What’s New Wednesdays: Introducing Summon 2.0

As of July 21st, our all-star database Summon has received an update resulting in a sparkling new interface and some helpful new features. (Don’t remember which database is Summon? It’s that big ol’ search box in the middle of the library home page.) Check out some of the changes below:

  • Topic Explorer – Summon will automatically plug your search term into one of our reference databases and pull a relevant encyclopedia entry to provide a brief overview of the topic. This will be located in the top right hand corner of the page.
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  • Increased item information – Whenever you hover over one of the items in your results, you’ll see expanded item information in the right hand column. This can include citation information, but can also include article abstracts and book summaries.
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  • Suggested search terms – Not finding what you want and having some trouble thinking outside the box? Summon now has prominently displayed “Related Topics” that may help you formulate more effective search terms.
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  • More easily navigable refinement tools – Now, you can simply select from the left hand side of the page whatever refinements you want to narrow down your search. No more “include” or “exclude”.
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  • To infinity and beyond – Summon 2.0 uses an infinite scroll, so no more clicking through page by page.
  • Folder Storage – The Saved Items folder is now more prominently displayed (it’s in the left hand corner.) Didn’t know you could save items to look at later? We hope the new larger icon will serve as a visual reminder.


Ready to take Summon for a test drive?

And don’t forget:

Summon searches ALL the holdings TU Libraries has access to—this means books, eBooks, journal articles, newspaper articles, magazine articles, videos, films, government documents, etc. If you have a specific research need and Summon isn’t helping, one of our subject specialist librarians will be happy to help you find what you’re looking for.

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“Groove dreams whipped stiff”: Poetry, Performance, and the (In)finitude of the Archive

As a kick-off for Archives Month Philly, Paley Library hosted “Live from the Collections: In and Out of Poetry” Tuesday, October 1st. Stemming from an exhibition of small press and alternative poetry entitled “The Fun in Speaking English” done by TU Libraries in spring, the afternoon saw the assembly of three poets who, through their own work’s thematic concerns and by their very participation in the event of the reading, interrogate and explore the notion of The Archive. Challenging the audience to consider the reading as more than a recitation of poetic product, Moderator Matthew Kalasky (director of Philadelphia cultural organization Nicola Midnight St. Claire) prefaced the reading by posing the question, “How does the current reading color the writing process of the past?”

The reading began with Penn Ph.D. student/writer/media archivist Daniel Snelson sharing work exploring the infinitude of the poetic page. Snelson read from Ronald Johnson’s Radi O’s, a poem which, through the careful, meticulous removal of text from Milton’s Paradise Lost, recontextualizes and reinvents the work. Snelson then shared one of his own projects of reimagining, audio of himself reading over archived audio of a reading by poet Rosmarie Waldrop of her work Differences for Four Hands reading over audio of a previous reading of her poem. Yes, you did in fact read that correctly: note the layers! Waldrop’s last stanza in particular, speaks toward the process & performance theme of the reading:

“Clara, play for us. The performance over, your name drops back out of the air. Records now, of course. Groove dreams whipped stiff. You never stepped twice…”

Next, the program featured prolific contemporary poet Lyn Lifshin, a writer whose work is partially housed in TU Libraries’ Special Collections Research Center (check out the extensive list of the Library’s holdings here). Plumbing her own archive of material, Lifshin read a number of poems, sometimes pausing between each to give the audience a history of the poem, in terms of both its initial writing and its life as a performed piece. The following piece, the beautiful and devastating “I Remember Being Lovely But,” was one of these historicized poems, allowing the audience a glimpse into the moments of its creation. The work itself functions as the poeticized written trace of lived experience, each performance of the work a further instance of documentation:

“There were snakes in the
tent. My mother was
strong but she never
slept, was afraid of
dreaming. In Auschwitz
there was a numbness,
lull of just staying
alive. Her two babies
gassed before her, Dr.
Mengele. Do you know
who he is? She kept
her young sister alive
only to have her die
in her arms the night
of liberation. My mother
is big-boned but she
weighed under 80 lbs.
It was hot. I thought
the snakes lovely. No
drugs in Israel, no
food. I got pneumonia,
my mother knocked the
doctor to the floor
when they refused,
said I lost two in
the camp and if this
one dies I’ll kill
myself in front of you.
I thought that once
you became a mother
blue numbers appeared
mysteriously, tattooed
on your wrist.”

The SCRC also contains a substantial amount of Lifshin’s papers, including poem drafts and correspondences.

Poet Elaine Terranova ended the afternoon’s readings, reading from several of her seven collections of poetry. (Some of Terranova’s work is housed in the SCRC–see the list here). Her poem “Stairway”, from her most recent collection Dollhouse, nicely summates many of the tensions of the archive:

“Think of the dollhouse
as a collection, a museum,
even a prison, but a little doll,
a tiny chair, mean nothing
if not in the context of a house.

There is in a house, despite
its safety, I don’t know,
such capacity for movement and change.

At night, for instance, a house
talks back, crackles and knocks.
Turn on the alarm and it is like
setting the alarm of your fear,
little birdcall of eternity.

Downstairs you have only just
shut the door on the world
and you float up, giddy with sleep.
You fly–don’t they call the sets
of steps flights? At the top,
massive dark, a wind that rushes through the hall.

Everything moves around.
Nothing is stable. Then you open
a door, look through a window,
and find there, pocketed by the sky,
the nearly perfect moon.”

Terranova reminds us, “Nothing is stable”, and such is the archive, not merely a static collection of printed texts “whipped stiff”, to borrow from Waldrop, but an animate entity that circulates beyond its physical repository, full of a “capacity for movement and change,” each performance a circuit on a current that loops both backward and forward. The works shared by these three wonderful poets that afternoon were indeed dreams grooved and regrooved, each performance an instance of truly moving beyond the page, renegotiating the boundaries of the printed word.

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Poet Daniel Snelson explicates his poetic process to the audience while Moderator Matthew Kalasky and poets Lyn Lifshin and Elaine Terranova look on.

Interested in future library programming? Take a look at this calendar for the Beyond the Page schedule of events.

Come celebrate Welcome Week with TU Libraries!

Planning on hitting the TUFest tables on Liacouras Walk? We’ll be there, too, handing out bags, bubbles, buttons, and information about the libraries. Feel free to drop by and ask us any questions you may have about our services, and don’t forget to grab some candy before you leave!

Thumbnail link to larger version of librarians at an open air table at the TU Fest.

We’re here to answer your questions!

Paley Library will also be hosting CeLIBration, a party for students that will include fair-themed food (think: cotton candy, popcorn, and hotdogs), arcade games, & a DJ spinning jams. Stop by and bring your friends!

TURF-CreWS: Undergraduate Research in Technicolor

What is research? And how exactly is that concept made manifest?  As members of an academic community, we may think of research as a culling—one gathers information from a static collection of preexisting “facts”, and uses said facts as supporting evidence in the construction of an original thesis. That thesis is then articulated, filled out, augmented with the appropriate research materials, and, often, rendered formally in print.

However, after attending Temple’s Undergraduate Research Forum/Workshop Symposium (aka TURF-CreWs), held in the Howard Gittis Student Center on April 18th, it’s clear that research can be a far more fluid enterprise than its face value definition suggests.  Composed of the research projects of 130 undergraduate participants from all of Temple’s colleges, the forum offers these students a setting in which to display and present their ongoing projects. From papers to posters to panels to performances, a wide range of subjects were on exhibit for the Temple community to not only observe, but to engage with as well.

At the event, I was able to speak with three students from three different Temple colleges, whose respective research interests engendered three different approaches to the research process—some traditional, some more creatively employed, but all immanently remarkable.

Andrea Gudiel, Biology: “Deforestation and the Spread of Invasive Species”

While assisting with a graduate student research project  during a field work trip to Madagascar , Andrea found herself focusing on the effects of local human use in her immediate environment. Built infrastructure, such as roads and trails, along with various invasive flora and fauna species, were causing tangible changes within the Madagascan ecosystem.  Though internet connectivity was precarious in her location, she was able to discern a lack in written research in this specific area after conducting preliminary searches. This lack, then, Andrea decided to take up and address herself. Since her trip, Andrea has utilized various library databases—including Web of Knowledge and Gale—to flesh out her  field work. Though still in progress, Andrea told me she hopes to submit the finished project to an international bio-diversity journal for publication.

Daharis Pesantez, Communication Studies, “Networks in New Urbanism”

I was drawn  to Daharis’ poster because its primary subject matter, The High Line Park in New York City (check out the website HERE if you’re unfamiliar with the park), is, in and of itself, very interesting. Daharis’ engagement with the park, though, added several dimensions to its appeal: her poster posed the questions, Do these types of spaces promote diversity within the community?  Within their respective communities, are they perceived as inviting spaces, or as marginalizing? Thinking of the High Line as one of the first “repurposed urban spaces” in what is becoming an emerging trend (including in our own Philadelphia!), Daharis sees these spaces as sites, “networks”, in which social, economic, and cultural intersections are enacted, redefining ideas surrounding urban areas and community engagement.  As of now, Daharis’ footwork has been interdisciplinary and research-based, looking at work in fields such as urban studies, sociology,  and her major, communication. This summer, Daharis will be in New York  conducting on-site research (she hopes to interview parkgoers) and incorporating an experiential aspect into the solid research-based foundation she’s established.

Daharis standing before an easel.

Daharis and her High Line poster

Kenneth Brown, Music Composition, “Two Concertos for Bassoon and String Orchestra”

After being commissioned to write two neo-baroque concerti for bassoon by a fellow composition student, Kenneth began the task of composing. Aided by a Diamond Scholars Research grant, he started at Paley, where he studied a variety of concerti from the baroque period for bassoon and other instruments. With these materials in hand, Kenneth analyzed the key, tempo, meter, and length of the pieces he found in the library, identifying patterns in the scores. Vivaldi’s 10 Bassoon Concerti  in particular was an important resource.  In the process, he found he had to move out of his familiarity with writing specifically for bassoon, learning how to write in baroque concerto form.

During his panel presentation, Kenneth showed us his early drafts, each subsequent draft moving toward becoming “less imitative and more inventive”.  Of his process of composing, Kenneth said, “…I began twisting my baroque-influenced ideas into a more modern shape by playing with meter and introducing unexpected dissonances.” He describes his work as moving toward “Vivaldi through a prism—exploded and refracted.” The concerti now completed, Kenneth was kind enough to share a video of their performance. Take a look below!