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Message from the Editors

Welcome to the Spring 2008 edition of CUA Libraries Online. We are pleased to share with you recent news about the University Libraries and staff.

As always, we welcome comments, questions, and suggestions at our online comment form.

After you have finished enjoying this newsletter you can follow the latest news as they are posted at University Libraries News & Events. Please comment on our stories and subscribe to the RSS feeds.

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Jessica Leigh Dovi

Jessica and Damien Dovi

CUA Libraries recently lost a beloved staff member. Jessica Leigh Dovi, 30, Access Services Llibrarian, died of metastatic melanoma April 24 at Capital Hospice in Arlington, VA. Jessica was Access Services Librarian at CUA Libraries for nearly three years. During her tenure her hard work, dedication and sense of humor made a lasting impression on her staff, co-workers, student workers and the many library patrons she so competently served. The CUA community will miss her bright smile and infectious laughter for many years to come.

She was born in Charlotte, N.C., and graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with honors in 1999. She received a master's degree in library science from the Catholic University of America in 2007.

Survivors include her husband of two years, Damien Dovi of McLean; a son, Matthew Dovi of McLean; her parents, David and Donna Hodgkins of Charlotte; grandparents Charles and Shirley Hodgkins of Shrewsbury, Mass., and Anthony and Louise Beaudry of Worcester, Mass.; a sister; and a brother.

A memorial service was held on Monday, April 28, 11 a.m. at St. Mary's Episcopal Church in Arlington.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Jessica L. Dovi Foundation, P.O. Box 6301, McLean, VA. 22106-6301. Jessica and her family established the foundation to promote melanoma awareness, research, and support for patients and caregivers.

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Papyrus Conservation in the Semitics/ICOR Library

Erik Kolb (Early Christian Studies) and Dr. Chrysi Kotsifou discuss a newly housed piece.

The Semitics/ICOR Library, located on the Garden Level of Mullen, boasts a collection of papyrus that will soon be shared with the world. For the past three years, the library has been preparing its collection for inclusion in the Advanced Papyrological Information System (APIS). APIS is an online repository that hosts information about and images of papyrus and similar materials from collections around the world. The APIS website provides scholars with physical descriptions and bibliographic information about each piece, as well as digital images and English translations whenever possible.

The Semitics/ICOR papyrus collection consists of about 200 Greek, Demotic, Coptic and Arabic papyri. Most of the Coptic and Greek papyri date to between the 6th and 8th centuries AD.

In January 2008, the Department of Semitic and Egyptian Languages and Literatures, CUA Libraries, and the Center for the Study of Early Christianity hosted a conservation training session with Dr. Julia Lougovaya, Assistant Professor of Classics from Columbia University and a trained papyrus conservator. Also teaching was Dr. Rodney Ast, the Project Coordinator of APIS. Library staff as well as graduate students and faculty (from the School of Arts and Sciences, Theology and Religious Studies, and the School of Library and Information Science) attended and were trained in APIS-level standards of papyrus conservation and digitization.

Dr. Uri Firanko (Harvard Center for Hellenic Studies), Brent Gilbert (Greek and Latin), Sarah New (Semitics/ICOR GLP), Dawn Powers (Library and Information Science), Linda Todd (Library and Information Science), and Rev. Dr. Francis Gignac (Biblical Studies) wait for the training session to begin.

Zofia Dunian (Head of Collection Management), Dr. Chrysi Kotsifou, and Dr. Uri Firanko (Harvard Center for Hellenic Studies) observe Dr. Julia Lougovaya at work.

Since January, the trainees have reconvened 8 times under the guidance of Dr. Chrysi Kotsifou (Visiting Associate Curator of Semitics/ICOR collections) and Dr. Monica Blanchard (Curator) to perform conservation work on the papyri. The participants vary in background: several are librarians, some are linguists, and others historians. This mix of perspectives has made for a fun and educational environment as everyone works together and shares insights. At a typical meeting, conservators document, clean, and re-house papyri. In the early 20th century, many of the papyri were affixed to cardboard because it was thought to be good practice for preservation. The papyri are now being removed from cardboard and housed in glass. As a result, conservators have found previously unseen text on the back side of some papyri! Conservation is expected to continue through the end of August and digitization will start in Summer or Fall 2008.

~ Sarah New, GLP for Semitics/ICOR Library

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The Edward J. Belanger, Jr. Staff Award for Excellence

"The Edward J. Belanger, Jr. Staff Award for Excellence in Service" has been awarded to Building Services Manager, Emir Isakovic. The award was created to honor the over forty years of service rendered by Edward J. Belanger, Jr., retired Head of Administrative Services. Emir is living proof that sometimes interesting stories in the library are not confined to books.

If you spend time in any of the CUA Libraries there a good chance you've heard the phrase "Call Emir!". Building Services Manager, Emir Isakovic, is CUA Libraries' "Mr. Fixit". He handles a multitude of emergencies: steam leaks, flooding, faulty circuits, light bulb outages, moving libraries, birds in the foyer, broken furniture, lost mail and graffiti removal. It's no wonder his name was at the top of the list when this years Belanger award winner was chosen. Michael McLane, Director of CUA Libraries, adds, "We are most fortunate to have Emir Isakovic as Mullen's Building Services Manager. Emir's knowledge of the building and its idiosyncrasies, as well as his unfailing good humor, enables us to offer 21st century services in a 20th century (at best!) facility."

Emir is a native of Bosnia and was a high school student when war broke out in 1992. He went from a happy-go-lucky teenager to becoming a soldier defending his country overnight. He moved to the United States after the war and became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 2003. He was kind enough to share some information about his interesting life story for this newsletter.

Q: You just won the "Edward J. Belanger, Jr. Staff Award for Excellence" award at CUA Libraries (In my opinion it was well deserved). Were you surprised?
A: Of course I was surprised! It surely was an unexpected and a very pleasant surprise.
Q: You're from Bosnia. Can you tell us something about your life growing up there?
A: I was in high school when the war started in Bosnia. Life was very tough. I went from being on the country's ski team to being in an army overnight. I can't really say that I had a decent young adult life because we were forced to grow up overnight and defend our country. But childhood up until the war was wonderful. Sarajevo was a great place to grow up.
Q: Please tell us about your family.
A: My wife and parents moved here right after the war was over in Bosnia, 12 years ago. We live in Germantown, and my parents live a short walking distance from us. My wife and I both graduated from CUA, while working full time. It has been a challenge, but a very rewarding one.
Q: When and why did you move to the U.S.? Did you have relatives here?
A: I moved here 12 years ago, mainly because of the war. I had no relatives here, just a couple of friends. I also barely spoke English at the time, so it took me some time to adjust and start a normal life again.
Q: What do you like about living in the U.S.?
A: I love the fact that this is the country of endless opportunities. I appreciate learning about new cultures and we certainly have that here!
Q: How long have you been with CUA Libraries? How did you find out about the job?
A: I started part time working for Acquisitions department and after a year I became full time employee. Altogether, I have been with CUA Libraries for 10 years. I met Hajrija Alic, and she told me about the part time opening with Acquisitions, and that's how it all started.
Q: You are the building services manager at CUA Libraries. Tell us something about your duties.
A: My duties include overseeing day-to-day projects and duties of the mailroom, ensuring that all work requests for the Library are in the system and completed on time. I coordinate facilities, maintenance and housekeeping to make sure that all work requests get fulfilled. I'm responsible for all general services for the libraries.
Q: What is it you most enjoy about your job?
A: I enjoy my every day interaction with colleagues from other departments and the workplace dynamics. There is never a dull moment around here. My colleagues at Mullen library are the best and we make a wonderful team!
Q: Have you become a naturalized citizen? If so, are you looking forward to voting for the first time as a U.S. citizen?
A: Are you kidding me? I became a U.S. citizen in 2003 and that almost makes me a veteran in the voting process!
Q: What's your favorite book? (Sorry, I had to ask that)
A: The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald.
Q: Do you have any hobbies?
A: I play tennis, mostly with my dad. I also play basketball with my fellow colleagues at the DuFour Center during the work week. I'm an avid skier and try to ski as much as possible during the winter. So, I like being outdoors and active.
Q: What's your idea of a dream vacation?
A: Any kind of a relaxation is a dream vacation-it is up to us to pick a nice place and unwind. I would have to say that going to Sarajevo in the summer and spending a week or so on the Croatian coast is something I look forward to every year. It just doesn't get better that that-spending time with family and old friends.
Q: What was the most memorable "problem"/"situation" you had to solve as CUA's building services manager?
A: There is so many, I stopped keeping the list long time ago!

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Book Reviews

Howell, Georgina, Gertrude Bell: Queen of the Desert, Shaper of Nations. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2007. (DA 566.9 .B39 H69)

With a slightly lighter touch and perhaps a bit less detail, Gertrude Bell: Queen of the Desert, Shaper of Nations could have been a real page turner.

Born into a wealthy industrialist family, Gertrude Bell (1868-1926) used her wealth to travel extensively in the Middle East. She was no Victorian-lady traveler: she was a fearless mountain climber; learned Arabic, Persian, and Turkish; taught herself the practical the skills of archaeology--measuring, recording findings, photography, and map making. Her detailed maps of the Bedouin tribal lands in Iraq were used to draw the present-day boundaries of Iraq.

She came to love the Middle East, particularly Baghdad and settled there in 1917. She built a house with beautiful gardens (probably now in the Green Zone) and assumed several posts for the British government after they assumed control of Mesopotamia during World War I. She attended the Cairo Conference after the war to determine the future of the Middle East and supported the controversial decision to install Faisal of Syria as the first king of Iraq.

Late, she established the Iraq Museum, plundered after the U.S. invasion in 2003. She died and was buried in Baghdad in 1926.

The author used Ms. Bell's personal papers, journals, diary, letters saved by her parents and friends, her published works, as well as other material.

~ Anne Lesher, Reference Librarian for Reference Services

McCartney, Layton, The Teapot Dome Scandal. Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc, 2008. (E785 .M38 2008)

The Teapot Dome Scandal is authoring Layton McCartney's latest foray into the world of graft and corruption. He previously penned the bestseller Friends in High Places: The Bechtel Story-The Most Secret Corporation and How It Engineered the World.

McCartney skillfully chronicles this "tempest in a teapot" by presenting a complex account of the scandal interwoven with an entertaining and at times course back-story. This lurid tale spanned two presidential administrations, and resulted in a congressional investigation, arrests, incarceration, murder and suicide among the key players of the scandal.

The story revolves around two petroleum preserves set aside on-protected lands (Teapot Dome in Wyoming and Elk Hills in California) that were set aside for use by the U.S. Navy. In 1920 Americans were enjoying a post WWI prosperity and purchasing gas and diesel powered automobiles with lightening speed. Oil barons saw the opportunity to cash in on the growing demand for oil and wanted access to the protected oil preserves. To gain access "big oil" handpicked a presidential candidate (the hapless Senator Warren G. Harding of Ohio), poured money into his campaign and "bought" his election. Once in power, the "Ohio gang" handpicked one of their own (Albert Fall) as secretary of the interior. Fall wrenched control of the oil preserves away from the navy and put them under his control. Oil Barons were only too happy to pony up bribes to gain access to the lucrative commodity and officials in the Harding administration were only too happy to accept them. Also on the take were the minions who helped in the money laundering and newspapers that were paid to cover up the story. Eventually the fraud was discovered and the principals involved either refused to cooperate with the Congressional Committee or left the country. Government and other documents "disappeared". One of the committee members, Montana Senator Thomas J. Walsh, pursued what looked like a futile investigation for years until he made a realization that was the undoing of another Presidential administration: follow the money.

New records on the scandal were made available to McCartney The book includes extensive notes, a bibliography and an index.

~ Anne Marie Hules, Reference Librarian for Library and Information Science

Silber, John. Architecture of the Absurd: How "Genius" Disfigured a Practical Art. NY: Quantuck Land Press, 2007. Eng.Ar. NA 2542.4 S53 2007

John Silber, the former President and Chancellor of Boston University, is not known for keeping his opinions to himself. In this short book, he discusses what he sees as the trend toward architects putting their "artistic vision" and the advancement of their careers above the needs of their clients - functional, aesthetic, and economic.

Silber starts with a discussion of "absurdist architecture" and "genius worship," most notably in the writings of Sigfried Giedion who linked Picasso, Braque and LeCorbusier as working toward a new conception of space tied to Einstein's work on relativity (though Silber says Nietzsche probably had a bigger impact). LeCorbusier took this to extremes, according to Silber, in his proposal in 1932 to raze and rebuild the city of Algiers (which had invited his suggestions on plans for the city's renewal).

Silber's strongest criticism for the "genius" architect is pointed at some of the most recognizable names in the field today - Josep Lluis Sert, Daniel Libeskind, and Frank Gehry. All three, according to Silber, have insisted on their role as artist, and have convinced clients to commission buildings that did not serve the purpose for which they were built (Gehry's Stata Center at MIT and Libeskind's Jewish Museum, for example), didn't pay attention to the surrounding area (Sert's Peabody Terrace at Harvard and Sherman Student Union at BU [built before Silber's arrival], and Gehry's Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles) and had huge cost overruns (200 and 300 percent over budget is not untypical of all three).

Silber is also critical of the cities, universities, and other nonprofits who commission the architects. These entities, Silber says, "yearn to house their institutions in iconic buildings." Because the decisions are made by people who are "not spending their own money, who take no personal financial risk, and who often lack the knowledge and experience in building necessary to ensure that the needs of the institution are met." They have allowed these "geniuses" free reign to fulfill their artistic ambitions and build "absurd" projects that get a lot of attention. He points out that one of Gehry's more recent projects, the IAC headquarters in New York, was built for a corporate client, is attractive, usable, and came in on budget - the client had a different stake.

It should be noted that Silber is not a professional architect - he is a philosopher who taught aesthetics, and as the son of an architect worked in his father's office. This book is a very personal criticism. It is a useful counter to the laudatory media attention that the architects tend to garner. And at about 90 pages, with lots of illustrations, it's a quick read.

~ Kitty Tynan, Assistant Director for Public Services

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New Staff

(l to r) Shanyun Zhang, Head of Electronic Services; Robin Pike, Audio Visual Archivist;
Jonathan M. Smith, Electronic Services Librarian

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Staff Notes

Nirmal L. Gomes, Technical Services Technician, was chosen International Scholar Winner for the month of April by CUA's Center for Global Education. You can find this information visiting the following web site:

On Sunday, June 8th, the Cantata Chamber Singers with the Holton-Arms School Chorus, will be performing the world premier of CUA's Music Librarian Maurice Saylor's musical composition The Hunting of the Snark: An Agony in Eight Fits. Please contact Maurice Saylor (CUA's Music Librarian) () if you would like to purchase tickets or want information about the event.

Kaitlyn Amedio, Circulation Services/Interlibrary Loan Supervisor, is engaged to David DeStefano. The happy couple is planning a June 2009 wedding.

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The editors would like to the thank the following contributors to the Spring 2008 Newsletter:

Anne Lesher, Sarah New

Content Editor: Anne Marie Hules, Reference Librarian

Web Editor: Jonathan M. Smith, Electronic Resources Assistant

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