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

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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

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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 (lib.utk.edu/music) 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

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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

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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 lib.utk.edu. 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

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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.




Friends: Join Us to Host Graduate Students

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GradsEach year the Libraries host an open house specifically for graduate students. It’s a great opportunity for students to meet the librarian for their subject area, learn about the library services that will support them, and get to know library faculty and staff. Last year the Library Friends hosted a table at the open house and introduced graduate students to the work that the Friends do to support the Libraries. We’re planning to do this again and need your help! Can you help to staff the Library Friends table on Friday, August 23, from 1:00 to 2:30 pm? Please contact Jeff Johnson (jjohnson@mhminc.com) or Erin Horeni-Ogle (ehoreni@utk.edu) today.

Also, would you be willing to underwrite graduate student memberships in the UT Library Friends, at $5 each? With a student membership, graduate students will receive the Libraries’ publications, e-newsletter, and invitations to library events. Last year one of our Library Friends sponsored student memberships, and it was a fantastic opportunity to engage students in conversations about supporting the UT Libraries. Great impact for a relatively low cost! Contact Erin (ehoreni@utk.edu) if you would be willing to sponsor student memberships this year.




Free Movies on Demand, Anywhere on Campus

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cinemaStudents in the dorms — or, for that matter, anywhere on campus — can now stream movies to their laptops, on demand. The free movie channel (movies.utk.edu) is available to anyone, as long as they’re on campus to access the wireless network.

Each month, a selection of twenty feature films is available on demand from any laptop or desktop computer. The movie channel is not available from off-campus, and is presently not available to tablet computers. The Volunteer Channel (UT campus cable 12) makes the movies available to televisions in UT residence halls on a rotating schedule.

Students are invited to visit the Libraries on Facebook to weigh in on new movie selections each month — www.facebook.com/utklibraries.




UT Library Celebrates Gift of an 18th Century Text

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DeoOptimo_smallThe public is invited to an event celebrating a special gift to the University of Tennessee Libraries on the evening of Thursday, March 14, at the John C. Hodges Library on the UT campus.

University of Tennessee Library Friends and guests will gather to learn about the antecedents of a rare 1725 pamphlet written by one of Louis XV’s gardeners on a subject that references the Appalachian region.

Each year the Library Friends group pools undesignated donations to make a single gift to the UT Libraries. This year’s gift from the Library Friends is a pamphlet recording a disputation among learned 18th century physicians on a Quaestio Medica — a medical question — “Whether or not the Apalachine drink from America is healthful?”

Bernard de Jussieu, the presenter of the remarks recorded in this pamphlet, belonged to a prominent French family that included a number of distinguished botanist-gardeners of the 18th and 19th centuries. Successive generations of the de Jussieu family served as directors of the famous botanical garden of the French kings, the Jardin du Roi. Bernard de Jussieu was Sub-demonstrator of Plants at the royal garden under Louis XV. He and his two brothers — Antoine, who was director of the Jardin du Roi, and Joseph, who traveled the world seeking new botanical specimens to ship back to the king’s garden — are as renowned among botanists as their contemporary Carl Linnaeus.

In the 18th century, voyages of colonial expansion or botanical exploration resulted in an influx of new plant species sent back to Europe for cultivation in botanical gardens. The new plant material helped spur advances in plant taxonomy like the classification schemes of Linnaeus and Bernard de Jussieu.

At the March 14 event, guests will hear from an expert on the history of botanical excursions into the New World. Ronald H. Petersen, Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Tennessee, will give a talk at 6:30 p.m. in the Hodges Library auditorium.

Specializing in the fungi, botanist Ron Petersen has described the mushrooms and their relatives from the Smoky Mountains and many other places on earth. One of his avocations, however, has been the natural history of the Southern Appalachians. He has published accounts of botanical penetration of the mountains in the 1830s and ’40s, the survey of a line marking the boundary between the Cherokee Nation and the spreading early colonial pioneers, as well as (with UT librarian Ken Wise) a natural history of Mt. LeConte. His most ambitious project has been New World Botany: Columbus to Darwin (2001), tracing botanical exploration and knowledge in and about the New World over five centuries.

The public is invited to a reception in the Jack E. Reese Galleria at 5:30 p.m., followed by Dr. Petersen’s talk at 6:30 p.m. The rare Quaestio Medica pamphlet will be on display in the Libraries’ Special Collections department.

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Donor Spotlight: Alan Heilman

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Alan_HeilmanAlan S. Heilman, retired UT professor of botany, devoted 37 years to teaching generations of young biology students at UT. He devoted even more years to recording the miraculous structures of plants in his extraordinary photographs.

Heilman decided to partner with the UT Libraries to preserve and share his photographs of flowering plants, ferns, mosses, and lichens taken over more than sixty years. Several years ago Heilman began sorting through his slides, selecting what he considered his best shots, and bringing batches of color slides to Digital Library Production for scanning. The resulting collaboration is The Botanical Photography of Alan S. Heilman, one of the UT Libraries’ digital collections available for viewing by all on the Libraries’ website.

TrumpetVineVisitors to The Botanical Photography of Alan S. Heilman will immediately notice the photographer’s particular fascination with the intricate forms of plants: many of his photographs are close-ups — even microscopic enlargements — of their subjects. Heilman’s experimentation with extreme close-up views even preceded his decision to study botany; it dates from his chance discovery, as a young high school student, of a hometown chapter of the American Society of Amateur Microscopists. Photomicrographs became one of Heilman’s passions, and extreme close-ups of pistils, stamens, and other anatomical structures of plants have continued to be one of his photographic specialties.

Heilman joined the (now defunct) Botany Department at the University of Tennessee in 1960 and taught general botany and plant anatomy until his retirement in 1997. He continues to pursue his photographic artistry and often can be seen at the UT Gardens, carefully staging his next shot.

Perhaps Heilman’s framing is so exact and his execution so perfect because he risks actual film in making his shots. Heilman has never owned a digital camera. Scanning performed by library staff is the only digital process used in creation of The Botanical Photography of Alan S. Heilman.

Read more about Dr. Heilman’s artistry and technical process in the 2010-2011 Library Development Review.




Join Us to Celebrate the Gift of a Rare First Edition

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DeoOptimo_smallThe University of Tennessee Library Friends have begun a new tradition. Each year, gifts to the Library Friends, both large and small, will be pooled together to make a gift to the Libraries. This year’s gift is a rare 1725 first edition of Deo Optima Max, an important work on botany and medical properties of plants of the Appalachian Mountains.

The Libraries will celebrate and formalize the Friends’ gift with an event Thursday, March 14, at the John C. Hodges Library. Join us at 5:30 p.m. for a reception in the Jack E. Reese Galleria, followed by a lecture at 6:30 p.m. Botanist Ron Petersen will detail the significance of Deo Optimo Max. Petersen is an Emeritus Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Tennessee. He has drawn international recognition for his research and knowledge of mushrooms, fungi and biology of the Southern Appalachian Mountains.

Deo Optima Max is the work of the renowned 18th century French naturalist Bernard de Jussieu. The unassuming little pamphlet (only four pages) is actually quite a rarity. One copy of the 1725 edition is located in the National Library of France, but there are no recorded copies of the first edition in America.

Deo Optima Max will reside in our Special Collections, where the showpiece will strengthen our existing collections related to Appalachia. Special Collections actively seeks material to support UT’s Great Smoky Mountains Regional Collection and the study of Appalachian history, culture, and natural history.

Future annual gifts from the Library Friends may be a rare book, funds to support a renovation to one of the libraries, or new technology that will move the library forward. Gifts will be celebrated each spring to show the Library Friends how their donations make a difference to the students, faculty, and UT community.