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Rare Book Purchased in Memory of Birdie MacLennan

Wednesday, February 4th, 2015

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Jeffrey Marshall, the Director of Special Collections, recently announced that Special Collections has purchased a 1568 copy of Dante’s Divine Comedy in memory of Birdie MacLennan.

After esteemed colleague Birdie MacLennan passed away unexpectedly last March, Special Collections staff gave a lot of thought to how they might best honor her memory. Birdie, who was hired in 1990 as a serials cataloger and appointed Director of Resource Description Services in 2008, loved old books and was very fond of the Romance languages. She was a member of the local chapter of Alliance Française and the Italian Club of Vermont. Birdie earned a master’s degree in French in 2005 and was learning Italian when she died. She also attended Rare Book School at the University of Virginia.  The department agreed that an addition to the Rare Book collection of an important book in French or Italian would be an appropriate memorial.

“As it happened,” Marshall says, “We had no early editions of Dante’s Divine Comedy, a defining work of the Renaissance and one that maintained its popularity through the transition from manuscript to printed books. In fact, we had no editions of the Divine Comedy printed before the mid-eighteenth century. An early printing of this work seemed the ideal choice to honor Birdie.” He contacted a highly regarded book seller to inquire whether a fine copy could be located.

Within a couple of months, Marshall received a beautiful copy of the Divine Comedy printed in Venice in 1568. Bound in green morocco in the eighteenth century, with marbled endpapers from the same era, the book is in remarkably good condition. This edition contains the commentary of Bernardino Daniello da Lucca (1500-1565) and was printed by Pietro da Fino, an obscure Venetian printer whose ten known books span the years 1555 to 1576.

Daniello’s Dante includes full-page engravings at the beginning of each book—Inferno, Purgatorio, and Paradiso—as well as printer’s devices on the title page and last page.

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The title page device shows a rooster perched on a globe (which rests on a book), with the motto “tota nocte excubo” (I keep watch throughout the night). The device on the last page features a similar rooster on a globe against a more elaborate background, with the motto “excubo ac vigilo” (I keep watch and remain awake).

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Early printed books are valuable for many reasons. Early printers were usually highly conscious of the relationship between book design and text, producing books that are esthetically pleasing. Often, scholarly works featured the author’s text in a block surrounded by the editor’s annotations, and other printing conventions that demonstrate the detailed, exhaustive analysis Renaissance scholars applied to great works. This form of commentary had largely disappeared by the eighteenth century, often replaced by extensive introductions and footnotes. The physical aspects of the book, as well, suggest much about the status of the work, its intended audience, and the cultural context of its creation at the time of printing.

Birdie MacLennan had a large and lasting impact on the University libraries. Special Collections is pleased to add an important sixteenth-century book to the Rare Book collection in her memory.

7 Tips to Get the Most Out of Your Library

Friday, December 19th, 2014

We asked library faculty and staff for their top tips and here’s what they told us:

#1 ASK for help

Stop by the reference desks in Bailey/Howe and Dana Medical Library, email a question, chat, text, call or make an appointment with a subject specialist in your area.

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#2 Use subject guides

Our team has created guides in each subject area to help you get started with the absolute best sources – from online databases to books to websites.

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#3 Borrow stuff

Our fabulous interlibrary loan team will borrow anything we don’t own from another library and get it to you as quickly as possible.

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#4 Kick back with culture

Bailey/Howe Library’s Media Resources is home to thousands of CDs and DVDs. De-stress with popular TV series and find fantastic documentaries to support your research.

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#5 Search everything with CATQuest

Our online catalog let’s you search books, articles and items at other libraries, all at once.

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#6 Study in teams

Our popular group study rooms allow two or more students to study together or work on group projects.

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#7 Use one-of-a-kind digital collections

Check out our unique digital collections of historic images and documents and UVM’s student and faculty research.

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New Books for a New Year

Friday, December 19th, 2014

These works can be found on our New Book shelf in Bailey/Howe, an ever-rotating sampling of things we’re adding to our collection. You can also review all our newest books online, and subscribe via RSS to receive alerts about acquisitions, by discipline.

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Gil Scott-Heron: Pieces of a Man by Marcus Baram

“Best known for his ingenious, cutting, and satiric 1970 song, ‘The Revolution Will Not Be Televised,’ Scott-Heron (1949–2011) never received full recognition for his brilliant writing across many genres, including poetry and fiction, and his canny weaving of black history into his volatile moment. In this straightforward, honest book, journalist Baram draws a poignant portrait, if somewhat fawning, of the artist as a black man struggling to make sense of his culture from the 1960s to his death.” –Publishers Weekly

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Behold the Proverbs of a People: Proverbial Wisdon in Culture, Literature and Politics by Wolfgang Mieder

“Noted scholar Wolfgang Mieder shows that proverbs matter in culture, literature, and politics. Proverbs remain part and parcel of oral and written communication, and, he demonstrates, they deserve to be studied from a range of viewpoints… Wolfgang Mieder, Williston, Vermont, is University Distinguished Professor of German and Folklore at the University of Vermont. He has published well over one hundred books and is the leading expert on proverbs in the world.” –Publisher’s information

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A Muse and a Maze: Writing as Puzzle, Mystery and Magic by Peter Turchi

“Turchi follows up Maps of the Imagination, which connected writing and cartography, by exploring the links between artistic creation and puzzle making and solving. While presenting different kinds of puzzles–from disappearing magic tricks to elaborate labyrinths–Turchi shows how writer and magician alike use self-presentation and withheld information to transport us to a ‘state of wonder’ and ‘invite us to think about something…worthy of extended consideration.’” –Publishers Weekly

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Ghosts: A Natural History: 500 Years of Searching for Proof by Roger Clarke

“Close to the end of Roger Clarke’s Ghosts: A Natural History, the author mentions ‘silent phone calls from people who have been buried with their phone in their coffin.’ Who are these people? He doesn’t say, but he claims there’s a whole genre of ‘apparently true’ mobile phone ghost stories, including ‘texts from the dead.’ There are even haunted spell-checks. When the name ‘Prudentia’ was highlighted on a document during a 1998 investigation in Britain, the alternative spellings that reportedly came up were ‘dead,’ ‘buried’ and ‘cellar.’” – New York Times

Keeping the Air Clear

Monday, August 19th, 2013

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The front entrance to Bailey/Howe continues to be a smoke-free corridor. UVM maintains a policy of no-smoking withing 25 feet of a building’s entrance or window.