Celebrating Short Stories

How many of us remember our discomfort and increasing anxiety when reading Edgar Allan Poe’s story “The Tell Tale Heart” or “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson?  What about those monkeys in “Interpreter of Maladies” by Jhumpa Lahiri?  Short stories have the power to thrill, horrify, tantalize, and enchant us.  They show us beauty, make us examine uncomfortable subjects, and stick with us long after the last word of the story has been read.

 

Encouraged by the success of April’s National Poetry Month, May has been declared International Short Story Month.  Everyone is encouraged to read and share short stories throughout the month.  You can even participate in the “A Story a Day” challenge in which writers write and finish a short story every day in May.

 

Join us in celebrating Short Story Month by reading a short story today!  Looking for short story suggestions?  Check out the books listed on our WU Reads Reading Guide.


National Poetry Month

The Academy of American Poets founded National Poetry Month in April 1996 to celebrate “poetry’s vital place in our culture.”  One of the primary goals of the month is to “highlight the extraordinary legacy and ongoing achievement of American poets.” Over the years, Poetry Month has become a huge literary observance with readers, students, teachers, librarians, booksellers, publishers, and poets from around the world participating in this month-long celebration in a whole host of different ways.  Many special events and readings are scheduled to occur during April in honor of poetry. Over 100,000 National Poetry Month posters are distributed to schools, libraries, and bookstores each year.  On April 18, poetry lovers are encouraged to participate in “Poem in Your Pocket Day.” On this day, select a poem, carry it with you, and share it with others wherever you go!

To find out more about National Poetry Month, check out poets.org.  And go to the WU Reads Reading Guide for an interesting selection of recent books of poetry available in our collection.


Salute to Social Workers

Every day across the United States, hundreds of thousands of social workers work to support, protect and empower millions of people as they struggle to deal with and solve problems in their day-to-day lives.  According to the Occupational Outlook Handbook, the job outlook for social workers is growing rapidly and “is projected to grow 16% from 2016-2026, which is much faster than the average for all occupations.” Sadly, the important work of social workers is often underappreciated and frequently underpaid.  The month of March has been set aside to pay tribute to all the dedicated social workers out there and to acknowledge their important contributions to society.  “Elevate” is the theme for this year’s National Social Work Month and this theme was chosen in an effort to call attention to social workers endeavors to elevate people and also to point out the need to elevate the pay of social workers.  To find out more about the social work profession, check out the National Association of Social Workers website.  And go to the WU Reads Reading Guide for some interesting books on social work and social service.


Oregon: The Early Years

One hundred and sixty years ago, on February 14, 1859, Oregon was officially admitted to the union as the 33rd state.  In the grand scheme of things, that really isn’t that long ago but the years leading up to and shortly after becoming a state are jammed pack with interesting stories.  Long before traders, explorers and pioneers began showing up in the state, many indigenous tribes called this area home.  The history of Oregon and the stories of the Native Americans and the settlers who ventured here along the Oregon Trail make fascinating topics for exploration.  In tribute to Oregon’s statehood, it seems appropriate for us to learn more about the native peoples of this land and the early Westerners that settled the Oregon Territory and eventually created this state.  To start you out on this exploration, check out the WU Reads Reading Guide for some interesting books on early Oregon history.


Wonderful World of Winter

Winter is coming and we’re not talking about The Game of Thrones.  No, we’re talking about the time of year when the days are shorter, the nights are longer, and the weather is cooler.  In Salem, it’s a time of blustery days, soaking rains, and perhaps even the occasional snow storm.  This time of year can be a wonderful time to head for the coast to watch wild waves while avoiding the summer crowds.  If you don’t mind the rain, hikes at Silver Creek Falls can be rewarding–the falls are impressive with all the rain and the crowds are greatly diminished.  Or head to the mountain for snow fun of all kinds.  It is also prime time for wearing cozy sweaters, sitting by the fire, drinking cocoa, and–you guessed it–reading a good book!  If you need some good winter-themed reading material, check out our WU Reads Reading Guide.


WU Libraries: Past, Present, and Future

By Joni Roberts

Most of us know that Willamette University has been in existence for over 175 illustrious years but it is not exactly clear when a library officially appeared on the scene.  The student newspaper, The Willamette Collegian, which began publication in 1875, first mentions the library in 1876.  This article describes how the library was located on the first floor of Waller Hall along with the chapel and the “ladies’ and gentlemens’ reception rooms.” Mention of the library in the early years of the Collegian often consists of imploring students, faculty and friends of Willamette to donate much needed books to the library.

 

Library reading room in Waller Hall, early 1920s

Dr. Robert Gatke (d. 1968), Willamette historian and professor, mentions the library a few times in his book Chronicles of Willamette.  His description of the library around 1915 is far from flattering: “The library was the pathetic victim of malnutrition.  With no regular appropriation made for the purchase of books, it depended upon gifts, receiving mostly old books of no value for reference use and not placing within reach of the students the new thought stimulating books as they came from the presses.”

 

Library reading room in 1948 in what is now Smullin Hall

Describing the library in the early 1930’s, Gatke writes “…library housing was inadequate and the weight of the books on the second floor of Waller had become so great that it constituted a serious danger to safety.”  The construction of a new library building was approved in 1937 and the building was dedicated in May of 1938.  At the time of the dedication, the building housed no books but on May 20th, classes were cancelled and students and faculty carried the books from Waller to the new building, the current day Smullin Hall.

 

An addition was added to the building in 1965-66 but before too long, it was determined that the library was no longer adequate and that renovation was not a viable solution.  A building program statement issued by then University Librarian Patricia Stockton in 1980 describes poor lighting, ventilation, heating and a lack of a classroom for instruction sessions.  The report states: “The Library is not inviting to the user.  Most seating is at long study tables in the two main reading areas.  The remainder is in individual study carrels on bare cement floors under buzzing lights.  The bookstacks themselves are too crowded, too narrow, and their color is a bilious green.”

 

Mark O. Hatfield Library dedication, 1986

Happily, approval of a new library building was granted and the present-day library opened in 1986.  Students and faculty once again helped move materials from the old building to the new. The Mark O. Hatfield Library, a tribute to one of Willamette’s most distinguished graduates, was considered state of the art at the time of its dedication. Overlooking the Mill Race and adjacent to Jackson Plaza, today’s library is centrally located in the heart of the campus. The library is a vital public space and includes many attractive areas suitable for study and reflection.

 

The library building is now over 30 years old and while minor renovations have occurred over the years, the library is due for a more substantial remodel.  The library staff has many ideas for a major renovation including improving and increasing student space, updating technology infrastructure, incorporating the WITS Help Desk into the building, and more.  All we need is a generous donor or two!

Smullin Library, 1982: “…individual study carrels on bare cement floors under buzzing lights…”

A young Hatfield Library, 1986

 


Writers of the World, Unite!

November is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo)—the goal is to actually write an entire novel in one month! National Novel Writing Month is also a nonprofit organization that “…believes in the transformational power of creativity. We provide the structure, community, and encouragement to help people find their voices, achieve creative goals, and build new worlds—on and off the page.”  Thousands of writers across the nation and the world get together in libraries, bookstores, community centers and/or virtually to support one another’s writing.  Hundreds of novels written during NaNoWriMo have been traditionally published such as Sara Gruen’s Water for Elephants, Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus, and Hugh Howey’s Wool. In honor of all the novel writers out there, we offer you a short list of novels about novelists for your reading pleasure! Check out our WU Reads Reading Guide.


The Beauty of Book Groups

The weather is getting cooler, which means it is the perfect time of the year to curl up with a good book!  And when you’ve finished reading the book, why not have a great discussion about it with your book group?  National Reading Group Month is an initiative of the Women’s National Book Association (WNBA) and is celebrated each year in October.  According to the WNBA, “Reading groups are proving that good books bring people together. National Reading Group Month salutes reading groups. It fosters their growth and promotes the love of literature.”  So how about starting or joining a book group?  You can find information about local book groups at public libraries or bookstores such as the Salem Public Library or the Book Bin.  And join us in celebrating National Reading Group Month by checking out one of the titles related to book groups listed on our WU Reads Reading Guide.


Ode to Wilderness

There’s nothing quite like a walk on the beach, the view from a mountain top, the sound of a waterfall, the sight of a creature in the wild…  For many of us, spending time surrounded by nature is inspirational, restorative, and almost a necessity for our mental and spiritual health.  Our deep connection to nature comes with an obligation to safeguard it for the future.  President Obama said it best:

It is one of our greatest responsibilities as citizens of this Nation and stewards of this planet to protect these outdoor spaces of incomparable beauty and to ensure that this powerful inheritance is passed on to future generations.

The library is pleased to celebrate National Wilderness Month; September is a particularly beautiful time in the Northwest, so pack a lunch, put on your boots, and take a hike!  And don’t forget to take one of the wilderness-related books listed on our WU Reads Reading Guide to enjoy on your lunch break!


A Tribute to Water

August is the time of year when many of us take a vacation and find ourselves heading towards a body of water.  We go wading, swimming, boating, and fishing. We walk along the shoreline, relish the beauty of the river, lake or sea, and contemplate our place in the world. Water has been an inspiration to artists and writers for centuries. About 60% percent of our body is made up of water. It is an essential element for all life and yet we often take it for granted. Clean water is crucial for everyone and yet millions of people around the world live without access to safe drinking water. In light of all this, we are taking the opportunity this month to acknowledge the importance of water…check out an assortment of water-related books listed on our WU Reads Reading Guide.