Archive for September, 2018

Fantastic voyages

September 25th, 2018
The cover page of Aurora Australis, featuring an illustration by George Marston.
The cover page of Aurora Australis, featuring an illustration by George Marston. Houghton Library/Public Domain

Articles about a couple of books caught my eye today. Both feature fantastic voyages, though one was real and one entirely fictional.

The first book, Aurura Australis, was the first ever printed in Antarctica — written, illustrated, AND printed by bored and lonely sailors aboard the Nimrod on the first of Ernest Shackleton’s Antarctic expeditions, in 1908. They printed 100 copies on “whatever they had handy, including old crates of food, cleaned and planed down… (The particular copy up for sale says “OATMEALâ€� on the inside front cover, and is “backed in leather from a horse harness,â€� according to Bonham’s.)”

Nimrod copyright
The copyright page of Aurora Australis. Houghton Library/Public Domain

The expedition artist George Marston illustrated the book. … Shackleton served as editor, and solicited submissions from the crew. He chose to include everything from an interview with an Emperor Penguin to a tongue-in-cheek, faux-Biblical account of the expedition. In one chapter, an anonymous messman details the trials and tribulations of his job. In another, the geologist Douglas Mawson describes an journey to an imaginary place called Bathybia, hidden inside an Antarctic volcano, where fungi grow and temperatures reach a balmy 70 degrees. (You can read the entire digitized book over at

Read more about it at atlas obscura.

It was Marston who made the beautiful paintings you may have seen of Shackleton’s later expedition, that of the Endurance. He was a sensitive artist and evidently a great book designer! How I’d love to see this book up close. Alas, one of only 100 copies made, it is destined for other libraries, expected to fetch between $70,000 and $100,000 at auction.

There’s a new book, though, that I can hardly wait to read. In an excerpt from The Writer’s Map: An Atlas of Imaginary Lands (coming soon!) author Robert Macfarlane muses about Robert Louis Stevenson’s great Treasure Island, a place imagined powerfully and in detail by probably millions of children for more than a century. I know I was one of them! Poring over and over the map in my copy of that ultimate seafaring tale was one of my first experiences in being transported by a book.

Treasure Island
Peaks and pirates … A detail from a version of Robert Louis Stevenson’s map by Monro Orr in 1934. Photograph: 14597/The British Library Board

In another excerpt from The Writer’s Map, Harry Potter movie production designer Miraphora Mina wrote of the Marauder’s Map that she created,

Everything was handmade, cut, drawn and delicately sewn and glued. That’s it really: ink, paper and a great deal of care. Through the course of the films I probably made 20 copies as props. I often regretted it being so intricate, but there is no other way to make something that is beautiful and that can honour a book people love so much.

Marauder's Map
Miraphora Mina’s Marauder’s Map from Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004). Photograph: Jill Mead for the Guardian

As Macfarlane wrote, nowadays we think tend to think of cartography as a science; but before that, cartography was an art. These two books remind us that creative minds and hands can make maps and paintings and books that launch many a fantastic inner voyage.

Gleeson Library Meets This Year’s Muscat Scholars

September 25th, 2018

Fall 2018 Semester started early for Gleeson Library | Geschke Learning Resource Center as we prepared to meet an amazing cohort of incoming freshmen from the Muscat Scholars Program once again this year.

The Muscat Scholars Program (MSP) is an academic program at USF named in memory of School of Management Professor and Associate Dean Eugene Muscat, and is directed by Charlene Lobo Soriano, Associate Dean, Retention and Persistence Programs. The program begins the two weeks before the Fall semester starts.

MSP, according to its mission statement, “helps incoming first generation college freshmen achieve their goals by introducing them to academic expectations at USF and helping them design their own unique path to success. The program also aims to prepare students to thrive in the University of San Francisco’s multicultural environment and to become leaders in the USF community.â€� Eugene Muscat was, himself, a first generation college student at USF.

Gleeson Library | Geschke Learning Resource Center has participated in the MSP program for several years. This year, librarians taught four sections of the program’s Information Literacy course, which is comprised of four 1-hour and 45-minute class periods. Teaching in the Muscat Scholars Program gives Gleeson librarians the opportunity to expand their information literacy lesson plans — which are typically geared towards delivering stand-alone 1-2 hour library sessions during the school year. Librarians who teach in the Muscat Scholars program also welcome the chance to get know students more so than they are able to in one-time workshops.

In this year’s program, students and librarians discussed topics such as asking good research questions, recognizing the information lifecycle, evaluating information, viewing scholarship as a conversation, and understanding the importance of academic integrity.  

A couple of the Muscat Information Literacy sections also spent some time making zines about themselves – their identities, experiences, and cultures – at the Gleeson Zine Library. While collaging, drawing, and writing, they discussed how authority is constructed, the biases of information creation and dissemination, and how zines and zine culture can provide a platform for the expression of underrepresented voices.

Muscat Scholars explored many of the library’s physical and online collections and resources, through activities such as a self-guided library scavenger hunt and discussion board posts about the library’s databases and digital collections.

Muscat scholars commenting on each other's infographic work.
Muscat Scholars Infographic Review and End of Session Party

For the culminating project of the Information Literacy course, MSP students designed infographics about library resources and services. Teams of students from each Information Literacy section interviewed Gleeson staff about areas of the library such as Research and Reference Services, Archives, Games and Activities, and Electronic Resources. The teams were then tasked with drafting a visually engaging infographic highlighting the area of the library that they visited.

The entire Muscat Scholars cohort convened in Gleeson during the last class period of Information Literacy to display their infographics and comment upon each other’s work. Library Dean Tyrone Cannon circulated around the room, taking photos of the impressive posters and talking to students about their projects. The college lives of these posters, like the academic careers of the students who created them, are off to a stellar start: the library is looking for ways to use some of the library infographics to help introduce other USF students to the library and all that it has to offer.

It’s Banned Books Week!

September 24th, 2018

“Censorship is the child of fear and the father of ignorance.�- Laurie Halse Anderson, Speak

In late September of 1989, Banned Books Week was founded by 1st Amendment library activist Judith Krug. Krug was contacted by the Association of American Publishers with the idea to bring banned books to the attention of average American readers. Banned Books Week is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read and to bring awareness about censorship in American states, counties, and school districts. It highlights the fundamental value of free and open access to information for all who seek it.


Classics like The Great Gatsby, The Catcher in the Rye, To Kill a Mockingbird, and As I Lay Dying face threats of banning and censorship up to today. One of my favorite banned books is In Cold Blood by Truman Capote, a nonfiction account of the 1959 murders of the Herbert Clutter family in the small farming community of Holcomb, Kansas. This true crime  novel has been officially banned 4 times in the states of California and Georgia by several school districts since its publication; In Cold Blood faces continuous challenges due to concerns of how sex, violence, and profanity is depicted.

Capote constructs the beginnings of literary true crime with his detail of the murder and the investigation that led to the capture, trial, and execution of the killers. He creates an atmosphere of heart stopping suspense and surprising empathy. In Cold Blood is a work that effectively retells a crime, all while making  poignant commentary on the way Americans view and interact with brutal violence. The narrative bounces from a number of different perspectives from the killers themselves to locals and investigators. Bewitched by the crime and story itself, Capote writes about his experience investigating Holcomb, Kansas and states, “[y]ou exist in a half-world suspended between two superstructures, one self-expression and the other self-destruction.” 


The appeal of In Cold Blood isn’t who killed the Clutter family, those details are made clear from the start of the story; the most captivating aspect of the story is how he manages to make the story scary and relevant, even though you know the end. His attention to every moment, every single detail make the text a living breathing thing.

Post by Tatum Myers – Reference Student Assistant


What Reference Students are Reading: Pt. 1

September 21st, 2018

Here’s a book review by Reference student assistant Juliana Molina!

Scene from the adaptation performed at the American Conservatory Theater.

A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini is a historical fiction novel that takes place in many cities across Afghanistan and tells the stories of two girls, Mariam and Laila. Though they are years apart in age, their stories intertwine in a heart-wrenching way. This novel is notable due to Hosseini’s writing style and characterization. It tells a beautiful story during a terrifying time before the Soviet invasion in Afghanistan, and segways into post-Soviet society. Hosseini himself is of Afghan descent; an important theme he portrays throughout this novel is the significance of educated women in a society.Though it does have romantic and platonic love subplots, the overarching theme details the strength of the Afghan people. Here are some quotes that reflect the perseverance of the society:

  • “‎I know you’re still young but I want you to understand and learn this now. Marriage can wait, education cannot. You’re a very very bright girl. Truly you are. You can be anything you want Laila. I know this about you. And I also know that when this war is over Afghanistan is going to need you as much as its men maybe even more. Because a society has no chance of success if its women are uneducated Laila. No chance.â€�

  • “I’m sorry,” Laila says, marveling at how every Afghan story is marked by death and loss and unimaginable grief. And yet, she sees, people find a way to survive, to go on.â€�

  • “And the past held only this wisdom: that love was a damaging mistake, and its accomplice, hope, a treacherous illusion. And whenever those twin poisonous flowers began to sprout in the parched land of that field, Mariam uprooted them. She uprooted them and ditched them before they took hold.â€�

I highly recommend this book, it gives readers a different view of the world and leaves a lasting mark. It is well worth picking up!

Happy Constitution Day!

September 17th, 2018

USF Votes LogoIn honor of Constitution Day, we are celebrating voting rights at Gleeson Library. Come visit our display near the entrance to Thacher Gallery where we have books from our collection on the history of voting rights and voter engagement in the United States. While you’re here, pick-up a pocket constitution, a Ben Franklin tattoo, and get information on where to register to vote. Or just click here to register to vote!

“Constitution Day� celebrates the ratification of the U.S. Constitution on September 17, 1787. On this day, 231 years ago, the delegates to the Constitutional Convention gathered in Philadelphia, PA to sign this landmark document. The Constitution established our national government and fundamental laws, and continues to guarantee basic rights for U.S. citizens. The Bill of Rights became part of the U.S. Constitution in 1791.

Check out Gleeson Library’s Constitution Day Guide to online resources and our Voting and Elections Guide.