The VCU Cabell First Novelist Award, named for renowned local writer and Cabell Library namesake James Branch Cabell, is given each year to the author of an outstanding first novel published during the previous calendar year. Dozens of presses, both small and large, and writers themselves submit new novels to be in the running.
In order to select the winner, we need your help. On the first floor of Cabell Library, beside the Information Services desk, is a shelf containing the first batch of submissions for the 2014 award. To participate in the process of selecting the winner, just check out a book, read at least the first 50 pages, and then complete and return one of our brief review forms that asks you to rate the novel on features such as plot and character before April 1, 2014. You can read and review as many books as you like.
The reviews of all of the readers determine the list of semifinalists from which a committee in the VCU MFA in Creative Writing Program selects three finalists to be sent to three judges, including the preview year's award winner. The judges each read all three finalist books and convene to decide the winner.
Even if you choose not to review for the contest, please come browse the books and feel free to check some out. This is a great way of sampling new novels, discovering up-and-coming writers, and staying in touch with some of the latest trends in publishing.
To read more about the VCU Cabell First Novelist Award, see the official website.
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Your gift to VCU Libraries impacts the success of every one of our hard-working students at Virginia Commonwealth University. Additionally, your support sponsors compelling educational programming, including annual lecture series and exhibits that are free and accessible to all.
The VCU Libraries provide students, scholars and the entire Richmond community with an array of resources, including a collection well over 2 million volumes, collaborative and quiet study and work spaces, unique treasures in our Special Collections and Archives, and top-tier research assistance.
It is no exaggeration to say that students and scholars have access to these indispensable resources because of the support of Friends like you.
A big thank you
If you've already made your annual donation to the VCU Libraries, thank you.
You may be surprised when stepping off the elevator on the fourth floor of James Branch Cabell Library. But don't worry, that's not a piece of driftwood you're looking at. It's a bookshelf.
Cabell Library's newest art installation is the work of five Art Foundation students in a class called Space Research. The students were challenged to design and build bookshelves, each with a similar function and a unique artistic vision. These are now on display throughout the library, Nov. 5-Dec. 5.
"I asked each artist to draw a fantasy research shelf on a piece of paper as big or bigger than themselves," said Suzanne Seesman, an adjunct professor in the department. "In Space Research we are tasked with considering space intentionally. We also try to make work that enables others to consider spaces, objects and activities that are normally overlooked or taken for granted."
Why bookshelves? Instructor Seesman wanted to be sure her art students did some time working in the library--exploring art history, finding books in the Fourth Floor Art Browsery (a section filled with books on art, architecture and design) and gleaning a sense of the vast ways of creative expression through art. She asked her students to find inspiration through books about art and artists.
Secondly, books and shelves are common, familar objects. When explored more creatively and with fresh eyes, the ordinary can become amazing. Students came up with a variety of ideas for materials and structures.
The branch-shaped bookshelf on the fourth floor of Cabell is a piece called "The Growth" by Jacqueline Javier. "I wanted to make [the bookshelf] organic and it just became a tree," Javier said. In her project summary, she explained further, saying, "The bookshelf engages the individual with its vivid contrast of lines and flowing motion. The tree itself represents how ideas can change, grow and morph over time and on top of a former 'solid base.'" Javier's bookshelf features six spaces for shelving books and is covered in papier-mâché
The dual functions of these bookshelves are as varied as their appearances. Some function also as workspaces. One includes a light fixture and a bed. One includes a game board for taking a break from studying or reading.
"I came up with a couple of idea but I had to scale it down," said Jonah Hacinas, whose work was inspired by tatoo arts. "Carving was the most difficult part and it took a while." Hacinas said she was inspired by another artist's interpretation of traditional American woodcuts, and chose to decorate her bookshelf with stars, flowers, birds and other images.
Students had about two weeks to design, purchase materials for, build and decorate their bookshelves. For one student, this also included some electrical wiring. Bethany Allen's creation, "A and B," is actually a lighted, cushioned seat with shelving along the sides.
"I like building shelters and creating unconventional spaces," Allen said. Her piece provides a sheltered reading space for its user, and instead of shelves, uses 16 wire racks to hold books open at the last page read.
Details about The Bookshelf Project
Artist: Bethany Allen, A and B, First Floor, far left of main entrance
Artist's Notes: There is a language of research that is only understood when two or more people gather together with the shared "non-agenda" of learning from one another. The amount of wisdom and knowledge that one can glean from reading is endless. However, there is another dimension of growth that can take place when we share this experience with others.
"A and B" is about two parts coming together, not to become one, but to provoke and explore what the other has to offer. A seat provides a physical place for communal reading and research to happen. Sixteen book racks provide a storage system that allows books to be explored and conveniently stored to hold the page that was last read
Artist: Brett Alvis, Cylindrical Bookshelf, Third floor
Artist's Notes: This project engages the artist's interests in wood craft and painting. From the outside, the unit can hold books on the bottom layer of shelves and potentially oversized books horizontally on the top layer. The bookcase is hinged and on wheels so that it can be opened to reveal an internal painting. Not only can the piece hold books, but it can double as a table and seating area. This work conveys the artist's interest in art that supports social interaction. This shelf provides a place for students to sit, drink their coffee, do homework and interact within the library. Books on display:
- Emily Jacir by Emily Jacir
- Belongings: Arbeiten/works 1998-2003 by Emily Jacir
- Janet Fish
- Janet Fish: Paintings by Vincent Katz
- Two books about Janet Fish
Artist: Farrah El Sharif, The Arabic Backgammon Bookshelf, Third floor
Artist's Notes: This bookshelf can be used as a game by setting it down on the floor so that two people can sit on it and play with the backgammon board. It can also function as a regular bookshelf by leaning it against the wall. This bookshelf is focused on the idea of supporting communication between two people. It is designed to keep people engaged at the library by providing a mental break from study. After studying for a period of time, students can take a break to play the game. Students who study for a long periods of time or those who pull all-nighters need something that can keep them up or encourage them to keep going. This bookshelf provides that something. Books on display:
- Vintage Furniture by Fay Sweet
- Interior Design Fundamentals by Helper, Jensen, and Wallach
- Furniture Studio (the heart of functional arts) by John Kelsey and Rick Mastell
- Formless Furniture by Peter Noever
Artist: Jacqueline Javier "The Growth" Fourth Floor, lobby
Artist's Notes: A bookshelf's main purpose is to hold books and research for an individual, but it can be more than a simple holding area. This bookshelf has vivid contrast and flowing lines of motion and the metaphor of a twisting tree. The tree itself represents how ideas can change, grow, and morph over time atop a "solid base." It represents how research should be able to grow freely without too much worry of direction or structure. The shelves can be used as innovatively as the user wants, with the triangle base as a holding area for writing utensils. There is no right or wrong or upside down in this bookshelf just as research can develop in multiple directions. Books displayed, including sketchbooks:
- The Surrealists
- Tetsumi Kudo: Garden of Metamorphosis: Barbel Miebach and Claudia Steinburg
- Chihuly: Garden Installations: Mark McDonnell, David Ebony and Tim Richardson
Artist: Jonah Hacinas, All American, Fourth Floor, near the Book Browsery
Artist's Notes: This bookshelf doubles as a seating area, for four or more people. The seating base has vertical shelves for many books to slant on. The middle piece serves as a back support, a second shelf, and a flat table top. The bookshelf is carved by hand to expose the natural color of the wood. The shelving on the base is painted close in color to the wood. The piece is decorated with carvings of animals and things found in nature, in an all American Traditional Tattoo style. Books on display:
- Tattooing the Invisible Man: Bodies of Work 1955-1999, Don Ed Hardy
- Body Decoration: A World Survey of Body Art, Karl Groning
- Pacific Designs in Print and Skin: Tattooing the World, Juniper Ellis
- Customizing the Body: The Art and Culture of Tattooing, Clinton P. Sanders
- Bodies of Inspection: Cultural History of Modern Tattoo Community, Margo DeMello
Photographer Chad Hunt and writer Kevin Powers use their art to illuminate and document powerful truths about military life and the human face of war and conflict. Both alumni, Hunt and Powers will be on campus in November to talk about their work and their experiences.
An exhibition of Hunt's photos in James Branch Cabell Library runs Nov. 1-15 and Powers speaks in a free-and-open lecture Nov. 8.
Hunt studied photography at VCU. His photographs of military subjects have appeared in Time, Popular Mechanics and The New York Times and are in the permanent collections of several museums. The Maplewood, N.J. resident spent time as an embedded photographer with the U.S. Military in Afghanistan and will share his photographs and stories with the VCU community. The exhibition "Ghosting Home: Soldiers in and out of Afghanistan" features military men and women both on the job and in civilian life.
Hunt's photographs will be on display on the first floor (southside) of Cabell Library, Nov. 1-15. He will be in Starbucks at 4 p.m. Friday, Nov. 1 to discuss his work informally.
Richmonder Powers graduated from VCU (B.A. '08/H&S) after serving in the U.S. Army. His experiences as a machine gunner in Mosul and Tal Afar, Iraq inspired his novel, The Yellow Birds, a best selling 2012 finalist for the National Book Award. He wil speak Nov. 8 at a lunch in the VCU Student Commons designed to honor VCU veteran students.
Special Assistant to the Provost for Military Support Services Martha Lou Green said these events will showcase one of VCU's fastest-growing populations. "Each year we are seeing more and more students using military education benefits to attend school," Green said. "These students are an integral part of our campus and Veterans Day is a great time to highlight some of the things they have done."
These events in recognition of veterans are being presented by VCU Military Student Services, VCU Libraries, the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs, VCU Student Media, the VCU Alumni Association and Broad Street Magazine. For more information contact VCU Military Student Services at (804) 828-6563.
"Curating Digital Objects" will be the topic of discussion Nov. 21, 1:30 to 3 p.m. at Cabell Library.
Museums, libraries and archives rely on the digital environment to save, manage and provide access to their collections. These organizations also collect digitized and born-digital cultural objects.
Presenters from Richmond cultural institutions will share their experiences and best practices for collecting and curating digital objects. Panelists will include Meg M. Eastman, digital collections manager, Virginia Historical Society; Crista Lembeck LaPrade, digital projects and preservation coordinator at the University of Richmond; Renee M. Savits, Civil War 150 Legacy project coordinator, Library of Virginia; and Wesley Chenault, head, Special Collections and Archives, Cabell Library.
The session, followed by a reception, will be held in Room 250. It is free and open to all but seating is limited.
This event is a part of VCU Libraries' well received Digital Pragmata series.
Projects from "Digital Archaeology in the Virtual Curation Laboratory: 3D Scanning and Research at VCU" will be on display beginning Oct. 21 in James Branch Cabell Library.
VCU students are working with project director Bernard K. Means, Ph.D., in the Virtual Curation Laboratory in Lafayette Hall. They use state-of-the-art technology to create digital models of archaeological objects from across the globe. Using a NextEngine Desktop 3D scanner and a MakerBot Replicator, they bring innovation to teaching and research.
Moving materials is a critical component of planning for the new library on the Monroe Park Campus. As part of preparation and clean-up in advance of construction (beginning spring, 2014), librarians are analyzing the collection for essential deaccessioning.
Today's academic libraries are no longer warehouses for books but workplaces for people. Construction will renovate some parts of the existing Cabell Library as well as add 93,000 square feet of new space. In order to meet the needs of the 32,000-member VCU academic community, 90 percent of the new space will be for researcher study space and workstations. This renovation will reduce the library's capacity to house physical volumes, which even in the ebook age, are still growing by 20,000 to 25,000 volumes per year.
"VCU librarians are carefully assessing the needs of the VCU community by analyzing use and circulation patterns and by studying how other research libraries manage their print collections in light of the burgeoning growth of e-resources," said John Duke, senior associate university librarian. He is overseeing what Cabell's librarians are calling "The Big Shift."
Books with a history of low use will be moved into VCU Libraries' off-site compact shelving storage facility at 500 Academic Centre.
VCU Libraries also will reduce the size of the print collection in these five ways.
- The reference collection on Cabell's first floor will be reduced. Legal and reference sets and indexes that have been superseded by e-resources or that are no longer appropriate for VCU will be withdrawn. Remaining volumes will be made available for circulation.
- Government document use has been shrinking because most titles are available electronically. Obsolete volumes will be withdrawn.
- JSTOR collections provide high-quality digital images to replace print journals. In the 2010 renovation, most printed bound volumes replaced by JSTOR were moved into storage. An analysis of use shows only two articles were requested over two years. Librarians have reviewed these print journals: About 860 can be safely withdrawn without affecting scholarship or the classroom because the VCU Libraries holds the electronic version.
- Duplicate copies of books with low circulation and obsolete books without curricular or research value to VCU will be withdrawn.
- In some cases, print volumes for which permanent ebook versions exist will be withdrawn, especially if the print version is worn and at the end of its useful life.
Deaccessioned volumes will be sold or offered to other libraries or recycled.
Faculty or researchers who have questions about the collection calibration plan will find additional information and are invited to contact
- Collection librarians responsible for your subject area
- Head, Collection Analysis and Investment Department Karen Cary, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Senior Associate Librarian John Duke, email@example.com
An update on our plans from University Librarian John E. Ulmschneider, Associate University Librarian for Administration and Policy Development Jeanne M. Hammer and the VCU Libraries Office of Communications and Public Relations.
Last week, the VCU Libraries community tangibly heard and felt our near future: The rat-a-tat-tat of jackhammers at dawn. A crew was exploring how the concrete aggregate panels are attached to Cabell Library in order to finalize construction specs for the new library on the Monroe Park Campus.
Experiencing the exploratory demolition, the reality of a new library came into clearer focus. We are on schedule to break concrete - literally - in March, 2014 with construction ramping up during the summer. The new building will be complete for fall semester 2015.
And, in answer to the most common question we hear: Cabell Library will remain open, offering full, around-the-clock services to VCU students and faculty during the construction. And, we'll also make earplugs available.
Updates and details
- Virgina's Department of Planning and Budget and Bureau of Capital Outlay Management have approved a budget of $50,800,000. Following that approval, the Virginia College Building Authority last week successfully concluded a bond issue that provides the actual funds. That means the money for the building is now available, and will be transferred to VCU very shortly.
- The Boston/Richmond team of Shepley Bulfinch/Moseley/KSA/AEI are our designers, architects and engineers. W.M. Jordan will provide construction management.
- 90 percent of the new space is for users, not staff or materials.
- See all the details and drawings of the design.
Design decisions and highlights
Concepts for configuring the new and old buildings were carefully considered. Our choice maximizes every nook in the old building and offers exciting new spaces in the new.
The new building entranceway faces Shafer Court and opens onto The Compass--the psychic center of Monroe Park campus. The trees and green space on the Cathedral side of the library will be preserved. More details:
- A dedicated space for faculty and graduate students will enjoy an inspirational view, looking east from the fourth floor.
- Media creation space on the lowest level will provide access to state of the art and experimental audio and video content, visual and graphic design and production tools, 3D printers, and other advanced media resources to support academic projects, including high-end computers for video manipulation and data visualization, along with advanced immersive technology spaces.
- An expanded Starbucks will remain integrated with the library.
- A large, flexible, media-rich presentation and event space will provide a stage for many academic programs and VCU events.
- Artwork, exhibits and event space will showcase VCU's arts programs.
- Instructional spaces will incorporate robust technology and flexible furnishings.
- Expanded space for Cabell's Special Collections and Archives will allow easier access and more use of these rare materials.
- Glass facades will reveal interior activity, creating a welcoming beacon that draws the VCU community into the library.
- Street levels will provide pedestrian-scaled facades that welcome the campus into the building and engage with adjacent outdoor space.
- Pedestrian flow into and around the new building will be flexible, open, and free-flowing. The design minimizes obstacles to pedestrian traffic from the new classroom building north to Shafer Court, and from The Compass west, north, and south. The east pedestrian traffic approach should not be affected.
- The building design is targeting LEED Silver certification at a minimum.
Research data has unrealized potential. It is often relegated to lab notebooks or isolated computers. It is often inaccessible beyond personnel working on a research project, whether basic scientist or social scientist. As our world has become more networked, more funders require that scientists present a plan for data management as a condition of funding and peer reviewed journals often require authors to make the data behind a publication accessible on request. These are among the factors that influenced the VCU Libraries to create a new professional position of Director for Research Data Management.
Margaret E. Henderson is taking on that new role. As an adjunct faculty member for several years at Tompkins-McCaw Library for the Health Sciences, Henderson has served as a research and education librarian. Since 2006, she has worked part-time for VCU School of Medicine's Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology on digital asset management for scientific data and images, among other activities.
With that work and her previous service as the director of the Cold Springs Harbor Laboratory Library and Archives, Henderson brings to the new position deep knowledge about the research process, managing data, informatics and the VCU research community.
"Research data management is a dynamic area of growth for VCU Libraries and we are establishing a framework for the integration of knowledge management into the research data lifecycle," said Associate University Librarian and Tompkins-McCaw Director Teresa L. Knott.
Librarians have long organized knowledge-based information for search, retrieval and sharing. "Now, by being involved at the beginning of the research process, librarians can assist in the research enterprise and share their expertise earlier in the research process." Knott said. "Ms. Henderson will help researchers develop strong data management plans for project proposals; recommend a process to assign metadata or an appropriate ontology to enhance data sharing; identify options for data storage and curation; and advise on author's rights."
Henderson holds a graduate certificate in biomedical informatics from Oregon Health and Sciences University, the master's in library and information science and the bachelor's of science from the University of Western Ontario.
VCU Libraries has a commitment to collecting with various Richmond communities firmly in mind. Many of these collections are in the arena of new social history--materials, interpretations and scholarship that illuminate the culture, stories and realities of sometimes hidden or ignored people.
"Migrating Archives: LGBT Delegates from Collections around the World" approaches queer history through the vantage points of some 10 individual stories. This innovative show from San Francisco's GLBT History Museum merges art and history, archives and real lives. It combines evocative materials, photos and artifacts that portray the experiences of queer individuals from the past.
One of those stories is about Richmond writer Hunter Stagg. Stagg's papers, housed at Cabell Library's Special Collections and Archives, include correspondence with poet Langston Hughes and the mother of modernism, Gertrude Stein. (Photo of Stagg, VCU Libraries)
Special Collections and Archives Head Wesley Chenault, Ph.D., organized the visit of the exhibition. "Since VCU has a top-tier arts school and because we have permanent holdings documenting Richmond's LGBTQ community, this exhibition is a perfect fit for us. We see students and faculty utilizing our collections almost daily for research and creative expression. This exhibit, then, places these activities within a broader context and history of artists interacting with archives and engaging communities."
Artist and academic, E.G. Crichton curated the exhibition, a travelling version of the original 20-panel show from the San Francisco museum. She is artist-in-residence at the GLBT History Museum. As a professor at the University of Southern California, Santa Cruz, she teaches intermedia and photography in the art department as well as project design studio in the digital arts and new media graduate program.
In her work, she makes use of a range of art strategies, mediums and technologies to explore social issues and specific histories. Archives of one kind or another serve as both starting point and infrastructure, and creative collaboration across disciplines is often a critical component.
Migrating Archives: LGBT Delegates from Collections around the World
- October 21, 2013-December 31, 2013
- First Floor
- James Branch Cabell Library
Artist and academic E.G. Crichton visited Cabell Library for the opening of her visionary exhibit and gave a talk. VCU's Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer David W. Hanson made introductory remarks.