“The world can be amazing when you’re slightly strange.” ~ Unknown
Friend, fellow Appalachian, and Associate Director of the Appalachian Center, Kathryn Engle, wanted to bring her students to Special Collections for show and tell. The best show and tell artists in the building are Matt Strandmark and Megan Mummey (below). They talk to classes all the time – Matt teaches dozens of classes each year – and they know our collections better than just about anyone. They regaled the students with archival stories and artifacts before we talked about oral history. The students then got a tour of our various facilities. I think they had a good time. I know I did. I never get to attend these classes, so it was really good for me to hear my colleagues talk about what they do and what they know. Plus, if we’re talking Appalachia, I’m all about it. My homeland. My people. My heart.
“Don’t wait. Life goes faster than you think.” ~ Unknown
Shell and Crystal admired a camera sitting atop the Audubon cabinet housing Transy Library’s copy of John James Audubon’s Birds of America. The ladies give scale to the enormous prints that were bound into beautiful leather bindings. The prints and the cabinet, which was specially made for the volumes, were donated to the library by a wealthy woman named Clara Peck. She also donated a first edition of Darwin’s Origin of Species. These donations and others have been in the news lately with the recent release of the film American Animals based on the heist at this very library. I’ve heard mixed reviews about the film, but there’s no mistaking how we all felt about what happened at Transy. I’m really glad their special collections librarian wasn’t seriously hurt (she gave me my first tour of the library over a decade ago), and I’m overjoyed that their stolen goods were returned.
“Despite my everyday grumblings and bewilderment, I have never been more appreciative of how indescribably wonderful this life can be.” ~ Walter Tunis
There’s a great exhibit in Special Collections right now called The Immigrant Experience and Contribution in Appalachian Coalfields. It was put together in partnership with the Appalachian Center. We provided audio clips for the listening kiosk. Pretty cool stuff, and I really liked it sitting beside the old instruments. What a nice juxtaposition between the old and the new. You may recall that last week we welcomed Alessandro Portelli. His talk was also sponsored in part by the Appalachian Center. I think they’re cookin’ with gas over in the Appalachian Center. I’m darned proud of ’em, and even prouder to be Appalachian (as if you couldn’t tell).
“Seek to do brave and lovely things which are left undone by the majority of people. Give gifts of love and peace to those whom others pass by.” ~ Paramhansa Yogananda
Meet UK Provost Christine Riordan. We met taking this picture. Actually, we were never formally introduced, but I suspect she’ll remember me after today, or at least she’ll remember her visit. She was scheduled to come by Special Collections for a tour. Yesterday, we scurried about prettying up the place. Housekeeping buffed the marble floors while the rest of us dusted places that hadn’t been dusted in years. There was a feeling of excitement in the air, as if The Queen herself was coming. We were told to meet in the lobby this afternoon to greet Provost Riordan before the tour. Associate Dean, Deirdre Scaggs, made a very brief announcement, and then we were adjourned, but we didn’t really move. So, camera in hand (of course), I walked over to Provost Riordan and “snap.” Laughter.
I had seen provost Riordan speak once before today. I felt something familiar about her, not in appearance so much as her tone and the manner in which she carries herself. I had a feeling she would be okay with such a spontaneous moment. Plus, we needed a little something to break the ice. Not only was she okay with it, she upped the ante. Without missing a beat, she grabbed her phone and said something like, “If Ellen can do it….” It was a truly fabulous moment. Much laughter ensued.
How well my assertion played out depended solely on Provost Riordan’s reaction. It could have gone very badly. Instead, she was not only gracious about my invading her personal space, she was downright fun about it. The smartest people I know have the same ability as she to laugh, go with the flow, and be kind in unexpected situations. Thank you, Provost Riordan, for being cool, and sharing the peace and love with us. You made for a great day.
[Ellen selfie: Christine Riordan, Deirdre Scaggs, Marie Dale, Shell Dunn, Crystal Heis, Kopana Terry, Stacy Yelton, Ed Brown (with his head cut off), Michael Slone, Robert Holland, Judy Sackett, Gail Kennedy, Sarah Dorpinghaus, Megan Mummy, Justin Student, Lewis Warden, and the top of Jaime Burton’s head with lots of unidentified hands, probably Seth Newell and Jason Flahardy]
[Botton photo: Dean of Libraries Terry Birdwhistell being the first to find the tweet; Deirdre Scaggs and Megan Mummy also admiring the tweet]
“Patience: It’s a virtue when you really want to bitch, and a necessity when you really want to whine.” ~ David DeWitt
It was the first day of the fall semester. In celebration, Special Collections had an open house complete with free ice cream and a photo exhibit on dogs. Here, Stacy Yelton, impersonating model Carol Merrill, directs our attention to my favorite photo in the set. Meanwhile, we thought Associate Dean Deirdre Scaggs had really outdone herself by hiring musicians for the party. Ice cream and music? Alas, the duo pictured here with Marie Dale, were simply the first to take us up on the freebies before continuing their campus roam. The open house was a wonderful way to welcome this year’s class. Plus, I love working with people that give free ice cream to musicians.
“Every time you are tempted to react in the same old way, ask if you want to be a prisoner of the past, or a pioneer of the future.”
~ Deepak Chopra
I think it’s a good sign that I’ve already started photographing the new (old) building. The paintings are replicas of WPA paintings found in their original state on the second floor of the Margaret I. King Library where Special Collections is located. Lincoln’s bust sits squarely in the lobby’s center. Everything revolves around him, because it takes a crane to move him. Marie sits near him. I should ask if he watches her all the time. You know, the old ‘eyes that follow’ thing? In any case, they’ve done a lot to make the old place look inviting. Feels like home to me.