user-centered spaces for study, research, and tutoring
  • Innovative use of new technologies
  • Programs that engage students, such as video contests and readings by noted authors

Accept the challenge! Go online and make a gift now. Even small gifts will add up quickly.


Knoxville and the Civil War: you are invited to a lecture

Posted on

KnoxCivilWar_smallDuring the Civil War, Knoxville, Tennessee was almost equally divided between Confederate and Union sympathizers.

Professor Tracy McKenzie, author of the book on the subject — Lincolnites and Rebels: A Divided Town in the American Civil War — will offer a lecture in the John C. Hodges Library on Thursday, November 14. The public is invited. The lecture is at 6:30 p.m. in the Lindsay Young Auditorium. A reception and music in the Jack E. Reese Galleria begin at 5:30 p.m.

Lincolnites and Rebels details Knoxville’s complex Civil War experience from the viciously partisan journalism of characters like William G. “Parson” Brownlow to post-war conflicts over the issue of emancipation.

Knoxville in the mid-nineteenth century was a commercial center, and during the Civil War was a strategically important juncture in the railroad that linked the eastern and western theaters of the war. Consequently, Knoxville was under continuous military occupation throughout the war.

Nearly forty-thousand soldiers fought over the town in the fall of 1863. The bloody Battle of Fort Sanders, the climactic battle in the siege of Knoxville, took place 150 years ago this month, less than a quarter mile from the current John C. Hodges Library.

The UT Libraries is marking the sesquicentennial with a new digital collection that highlights the libraries’ excellent holdings of Civil War documents. Selected letters and journals in the Digital Civil War Collection capture the perspectives and personal experiences of soldiers and civilians.

CartesDeVisite2_smallCivil War artifacts from the UT Libraries’ collections are now on display in the Special Collections reading room, 121 Hodges Library. Among the items on display are an Oath of Allegiance to the United States of America signed by an imprisoned Confederate soldier to secure his parole; a Union veteran’s badge cast from bronze taken from Confederate cannons; and the signed carte de visite of General Ambrose Burnside, leader of the defending Union troops at the Battle of Fort Sanders.

The public is invited to interact with fellow Civil War enthusiasts, examine gems from the Libraries’ collections, and enjoy the music of old-time Appalachian string band Boogertown Gap.

Music Library in New Space this Fall

Posted on

MusicLibrary2Students and lovers of music are invited to visit the new home of the George F. DeVine Music Library. The music library occupies a small, but lovely space on the ground floor of the Natalie L. Haslam Music Center (1741 Volunteer Blvd.), the new home of the UT School of Music. Librarians Nathalie Hristov and Chris Durman — with the help of a few staff and student workers — offer specialized expertise to music students and faculty at our campus’ smallest branch library. Both librarians are also musicians: Nathalie a cellist who loves playing chamber music, and Chris a guitarist with a love of American folk and popular music. In counterpoint to the string section are the talents of staff supervisors Sarah Nelson (clarinetist) and Josh Aldorisio (percussionist).

MusicLibrary3The music library provides high quality music collections, information, and research assistance to all UT students, staff, and faculty, as well as to members of the local community and researchers in remote locations. The library’s website ( offers 24/7 access to electronic collections, databases, and catalogs. Onsite, books, scores, and other print resources are housed in new compact shelving.

The Natalie L. Haslam Music Center also houses eight technology-enhanced classrooms; fifty-six practice rooms; fifty-seven performance studios/academic offices; an organ studio; a 412-seat recital hall; a recording/mixing lab; computer, electronic music, and piano labs; and an academic tutoring center. The School of Music is now an All-Steinway School, a designation meaning that at least 90 percent of its pianos are Steinway-designed instruments. The DeVine Music Library is an excellent complement to this enhanced setting for music education.

“The Librarian and the Banjo”: film screening and discussion

Posted on

Librarian&Banjo2Music librarian Dena Epstein worked for 25 years to prove the African origin of the banjo and banjo music. The filmmaker who documented the librarian’s contribution to ethnomusicology will host a free screening and discussion of his film, The Librarian and the Banjo, in the Hodges Library auditorium, 2 p.m., Thursday, November 14. Filmmaker Jim Carrier will be in Knoxville for the 16th Annual Banjo Gathering.

The Librarian and the Banjo tells the story of music librarian Dena Epstein, whose trailblazing scholarship documented the musical contributions of African slaves to the New World and proved that the banjo was a slave instrument with West African roots. Her work shattered myths and sparked a remarkable revival of black string band music.

Dena Epstein worked at the Newark Public Library and the Library of Congress in the late 1940s before taking a hiatus to raise her children. As filmmaker Jim Carrier explains on the cover notes to The Librarian and the Banjo:

“On one of many weekend trips to the New York Public Library to find her next research topic, she discovered a citation of the Civil War diary of William Francis Allen, the first author of Slave Songs of the United States. At the time academic musicology dismissed slave music as unoriginal, derivative of white, European music, and not worth studying. Working on her own, Dena pored through 10,000 volumes — novels, slave narratives, diaries of slave owners in Jamaica and Barbados — to gather historical evidence of a rich slave culture.”

Epstein’s subsequent publication of her findings “revolutionized our understanding of American music… Today, we take for granted that African-American music is the tap root of popular American music. We owe much of that knowledge to this music librarian who set out to correct history.”

The Librarian and the Banjo also examines why the banjo, an instrument whose roots spring from Africa and African Americans, was eventually almost completely abandoned by African Americans.

The film’s soundtrack includes music on gourd akontings, minstrel instruments, and bluegrass banjos. Musicians interviewed in the film include the Carolina Chocolate Drops, Bela Fleck, Tony Trischka, as well as local traditional music/banjo expert and park ranger, Bobby Fulcher.

The public is invited to the screening.

Libraries’ Redesigned Website Launched August 12

Posted on

beta18JulyThe UT Libraries has a new website! Redesigned using the university’s new templates, our new site launched on the morning of Monday, August 12. The new site is sleek and easy to use, and will be up and ready to go for the students as they return for the fall semester. As part of the Libraries’ site, the Library Friends pages have been updated and redesigned as well.

Use the link to the Library Friends at the bottom of the Libraries’ main page at New information and links will be up when the site is launched on Monday and will be added throughout the fall.

Battle of Fort Sanders: Library Marks the Sesquicentennial

Posted on

FortSandersThis fall marks the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Fort Sanders, a major engagement in the Knoxville Campaign of the American Civil War. The University Libraries will host an event highlighting the pivotal battle that took place less than half a mile from the current John C. Hodges Library.

The University Libraries holds significant collections on the Civil War, including Civil War diaries and letters. Look for information on our collections and the Battle of Fort Sanders in our upcoming Library Development Review.

We hope you will join us to mark the anniversary of the Battle of Fort Sanders on Thursday, November 14, at 5:30 pm in the Hodges Library. The event will include an exhibit featuring many items from the Libraries’ Civil War collections and a lecture by Dr. Tracy McKenzie, faculty member in history at Wheaton College in Wheaton, Illinois, and distinguished historian on the American Civil War. Mark your calendars and plan to attend. Our Library Friends will receive additional details via invitation later this fall.