March 28, 2012
by library

Display: Food Culture

On April 2, 2012 Chatham is proud to have author and former NYT columnist Molly O’Neill here to discuss her new book One Big Table. O’Neill edited American Food Writing, and in her introduction she writes, “…American writers have seen food as a window into the wider culture – a sign of our values and our ideals, a measure of our civilization.” This book is charming for its classic recipes offered up by writers like Herman Melville, Emily Dickinson, and David Sedaris, just to name a few. You can also check out, Joy of Cooking, first published in 1936 and probably the best known cookbook in the US with more than 18 million copies sold.

Current food culture and food and cooking history are fascinating and educational. Understanding where food comes from, how it is made, and how it is served and shared contribute to our sense of community. We share in relationships that both create a profound respect for the world around us and its inhabitants, human and otherwise.  Fabrio Parasecoli writes of the recent interest in food history, “It is not just curiosity about how ancestors ate. It is concern about the reasons why we eat the way we eat now, in the present,” Who cooks, how and where are just as interesting as where our food comes from. Urban gardens and even shared meal prep in families is experiencing a shift in the U.S., but no doubt, tradition and culture still play an important role when it comes to gathering around the table.

Chatham University has a long history with food culture. Everyone has to eat! so feeding the students is a daily event. Back in 1902, the 32nd Alumnae Banquet served a simple, seasonal, and elegant menu that you can see here. Chatham alumni and students have even published cookbooks, including this one by the Helen E. Pelletreau Scholarship Committee. The title page reads: “As a textbook on cookery, this book is dedicated to the young housekeepers who shall come from the doors of the Pennsylvania College for Women.”

In addition, the Library is proud to host the International Edible Book Festival! (click here for details) This is your chance to show your creative side and your love for food and books!

March 27, 2012
by library

Book Review: Devil in the White City

If you’re looking for a good book to read, Melissa Frye, one of the library’s student workers, highly recommends:

The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America by Erik Larson

1893: the cusp of the 20th century. A time of industry, beauty, mystery, and madness. The World’s Columbian Exposition (better known as the Chicago’s World’s Fair) was meant to mark America’s rise into the industrious and intellectual heights dominated for centuries by Western Europe. It was to be America’s crowning glory. What was born in those magical, innocent final days of the 19th century was a blood thirsty madness that would change the American psyche forever. Eric Larson’s historical narrative The Devil in the White City moves the reader through the ambitions, triumphs, and downfalls of the creators and designers of the World’s Fair, the magicians of an industrialized world, set to change the future but still dwarfed by their own nearsightedness. Living alongside these visionaries is a monster that uses the World’s Fair as his hunting grounds to prey on the naïve populace of young women pouring into Chicago that would make him America’s first serial killer. A twisted tale of intrigue and horror, The Devil in the White City is sure to be a thrilling tale of the heights of human ingenuity and the depths of inhuman savagery.

~Review written by Melissa Frye.

March 26, 2012
by library

Student Question: X-Ray Gates

We called the makers of the security gate we have at the entrance to the library.  Our gate is of the electromagnetic variety (they make other types of gates, too).  It’s basically a metal detector that is set up to detect a very specific frequency of metal.  There are some pretty good explanations on the web for how metal detectors work, if you’re curious.  If you have additional questions or concerns, please let us know.

March 23, 2012
by library

Student Suggestion: More DVDs

Photo by Collin Harvey

Once again, budgetary constraints limit what we can purchase.  And some of the educational DVDs can actually cost us anywhere from $100-$500 (for one DVD!).  Unbelievable, right?  This is because some DVD distributors require libraries to buy a DVD with a special license that allows that DVD to be shown to many people.

We have received a number of requests to look into more popular films because of the film program here.  We are currently looking at the American Film Institute’s Top 100 list.

Lastly, if you have any DVDs you’d like to donate, we’re always happy to accept them!

March 22, 2012
by library

Student Suggestion: Bathroom on the First Floor

Photo by Mark Hammond

The only bathrooms in the library are in the basement and on the 3rd floor.  We know it’s frustrating, but that’s just the way the library was built.  We have found that in nicer weather, the bathroom in Eddy is closer if you’re on the main floor of the library.

As for a bathroom after hours, we know it can feel unsafe to leave the building in the middle of the night.  Café Rachel is open until 2am on Friday and midnight on Saturday.  Other than that, Woodland is accessible using your student ID.

So, as much as we’re sure you aren’t eager to hear this, we don’t have plans to add any bathrooms in the foreseeable future.

March 21, 2012
by library

Student Suggestion: Author Visits

Photo by Beautiful Faces of Palestine

While author visits would be cool, they do take planning, and a lot of time, something we librarians are short on.  However, if you know a group that would like to organize an author visit, we’d be happy to provide the space for it.  There are also many other programs on campus that bring authors in to speak.

March 20, 2012
by library

Student Suggestion: Consistently Functional Printers

Photo by Michael Cote

We know the printers can be extremely frustrating – they drive us crazy, too!  However, we’re not sure printers that work really well with such high usage actually exist – we’d love to meet such a mythical beast.  Ultimately, the library is not responsible for the printers and plays no role in the decisions surrounding them – they are provided by IKON and maintained by both IKON and the IT Help Desk.  If you do encounter problems with the printers, please call the IT Help Desk at x1112 using the phone in the back of the large lab, and they will be happy to come over and fix them.

March 19, 2012
by library

Student Suggestion: More Books, Especially Fun Ones!

Photo by Joe Shlabotnik

Books are wonderful things, and we’d love to buy them all!  However, budget constraints and shelf space keep us in check. If you think we are lacking books related to an academic discipline or particular topic, please let us know, and we’ll look into it.

As far as fun books go, as a university library our primary mission is to support the curriculum, therefore the bulk of our budget goes toward purchasing materials for that purpose.  We do purchase a fair amount of literature, but we cannot purchase as much as a public library.  Speaking of which, you should check out your public library!  The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh has an enormous selection of books (and audiobooks!), and the Squirrel Hill branch is less than a mile from campus.  You have to be a resident of Allegheny County to get a card – living on campus counts.  Otherwise, check out the public library nearest your home.  We also have a Carnegie Library information sheet available at the reference desk if you’d like more information about how to go about getting a card.

We do still have a variety of fun books to read here.  We have a popular reading display that you’ll notice to your right as you walk into the library building.  Those books rotate as they get checked out.  You might also try checking out some of the books in the 810-819 range on the 3rd floor – that’s where you’ll find the American fiction, humor (think David Sedaris), and poetry books, as well as plays.  The rest of the 800s contain literature from other cultures.

March 16, 2012
by library

Student Suggestion: Open the Room that Houses the Brown Collection

Since most of the books in the Brown Collection are first editions and signed by the author, they are rare and valuable.  Therefore, the room cannot be left open.  The collection is considered part of Special Collections, so if you would like to view any books in the room, you will need to make an appointment with a librarian.  If there is a book in the Brown Collection that you would like to read, you’ll need to order it through E-ZBorrow or get it from the public library.  Books ordered through E-ZBorrow should arrive here in 2-5 business days!

March 15, 2012
by library

Student Suggestion: Vending Machines and Food in the Library

Photo by Wayne Wilkinson

We have explored the possibility of a vending machine in the library in the past but when Café Rachel opened, the requests dropped.  We can explore this idea again.

However, you are allowed to bring snacks and drinks into the library, so please feel free to stop by Café Rachel or one of the vending machines in Falk or downstairs in Buhl on your way here!

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