News, announcements, updates, and happenings in the UVA Library

Don't miss this event! “Looking Back at the Harlem Renaissance”

By UVA Library | Mon, 01/22/2024 - 14:37
Banner for UVA Library's current exhibition, "exhibition Their World As Big As They Made It: Looking Back at the Harlem Renaissance," features a yellow background, a drawing of a woman in flapper clothes dancing, a man playing guitar, and a city building.


Join Lifetime Learning and the UVA Library for a virtual tour of the current exhibition Their World As Big As They Made It: Looking Back at the Harlem Renaissance, featuring the visionary works of writers, artists, and thinkers whose creative and intellectual pursuits defined Black American identity and political consciousness. The Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library is fortunate to hold a wide selection of influential books, magazines, illustrations, and manuscripts from the Harlem Renaissance.

The exhibition curators—Marlon Ross, Krystal Appiah, and George Riser—will offer a look back one hundred years ago when the artistic and political revolutions of the Harlem Renaissance were in full swing. They will also offer a behind-the-scenes chronicle of their work, producing a highly visual exhibition in conversation with Black artists today.

Event details:

Wednesday, January 24, 2024
3-4 p.m. EST
Virtual event with live captioning
Free and open to all; register here

Speaker biographies:

Marlon Ross, Professor of English, Department of English, College and Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

Krystal Appiah, Head of Collection Development, the Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library

George Riser, Curator, the Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library

Holly Robertson (moderator), Curator, the Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library




Library guide offers support for navigating AI in the classroom

By Molly Minturn | Wed, 01/17/2024 - 13:38
An illustration of a human brain overlaid by computer chips
Pixabay/Creative Commons

Earlier this week, Indian cricket star Sachin Tendulkar spoke out about a deepfake video surging on social media in which Tendulkar appeared to be promoting a gaming app as an easy way to make money. “It is disturbing to see rampant misuse of technology," Tendulkar stated on X (formerly Twitter). Tendulkar is just the latest victim in the rise of deepfakes. According to The Guardian, more than 100 deepfake videos impersonating United Kingdom Prime Minister Rishi Sunak appeared on Facebook in the last month, raising widespread concern about the damage artificial intelligence (AI) is causing before the country’s general election.

“Deepfake generators are tools that can edit videos to make it look like someone has done or said something they haven’t,” said Josh Thorud, a Multimedia Teaching and Learning Librarian at the University of Virginia Library. “As you can see, this technology is both exciting and frightening in its possible uses — everything from creative exploration to fake news, scams, false criminal evidence, and bullying or blackmail through impersonation.”

Thorud is part of a UVA Library team that offers resources to navigate the increasingly complicated landscape of AI in higher education. The group created a free guide for students and faculty, “Generative AI at UVA,” which features links and information about AI, including ethical use, citations, considerations for use, and more. The guide is one of nearly 600 online guides created by Library staff.

Novices to AI can start with the guide’s “What is Generative AI” section, which explains how programs like ChatGPT use artificial intelligence to create and produce new content through algorithms. Instructors who are teaching about the effects of AI on society or who are concerned about the use of AI in scholarship may want to explore the guide’s “Cautions and Considerations” section, which discusses how to use AI critically, taking into account knowledge gaps; risks of plagiarism and perpetuating misinformation; and complex concepts of bias, privacy, and equity. Students who are using permissible AI-generated content in their academic writing should check out the “Citations” section.

Thorud designed the guide’s “Images and Media” section, which examines how AI can produce artwork, music, and videos — including deepfakes — and all of the concerns that come with that. “By engaging with deepfakes in the classroom, students can critically examine the implications of this technology and develop media literacy skills by looking at misuse and getting hands-on experience of their own,” Thorud said. “And when it is so easy to create fakes, the only barrier is ethics, empathy, and integrity. This calls for an imperative in our classrooms to embed ethical decision-making and critical analysis as core components of media literacy.”

The guide also provides helpful links to wider work on AI going on at UVA, including a generative AI teaching hub through UVA’s Center for Teaching Excellence, which, in addition to a section by Thorud on AI media and non-textual tools, features recommendations from UVA librarians Meridith Wolnick and Maggie Nunley on ethically integrating AI into courses. Wolnick and Nunley worked with Thorud and others to build the Library’s Generative AI guide last fall and urge users to check it frequently for updates and new guidance as AI continues to evolve. “We built this guide at a breakneck speed to get it up,” Nunley said. “Because things are changing and we’re learning so much so quickly, this is going to be a guide that gets updated and changes a lot.”

For instructors who are curious about exploring AI in their classrooms, Thorud recommends striking a balance between technological exploration and critical thinking. “Encourage students to not only learn how to use AI tools, but also to critically analyze their impact on media, society, and ethics through using them,” he said. “This will not only equip students with valuable skills but also prepare them to responsibly shape the future.”

Open doors: First patrons explore the renovated main library

By Molly Minturn | Wed, 01/10/2024 - 11:41

Students, faculty, staff, and community members streamed into the University of Virginia’s newly renovated main library when its doors opened to the public at 9 a.m. sharp for the first time in nearly four years.

Visitors explored five floors of new and updated space. They browsed books in stacks on the fifth floor; studied in the McGregor Room; and bathed in the light streaming in from skylights, clerestories, and massive arched windows. Check out our Instagram page to see a video of the first patrons entering the building.

Photographer Tom Daly was there to capture opening day; take a look at some of the highlights below. 

Twelve people enter a large room through the front doors. A man in a green coat applauds.
Patrons lined up outside before the library opened to the public on Jan. 8. Some applauded after walking through the doors.
A woman stands in the lobby of the library gazing up in happiness. Beind her, people take pictures and mingle.
A patron took in the view in Memorial Hall. 
A student sits at a long table working in a large room with yellow walls, big windows, a checkered floor, and bookshelves.
A student studied in the Reference and Periodicals Room on the fourth floor. 
Students gather around an apeture railing on the fifth floor of the library, overlooking the fourth floor below. Above them, natural light flows in through clerestory windows.
Students chatted on the fifth floor of the library. The cast iron panel in the aperture railing is a detail from the Rotunda, the University’s first library.
Three smiling students look at books while standing in the stacks.
Students skimmed books in the fifth-floor stacks. 
A student lounges in a comfortable chair in in an ornate, old-fashioned room with Persian rugs and a fireplace.
A student worked in the McGregor Room, also known as the “Harry Potter Room,” on the second floor.
A young man stands in a large lobby with a checkered floor letting the sunlight stream through the windows onto his face.light
A student stood in the sunlight in Memorial Hall.
Sunlight shines through clerestory windows onto numerous shelves of books on the fifth floor.
The stacks are waiting for you; come visit soon! 


Renovated main library set to open on January 8

By UVA Library | Thu, 01/04/2024 - 22:30

The University of Virginia Library is pleased to announce that its main library, which has undergone a transformational, four-year renovation, will reopen to the public on Monday, Jan. 8, at 9 a.m.

The renovation brings the library up to current standards of safety, accessibility, and service. A new north entrance makes the building easily reachable from University Avenue, and a larger south entrance makes the space easier to access from Grounds. The building offers better layout and natural light, including in two new study courts for study, research, and socializing.

Much-loved features such as the McGregor (“Harry Potter”) Room remain — they’ve been renovated and optimized for comfort and character, preserving the essential elements of their unique identity.

Below, photographer Tom Daly captured images of the quiet library days before its opening. For an additional sneak peak of the renovated building, follow our Instagram account.

Shelves full of books in a light-filled library
A view from the fifth floor, looking down to an open study area and soon-to-be-filled stacks on the fourth floor below. The renovated building is filled with natural light from clerestory windows.
A large study area in a brick-enclosed courtyard space under a massive skylight.
On the second floor, students/researchers can work in two new study courts under massive skylights.
A large, luxurious room with a fireplace and bookshelves, filled with leather-bound furniture.
Much-loved features such as the McGregor (“Harry Potter”) Room remain.


Read more in UVA Today's coverage of the opening.


UVA librarians share their favorite books read in 2023

By Molly Minturn | Mon, 12/18/2023 - 14:24

As the end of the year approaches, we asked UVA Library staff to recommend their favorite books they read in 2023. The books could be any genre, published in any year, so long as they were available in UVA Library’s or the Jefferson-Madison Regional Library’s collections.

Take a look at our extensive list below and check some books out for the holidays. Please note: the publication years listed correspond with the editions in our collections, not necessarily the original publication dates.

Happy reading; see you in the newly renovated main library in January 2024!

Recommended by Sherri Brown, Librarian for English

Book covers for "Tom Lake," "Native Son," "How Not to Drown in a Glass of Water," and "The Guest List."






“How Not to Drown in a Glass of Water” by Angie Cruz (Flatiron Books, 2022)

This quick read swept me up into the daily trials and tribulations of its narrator, Cara Romero, and left me wanting more.

“Tom Lake” by Ann Patchett (Harper, 2023) 

A mother recounts the summer she fell in love with a soon-to-be movie star to her children. Like all of Patchett’s novels, a delight.

“Let the Dead Bury Their Dead” by Randall Kenan (Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1992) 

In 2022 I read Kenan’s posthumously published essays and loved them, so I sought out this collection of short stories. My favorites, including “Clarence and the Dead” and “Things of this World; or Angels Unawares,” delved into the fantastical and supernatural, and stuck with me long after I finished the book.

“Native Son” by Richard Wright (Harper & Brothers, 1940) 

I was inspired to read this based on a fall class I worked with. This powerful book has one pondering Bigger Thomas’s motives for murder, the society that influenced his actions, and his reflections after his crimes.

“The Guest List” by Lucy Foley (William Morrow, 2020) 

This was my favorite just-for-fun thriller read of the year. A private island, a wedding, many secrets revealed, and a murder – what’s not to like?

Recommended by Ann Burns, Metadata Librarian

Book covers for "Yellow Wife," "Lessons in Chemistry," "The Land of Lost Things," and "Properties of Thirst."






“Lessons in Chemistry” by Bonnie Garmus (Doubleday, 2022) 

Hasn’t everyone heard of this one? Elizabeth Zott is confident, prickly, and smarter that almost everyone around her, which is what makes her story irresistible. Light but very profound.

“The Land of Lost Things” by John Connolly (Emily Bestler Books, Atria, 2023)

This is a sequel but stands by itself. One of the best and most thoughtful fantasy books I’ve read: the power of stories to teach and to heal.

“Properties of Thirst” by Marianne Wiggins (Simon & Schuster, 2022)

The story of a man trying to keep from losing his rights to the water under his own land while his family navigates the presence of a Japanese internment camp on their doorstep. A stark and beautiful story.

“The Yellow Wife” by Sadeqa Johnson (Simon & Schuster, 2021)

The story of an enslaved woman who lived the role of wife to a white slave trader in 1850s Richmond. This situation is not often addressed and I found the protagonist’s navigation of it frightening and enlightening.

Recommended by Sue Donovan, Conservator for Special Collections

Book covers for "Last Night at the Telegraph Club," "Weyward," "The Bullet That Missed," "Entangled Life," and "The Worst Hard Time."






“Entangled Life: How Fungi Make Our Worlds, Change Our Minds and Shape Our Futures” by Merlin Sheldrake (The Bodley Head, 2020)

I thought I loved mushrooms before, but this was transformational.

“The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl” by Timothy Egan (Houghton Mifflin, 2006)

A reread, this time about the Dust Bowl: what led up to it, why it happened when it did, and how things were never the same. Two words that will devastate me forever: dirt mulch.

“The Bullet that Missed” by Richard Osman (Pamela Dorman Books, 2022)

The third book in the Thursday Murder Club Series. I just can’t get enough of this octogenarian murder-solving crew. It feels like coming home to friends, and the audiobook narrated by Fiona Shaw is simply perfect.

“Last Night at the Telegraph Club” by Malinda Lo (Dutton Books 2021)

This was recommended to me by a friend, and I melted into Lily’s story of self-awakening and family dynamics in San Francisco in the 1950s.

“Weyward” by Emilia Hart (St. Martin’s Press, 2023)

This one was just under the wire of December for me. While a number of bad things happen to the women in this book, the author approaches the issues with gentleness and shows the strength of her characters in how they deal with the events. I found the generational connections of the three women really engaging. I couldn’t put this book down.

Recommended by Haley Gillilan, Undergraduate Student Success Librarian

Book covers for "Silver Nitrate," "Loot," and "A Living Remedy."





“A Living Remedy” by Nicole Chung (Ecco, 2023)

This memoir about parental loss, navigating the early days of COVID-19, and staying afloat in the American healthcare system is overall heartbreaking but necessary. Chung’s writing always makes me feel less alone and reminds me that grief needs to be expressed. 

“Loot” by Tania James (Knopf, 2023)

This work of historical fiction is such an exciting heist adventure! This book imagines an elaborate backstory for the very real automaton Tipu’s Tiger and how far the inventor will go to get it back.

“Silver Nitrate” by Silvia Moreno-Garcia (Del Ray, 2023)

Moreno-Garcia is the master of genre fiction. Every book she writes is completely different than the rest of her catalog, and it impresses me every time. “Silver Nitrate” is a creepy ’90s thriller about a sound editor and her best friend who stumble upon an occultist plot. It’s as cinematic as a book can get, with Moreno-Garcia wielding her ability to create a soundscape and atmosphere with just words on the page.

Recommended by Grace Hale, Reference Librarian

Book covers for "Constructing Grounded Theory," "Hunger," "Knowledge Justice," "Playlist for the Apocalypse," and "The Greatest Empire."






“Constructing Grounded Theory: A Practical Guide Through Qualitative Analysis” by Kathy Charmaz (Sage Publications, 2006)

Although there are plenty of more up-to-date publications available, to my mind this is still the most practical and useful introduction to grounded theory out there for anyone interested in qualitative analysis. I use this manual (along with “Applications of Social Research Methods to Questions in Information and Library Science” by Barbara M. Wildemuth) whenever thinking about research design.

“Knowledge Justice: Disrupting Library and Information Studies Through Critical Race Theory” edited by Sofia Y. Leung and Jorge R. López-McKnight (MIT Press, 2021)

This volume brings together a really insightful group of essays on social justice work in libraries by early career BIPOC library and archive professionals.

“The Greatest Empire: A Life of Seneca” by Emily R. Wilson (Oxford University Press, 2014)

This ebook is an accessible meditation on the contradictions of Seneca’s life that touches on modern concerns like how to create serenity in an achievement-oriented capitalistic society.

“Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body” by Roxane Gay (Harper, 2017)

Gay’s autobiographical meditation on food and bodies explore attitudes around consumption, health, self love/hate.

“Playlist for the Apocalypse: Poems” by Rita Dove (W. W. Norton & Company, 2021)

Dove’s eleventh volume of poetry explores American history both macro & micro.

Recommended by Bret Heddleston, Print Periodicals Specialist

Book covers for "Ten Problems Concerning Providence," "The Gate," "Fullmetal Alchemist," "If All the World and Love Were Young," and "Mansfield Park."






“Mon” (“The Gate”) by Natsume Sōseki; translated by Francis Mathy (Owen, 1972)

Though poorly known in the U.S., Natsume Sōseki is so famous in Japan that they put his picture on the 1,000 yen note. “Mon” is a slow-paced, gently painful, and deeply moving story of a struggling young Japanese couple living in alienation from their family and society in Tokyo at the beginning of the 20th century.

“Mansfield Park” by Jane Austen (Dent, Dutton, 1910)

A short, early work by Jane Austen is titled “The Female Philosopher”; Austen was herself the female philosopher as she wrote her lesser-known major novel, “Mansfield Park.” Readers will enjoy long, philosophical dialogue on norms, society and religion, which occur intermittently between the members of the novel’s main love triangle: the upright (and maybe a little stiff) Edmund Bertram, the cynical and bitingly witty Mary Crawford, and the demure, but well-cultured heroine, Fanny Price.

“Fullmetal Alchemist, Vol.15” by Arakawa Hiromu (Viz Media, 2011)

If some slightly graphic illustrations of war are not too much, then Vol. 15 of this famous manga and anime series is particularly important for revealing the events of a civil war that many of the major characters were involved in. The inside cover explains that the author based many of the characters’ struggles on interviews she conducted with Japanese World War II veterans.

“Ten Questions Concerning Providence” by Proclus, translated by Jan Opsomer and Carlos Steel (Bloomsbury Academic, 2012)

Students of philosophy — particularly ancient philosophy and Neoplatonism — may find this work by Proclus, who is often called the last great philosopher of Antiquity, to be of interest. His writings considering questions of fate, determinism, providence and the One, may either remind readers of later philosophy or theology, or be instructively dissimilar in approach.

“If All the World and Love Were Young” by Stephen Sexton (Penguin, 2019)

A book of poetry about the passing of the author’s mother at a young age from cancer, this work consists of poems named after the levels of the game he was playing at the time: “Super Mario World.” Because the use of imagery from the game is so clever, the best way to read the book is to play through a level before reading the poem named after it. The reader may find the slower pace of the narrative read in this way to amplify both the sweetness and the pain of the journey.

Recommended by Laura Hjerpe, Senior Research Data Management Librarian

 Book covers for "The Monk of Mokha" and "All the Lovers in the Night."





I read these books for a Meetup group based in Northern Virginia that alternates between nonfiction and fiction.

“The Monk of Mokha” by Dave Eggers (Knopf, 2018)

Mokhtar Alkhanshali grows up in the San Francisco Tenderloin and eventually becomes a coffee entrepreneur in Yemen. This was such an inspiring story, and I learned about the Yemeni diaspora in the U.S., especially in California.

“All the Lovers in the Night” by Mieko Kawakami; translated from the Japanese by Sam Bett and David Boyd (Europa Editions 2022)

Fuyuko Irie, a proofreader whose life is her job, struggles with taking initiative, developing interests, and connecting with others. I had trouble getting started with this novel but was completely engrossed by the end.

Recommended by Ervin “EJ” Jordan Jr., Research Archivist, Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library

Book covers for "Time Traveler's Guide to Elizabethan England," "Sleeping With the Ancestors," "Santa’s Sleigh Is on Its Way to Virginia," "Changing History," and Four Hundred Souls."






My five selections this year pertain to African American, British, and Virginia history, as well as Christmas.

“Santa’s Sleigh Is on Its Way to Virginia: A Christmas Adventure” by Eric James (Sourcebooks Jabberwocky, 2015)

Illustrated rhyming tale of Santa’s delivery of gifts and cheer to children in Arlington, Bon Air, Chesapeake, Fairfax, Hampton, Newport News, Norfolk, Oakton, Richmond, Salem, and elsewhere. Charmingly suitable for kids from ages 1 to 92.

“Four Hundred Souls: A Community History of African America, 1619-2019” edited by Ibram X. Kendi and Keisha N. Blain (One World, 2021)

A thought-provoking “choral history” of commentaries, essays, poetry, short stories, and personal reflections by ninety writers commemorating 400 years of African American history.

“Changing History: Virginia Women Through Four Centuries” by Cynthia A. Kierner, Jennifer R. Loux, Megan Taylor Shockley (Library of Virginia, 2013)

A wide-ranging history focusing on women of African, European, and Indigenous ancestry as transformative participants of their times. Printed on acid-free paper, marvelously illustrated, meticulously researched, and insightfully written, this is a must-read for everyone’s Virginia bookshelf.

“Sleeping With the Ancestors: How I Followed the Footprints of Slavery” by Joseph McGill Jr. and Herb Frazier (Hachette Books, 2023)

Slave Dwelling Project founder McGill recounts his 12-year, 25-state sleepovers at 200 slave dwellings on plantations, college campuses, private and public historical sites, state and national parks, and camping overnight where structures no longer exist. This project is a reminder that whenever we discover new historical information we must re-evaluate our perceptions about the past — and ourselves.

“The Time Traveler’s Guide to Elizabethan England” by Ian Mortimer (Bodley Head, 2012)

If you’re planning to visit England during the reign of Elizabeth I (1558-1603), you’ll need this engrossing guidebook of do’s and don’ts about food, drink, and clothing and how to navigate smells, rogues, social customs, and religious disputes to avoid getting yourself hanged — or worse. A witty page-turner and stocking stuffer for Anglophiles.

Recommended by Nancy Kechner, Research Software Specialist

Book covers for "The Covenant of Water," "Hello Beautiful," and "Hang the Moon."






Descriptions below are from the publishers’ websites.

“Hang the Moon” by Jeannette Walls (Scribner, 2023)

When Sallie tries to teach young Eddie to be more like their father, her daredevil coaching leads to an accident, and Sallie is cast out. Nine years later, she returns, determined to reclaim her place in the family.

“Hello Beautiful” by Ann Napolitano (The Dial Press, 2023)

An exquisite homage to Louisa May Alcott’s timeless classic, “Little Women,” “Hello Beautiful” is a profoundly moving portrait of what is possible when we choose to love someone not in spite of who they are, but because of it.

“The Covenant of Water” by Abraham Verghese (Grove Press, 2023)

A stunning and magisterial epic of love, faith, and medicine, set in Kerala, South India, following three generations of a family seeking the answers to a strange secret.

Recommended by Rose Oliveira-Abbey, Accessioning Archivist

Book covers for "Redshirts," "The Sentence," "Faith, Hope and Carnage," and "Light From Uncommon Stars."






I am part of a book club, and three out of four of my recommendations come from our readings this year. Being in my book club exposed me to books I would not have typically read but enjoyed. Besides these books, I recommend finding a good book club. There is nothing like arguing over a plot point with good people.

“Faith, Hope, and Carnage” by Nick Cave and Sèn O'Hagan (Canongate Books, 2022)

This book is a series of interviews between musician Nick Cave and journalist Sèn O'Hagan in the summer of 2020. The conversation explores grief, the creative practice, addiction, and religion. I found his reflections on the death of his son, Arthur, and the effects on him, his family, and his art profoundly moving.

“Light from the Uncommon Stars” by Ryka Aoki (Tor, 2021).

Katrina Nguyen, a transgender run-away violinist, catches the attention of Shizuka Satomi, a former violin star now teacher, who has made a deal with the devil. Will Satomi use Katrina to escape her Faustian bargain with the devil? If that isn’t enough, there are aliens to boot. This book has so many threads that it seems impossible to work. But it does!

“The Sentence: A Novel” by Louise Erdrich (Harper, 2021)

Tookie, the Native American woman protagonist of the book, served a 10-year prison sentence and now works in a bookstore in Minneapolis. Flora, an annoying customer, dies, and her spirit haunts the bookstore (and Tookie). The story dives into their connection and captures the effect on Tookie and the city after George Floyd’s death.

“Redshirts” by John Scalzi (Tor, 2012).

In “Star Trek,” a red shirt is a stock character who dies shortly after being introduced. This book plays on this theme and asks what the creators’ responsibility is to their characters. It was a quick and fun read that had me laughing all the way through.

Recommended by Amber Lautigar Reichert, Director of Content Strategy 

Book covers for "Olga Dies Dreaming," "Sea of Tranquility," and "A People's Future of the United States."






“A People’s Future of the United States” edited by Victor LaValle and John Joseph Adams (One World, 2019)

This collection of speculative fiction gathers inventively hopeful, technologically interesting, and beautifully inclusive tales. Each story left me feeling unexpectedly optimistic about the future of humanity, even as the authors reject any rose-colored depictions of the future (or the present). Plus, after reading from the 25 talented contributors, you’ll have plenty of ideas of what to read next. 

“Sea of Tranquility” by Emily St. Mandel (Knopf, 2022)

A quiet, engrossing sci-fi tale that doesn’t shy away from the fun stuff — the technolust, the temporal paradoxes — but somehow remains fully grounded, both on earth and the human colony on the moon. My only complaint is that it wasn’t longer: I would’ve happily lived in this world for a long time, but St. Mandel tells a complete, lovely, and unforgettable story.

“Olga Dies Dreaming” by Xochitl Gonzalez (Flatiron Books, 2021)

Olga is a wedding planner for wealthy brides and grooms, and her life in Brooklyn and Manhattan is fascinating, complex, and (at times) enviable. What made this a “best book” for me, though, was the richness given to her family life, and those around her, all of whom are relatable and complex. This book also led me to learn about the Comedores Sociales, an amazing organization which arose from the breadth of human responses to natural disasters in Puerto Rico.

Recommended by Jennifer Roper, Director of Digital Strategies and Scholarly Communications

Book covers for "Trust," "Beloved," and "The Shards."






When I looked through my list of books read this year, narrowed it down to the most interesting reads, and figured out which ones are available via UVA it turns out that the three on this list are all on a theme: Perception is reality or reality is perception?

“Trust” by Hernan Diaz (Riverhead Books, 2022)

The story of a husband and wife living the high life in the Roaring ’20s, primarily in New York. The story is told in three parts, all from different perspectives; all have similarities as well as different portrayals of the primary characters. Ends up with a bit of a “gotcha” moment at the end because everyone is telling the story differently.

“Beloved” by Toni Morrison (Knopf, 2005)

Post-Civil War tale of a formerly enslaved woman struggling to live with the aftermath of the brutality of enslavement, her hard-fought journey to freedom, and her grief over her choices to protect her children from the life she was forced live.

“The Shards” by Bret Easton Ellis (Knopf, 2023)

Auto-fictional story of early ’80s Los Angeles teenagers caught in typical high school dramas while the news is covering an active serial killer, until the two stories collide. As a proud member of Generation X, I found Ellis’ use of music references a mesmerizing scene-setting.

Recommended by Douglas Ross, Information Technology Specialist, Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities

Book covers for "Under the Volcano," "To the Lighthouse," "As I Lay Dying," “The Brothers Karamazov" and "Mrs. Dalloway."






Descriptions below are from the publishers’ websites.

“To the Lighthouse” by Virginia Woolf (Oxford University Press, 2006)

“To the Lighthouse” is Woolf’s most autobiographical novel, and this new edition provides a comprehensive introduction to all aspects of its appeal.

“Mrs. Dalloway” by Virginia Woolf (Cambridge University Press, 2015)

“Mrs. Dalloway,” created from a series of short stories, is one of Woolf’s best-known novels. Thematically it conveys a rich and genuine humanity, while technically it showcases Woolf's use of interior perspective.

“The Brothers Karamazov” by Fyodor Dostoevsky, translated by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky (Vintage Books, 1991)

This award-winning translation remains true to the verbal inventiveness of Dostoevsky’s prose, preserving the multiple voices, the humor, and the surprising modernity of the original.

“Under the Volcano” by Malcolm Lowry (Lippincott, 1965)

It is the fiesta “Day of the Dead” in the small Mexican town of Quauhnahuac. In the shadow of the volcano, Geoffrey Firmin — ex-consul, ex-husband, an alcoholic, and a ruined man — is living out the last day of his life.

“As I Lay Dying” by William Faulkner (Random House, 1957)

A true 20th-century classic from the Nobel Prize-winning author of “The Sound and the Fury”: the famed harrowing account of the Bundren family’s odyssey across the Mississippi countryside to bury Addie, their wife and mother.

Recommended by Josh Thorud, Multimedia Teaching & Learning Librarian 

Book covers for "Midnight in Chernobyl," “The Beatles: All These Years: Volume 1: Tune In,” Delta Blues," and “The Birth of Loud."






“Midnight in Chernobyl: The Untold Story of the World's Greatest Nuclear Disaster” by Adam Higginbotham (Simon & Schuster, 2019)

This book was eye-opening and deeply researched, clearly articulating how and why things went wrong with both the technology and the bureaucratic system that made it. It makes the people involved feel human rather than cardboard cutouts.

“Delta Blues: The Life and Times of the Mississippi Masters Who Revolutionized American Music” by Ted Gioia (W.W. Norton, 2008)

As a Delta Blues fan, I loved this book. It dives deep into the roots of Delta Blues and tells the stories of the musicians who innovated, recorded, or were inspired by it.

“The Beatles: All These Years: Volume 1: Tune In” by Mark Lewisohn (Crown Archetype, 2013)

For a Beatles fan, this book is a treasure. Lewisohn goes into amazing detail about the band’s early days and is compellingly written.

“The Birth of Loud: Leo Fender, Les Paul, and the Guitar-Pioneering Rivalry That Shaped Rock 'n' Roll” by Ian S. Port (Scribner, 2019)

A fascinating look at Leo Fender and Les Paul as they cross paths, innovate, and become rivals, greatly influencing the sound and technology of 20th-century music.

Recommended by Keith Weimer, Librarian for History and Religious Studies

Book covers for "River Spirit" and "Germany in the World."






“River Spirit” by Lela Aboulela (Grove Press, 2023)

Sudanese (and two European) characters react to the rise of the Mahdi, “the Expected One,” a figure who claimed to be Islam’s version of the end times Messiah and drove the British and Turks out of Sudan in the 1880s. Aboulela does a remarkable job of creating and developing multiple voices, and the novel could be used to teach this historical event.

“Germany in the World: A Global History, 1500-2000” by David Blackbourn (Liveright Publishing Corporation, 2023)

Historians have often regarded Germans as largely reacting to history that was made by Europeans to their west — at least until sometime in the 19th century. This work shows that Germans (there was no united “Germany” until 1871) were significant players in all European intellectual and commercial movements from the “Age of Discovery” onwards — movements that were influenced by and impacted people across the globe.





Open Access Week postscript: The best of both worlds with Aperio and Diamond OA

By Molly Minturn | Fri, 11/03/2023 - 09:08

Guest post by Brandon Butler, the Library’s Director of Information Policy.

As a postscript to our pair of Open Access Week blog posts, the latter of which was focused on a critique of the commercialization of open access publishing, I wanted to put in a word for the affirmative agenda reflected in this year’s theme: community. As a community, the open access movement is working to identify and grow alternatives to commercial oligopoly in the open access publishing ecosystem. These alternatives can support peer review and the other benefits of traditional publishing without the myriad dysfunctions that have grown up around it over the last century. The Library’s open publishing imprint, Aperio, is an excellent example of the cutting edge in open access publishing, and hopefully a glimpse of its future.  

Last week I argued that open access per se (making one’s work freely available under an open license) is free to most academic authors, including all UVA authors, thanks to copyright law and free open repositories. Therefore, I argued, what you’re really paying for in those scenarios where a publisher charges you an ‘open access fee’ is a combination of the prestige associated with a particular journal title and the cost of operating that journal. With respect to commercial publishers, that cost includes elements that most authors would not likely support if they had a choice, like huge executive salaries and 30%+ profit margins. Unfortunately, authors often feel they don’t have a choice, due to the impact of journal placement on their career prospects. Reforming promotion and tenure to decouple advancement from journal placement would be a major step in the right direction. But it’s also important to develop publication models that provide the services authors and readers value without exploiting either group in the way that commercial publishers too often do. What does that look like?  

One example of an alternative that is free to both readers and authors is the “Diamond OA” model, where neither readers nor authors pay for publishing. To understand “Diamond OA,” it helps to understand a couple of the other color-codes used as a shorthand for different approaches to open access publishing. “Green OA” generally describes open access based on depositing your scholarship in an open repository like UVA’s Libra. Green OA can (and usually does) exist in parallel with publishing in a subscription/toll access journal; the author places their “post-print” in a repository, while the so-called version of record (with the publisher’s typesetting, pagination, etc.) is only available through a subscription. “Gold OA” describes open access where the publisher makes the final version freely available under an open license. While most “Gold OA” journals do not charge a fee to authors or their institutions, the most widely known Gold journals (and all commercially published ones) do, so “Gold OA” has become associated with this author-pays model. In recent years, “Diamond OA” has been the term used to describe the variety of approaches designed to remove price barriers for readers and authors alike. In a Diamond OA model, publishing infrastructure is operated (and funded) by universities, scholarly societies, or research funders.  

Venn diagram highlighting the different levels of open access in scholarly publishing, as a function of cost to the readers and authors, copyright retention, and peer review.
Venn diagram highlighting the different levels of open access in scholarly publishing, as a function of cost to the readers and authors, copyright retention, and peer review.

In the past, the value proposition of academic publishing has been seen through a simple two-sided paradigm that looked to either readers or authors (or their institutions on their behalf) as the sources of financial support for a journal. Readers would be willing to pay for access to knowledge in their field, or else authors would be willing to pay for access to venues where their work will be seen and valued in their field.  

For Diamond OA, the value proposition is more collective. The entity paying the cost of publication (and often hosting the journal) isn’t paying to read or publish any particular article; they are paying to support a community service that benefits the institution, the scholarly society, or the public. Diamond OA sponsors have a wide variety of reasons to do this, not least among them a desire to counteract the known downsides of the alternatives for researchers and their institutions. 

Our own Aperio Press is an example of a Diamond OA publisher. The UVA Library funds and operates Aperio, including the cost of publishing Aperio journals, as part of its commitment to sustainable scholarship. The Library is well-positioned to shop for publishing services, and the market for these services is much more transparent and competitive than the markets for journal subscriptions or article processing charges. For the cost of a couple of Nature article processing charges (literally two), we can publish dozens of articles per year in journals founded and operated by UVA scholars and make them available for free to the world. And because all Aperio journals must have a relationship to the University, supporting Aperio means supporting UVA scholars and scholarship. Establishing, managing, and editing a journal is important scholarly work, after all, and it is a wise investment to support that work directly. When you consider that the alternative is sending UVA editors out to find support from commercial actors who will turn around and erect price barriers against UVA readers, authors, or both, operating our own press becomes an even more obvious choice. Expanding this model throughout the scholarly ecosystem would free billions of dollars currently funneled to publisher oligopolies’ bottom lines to support actual research. 

Aperio welcomes proposals from UVA faculty, staff, and students wishing to start new OA journals or transfer existing journals. The latter may include flipping a journal to open. More details about Aperio service offerings and applications are available at Proposals are accepted on a rolling basis and reviewed by Aperio’s Faculty Advisory Board on a quarterly basis. Consultations with Aperio’s Managing Editor ( are highly recommended.  

Postscript to the postscript

As I was finishing this blog post, the open access funders’ group cOAlition S released a proposal for broad reforms to scholarly publishing. Nature (of all places …) has a good write-up of the proposal, contextualizing it and gathering comments from several scholarly publishing experts. Platforms like Aperio (along with our open repository suite, Libra) would fit right in with this vision, as they are free to both readers and authors, they respect authors’ rights, and they encourage the early and open sharing of scholarly works.

5 Books for Native American Heritage Month

By Molly Minturn | Wed, 11/01/2023 - 10:42

In honor of Native American Heritage Month, UVA Library recommends the following resources for insight into American Indian culture and history. The books and journals mentioned explore the wide variety of American Indigenous peoples and their contributions to what is now called the United States.

Thanks to Librarian for Collections Management and Video Resources Leigh Rockey, Librarian for History and Religious Studies Keith Weimer, and Reference Librarian Grace Hale for the recommendations below.

"Winter Counts" book coverWinter Counts” (Ecco, 2020)

From page one, “Winter Counts” by David Heska Wanbli Weiden drives hard into the genre of crime fiction while also commenting on the metanarrative of American identity. The author, a member of Sicangu Lakota Oyate, has crafted a gritty, vigorous story that can be consumed in one sitting — it’s that compelling. The action centers on Virgil, the hard man who takes on the messy stuff that nobody else wants to do, as he follows a lead from Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota to Denver. Please note that this book contains descriptions of violence, references to sexual attacks, the death of a child, and drug use. –Leigh Rockey

"Being Indigenous" book cover. Includes image of men at a riverbank with row boats.Being Indigenous in Jim Crow Virginia: Powhatan People and the Color Line” (University of Oklahoma Press, 2022)

Post-Civil War/20th century white society’s fixation on a clear race-based divide created a complex reality for Native peoples, especially in Virginia, where the 1924 Racial Integrity Act included the infamous Pocahontas Exception. How did Indian communities fit together with whites’ construction of Black-white separateness? In “Being Indigenous in Jim Crow Virginia,” Laura J. Feller examines this question and more in her investigation of the extraordinary intersectional identities of tidewater Virginia’s American Indians. UVA Library’s own Regina Rush and her colleagues at the Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library helped the author with research. –Leigh Rockey

"Killers of the Flower Moon" book cover. Features an oil drilling rig against the backdrop of a full moon in a red sky.Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI” (Doubleday, 2017)

“Killers of the Flower Moon” by David Grann, recently adapted as a film directed by Martin Scorsese, chronicles the murders of more than 60 Osage tribespeople between 1918 and 1931. As we now know, white Oklahomans plotted the killings of tribespeople (including their own spouses and children) to acquire headrights to oil. Even great wealth and the fact “that numerous Osage had skillfully invested their money” were insufficient to protect them from systematic predation in a society dominated by unsympathetic whites. Media attention did spark enough national outrage that the FBI investigated and, with difficulty, brought some of the perpetrators to justice. Despite the injustices, Osage tribal integrity and culture have proven resilient. –Keith Weimer

"The Rediscovery of America" book coverThe Rediscovery of America: Native Peoples and the Unmaking of U.S. History” (Yale University Press, 2023)

Yale historian and member of the Te-Moak Tribe of Western Shoshone, Ned Blackhawk reexamines the ways Indigenous groups have informed, responded to, and “reconstituted” modern America history in “The Rediscovery of America.” Beginning with pre-contact (pre-removal) maps and ending with analysis of the Termination Era (1953-1968) the book synthesizes both new and older scholarship into one volume, filling an ongoing critical need for historical and teaching works that contextualize the contributions of Native Americans beyond narrow Eurocentric conquest/settler narratives. –Grace Hale

The Sentence (Harper, 2021)

Cover image of "The Sentence." Background behind the title resembles a quilt.Louise Erdrich’s 2021 pandemic novel “The Sentence” is ostensibly about a haunting at a Minneapolis bookstore. The protagonist, Tookie, a Twin City area Ojibwe woman, invites the reader into a signature Erdrich worldview that knits together cooking, tongue-in-cheek comedy, history, philosophy, metaphysics, and Indigenous identity and politics.

Part one of the book introduces the down-and-out Tookie in a tragi-comic body heist, but part two quickly moves in a metafictional direction when Tookie is released from jail and begins to build a life that nourishes her. Tookie now works in the Minneapolis bookstore, Birchbark Books, for a woman named “Louise”— a bookstore that Louise Erdrich owns in real life. Birchbark provides a backdrop to the literary haunting at the center of the story, although the haunting is quickly secondary to questions about community and belonging — ranging from the mundane (what to eat) to the tragic (George Floyd’s murder), to the metaphysical (can one create a heaven for one’s partner )— explored through the lens of Tookie’s experiences and the bookstore cast. –Grace Hale

In addition: a few recent journal issues

Studies in American Indian Literatures

The latest issue contains essays about Native women authors trying to bust open the many myths surrounding Sacajawea and a reconsideration of “Winter in the Blood” by James Welch.

Tribal College Journal of American Indian Higher Education

The news this fall concerning tribal colleges and universities includes the announcement of the first accredited Ph.D. program at a tribal college in the United States, the Doctor of Philosophy in Diné Culture and Language Sustainability at Navajo Tech in the Navajo Nation in New Mexico.

NAIS: Journal of the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association

The current issue offers a new translation of a letter sent from Timucua Native chiefs to the Spanish government in Florida in 1688. The letter is one of the oldest-known published texts in a Native language.

Open Access is Free, Actually

By Molly Minturn | Thu, 10/26/2023 - 09:38

Guest post by Brandon Butler, the Library’s Director of Information Policy.

Oopen Access Week banner

As we celebrate Open Access Week this week, and in particular as we reflect on the theme “Community over Commercialization,” the time is ripe for highlighting the difference between open access as a copyright choice, open access as a compliance step, and open access as a business model for commercial publishers. Seeing the difference between these three things can help us make clear-eyed choices about where and how to invest time, money, and social capital in support of this broad, multifaceted thing we call “open access.”

Open access as a copyright choice

Ordinarily, copyright requires that someone ask permission before sharing, adapting, or otherwise reusing in-copyright works (unless, of course, your use is a fair use). Open access as a copyright choice describes making your work available with an open license so that anyone can share and reuse it without any additional permission (typically subject to some basic conditions, like attribution). Publishers are often seen as the ones in charge of permissions, and the choice to assign an open license often takes place as part of an author’s interaction with a publisher, but there’s nothing in copyright law that requires things to work this way.

Indeed, unless an author transfers their rights (or grants an exclusive license), the power to grant permissions is entirely theirs from the moment a work is created. There are, of course, exceptions to this general rule: institutional policies, privacy concerns, and other issues can constrain author choices. But in general, any research product that could be published by a traditional publisher or posted to a public platform (which would require the author as copyright holder to grant the publisher or platform a license) can also be openly licensed (which is simply the author offering a license to the general public). Choosing and applying an open license involves some thought and a little bit of work, but it’s something that any academic author can manage fairly easily with a little help from an online tutorial. (I’m always happy to help, too, if UVA authors have questions about choosing a license. Just drop me a line.) In other words, open access as a copyright choice is free in both senses of the word: “free as in speech” because authors have the legal right to use open licenses, and “free as in beer” because there is no cost to do so.

Open access as a compliance step

Authors encounter open access as a compliance step when their work is subject to a policy that requires them to make it openly available. A high-profile example of such a policy is the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy’s bold plan to make all published results of federally funded research freely available to the public without delay. A crucial thing to understand about this plan is that funded researchers can comply with it simply by placing a copy of their published work in an agency-designated repository. Such repositories are almost certainly going to be operated by agencies themselves (like the enormously successful PubMedCentral repository hosted by the National Institutes of Health) or by universities (like our own LibraOpen). The same can be said of other policies that might impact researchers, such as university open access policies: compliance generally just requires depositing a copy in an open repository. These repositories are certainly not free for institutions and agencies to operate and support, but they are relatively affordable, and they are completely free to authors to use. So, here again there is no cost to researchers who need open access as a compliance step.

Open access as a business model for commercial publishers

Although these two fundamental elements of open access — assigning an open license and complying with open policies — are generally available to researchers at no cost to them, the mention of open access still leads most researchers to think immediately of paying a fee — often a hefty one. That’s because most researchers encounter open access as a business model for commercial publishers. And since we have seen that there is no cost to assign an open license and no cost to comply with open policies, it’s important to understand what you’re actually paying for when you buy “open access” from a commercial publisher. There are two main answers.

First, and most importantly from an author’s perspective, you’re getting the journal’s imprimatur on your research. Unfortunately, publishing in “high quality journals” is still seen as a sine qua non for career advancement in many fields. For decades the commercial publishers’ oligopoly control of these journals made it possible for them to squeeze eye-popping profit margins from library budgets in the form of extractive subscription fees. Using the “article processing charge” (APC) mechanism, publishers can run the same play against a group with even less bargaining power than libraries: authors. If having a particular journal listed on your CV is the difference between receiving tenure and having to find a new line of work, the price of admission to that journal could get very high, indeed, and authors would still feel compelled to pay. As the academic TikTok/YouTube persona Dr. Glaucomflecken has suggested (jokingly, of course), it’s a model that bears at least a passing resemblance to extortion. In any case, what you get for the money is not open access (remember, that’s free); it’s prestige. And when prestige has a price tag, inequity and predation are never far behind.

Second, and perhaps more generously to the publishers, you get the services that publishers generally describe themselves as providing: organizing peer review, copy editing, marketing and promotion and so on. In a toll access model, subscription fees cover the costs of these services; absent subscriptions, the publishers say, they must make their money from authors. But what is the real cost of publishing an article? Notoriously, peer reviewers are unpaid, as are authors. (Dr. Glaucomflecken has a great bit on this, too.) One study found that the actual cost of publishing a scholarly article likely ranges from $200-$1000 an article, with $400 as the average. Where does the rest of your APC go? Executives at the biggest publishers are paid very well, as are their shareholders, but it’s not clear why any academic author would be interested in subsidizing these payouts rather than hiring more research fellows or buying more equipment, all else equal. And it’s not clear that authors choose a publisher based on (rather than in spite of) the service they receive. Most authors don’t have the time or the market power to shop around. Because of the prestige factor described above, this is not a market where the price of the service is likely to bear much relationship to its cost or its quality. Indeed, the main driver of APC price appears to be market power.

Why we don’t pay individual article processing charges

As interest in open access grows at UVA, the Library has been asked more and more often about whether we have a fund to pay or subsidize individual APC fees as a way of supporting open access. We do not, and I hope understanding what I’ve just laid out about the three kinds of open access helps make clear why. Through copyright consultation and support for our open repository service, we can provide any UVA scholar with free, high-quality open access options. Collective deals (sometimes called “Read and Publish” deals) at least let us negotiate and pay below-retail fees on behalf of all UVA authors, and you can see the deals we have in place currently on our Writing and Publishing resources page. These deals have their risks and detractors, too, however, and we should be clear-eyed about the trade-offs involved in participating. As the open access landscape evolves, the Library will continue to pursue our strategy of supporting sustainable scholarship, including sustainable open access models.

How the Library supports open publishing

By Amber Lautigar Reichert | Mon, 10/23/2023 - 09:25

This year’s theme for Open Access Week is “Community over Commercialization,” and it’s easy for those of us at the Library to understand the connection between community and the power of the dissemination of knowledge.  

Library communities have long sought to facilitate the sharing of knowledge — they lessen financial barriers, seek to understand their audiences, and encourage discovery and innovation. The UVA Library supports quite a few programs to this end, and aims to facilitate open publishing through tools, assistance, and the power of the academic community.

Specifically, the Library provides publishing platforms, specialty consultations and general assistance, and publisher arrangements that aim to ease broad access to academic material. You can read more about each of these below, and as you consider your own work we encourage you to contact us — we’re always happy to help.

Publishing platforms

Peer-reviewed open access press: Aperio

Aperio supports open access publishing of journals, monographs, open textbooks, and other educational resources. Proposals are accepted on a rolling basis and evaluated quarterly. Find out more about publishing with Aperio.

Institutional repository: Libra

Libra provides a stable, discoverable location for scholarship of all kinds. A perfect place for theses and dissertations, datasets, and journal articles, Libra ensures your work is discoverable in Virgo to the UVA community and beyond. Find out more about publishing with Libra.

Platform for open educational resources: Pressbooks

Pressbooks is online software used by authors, publishers, and educational institutions around the world, to create easy-to-access text material. Books hosted in Pressbooks are usable on devices of any kind and accessible from anywhere. Find out more about publishing with Pressbooks.  

Copyright reference and consultation

Copyright law relates to scholarly and creative works in a number of ways, whether you’re reusing existing material or considering how best to steward your own work. The Library offers online reference about copyright and its intersection with scholarship, in addition to housing deep expertise from Library staff. Email to request a consultation, or visit Copyright Essentials for Scholarly Work to get started.

Publisher arrangements for open access subsidies

The UVA Library, alongside VIVA (Virginia’s academic library consortium), has negotiated arrangements with a number of publishers to subsidize costs associated with open access publishing. Those relationships currently include the Association of Computing Machinery, Cambridge University Press, Electrochemical Society, International Water Association, Open Library of the Humanities, Rockefeller University Press, Royal Society of Chemistry, and Wiley. To learn more, review details of each arrangement or contact a subject liaison to help identify the best opportunity for your work. 

At the heart of the Library

The tools above and more are covered on the Library’s website, and the Library’s offerings continue to evolve as the publishing world changes.

For help getting started, reach out to or Ask a Librarian — the power of UVA’s Library community just might get your work exactly where it needs to be.

Five contemporary artists featured in Harlem Renaissance exhibition

By Molly Minturn | Tue, 10/17/2023 - 13:20

The University of Virginia Library’s major new exhibition: “Their World As Big As They Made It: Looking Back at the Harlem Renaissance” is in full swing. Located in the Main Gallery of the Harrison Institute and Small Special Collections Library, the exhibition opened in September to a packed house and has garnered attention for featuring some of “the Harlem Renaissance’s most popular magazines, manuscripts and original dust jackets of major works, and even some of the period’s fashions.”

The exhibition’s title is inspired by the Georgia Douglas Johnson poem, “Your World,” in which she looks back at the creativity of the Harlem Renaissance, acknowledges the hardships of being an emerging artist, and beckons a new generation of Black artists, writers, poets, publishers, and other creatives with the line: “Your world is as big as you make it.”

In that spirit, Library curators put out a call this past summer for contemporary artists to create works that would explore or respond to poems by Harlem Renaissance authors (curators selected nine poems for artists to choose from by writers including Langston Hughes, Claude McKay, Helene Johnson, and of course, Georgia Douglas Johnson). This project, titled “As Big as We Make It!” was sponsored by a grant from the UVA Arts Council.

The selection committee members – Tamika L. Carey, UVA Associate Professor of English; MaKshya Tolbert, a third-year MFA student at UVA; and Maurice Wallace, a professor of English at Rutgers University-New Brunswick – selected five contemporary artists with connections to UVA and Charlottesville to showcase their work in the exhibition. Read more about them below.

Abreale Hopkins, “Above the Heights”

Left: a canvas with shades of black and a tear through the middle. Right: A person with short hair, dyed blue, smiles at the camera.

Abreale Hopkins hails from Maryland and now resides in Brooklyn, New York. She received her B.A. from UVA in African American Studies and painting. Hopkins’ work has been shown at the Bridge Progressive Arts Initiative, Ruffin Gallery, and in private collections.

Her painting, “Above the Heights,” is paired with Arna Bontemps’ 1924 poem Hope.In her artist statement, Hopkins writes: “Arna Bontemps describes hopelessness as an environment with an all-consuming, daunting energy that weighs heavily on one’s chest. This painting is a display of that purgatory filled by stillness, melancholy, and despair. Shades of grey build upon each other to create a clouded abyss that extends further away as you look. Bontemps reminds us that hope both strikes through our lives with a ferociousness that calls for action, and exists as a quiet idea waiting to catch our attention. … Hope flashes from above, tearing through the seemingly never-ending abyss. The rip running through the canvas is a physical depiction of hopelessness’ impermanence and fragility. The tear’s assertiveness forces your eyes and mind out of the haze, urging you to imagine a different existence.”

Tobiah Mundt, “Of Rivers”

Left: A painting shows two empty hands, palms up, surrounded by paint reminiscent of black and red rivers or trees. Right: A person with curly hair looks at the camera

Tobiah Mundt is a self-taught fiber artist from Houston, Texas. She studied architecture at Howard University and eventually left the field of architecture for sculpture. She uses rug tufting, wet felting, and needle felting techniques to sculpt abstract and figurative pieces centered on ancestry and symbolism. A New City Arts Initiative Fellow and former Artist Residence at the Bridge PAI in Charlottesville, her work has been exhibited in Texas, Virginia, Maryland, and Washington, D.C., and is in private and corporate collections locally and nationally.

Mundt’s tufted and needle-felted layered tapestry, “Of Rivers” connects with and responds to the poem, “The Negro Speaks of Riversby Langston Hughes. Mundt writes: “The tapestry illustrates African American lineage and connection to the world through the four great rivers mentioned in Hughes’ poem. It further represents the African American’s claim to a future place in the world. … The main image on the tapestry is a black hand and forearm in the style of a linocut. The lines of the Nile, Congo, Euphrates, and Mississippi rivers are drawn with wool from the bottom of the forearm onto the palm and out through the fingertips to the top right of the tapestry. The top right of the tapestry is orange-red to represent a bright African American future. The four corners of the piece tell abstract stories of an African American past, present, and futures.”

Valencia Robin, “Dear Georgia”

Left: A painting with color blocks and circles and Xs. Right: A person in a blue shirt smiles at the camera.

Valencia Robin’s interdisciplinary practice includes poetry, painting, and sculpture. The recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, the Emily Clark Balch Prize, a Margaret Towsley Fellowship, a King-Chavez-Parks Fellowship, as well as fellowships from Cave Canem and the Furious Flower Poetry Center, she holds an M.F.A. in art & design from the University of Michigan and an M.F.A. in creative writing from UVA. Her work has been exhibited nationally and includes a two-person show at Charlottesville’s New City Arts and a solo show at Second Street Gallery. She currently lives and teaches in Johnson City, Tennessee.

Robin’s painting “Dear Georgia” is inspired by Georgia Douglas Johnson’s poem “Calling Dreams.” Robin writes: “My paintings are visual poems, metaphors for capturing my inter- actions with myself and the world. In this sense, I’m both an abstract and representational painter. Like a poem, they reach for the ineffable, try to make it legible.”

Lisa Woolfork, “Three Dark Girls, Loved”

Left: Art incorporates drawings of three little girls with pictures of those girls and sewn textiles. Right: A woman with purple earrings and curly hair smiles at the camera

Sewing and quilting are powerful tools for Black resistance, recreation, and rest, as well as storytelling and social justice. As the founder of Black Women Stitch, “the sewing group where Black lives matter,” and the host/producer of Stitch Please, a weekly audio podcast that centers Black women, girls, and femmes in sewing, Lisa Woolfork is committed to using her art practice and social platforms to foster greater understanding, creative expression, liberation, and connection in our communities.

In her artist statement Woolfork writes: “Three abstract figures occupy the center of the design and are superimposed by appliqué on top of a photorealistic fabric foundation of the same image. The quilt border is a textile adaptation in honor of Zora Neale Hurston, as seen in the print’s use of notebook and ledger paper as well as in the bounding white lines arcing over organic circles. This line refers to a sentence from Hurston’s autobiography, where her mother encouraged her to “Jump at the sun.” The piece engages with the first four lines of Gwendolyn Bennett’s poem, “To a Dark Girl.” The quilted scene freezes the girls in a moment prior to awareness of anti-Blackness. It is a moment in time when they were three dark girls, loved. The image is a childhood Polaroid of myself with my sisters wearing dresses made by our grandmother. I am delighted to bring this cherished memory to this exhibit.”

Kemi Layeni, “To Be A Black Girl”

Left: a photograph shows a woman holding a baby. A man stands in the foreground, and they are all watching something off screen. Right: A woman with large artistic earrings sits in front of a red background, looking to the side.

Kemi Layeni is an artist, writer, educator, and M.F.A. Candidate at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts Graduate Film Program. She works in the mediums of film, photography, and installation art. Her work explores the intersections of history and its burden on the present, Black womanhood, and the experiences of Black people throughout the diaspora. When Kemi is not working on her art, she spends her time working with teenagers in her school and community in performing arts and writing.

Of her multimedia piece, Layeni writes: “In Gwendolyn Bennett’s “To a Dark Girl,” the speaker of the poem’s purpose is to uplift Black girls and women. This piece incorporates voiceover, music, and photos of myself, the artist, from my childhood to adolescence. I chose to start and end with photos of my mother and I to mirror the same relationship of the speaker of the poem and their audience. I chose photos from my adolescence, a time where I was deeply insecure and convinced I was anything but valuable and beautiful, and juxtaposed them with the poem. The piece goes from an imagined mother speaking to a daughter with the words of the poem, to that same daughter speaking to herself, while exploring Black girlhood.”

To see these works in person, visit the main gallery of the Special Collections Library, open weekdays and Saturday afternoons. Or attend our Final Friday event on April 26, 2024, for an open house-style celebration featuring gallery talks by exhibition curators.