Introducing Felipe Valdez, Temple Libraries’ New GIS Specialist

Temple University Libraries is pleased to welcome Felipe Valdez to our staff as the Libraries’ new GIS specialist. Felipe joins the Libraries from Pontificia Universidad Católica del Ecuador (PUCE) in Quito, where he was a professor and researcher. 

The GIS specialist position is a new addition to our Learning and Research Services department. I recently had the opportunity to check in with Felipe and ask him about his background, his new role at Temple, and why GIS and mapping services are important for the Libraries to offer in support of students, faculty, and researchers.  

Beckie Dashiell (editor for Temple Libraries): Can you tell us about your educational and professional background? 

Felipe Valdez: My educational background is more like a journey of discovery. I have studied in three different countries with three different languages: Ecuador, France, and the United States. I have a bachelor’s degree in geography from Pontificia Universidad Católica del Ecuador where I also obtained a master’s degree in Urban Planning and Development. This was an international program in cooperation with the French Institute for Development and the Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne. During this time, I started working for the Ecuadorian National Planning Agency as a Geographic Information Analyst. The institution was undertaking three big data gathering projects that would improve spatial and economic planning nationwide. My job was to analyze data for the national planning objectives and expand local governments’ skills to use this data for their own planning.  

While working on these important projects, I realized that professionals from different disciplines needed to use data to support their decisions. I also identified the need, for a country like Ecuador, for more research in certain areas related to development. As a result, I decided to continue my education abroad to acquire more skills and expand my network. I received a grant from the French government to pursue a master’s degree focused on research for developing countries at Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne. During my stay in France, I collaborated with faculty members undertaking research worldwide. In connection with my original motivation, I focused my thesis on the effects of big projects in Ecuadorian cities.  

Right after finishing my studies, I was invited to teach in the geography department of my alma mater. I began by teaching introductory courses to Geographic Information Systems for students majoring in geography. Over time, I started designing new GIS courses for non-geographers as a strategy to increase the use of these technologies in other disciplines. As a result, I developed and participated in several interdisciplinary research groups and projects related to environment conservation, public health, rural development, urban and economic studies, spatial inequality, among others. Also, I started the first interdisciplinary center for spatial and social analysis at this university.  

In 2017, I received a Fulbright grant to pursue a doctoral degree in geography at Northern Illinois University. My research is on the social and spatial factors that influence residential satisfaction in Ecuadorian cities. I am looking forward to defending my dissertation soon.  

BD: Wow, that is a fascinating educational journey! We’re so glad you are now with us at Temple University Libraries. What kind of work will you be doing here? 

FV: I am the Geographic Information Systems specialist. I am here to support GIS and mapping for research, teaching, and learning. I will be helping students, faculty, and staff discover how a spatial framework can improve their work and contribute to their goals, whether it is by analyzing spatial data or by developing a creative way to communicate better with maps. As many things happen somewhere in space, it is possible to map these events and processes. Most of the time, space gives context to what we are trying to understand or solve. GIS is the main technology that allows us to collect, store, manage, analyze, and visualize spatial data. The use of these technologies has undergone an important expansion in the last decades; however, there is still more space to grow.  

At Temple University, there are a variety of current and future GIS users. In this sense, I will be helping these users to find and access the technology and the data they need for their GIS projects through discrete consultations or extended project collaboration. I will also teach workshops to introduce students and faculty to Geographic Information Systems and other web mapping platforms at different levels. For those advanced users, I can assist with spatial data analysis tools and processes as well as with advice on strategies to incorporate a spatial framework into their projects. I will be exploring and suggesting ways to incorporate GIS and geospatial data for areas and disciplines that are not familiar with these technologies. My goal at Temple University Libraries is to help students, faculty, and researchers get the most out of GIS and mapping technologies regardless of their level of experience.  

BD: This is a brand-new position at the Libraries. Can you speak to the importance of such a position in an academic library? 

FV: The use of geospatial data has increased in the last decades—not only because we gather more data than ever before and because of the advanced technologies that help us manage this data, but mainly because of the enormous potential of using it across disciplines. Mapping has been a basic source of learning and research for geographers for a long time, but almost every discipline can benefit from the use of maps and geospatial data. Currently, there is an important use of geospatial data in business, public health, engineering, education, and the digital humanities, just to mention a few.  

Temple Libraries is a hub for making interdisciplinary connections. Having a GIS specialist in the Libraries helps library users bring a geospatial approach to their research regardless of discipline or level of expertise, and it helps bring disciplines together across Temple University to work collaboratively to find better solutions through GIS and mapping. 

BD: Is there a particular project or initiative you are looking forward to working on here at Temple?  

FV: Many things attract me to Temple. Being such a diverse institution, from an academic perspective but also a demographic one, as well as being at the heart of such a vibrant urban environment are among the most important. I would love to work on projects that focus on inclusion, community participation, and the use of spatial data for enhancing the urban environment and people’s quality of life. I think that understanding our spatial context and getting to be part of the decisions about the future of the city give us a sense of belonging and have a positive impact on our wellbeing.  

This semester, I have started holding consultations with researchers who contact the Libraries for GIS and mapping help. I’m also looking forward to GIS Day on November 16 at Charles Library, which the Libraries co-organize every year with Temple’s department of Geography and Urban Studies. I’m helping plan the event and will be teaching a GIS workshop as part of the festivities.  

See our webpage for more information on support for GIS and mapping at Temple Libraries, and to get in touch with Felipe. 

Books Unite Us. Censorship Divides Us: Banned Books Week, Sept. 18–24

Artwork courtesy of the American Library Association, 

This week is Banned Books Week, an annual American Library Association (ALA) event that celebrates the freedom to read. This year’s theme is: “Books unite us. Censorship divides us.”  

Every year, books in schools and libraries are challenged, meaning a person or group has requested their removal or restriction. The reasons for these challenges range from objections to explicit content, offensive language, age-inappropriate material, and more. Yet, most challenges are unsuccessful due to the hard work of librarians, teachers, students, and community members who support and promote our freedom to openly access information and literature.  

Below, we’ve rounded up a list of 2021’s top ten challenged books. We have many of these in our collections here at the Libraries and have linked to the listings in Library Search. If you want to read one that Temple doesn’t own, check out E-ZBorrow to see if one of our partner libraries has a copy that you can request! Really love it and think we should get a copy? Let us know by filling out our purchase request form

According to ALA, the top ten challenged books of 2021 were: 

  1. Gender Queer by Maia Kobabe 
    Reasons: Banned, challenged, and restricted for LGBTQIA+ content and because it was considered to have sexually explicit images 
  1. Lawn Boy by Jonathan Evison 
    Reasons: Banned and challenged for LGBTQIA+ content and because it was considered to be sexually explicit 
  1. All Boys Aren’t Blue by George M. Johnson 
    Reasons: Banned and challenged for LGBTQIA+ content and profanity and because it was considered to be sexually explicit 
  1. Out of Darkness by Ashley Hope Perez (also available online!) 
    Reasons: Banned, challenged, and restricted for depictions of abuse and because it was considered to be sexually explicit 
  1. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas 
    Reasons: Banned and challenged for profanity and violence and because it was thought to promote an anti-police message and indoctrination of a social agenda 
  1. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie 
    Reasons: Banned and challenged for profanity, sexual references, and use of a derogatory term 
  1. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews 
    Reasons: Banned and challenged because it was considered sexually explicit and degrading to women 
  1. The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison 
    Reasons: Banned and challenged because it depicts child sexual abuse and was considered sexually explicit 
  1. This Book is Gay by Juno Dawson 
    Reasons: Banned, challenged, relocated, and restricted for providing sex education and LGBTQIA+ content 
  1. Beyond Magenta by Susan Kuklin 
    Reasons: Banned and challenged for LGBTQIA+ content and because it was considered to be sexually explicit. 

Learn more at

For further reading 

Check out this Inside Higher Ed article about how K-12 book bans affect higher education. 

Artwork courtesy of the American Library Association, 

Congratulations to the 2022 Textbook Affordability Project award recipients!

Guest post by Kristina De Voe, English and communication librarian, with the Open Education Group 

The Libraries are happy to announce our 2022 Textbook Affordability Project grant award recipients:  

  • Sonia Isabel Mino Avila, Mathematics, Temple University Japan 
  • Gregory Byala, English (First Year Writing), College of Liberal Arts 
  • Wendy Cheesman, Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, College of Public Health 
  • Elizabeth Diamond, Career and Technical Education Program, College of Education and Human Development 
  • Rob Faunce, English (First Year Writing) / Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies, College of Liberal Arts 
  • Talissa Ford, English, College of Liberal Arts 
  • Matt Hall, Communication Sciences and Disorders, College of Public Health 
  • Melissa Toomey, English (First Year Writing), College of Liberal Arts 
  • Kathleen Voss, Human Resource Management, Fox School of Business 
  • Jingwei Wu, Epidemiology and Biostatistics, College of Public Health

These course instructors have all committed to introducing open educational practices in their classrooms in the 2022–23 academic year and will be moving forward with project plans to adopt zero-cost learning materials into their courses.  

As part of the grant, awardees completed training over the summer, participating in a learning community in which they increased their awareness around open textbooks, open educational practices, and affordable learning materials. They also had the opportunity to develop their projects.  

The Textbook Affordability Project (TAP) is a grant program that awards funds to Temple faculty members who make their courses more affordable for their students by replacing costly educational resources with library-licensed materials or open educational resources (OER), including open textbooks. Alternatively, faculty can receive funds for engaging in other open educational practices, like creating learning objects or replacing a traditional assignment with renewable assignments that center students as creators of knowledge. The call for applications goes out annually in the spring. 

Since 2011, The TAP has granted awards to over 90 faculty across nearly every discipline at Temple University and saved students over one million dollars. 

A warm welcome from the Libraries!

Photo showing the outside of Charles Library
Outside Charles Library, photo by Betsy Manning, Temple University 

Welcome to the fall 2022 semester at Temple University! Temple Libraries is here to support you with a variety of resources, materials, and services to get you started and keep you on track as the semester unfolds. 

This post highlights just a few of the ways you can use the Libraries this fall. Be sure to check our website for more resources, and visit our contact us page to learn about all the ways to get in touch to ask questions. 

Find the materials you need 

The Libraries provide access to a broad range of physical and online materials—including books, journals, articles, music, and movies—all searchable through our website:

If it’s rare or unique archival materials you’re after, learn more about the Special Collections Research Center and the Charles L. Blockson Afro-American Collection and peruse our digital collections

Get personalized research help 

Librarians are here to offer personalized assistance as you work on your research papers and projects. No matter what you are studying or what major you pursue, we have a librarian who specializes in your field

Getting in touch with your librarian is easy: you can chat, email, or schedule a virtual or in-person appointment. Our chat service is 24/7, so no matter when you are working, someone will be here to answer your questions. 

Research, at your pace 

Once you’ve scoped out your syllabi, head over to our comprehensive Research Guides for each of your course subjects (curated by our subject librarians!).  

Our self-paced library tutorials can you help you develop your research skills. 

We also have tailored undergraduate and graduate user guides to help get you started. 

Explore spaces to study and work 

Photo showing seating inside Charles Library, with book stacks in the background

We offer a variety of open study seating options (and even some new furniture this semester!), and you can book study rooms ahead of time at Charles Library and the Ginsburg Health Sciences Library

If you are interested in making use of the Libraries’ advanced equipment and technology, visit the Loretta C. Duckworth Scholars Studio in Charles Library and the Innovation Space at Ginsburg Health Sciences Library. 

Access tech 

Need to print or use a computer? Take advantage of the laptop lending program and charging options, and look into Temple’s Print on the Go service for all your printing needs. 

Attend free events and workshops  

We host a variety of events and workshops throughout the academic year. This semester, our Beyond the Page public programming series celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Philadelphia Jewish Archives Center and our collection. In addition, we’ll be offering a lineup of concerts, conversations, and specialized workshops, on everything from CV writing to graphic design for visual abstracts to 3D printing. 

As always, our events and workshops are free and open to all. 

Photo showing atrium and main staircase in Charles Library
Inside Charles Library, photo by Michael Grimm 

Stay up to date! 

Follow us on social media and sign up for our mailing list to get future updates from the Libraries, including upcoming events, featured resources, and more.  

Helping Students with Textbook Costs

Guest post by Karen Kohn, collections analysis librarian, with the Open Education Group 

The problem with textbook costs 

A college girl studying outside on the grass

Textbook costs have long been a concern for students, and the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated that problem. In the summer of 2020, a nationwide study found that 20% of students had lost their jobs due to the pandemic and 16% were either furloughed or had hours cut. This meant that even though textbook prices had actually fallen from 2018 to 2020, students had just as much difficulty buying textbooks as they had in past years. U.S. PIRG found that 65% of students skipped buying a required textbook due to cost. In a recent survey of faculty and administrators by Bay View Analytics, 86% of administrators and 64% of faculty agreed with the statement that “the cost of the course materials is a serious problem for my students.”  

Recent guidance from the federal Department of Education on meeting students’ basics needs notes that increasing free access to textbooks can be a way to support students. 

Library copies of course texts 

One way to increase free access is to assign an electronic book found in the library collection or that can be purchased, and then direct students to the library copy. 

Since 2017, Temple University Libraries has been purchasing ebook copies of course texts whenever possible. In the 2021-22 academic year the Libraries offered electronic access to 32% of course texts, saving students an estimated $450,000. These books are all available via our catalog or our Etextbook Database. The database is updated near the beginning of every semester. 

The Libraries are not always able to purchase ebooks, as many textbook publishers do not make their titles available to libraries electronically. When a book is available to us, we prefer to purchase a multi-user license for something we know will be used in a class, though we will buy a single-user license if that is the only option. 

How faculty can help 

Let your subject librarian know what books you will be using so that the Libraries can look into buying them! Then let your students know that the Libraries have their books. When you submit your textbook adoptions to the bookstore, you can add a note to the submission form indicating that students will have access to a free digital copy from the library, and you can also mention the library copy on your syllabus. 

You can also check out the Affordable Course Materials page on our website for other ways to offer zero-cost to your students. Please speak with your subject librarian if you want to know if the Libraries can purchase a book for your class, if you need help determining what is already available, or if you want instruction on linking to an ebook in Canvas. 

New NIH Data Management and Sharing Policy coming in 2023, including changes to grant applications

Guest post by Will Dean, research and data services librarian

On January 25, 2023 the NIH is implementing a new policy that will require researchers to include additional documentation with their grant applications. New and competing renewal grant applications for ALL research projects that generate scientific data will now need to include a robust and detailed plan for how you will manage and share data during the entire funded period. This Data Management and Sharing Plan (DMSP)—similar to what other funders call a Data Management Plan (DMP)—should be two pages or less and include these sections:

  • Data type
  • Related tools, software, and/or code
  • Standards
  • Data preservation, access, and associated timelines
  • Access, distribution, or reuse considerations
  • Oversight of data management and sharing

Library resources, education, and tools

If you’re unfamiliar with what a DMSP or DMP is, don’t worry, the Libraries have you covered! We have a guide to the NIH’s guidance changes, a guide to DMPs, and the NIH has also launched a site with information on data sharing. These guides will give you more detail on the sections of a plan and answers to questions like, When do I submit my DMSP? (Answer: for extramural grants, as part of the Budget Justification section of the application.) 

To learn more, attend one of our fall workshops related to the policy: Writing a DMP for the New 2023 NIH Guidelines on October 19 at 12pm, and 2023 NIH Policy Changes on October 26 at 12pm (register at the links). We will also be hosting a panel discussion on November 2 at 12pm with Temple researchers to discuss what the policy changes mean to our research community.

To help you write your plan, we support an online tool that guides you through writing a DMP: the DMPTool. Check out our how to video on the DMPTool and our interactive online tutorial

In addition, the Libraries’ Research Data Services team can meet with you, your lab, or your department to present on these guidance changes and resources, and answer any questions. If your department is having a Research Day or other research-related event, we would be happy to present or table with information on this new guidance.

If you have any questions about the NIH changes, DMPs, and scheduling consultations and events please contact Research and Data Services Librarian Will Dean ( or the Libraries’ Research Data Services team at

Summer resources and support

Summer sessions at Temple are upon us, and whether you are on campus or relaxing at home, the Libraries are here to support you with a variety of resources, services, and collections. 

A good place to start is our website—here you can browse materials, access resources, or contact us with questions. Read on for a few more ways to take advantage of library offerings this summer. 

Summer hours

Come on down! Our hours page has the latest information on opening and closing hours for each of our library locations over the summer.

Image with people outside Charles Library
Photo by Betsy Manning, Temple University

Books, DVDs, journals, archives, oh my!

We provide access to a broad range of physical and online materials—from books, databases, and journals to ebooks, archival materials, and movies—all searchable through our website:

For those doing archival research this summer, our special collections are housed in the Special Collections Research Center and the Charles L. Blockson Afro-American Collection.

And if you happen to have some extra time on your hands, head over to Charles Library and browse our leisure reading collection, located on the first floor. We also have a juvenile literature collection on the fourth floor and a variety of DVDs and other media in the Bookbot. At Ginsburg Library, the leisure reading collection is shelved in the low bookcase to the left of the Patron Services desk, and leisure books can be sent between any location for easy pickup! Just click the “How to get this” button in the library catalog and select the pickup location where you want the book sent.

Need some research help?

Whether you are taking summer courses or working on academic or personal projects, librarians can offer you personalized assistance. 

Getting in touch with your librarian is easy: you can chat 24/7, email, or schedule an appointment. For more ways to get in touch, visit our Contact Us page. 

Grab a seat

Looking for a place to study, work on a project, or just cool off in the summer heat? We offer a variety of open study seating options, and you can book study rooms at Charles Library and the Ginsburg Health Sciences Library ahead of time.

Two students in Charles Library study room
Photo by Heidi Roland Photography

But I just graduated!

No worries! As a Temple alumni, you can still access a wide range of library resources. Learn more about alumni services

Keeping up with the Libraries

Follow us on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter for library news and updates over the summer and throughout the academic year. 

What else should I know?

Here are a few more tips for making the most out of your visit to one of our library locations or our website:

Temple Made Days: Library resources for alumni

We invite all Temple alumni to celebrate Temple Made Days with us. Running from Monday, April 25–Saturday, April 30, Temple Made Days is a new initiative this year, blending several of Temple’s signature spring events (Global Days of Service, Temple Toast, and Alumni Weekend) into one weeklong celebration of Temple pride. 

Here at Temple University Libraries, we want to shine a light on how the Libraries support our alumni long after they leave the Owl nest (so to speak). 

Students outside Charles Library
Photo by Betsy Manning, Temple University

Visit and borrow

Even after you graduate, you can continue to access library resources, including our buildings, collections, technology, and more! Check out our library website to learn more about alumni services. 

Attend events, workshops, and exhibits

Every semester, the Libraries present our Beyond the Page public programming series. These free events and workshops are open to all, and we record most of them for future viewing.

The Libraries also offer a variety of exhibits each year, often featuring the materials in our special collections: the Charles L. Blockson Afro-American Collection and the Special Collections Research Center.

Explore Digital Collections

Our Digital Collections offer free worldwide access to the Libraries’ unique primary historical and cultural resources and to selected scholarly works and other publications produced at Temple.

As a Temple alum, you might take a special interest in the following collections: 

Read up on the latest scholarship

As part of the library enterprise, Temple University Press has invested in publishing socially engaged scholarship for over 50 years. The Press is best known as a publisher of books in the social sciences and the humanities, as well as books about Philadelphia and the Delaware Valley region. You can browse the catalog and order directly from the Press website. And as part of our commitment to open access, a number of Press labor studies books and titles under our joint Press and Libraries imprint, North Broad Press, are available freely online.  

#TempleToast: Support the Libraries

One additional way to join in the festivities is through taking part in Temple Toast and choosing to support the Libraries. April 28 marks #TempleToast, our annual celebration of community and philanthropy, where generations of Owls come together to invest in opportunity and advance our institution! Consider making a donation now.

Connect With Temple University Libraries’ Technology This National Library Week

National Library Week (April 3–9) is upon us and this year the theme is “Connect With Your Library,” with a specific emphasis on technology and digital ways we connect. We’re here to share with you a few of the many technological resources you have access to at the Libraries.

National Library Week graphic, with text Connect with Your Library and images of headphones, hands reaching for each other, an outlet

Assistive technology

At Temple Libraries, we offer assistive technology software and devices available at Charles Library and Ginsburg Library and are constantly working on expanding and updating our offerings. Examples include:

  • JAWS (Job Access with Speech): a screen reading software installed on all public desktops and loaner laptops
  • Ubi Duos 2: a face-to-face communication assistive device with two separate keyboards and screens that convey messages between two people in real time letter for letter (helpful for non-verbal or hearing impaired)
  • Optelec ClearView Speech Reader: a sight amplifying device that increases size and contrast of text and can read aloud to you


The groundbreaking technology used in our Automatic Storage and Retrieval System in Charles Library has freed up space for dozens of study rooms (many of which have monitors and presentation technology), other types of collaborative space, and specialized research equipment (see Duckworth Scholars Studio below). When a book or bound journal is requested via our online catalog, the BookBot initiates the request and the material is delivered to a processing station to be readied for patron pick up. Check out our Instagram story takeover on Tuesday, April 5 for a behind-the-scenes look at the BookBot and the staff that make it work. 

Battery banks and laptops

Photograph of portable battery bank in Charles Library
Photo by Geneva Heffernan

In Charles Library, portable battery banks and laptops are available for Temple affiliates to check out. The banks operate as portable outlets, allowing you to charge your devices anywhere in the library. The laptops can be checked out for a few hours and can even be taken outside the building and returned to any kiosk on campus.

Innovation Space and Loretta C. Duckworth Scholars Studio

The Innovation Space in Ginsburg Library and Duckworth Scholars Studio in Charles Library are hubs of creativity and technology that offer equipment such as VR headsets, 3D printers, laser cutters, sticker/button makers, and digital software for any Temple affiliates to use. Upcoming events include a digital humanities symposium on Afrofuturism, workshops on VR and video equipment, and a digital innovation showcase.

Community Computer Lab and WiFi

Photograph of patrons using the community computer lab in Charles Library
Photo by Geneva Heffernan

Anyone can come into Charles Library and use our Community Computer Lab to connect with job resources, people, or just browse the web. And, as long as you are utilizing the WiFi in our building, you have access to all our databases, journals, articles, and ebooks! There are also charging lockers available to secure and charge phones while in Charles Library.

Ambler Library in the Technology Center

Our Ambler Campus Library is open in a scaled-down capacity in the Ambler Technology Center (inside the Ambler Campus Learning Center). With computers readily available, you can receive in-person reference help while immersed in online work. Stop by to check out the new spot and say hello!

Digital collections from the Special Collections Research Center

In addition to the reading room on the first floor of Charles Library and the amazing materials you can view and touch, the Special Collections Research Center has an enormous online repository of digital collections including scans of documents, photographs, video, and audio content.

Black Lives Always Mattered! (BLAM!) virtual exhibit

Photograph of Black Lives Always Mattered! graphic novel cover
Photo by Joseph V. Labolito, Temple University

The Charles L. Blockson Afro-American Collection launched an online exhibit showcasing the stories and art that went into the BLAM! graphic novel, produced with the Pew Center for Arts & Heritage.

Ebooks and open publishing

Our in-house publisher, Temple University Press, offers ebooks for sale for most of their publications. In addition, North Broad Press, the open publishing arm of Temple University Press and Temple University Libraries, produces open textbooks, freely available online for anyone to access.

Check out this North Philly Notes blog post highlighting the Press’ open access books, journals, and collaborations in celebration of National Library Week.

Equipment for use

Technical equipment available for check out from Charles Library includes portable DVD players, calculators, cameras, and a Raspberry Pi. Ginsburg Library offers noise canceling headphones, calculators, laptop stands, power strips, and chargers. 

There are dozens of ways to connect with the Libraries and our technology. We hope you will join us in celebrating National Library Week by checking out some of these resources.

Black Lives Always Mattered! A graphic novel by the Blockson Collection

In case you missed it, the Charles L. Blockson Afro-American Collection created and recently published the graphic novel, Black Lives Always Mattered! (BLAM!), which was made possible by a grant from the Pew Center for Arts and Heritage.

Photo by Joseph V. Labolito, Temple University

BLAM! has been in the making since 2016. The project’s curator and art director Eric Battle illustrated three of the stories himself and selected and coordinated with other artists for the rest. Dr. Sheena Howard joined the project as the writer. In all, the novel features stories and illustrations of 14 prominent African American Philadelphians from the 20th century. 

Photo by Joseph V. Labolito, Temple University

Recently, the Blockson Collection donated 5,000 copies of BLAM! to the School District of Philadelphia. Eventually, the public will have access to the graphic novel as well. Find out more about how the novel will be part of the curriculum in Philadelphia from the Philadelphia Tribune article published in February.

News roundup

Photo by Joseph V. Labolito, Temple University

It’s no surprise that this project has generated buzz in the media. Below is a roundup of just a few news stories to catch you up on the project:

A new graphic novel brings African American history in Philadelphia to life,” March 2020,  Temple News

“’Black Lives Always Mattered!’ invites all to see Philadelphia history in living color,” January 2022, Temple News

Artist and Art Director Eric Battle talks about ‘BLAM!’, A graphic novel profiling fourteen Black historic Philadelphians,” January 2022, Artblog

Temple’s Blockson collection publishes graphic novel to encourage youth,” February 2022, The Philadelphia Tribune

Philly district will get 5,000 copies of a book celebrating Black Philadelphians,” February 2022, Chalkbeat Philadelphia

After 30 years, African American Children’s Book Fair expands to the Convention Center,” February 2022, WHYY

BLAM! exhibits and programs

Photo by Ryan S. Brandenberg, Temple University

Through the process of creating the graphic novel, the Blockson Collection spearheaded an in-person exhibit that was on view first at  Charles Library and then at the Blockson Collection from March 2020–August 2021 and an accompanying virtual exhibit still available to viewers. 

We also offered a series of freely available virtual programs, a few of which we’ll highlight and link to the recordings below.

In September 2020, BLAM! curators, historians, artists, web designers, and others involved in the project spoke about the creative process, sharing details about how the project evolved.

Photo by Ryan S. Brandenberg, Temple University

A month later, in October 2020, Eric Battle led a conversation with amazing fellow illustrators Micheline Hess, Jamar Nicholas, Dwayne Turner and Christine Kerrick. They discussed their visions and artistic processes while creating the illustrated stories for the novel.

Fast forward to April 2021, we unveiled the novel cover along with some of the illustration profiles. Dr. Diane D. Turner, curator of the Charles L. Blockson Afro-American Collection and Dr. Carol D. Lee, assessment and learning consultant to the project, discussed plans for the graphic novel.

Special thanks

We’d like to extend a heartfelt thank you to everyone who has contributed to this project:

Blockson Collection staff
Dr. Diane D. Turner, project director
Aslaku Berhanu, associate director
Leslie Willis Lowry, archivist
Serkaddis Alemayehu, instructional design and technology specialist

Project curator/art director
Eric Battle 

Sheena C. Howard

Graphic designer
Julius Harmon 

Eric Battle
Damali Beatty 
Akinseye Brown 
Andrew Dalhouse
Nancy Devard 
Micheline Hess 
Mike Leeke 
Nile Livingston  
Christine Kerrick 
Jamar Nicholas 
Will Rosado 
Dwayne Turner

Stay tuned for announcements on when the graphic novel will be available to the public!