November 2015: 175th Anniversary of Claude Monet’s birth

Isn’t all art an impression of the artist’s transferred to canvas?

Maybe in the 21st century mind, but in the minds of most mid-nineteenth century buyers of paintings, art had rules: no painting pictures of everyday people, afternoon traffic in city streets, homely gardens, or picnickers by the shore.  Realism ruled, and, even better, historical realism; paint Napoleon or Julius Caeser, not Fifi down the street selling flowers on the corner.

Painters like Claude Monet (1840-1926), Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841-1919), Camille Pissarro (1830-1903), Alfred Sisley (1839-1899) and Edouard Manet (1832-1883)  fought against these rules, first joining together as the “Anonymous Society of Painters, Sculptors, Printmakers, etc” to create their own gallery exhibit to show the paintings that the Salon would not admit as worthy.  One of Monet’s paintings, “Impression, Sunrise (Musée Marmottan Monet, Paris) exhibited in 1874, gave the Impressionist movement its name when the critic Louis Leroy accused it of being a sketch or ‘impression,’ not a finished painting”  Coined as an insult, the term was adopted by the painters themselves as their badge of honor. (Impressionism: Art and Modernity.”  The Metropolitan Museum of Art.  Web.  Nov. 10, 2015.)

Though their painting styles were highly individual, all of these artists liked to paint the vivid life all around them, observe places and people in every season and time of day, to capture the way colors and textures changed in natural light using bright colors and loose, short brushstrokes.  In his long career, Monet himself progressed from an early form of realism to the near abstract musings of his Water lilies or Rouen cathedral series.

Books on exhibit in the Erwin Library Reference Area for November offer a beautiful tour through the history and personalities of the Impressionist Movement, with a focus on 2015 as the 175th anniversary of Claude Monet’s birth in Paris.

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June 2015 Exhibit: Battle of Waterloo 200th Anniversary

Fought on June 18, 1815 in Belgium, the Battle of Waterloo figures so casually in our present day minds as an event that mainly provides us with a slang term to use when mentioning an ultimate defeat, that we have no idea of how fearful people in many parts of Europe were that Napoleon would not be defeated.

Having quickly risen to power in the dangerous and disorganized period of the French Revolution, Napoleon Bonaparte (1769-1821) brought stability and national pride back to France, eventually crowning himself as Emperor in 1804.  As a solder and leader of armies he seemed invincible, not only to the French people, but to people all over the world.  Thus, from about 1789, until Bonaparte’s final defeat in 1815 by a coalition of nations, the world at that time was plunged into the chaos, first of the Wars of the French Revolution, then of the Napoleonic Wars.

After 1812, the Napoleonic Wars may be regarded perhaps as the first “First World War” since so many areas of the world became embroiled in these conflicts on land and sea.  Though Napoleon was forced to abdicate and exiled to the island of Elba off the coast of Italy in 1814, after only a year of exile he escaped and soon had Europe scrambling to form a coalition to stop this new threat.  Thus, his final defeat in June, 1815 at Waterloo, and his final exile to the island of St. Helena marked the culmination of a conflict that seemed endless.

Along with many other commemorative events, including a major reenactment on the battlefield in Belgium, the Erwin Library offers an exhibit in the Reference Area showcasing histories and biographies of the major adversaries, including not only the victorious British army leader, Arthur Wellesley, the Duke of Wellington, but other members of the international coalition, as well as Bonaparte himself.

Other books focus on a variety of writers, including Thomas Hardy (The Dynasts), the Bronte sisters, and William Makepeace Thackery (Vanity Fair) whose works often included plots based on the violence and battles of the Napoleonic wars.


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2015 Book Exhibit: May The Fourth Be With You!

Knowing that every bit of encouragement and, occasionally, support from powers other than your own meager resources may be needed by any weary student facing final exams, especially those just before Graduation Day, the Erwin Library says “May the 4th Be with You!” all.

Books in the Erwin Library Exhibit area for the month of May offer you non-fiction and science fiction, both lighthearted and passionate, many about the “Star Wars” film series.  Some of your librarians actually remember that sultry summer of 1977, pre-cell phone, pre-X-Box, pre-cable TV, when the magic of those huge letters scrolling the movie screen drew us into George Lucas’s “Galaxy Far Far Away,” full of mind-boggling special effects, including Death Stars, Jedhi warriors, droids, and light sabers. Finally we have an unofficial “May the 4th be With You! holiday to celebrate the world of wookies.

Sometimes the library is for serious research, and sometimes you just need to check out a book and travel the stars awhile with well-earned reckless abandon … until next semester … or beginning a job search.  In any case, we’ll be here to help!  So, “Live Long and Prosper!”  What, oh, sorry, wrong film series.  Librarians get mixed up too.

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April 2015: Appomattox Court House and Bennett Place

Throughout the years of 2011-2015, the United States has been observing the 150th anniversary of the American Civil War, a defining struggle that crippled the South, while bringing the country into the modern era of industrialized war, as sobering a lesson to nineteenth century Americans as the atom bomb would be to  twentieth century ones.

April 2015 marks perhaps the most poignant month of this commemoration as the armies of the Union and Confederacy finally faced the ultimate outcome of its four years of carnage in April 1865.

On April 6, 1865, facing the complete annihilation of his army, Confederate General Robert E. Lee offered his surrender to Union General Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Courthouse in Virginia.

The Battle of Bentonville, just outside of Goldsboro, North Carolina on March 19, 1865 was one of the last major engagements of the war, leading ultimately to the final surrender agreement on April 26, 1865 by Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston and his remaining forces with Union General William T. Sherman at Bennett Place near what is now Durham, N.C.  This last event marked the true end of the Confederacy, as it was the largest troop surrender of the war.

Thus ended what is sometimes considered to be the final classic struggle of not only two military commanders, Lee and Grant, but two ways of viewing American society as a whole, whether to remain in a slave-holding century, or enter a new one promising freedom to all of its citizens.

For more resources, please visit the Erwin Library’s book exhibit area and consult The American Civil War and Reconstruction bibliography, which contains many links to related periodicals and videos.

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March 2015: Women’s History Exhibit

“In 1987, after being petitioned by the National Women’s History Project, Congress passed a Public Law (Pub. L. 100-9) which designated the month of March 1987 as Women’s History Month.  Between 1988 and 1994, Congress passed additional resolutions requesting and authorizing the President to proclaim March of each year as Women’s History Month.  Since 1995, U.S. presidents have issued annual proclamations designating the month of March as Women’s History Month.” (Wikipedia.  Web.  9 March 2015)

Currently, the Erwin Library offers books in the Reference Exhibit Area, all about the lives of women from various eras and backgrounds, each of whom has made some significant contribution to her society as a whole.  From Madam C.J. Walker to Rachel Carson, women have invented, improved and excelled.

And, as you learn more about this year’s National Women’s History Project list of honorees, presented along with this year’s theme “Weaving the Stories of Women’s Lives,” remember those women in your own life who may never have a book written about them, or be recognized by a national organization, but who work within their families and communities to create better lives for all future generations, steadily passing on their inspiration to all of us.

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February 2015 Exhibit: Presidents’ Day

Launch Presidents Slide Show

Thus far, the United States has had forty-four Presidents, which should make this holiday simple … right?

Okay, so how many U.S. Presidents does it take to make a federal holiday of the third Monday in each February, including this year’s on February 16, 2015?

Actually, only one, since the holiday is still considered by the federal government to be “Washington’s Birthday” (which actually should be celebrated every February 22nd, if truth be told, unless you get into a discussion of the Georgian and Julian calendar dates for his birth…).  After all, he was the first U.S. President, and pretty much defined the office, even to the extent of standing his ground for it to remain a Presidency and not become a kingship.

Popular opinion, however, traditionally and often quite diversely expressed by the individual state governments, has variously designated the holiday as everything from ‘Presidents’ Day” in Alaska, Idaho, Maryland, Nebraska, New Hampshire, Tennessee, West Virginia, and Wyoming, to “President’s Day” in Hawaii, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Puerto Rico, South Dakota, Texas, Vermont, and Washington, to “George Washington’s Birthday and Daisy Gatson Bates Day” in Arkansas.

President Abraham Lincoln’s birthday was also in February, making him a fairly logical addition to the original lineup.  According to “the Uniform Monday Holiday Act also included a provision to combine the celebration of Washington’s Birthday with Abraham Lincoln’s, which fell on the proximate date of February 12.”  For more confusion, consult the Wikipedia article for a dizzy trip down the “Presidents Day’ rabbit hole.

Another great place to find more information about all of our U.S. Presidents is the Erwin Library, in particular the book exhibit currently in the Reference Exhibit Area.  Check out a biography or history book and learn as much as you can, then come back for more!

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October 2014 Exhibit: Teen Read Week/Hispanic Heritage Month

Teen Read Week

This year the theme for October’s  Teen Read Week is  Turn Dreams into Reality @ your Library.  This “national adolescent literacy initiative created by the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) … began in 1998 and is held annually during the third week of October (October 12-18 in 2014). Its purpose is to encourage teens to be regular readers and library users.”  On the YALSA website  you’ll find a Teen Corner which offers you a chance to vote from among twenty-five nominated titles, to help determine the Top Ten Young Adult books.  Most of those books can be found in the Erwin Library.

To enrich your experience of Teen Read Week, the selection of Young Adult books on display in the Erwin Library Circulation Desk area are either about Hispanic culture, or written by Hispanic authors, since September 15-October 15 is National Hispanic Heritage Month in the U.S.  To learn more about other Young Adult books on Hispanic themes, or by Hispanic authors, explore YALSA’s YA Fiction for Hispanic Heritage Month.

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New! Faculty Guide to Erwin Library

Screenshot of Faculty Guide

Not sure how to share streaming videos with your students? Or, would you like to learn more about resources in all formats that the Erwin Library offers to WCC faculty in support of student learning?

Perhaps the library’s newly created Research GuideFaculty Guide to Erwin Library, available on the Erwin Library homepage under LIBRARY GUIDES AND RESOURCES will help you.

There, you will find step-by-step guidance for locating and using streaming videos from the library’s many databases, making reservations for information literacy sessions, and leading your students to helpful library resources, both print and electronic.   Once you explore the new Faculty Guide, feel free to let us know if there are other topics you would like to see covered in that guide; or, if you would like to have a similar Research Guide created specifically for one of your classes, to include in your students’ Moodle class page

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August 2014 Exhibit: The “Wizard of Oz” Movie 75th Anniversary

Wizard of Oz

As of August 2014, it has been 75 years since children first shuddered at the sight of flying monkeys, and even adults teared up at the winsome melody of “Over the Rainbow” as a young Judy Garland sang to her little dog Toto in The Wizard of Oz.

And just as with other movies in that impressive group of classics which appeared in 1939, including Wuthering Heights and The Hunchback of Notre Dame, this movie was based on a classic book, The Wonderful Wizard Of Oz, published in 1900 by L. Frank Baum.

In the Erwin Library you will find two book exhibits:  one full of books about The Wizard of Oz, both the movie and series of books, the other about more writers of classic juvenile fiction, including Louisa May Alcott, Lewis Carroll and Beatrix Potter (you know you’re never too old to read it!).

You might also take some time to enjoy the Warner Brothers Wizard of Oz website, where you’ll encounter lots of information, interactive games, music and videos … and maybe a flying monkey or two.

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September 2014 Exhibit: September is Honey Month!

September is National Honey Month, and what a sweet celebration it is!  Also, unlike most sweet foods we’re warned away from, honey can be downright therapeutic.

According to the National Honey Board “More than ever, people are looking for natural ingredients and it’s hard to imagine anything more pure and natural than one-ingredient honey … In addition to being a great natural sweetener, honey has a multitude of benefits that many people don’t know about.  Have you ever had an unrelenting sore throat? Honey has been proven to be a natural throat soother! Are you an athlete looking for a natural energy boost before the big game? Honey’s unique blend of natural sweeteners gives it the ability to provide quick energy in any circumstance.”  Use the Honey Locator to find a beekeeper or vendor near you who sells honey made by local bees.

Did you know that the Erwin Library at WCC is the official library for the North Carolina State Beekeeper’s Association (NCSBA)?  As a result, we hold an extensive collection of DVDs and books about bees and apiculture which are loaned by request to affiliates of the NCSBA for training of their chapter members.  Explore the books on the Erwin Library shelves about bees and honey; you might become a beekeeper yourself someday!

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