December 7, 2021
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Native American Heritage Book Display and Land Acknowledgements

The JKM Library is honoring the cultures and history of Native Americans through a book display. Native American and Indigenous Peoples’ Heritage Month may have already passed (please take a look at our related resources page), but we should continue to reflect on the past, present, and future of these communities and their relationship to of the United States of America: how Indigenous people were colonized, how they were almost decimated, and how they are still oppressed. We recognize that we occupy the unceded, ancestral land of many Indigenous peoples, including the Delaware, the Shawnee, and the Seneca Nation, who were members of the Haudenosaunee (hoe-dee-no-SHOW-nee) Confederacy. As recently as the 1960s, nearly one-third of the Seneca’s tribal lands were taken by the U.S. government to build the Kinzua Dam northeast of the Pittsburgh (for more on land acknowledgments, see this handout).

Located in the first floor, the display offers a curated selection of more than 40 books with an interdisciplinary focus, ranging from literature and history to environmental studies. Part of our goal is to make these resources more visible, which often remain hidden in the stacks. In addition, we wanted to center texts by Indigenous voices. In the case of books by non-Native American authors, we have tried to include works that are inclusive in their approach and do not reproduce problematic stereotypes.

For instance, we excluded a critically acclaimed book, S.C. Gwynne’s Empire of the Summer Moon, because of its description of the Comanches as “primitive” and “barbarian.” Such language harks back to the racist discourse of past centuries, but the book was published only ten years ago and was a finalist for a Pulitzer Prize. We also did not choose to share most of our Native American art books because they perpetuate the colonialist idea that Indigenous cultures are to be collected by white institutions without any attention to Native American perspectives. It is therefore urgent to share correctives to these narratives, especially from the perspective of institutions like ours, which not only occupy unceded land but also play a role in the formation of collective memory. In addition, the library’s DVD collection does not include any films directed by Native Americans except for Reel Injun, a documentary about the depiction of indigeneity in Hollywood movies, which is part of the display. We hope to be adding more items to our collection that reflect these concerns.

We invite everyone to experience the exhibit and check out any books that might interest you. Some books that we would like to highlight because of their importance for Native American history and cultures are:

  • Roxane Dunbar-Ortiz, An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States (history)
  • Two-Spirit People: Native American Gender Identity, Sexuality, and Spirituality(gender and sexuality)
  • Natalie Diaz, When My Brother Was an Aztec (poetry)
  • Cherie Dimaline, The Marrow Thieves (fiction)
  • The Book of Elders: the life Stories of Great American Indians (testimony)
  • Terese Marie Mailhot, Heart Berries (memoir)
  • Native Americans and the Environment: Perspectives on the Ecological Indian (environmental studies)
  • David J. Silverman, This Land is their Land: the Wampanoag Indians, Plymouth Colony, and the Troubled history of Thanksgiving (history)
  • Sean Sherman, The Sioux Chef’s Indigenous Kitchen (cooking)
Khalila Chaar-Pérez (she/they) is Reference Associate at the JKM Library and also works at the People’s Media Record, a grassroots video archive in Philly. She’s a proud trans Puerto Rican committed to cultivating transformative justice, antiracism, and a world without capitalism. She is also an avid hiker, a film nerd, and a trekkie.

September 16, 2021
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Collaboration on Constitution Day Display

This fall the JKM Library is teaming up with the Pennsylvania Center for Women and Politics to bring you an in-library display in honor of Constitution Day, also know as Citizenship Day.

Constitution Day is regularly observed on September 17th to commemorate the day in 1787 that delegates to the Constitutional Convention signed the Constitution in Philadelphia. It is a day to recognize the history and importance of the Constitution, and to celebrate being a citizen of the United States of America.

In addition to the display, the PCWP is hosting a screening of the documentary Surge (2020) on Thursday, September 16th at 11:15am in the Eddy Theater. From the documentary’s website:

Surge is a feature documentary about the record number of first-time female candidates who ran, won and upended politics in the historic, barrier-breaking 2018 midterm elections. Surge follows three candidates in Texas, Indiana and Illinois who each running in uphill battles to flip their deep red districts to blue, including Lauren Underwood, the youngest Black woman to ever be elected to Congress.

Some items included on the JKM Library’s display are:

  • You Never Forget Your First by Alexis Coe
  • African American Women in the Struggle for the Vote, 1850-1920 by Rosalyn Terborg-Penn
  • The Unwinding An Inner History of the New America by George Packer
  • Iron Jawed Angels (feature film)
  • Selma (feature film)
  • Coming to America: A History of Immigration and Ethnicity in American Life by Roger Daniels
  • Eyes On the Prize: America’s Civil Rights Movement (PBS docuseries)
  • The Oxford Handbook of the U.S. Constitution
  • Women’s Rights in the USA: Policy Debates and Gender Roles by Dorothy E. McBride and Janine A. Parry
  • Representation and the Electoral College by Robert M. Alexander

All library items can be checked out by Chatham community members, with the exception of the pocket Constitutions. Those were provided by the PCWP and are free to take and keep.

January 7, 2020
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The Year of Morocco Book Display

It’s the year of Morocco! The global focus of the 2019-2020 academic year here at Chatham has turned its eye to this multifaceted North African country. Morocco is located in an advantageous region of the world for trade and travel, which led to a fascinating blending of cultures, customs, goods, and people.

Year Of Morocco Book Display

The Year of Morocco first floor book display

The region of modern day Morocco was originally inhabited by Berber tribes and were under both Phoenician and then Carthaginian rule, acting as a critical resource in trade activity with the Iberian Peninsula. When Roman rule expanded and then collapsed, control of Morocco went back to the Berbers. Arab populations invaded in AD 684, adding yet another cultural element to the region.

Over the centuries, Morocco found itself in a unique position in terms of early globalization. As empires blossomed and crumbled, trade expanded and new religious and scientific thought was shared. Morocco’s physical location placed it in the middle of much of this change and movement. Leadership and rule of the region changed as influence in Europe and the Middle East shifted.

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October 10, 2018
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The Year of Ireland Book Display

Every year, the JKM Library creates displays of books and resources related to the country selected as the Global Focus country for that academic year. This year, Chatham has selected Ireland! The Year of Ireland display highlights books written by notable Irish authors or written about Ireland’s history, culture, politics, etc. The intention is to make resources available to the Chatham community so you may further educate yourselves on the country of focus selected by the university.

The display can be found on the first floor of the library in the lobby area next to the New Books display. All the materials on the Year of Ireland display are available to be checked out with your Chatham ID card. Wondering if we have a specific book that you don’t see on display? Ask a librarian! We can check our catalog for any materials you’re looking for.

Some items on display include the following. To browse more, click here!

  • Dublin: The Making of a Capital City by David Dickson
  • The Gathering by Anne Enright
  • The Great Hunger: Ireland 1845-1849 by Cecil Woodham Smith
  • Ireland’s Pirate Queen: The True Story of Grace O’Malley by Anne Chambers
  • Time and Tide by Edna O’Brien
  • Women and Politics in Contemporary Ireland: From the Margins to the Mainstream by Yvonne Galligan
  • Stories by Elizabeth Bowen
  • The Princeton History of Modern Ireland edited by Richard Bourke & Ian McBride
  • At Swim-Two-Birds by Flann O’Brien
  • The Course of Irish History edited by T.W. Moody and F.X. Martin
  • The Dancers Dancing by Eilís Ní Dhuibhne
  • Death and Nightingales: A Novel by Eugene McCabe
  • Ireland in Prehistory by Michael Herity and George Eogan

April 23, 2018
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National Poetry Month 2018: Suggested Reads!

April is National Poetry Month, and we at the JKM Library have a soft spot in our literary hearts for poetry. This month, student workers Alie Davis and Carina Stopenski worked together to design and curate our Main Book Display. Items selected ranged from classics like Sylvia Plath to Chatham students’ chapbooks and everything in between.

While all the poetry collections on display are worth checking out and exploring, Alie Davis has selected three that stand out to her. Read her bite-sized reviews below for poetry collections you can check out today!

Andrea Gibson’s first book, Pole Dancing to Gospel Hymns, inspires action in all of its readers. This collection is brimming with brutal tenderness. Gibson covers topics that are relevant to the current political climate. This collection is full of poems about gender, love, violence, and an overwhelming optimism for surviving no matter what.

 

Lori Jakiela, a local Pittsburgh poet, released her chapbook, Big Fish in 2016. This collection sings with humor, playfulness, and light, but does not shy away from the hard things. Jakiela writes about landscape, motherhood, and giant fish sandwiches. Big Fish is a rich collection to dive into and swim through.

 

Lighthead by Terrance Hayes is his fourth collection to be published. Always blurring the line between story and song, and reality and dream, Hayes engages with how we ground ourselves in the everyday and how we construct experience. Musical and dream-like, Lighthead offers meditations on desires and history. Masterful precision of language and sound moves this collection to a Must-Read for all.

November 13, 2017
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Connect with the Library on Instagram and Spotify

There are so many opportunities to connect and interact with the Jennie King Mellon Library online and in person, and we recently added two more: Instagram and Spotify! Our new Instagram account (@jkmlibrary) features library news, updates, and shenanigans. Be sure to follow us for #NewBookTuesdays and #BookfaceFridays. You’ll also get to know our staff and librarians better, as we post fun pictures of our recommendations, displays, and exciting library life.

And yes, you heard correctly, the library has a Spotify account. What is Spotify? It’s a music streaming service that allows those with accounts to listen to over 30 million songs for free and create and share playlists. Library staff members love music of all genres and styles. We’re hoping to share our love of music with the rest of the Chatham community in a way that enhances your experience at the library and allows you to get to know us better.

Our playlists are specially crafted by librarians and library staff, and while they are certainly educational, they’re also a lot of fun. We create new playlists regularly for different purposes. A playlist could correspond with one of our in-library displays, be a Staff Spotlight playlist of recommendations put together by just one staff member, or something that our student workers have crafted!

Our Native American Heritage Month book display is on the first floor of the JKM Library.

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November 1, 2017
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The Year of Indonesia Library Displays

Every year, Chatham University chooses a Global Focus, and the 2017-2018 school year is the Year of Indonesia. In order to highlight Indonesian culture and society, the JKM Library has partnered with Dr. Greg Galford on displays that celebrate Indonesian culture and help educate our Chatham community.

The first is a display of beautiful Javanese batiks purchased in Yogyakarta, Indonesia by Dr. Galford. Each of the batiks on display are incredibly beautiful, but one in particular features golden wax detailing that is truly stunning. The batik has been the source of some controversy over the years concerning the appropriation of Indonesian culture by many of its neighbors. A 2009 New York Times article detailed the struggle for cultural ownership of the batik between Indonesia and Malaysia. This was just one of many conflicts between the two nations. In September of that year, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, known as UNESCO, made the decision to add the batik to its Intangible Cultural Heritage list, meaning that its cultural meaning and significance is now protected and attributed to Indonesia (Gelling, 2009).

According to UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage list, the batik is deeply rooted in Indonesian culture and plays a big part in the lives of Indonesians. Different intricate patterns are worn for everyday activities, special events, marriages, pregnancy, and other life events. Batiks feature at the birth of a child and the death of an elder. They are even incorporated into entertainment, such as puppet shows. The incredible designs drawn by craftsmen are indicative of the wide range of cultural influences Indonesia has been exposed to over the centuries. You will see elements of “Arabic calligraphy, European bouquets and Chinese phoenixes to Japanese cherry blossoms and Indian or Persian peacocks.” (Indonesian Batik, 2017)

The process includes drawing beautiful designs on fabrics in hot wax which then helps to control which part of the fabric accepts the dyes and colors. This process is repeated on the same piece of fabric until the desired design is achieved (Indonesian Batik, 2017). The results are breath-taking. You can see video examples and up-close images of this process on UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage website.

In another article by the New York Times that discussed the attempts to revive the batik tradition in the 1990s, batik historian T.T. Soerjanto explains how the tradition dates back 2,000 years and was first mentioned in the 15th century in the court records of Pakubuwono V, the King of Solo (Rabin, 1990). Take a look at the detailed fabric scans below of some of the batiks we have on display. Come in person to see our gilded batik in all its glory.

You can find our batik display on the first floor of the library hanging on the wall partition near the elevator. Feel free to get up close and even touch the fabric, but please proceed with care.

The second display is a collection of 18 books on Indonesia, provided by Dr. Galford. These books, which are both fiction and non-fiction, range in topic from history to civil engineering and infrastructure. While you are more than welcome to enjoy these books in the library, please do not remove them from the building. Below is a full list of titles in case you are interested in finding a copy for yourself!

  • Under Construction: The Politics of Urban Space and Housing During the Decolonization of Indonesia by Freek Colombijn
  • Island of Bali by Miguel Covarrubias
  • Planet of Slums by Mike Davis
  • The Traditional Architecture of Indonesia by Barry Dawson and John Gillow
  • Balinese Dance, Drama & Music: A Guide to the Performing Arts of Bali by Wayan Dibia and Rucina Ballinger with illustration by Barbara Anello
  • The Indonesia Reader: History, Culture by Tineke Hellwig and Eric Tagliacozzo
  • The Year of Living Dangerously by Christopher J. Koch
  • Behind the Postcolonial: Architecture, Urban Space and Political Cultures in Indonesia by Abidin Kusno
  • The Appearance of Memory: Mnemonic Practices of Architecture and Urban Form in Indonesia by Abidin Kusno
  • The Past in the Present: Architecture in Indonesia by Peter Nas
  • Indonesia, Etc.: Exploring the Improbable Nation by Elizabeth Pisani
  • Creative Batik by Rosi Robinson
  • A Nation in Waiting: Indonesia’s Search for Stability by Adam Schwartz
  • Indonesia: Peoples and Histories by Jean Gelman Taylor
  • Indonesia: A Lonely Planet Travel Survival Kit by Justine Vaisutis
  • Malay Archipelago by Alfred Russel Wallace
  • The Living House: An Anthropology of Architecture in South-East Asia by Roxana Waterson
  • Krakatoa: The day the world exploded by Simon Winchester

We hope you enjoy Chatham’s Year of Indonesia! Take a moment to view our displays the next time you find yourself on the first floor of the JKM Library.

 

References

Indonesian Batik. (2017). Retrieved from https://ich.unesco.org/en/RL/indonesian-batik-00170

Gelling, P. (2009, September 14). Score One for Indonesia in the War Over Batik. The New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/15/world/asia/15iht-batik.html?mcubz=0

Rabin, R.C. (1990, February 18). The Intricate Patterning of Batik. The New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/1990/02/18/travel/the-intricate-patterning-of-batik.html?pagewanted=all&mcubz=0

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