Category Archives: Library Resources

Digital Library of the Week: Black History Month Resources

This week, let’s look at some terrific digital collections that focus on African Americans in the performing arts.

First we have Selected Clips from the Louis Armstrong Jazz Oral History Project from the New York Public Library. Watch interviews with musicians such as Jimmy Heath (sax and flute), Warren Smith (percussion), and Jon Faddis (trumpet).

If you are interested in music, you might also want to check out the Library of Congress American Memory collection African-American Sheet Music. There are over 1,000 pieces of music from the late 19th century through the early 20th century.

A playbill from the Douglass Theater
A playbill from the Douglass Theater

PBS has an excellent website to accompany its program, Free to Dance. The website and video document the contributions of African-American choreographers and dancers to American performing arts. Read the biographies of different dancers and check out their links to other online resources for the modern dancer. Don’t want to watch it online? The Greenfield Library has “Free to Dance” on videocassette. If you don’t have access to a VCR, we have several in the library.

Like theater? The Blues, Black Vaudeville, and the Silver Screen will introduce you to African American entrepreneur Charles Douglass, who founded the Douglass Theater in Georgia, providing diverse entertainment for the state’s African Americans. Or, browse Zora Neale Hurston Plays (another Library of Congress American Memory collection). Her plays focus on her life experiences and her research about African Americans in the nation’s South.

Don’t forget the UArts Libraries! We have created a few Subject Guides to help you get started in your research. There are African American History, African American Theater, and Jazz Reference Sources to name just a few, AND we have some great streaming audio and video databases that include African American performing arts and artists.

Book Published by UArts Foundation Professor Buy Shaver

Buy Shaver, a 2D Foundation professor, has had a book published by The University of Chicago press. Titled Moving the Eye Through 2-D Design, Professor Shaver’s book is a step-by-step approach to the basic elements of successful two-dimensional art. To achieve this, Professor Shaver writes in the book’s introduction that “an artist must firstly get the viewer’s attention and secondly must control how the viewer perceives a composition.” This is accomplished though “visual dynamics – contrast, motion, and noise.”

This is a terrific resource for both faculty and students. Moving the Eye Through 2-D Design will take the reader through line, shape, value, color, and, of course, feeling. You’ll learn why “sex, death, food, and all things cuddly” are so important to good artwork!

The Foundation Department is sponsoring a lecture by Professor Shaver on Wednesday, February 26. Join him as he discusses his book and his approach to teaching two-dimensional design. The lecture will be held in CBS Auditorium in Hamilton Hall at 12:00 p.m.

from Buy Shaver's 2006 installation at the Philadelphia Art Alliance
from Buy Shaver's 2006 installation at the Philadelphia Art Alliance

Library Staff Recommendation: On the Waterfront

If you’ve never seen Terry Malloy (Marlon Brando) tell his brother that he “could have been a contender”, then your popular culture education is incomplete!

Title: ON THE WATERFRONT Pers: Steiger, Rod • Brando, Marlon • Year: 1954 Dir: Kazan, Elia • Ref: ONT001AI • Used with permission/courtesy of Columbia/The Kobal Collection

“On the Waterfront” (1954, directed by Elia Kazan with a screenplay by Budd Schulberg) is a classic story of power, corruption, and redemption. Based on a serial newspaper story (and actual events) published in the New York Sun in 1948, it’s the story of a former boxer (Brando) turned dockworker who is torn between loyalty to his brother and the mob versus the girl he loves who wants him to tell the truth about a murder. Karl Malden plays a forceful and charismatic priest who is also after Terry to stand up against murder and corruption. Filmed on location with a grit that only Hoboken, NJ, could provide, this film won four Academy awards (best picture, best director, best actor (Brando), and best supporting actor (Eva Marie Saint)) and earned Brando accolades for his “shatteringly poignant” portrayal.

If you’d like to watch this great film (or watch it again), ask for Greenfield Library DVD GD99.

Want to learn more about Brando, Kazan and Schulberg? Take a look in the Greenfield Library reference section at International Dictionary of Films and Filmmakers. Great for browsing and revisiting favorite films!

Find e-books in the library catalog

You may have already noticed that records for e-books are showing up in your library catalog search results, right alongside the books, journals, and DVDs that have always been there.  These represent the 50,180 titles that are available in full-text through ebrary, our premier e-book resource.

Just follow the links into ebrary to read the whole book.  Once you’re in ebrary, you can sign up for a personalized account that lets you save your favorite titles.  You can even take notes or highlight right in the books — not something we encourage with our print books!

Don’t forget ebrary, our e-books subscription

In January 2010 the UArts Libraries launched their subscription to ebrary, an online subscription collection of more than 47,000 books. It’s research time, so we want to remind you to take advantage of this great collection.

Working on a paper on animal rights legislation? A quick search of ebrary turned up 526 books, including titles such as For the Prevention of Cruelty: The History and Legacy of Animal Rights Activism in the United States (Ohio University Press, 2006) and Animal Rights: Current Debates and New Directions (Oxford University Press, 2004).

To get to ebrary, follow these simple steps:

1. Start at the library home page: http://library.uarts.edu/

2. Under “Online Resources“, select E-Books

3. Then select ebrary:

IF YOU’RE OFF-CAMPUS you’ll be prompted to log in with your name and library barcode number. Don’t have a barcode? Just bring your valid ID (Fall 2010 sticker on it) to the Greenfield or Music Library and we’ll give you one.

Digital Library of the Week: Scholarly Journals about Demons and Monsters

Not all things haunted and other-worldly are considered science fiction fun. Two scholarly journals (yup, that’s peer-reviewed!) take their demonic subjects very seriously.

Nosferatu, a film by F.W. Murnau
Nosferatu, a film by F.W. Murnau

Love the greatest vampire of all, Dracula? Here’s one for you: The Journal of Dracula Studies. Yes, really, a scholarly, full-text e-journal published by the Dracula Research Center (run by Dracula scholar Elizabeth Miller). Read peer-reviewed articles such as Sharon Russell’s The Influence of Dracula on the Lesbian Vampire Film or Fear and Laughing in Sunnydale: Buffy vs Dracula by Peter Golz.

You can find even more well-researched writing on Dracula in the Greenfield Library. Search the catalog for Dracula as subject. Also search for vampire as subject and find books such as Blood Read: The Vampire as Metaphor in Contemporary Culture.

Golem by David Wisniewski
Golem by David Wisniewski

Also check out Golem: Journal of Religion and Monsters – yet another peer-reviewed, full-text e-journal with articles reflecting on how our fears and demons suggest a lot about who we are as people. Read Dana Fore’s “Oh yes. There will be blood.”: Sacrificial Power and Disability in Saw and Saw 2 or Rebecca Raphael’s The Doomsday Body, or Dr. Strangelove as Disabled Cyborg. There is even a student edition, Gremlin, that invites your articles for submission.

What is a golem, you ask? Check out Golem, an illustrated story by David Wisniewski that beautifully tells the tale of this Jewish giant. It’s available in the Greenfield Library with call number 741.641 W762g. The golem also makes a wonderful appearance in Michael Chabon’s novel The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay. It’s also available in the Greenfield Library with call number 813 C342a.

Happy Haunted Reading!

“Phantom of the Opera” on the Mighty Wurlitzer!

Looking for something fun to do on Halloween? You might want to consider a one-of-a-kind experience right here in Philadelphia.

Macy’s at 13th and Market Streets is home to the Wanamaker Organ, also known as The Mighty Wurlitzer, the world’s largest playing pipe organ. On Sunday, October 31, Jim Riggs will play organ accompaniment to the 1925 silent film classic The Phantom of the Opera. Tickets are $10 and available starting at 4:00 pm on Sunday. Go to Macy’s third floor, right outside of Greek Hall.

Learn more about Lon Chaney and Mary Philbin, the stars of Rupert Julian’s 1925 direction of The Phantom of the Opera. We have a wonderful book in Greenfield Reference called Silent Players: A Biographical and Autobiographical Study of 100 Silent Film Actors and Actresses.

You can also learn more about the Wanamaker Organ in Music in the Marketplace: The Story of Philadelphia’s Historic Wanamaker Organ, from John Wanamaker to Lord & Taylor. It’s available in the Music Library, along with the LP Virgil Fox plays the Wanamaker Grand Court Organ.

Just for the record: LPs in the Music Library

(Photo by Lars Halle)
(Photo by Lars Halle)

A little over a hundred years ago, Enrico Caruso recorded his legendary tenor voice onto a wax disc for the Gramophone and Typewriter Company in Milan, helping to launch an industry that for the next eighty years was dominated by one medium: the phonodisc record. In the 1980s, the compact disc replaced the long-playing vinyl record (LP) in favor of what some consider to be a cleaner sound, supposedly longer shelf-life, and undoubtedly greater storage convenience. Today, compact discs are facing a similar fate, thanks to the development of digital ways to store recorded media. Today’s iPods can accommodate thousands of hours of recorded music, and it is difficult to dispute the convenience of such an amount of music stored in such a small device, versus the shelf-space the same amount of music would consume in its forerunners’ form.

That said, an immense amount of recorded music has not yet made the transfer into the digital world and survives almost solely in its immediate predecessor’s format, twelve inches tall, fractions of an inch thick, and considerably susceptible to scratches and deterioration. Since the record was the dominant medium for so long, the Music Library retains a highly selective, large collection of recordings over the course of time, and until last November, most of it remained idle.

In recent years, the Music Library has undertaken the painstaking process of weeding out duplicate and damaged items, and then manually cataloging each of the remaining 9,095 LPs in order to make them searchable in the library’s online catalog. This effort has involved several staff members, as well as student assistants, whose persistence has made the contents of our collection of LPs readily available. Many of these performances are historically significant, and provide layers of interpretive context for repertories both standard and “off the beaten track.” Furthermore, many LPs provide extensive recording documentation and performance notes that are unavailable elsewhere, even for those select recordings that have been chosen for digital re-issue.

One of our music students, Robyn Muse has discovered the library’s collection and prefers it to compact discs owing to the expansive selection of works and performances. She also finds the comprehensive program notes that accompany phonodiscs to be useful. “It helps to be able to understand what you’re listening to,” she explains.

Aside from rarity and historical significance, there is still an appeal when it comes to long-playing records. Particular groups of audiophiles claim that analog phonodisc recordings produce a different “depth” or “warmth” of sound that the digital media do not reproduce. Our student Robyn finds that compact discs sound “flat” compared to the “more real” sound of LPs. “It’s a more true representation of the artist,” she says, referring to the quality of sound on phonodiscs. “You can hear the colors better.” Sampling this experience for oneself is fairly easy. The Music Library makes available several record players in its listening area. The recordings are easily searched, and appear alongside compact disc recordings in the online catalog.

In the long run, the greatest challenge that LP-lovers face is preservation. While the digital medium is by no means permanent, its shelf-life is predicted to surpass that of its vinyl predecessor. The Music Library hopes to one day secure the funding to successfully archive all of its LP records digitally, further preserving the timeless nature of the recorded performances. Until then, feel welcome to take advantage of this vast treasure of unique recordings and get to know the medium that represented the recording industry for more than eighty years.

Have a look at these related websites:

Enrico Caruso Museum of America

British Library Online Gallery of Record Players

Emile Berliner and the Birth of the Recording Industry