Category Archives: what we’re reading

Academics in Congress

Who would have thunk it? Two professors from Randolph Macon College, Dave Brat and  Jack Trammell, will face off in this year’s congressional race in the 7th district of Virginia. The higher education community is watching and so can you. Follow the race (and others!) at our Elections subject guide and at the Chronicle of Higher Education.

The good folks at the Chronicle got to thinking, “how often does this happen? So they turned to the authoritative biographical source about Congress: the
Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, available both in paper and online. The Biographical Directory not only contains short biographies of our representatives, but also the apportionment  of congressmen and information about each congress (date, executive officers, officers of the House and Senate). The Chronicle mined the data and developed a sortable table of academics who have served in Congress.

By what stop there? Check out other resources about “our tax dollars at work” in Washington. Search our catalog by subject heading United States Congress Biography for more books and check out the reference collection about Congress which has more fascinating facts about Congress. My personal favorite:  Vital Statistics on Congress, available both in print and online.

Happy reading!

Kennedy-Nixon debate

Today is the anniversary of the famous Kennedy Nixon debate. On September 26, 1960, the first-ever televised Presidential debate occurred between Senator John F. Kennedy and Vice President Richard Nixon. These debates had a huge impact on politics because it provided the American people with the opportunity to watch their candidate go head-to-head on important issues. Check out our video of the debate, then read more about it.

The transcript of the debate are available at the American Presidency Project from UC Santa Barbara, one of my favorite websites for presidential information. The history of televised presidential debates televised debate history : 1960-2000 might make good reading. Click on the subject headings for even more books.

Brahms’ Requiem

I meant to post this entry on April, 3rd, the anniversary of Johannes Brahm’s death, but life somehow intervened!

I’m currently in rehearsal to perform the Brahms’ Ein Duetsches Requiem for the 4th time. I’ve come to the conclusion that it is the world’s best “ear worm” (a piece of music that gets stuck in your head). I find myself hearing snippets as I fall asleep, upon awakening, and at odd moments during the day. Now, perhaps you think that this isn’t normal, and perhaps it isn’t, but since it doesn’t happen with other pieces of music that I perform, I think I’m OK. To my mind, the phenomenon is understandable.

The Requeim is unlike most – it is not a setting of the traditional requiem mass. And, IMHO, that is its source of power. Free of the requirement to scare the bejeebers out of us (no Dies Irae, for example), Brahms concentrates on comfort, in music that ranges from meditative to lyrical to thrilling.

On the way home from rehearsal the other night, my choirmates and I were discussing our favorite movements, and as might be anticipated, there was no agreement. Mine is the 2nd movement, which opens with a stately funeral march (“All flesh is as the grass  … The grass withereth…”), moves through a dancelike setting of “Therefore be patient …”,  a fugue (“The redemeed of the Lord shall return …”) and closes with a wonderful setting of “they shall obtain joy and gladness …” with the chorus providing a curtain of sound over a glorious ascending scale in the orchestra.

Now doubt about it, the Requiem is beautiful, comforting, a bear to sing (at least for this soprano), and worth everyone moment.

Read more about Brahms in the libraries’ subscription to Oxford Music Online, about the Requiem, and check out a recording, even if you only listen to the 2nd movement 😉

“Hölle, wo ist dein stieg” indeed.

February is Black History Month

Professor Manning Marable was the founding director of Colgate’s Africana & Latin American Studies program.  He died in April, 2011, just days before the release of his critically acclaimed biography Malcolm X:  A Life of Reinvention.

The book has been described by Wil Haygood in the Washington Post as going “… deeper and richer than a mere homage to Malcolm X. It is a work of art, a feast that combines genres skillfully: biography, true-crime, political commentary. It gives us Malcolm X in full gallop, a man who died for his belief in freedom, a man whom Marable calls the ‘fountainhead’ of the black power movement in America.”

This and dozens of other works by Professor Marable are available at the Colgate University Libraries by searching the library catalog by author/Marable, Manning.

Russell Hoban 1925-2011

I found in my email this morning sad news. One of my favorite authors, Russell Hoban, died yesterday.

I was one of a privileged few who subscribed to his cult fan-club email group, the-Kraken.  Besides discussing the books and sharing the joy of finding another mention of Russ’s works in the larger world out there, the-Kraken celebrated Russ’s birthday, each Feb. 4, by participating in the SA4QE – Slickman A4 (paper) Quotation Event, documented here.  May you all have a writer in your life whose words so inspire you to celebrate mystery and humanity.




A peak at the Library of Congress with Henry Rollins

As you prepare for the inevitable end of the semester mad crush here at the library, maybe you would enjoy a few words from Mr. Rollins, blogging at LA Weekly about his visit to the National Archives and the Library of Congress. He got to peek at a few of our national treasures. As he says,

I know that collector types can be a pain in the neck and seem perpetually frozen in time — or at least in their parents’ basement — but someone has to look out for the past, lest it slip away forever.

We may not have an early draft of the Bill of Rights at Colgate but we do have some treasures. A first edition of Darwin’s On the Origin of Species and a copy of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol illustrated by Arthur Rackham, for example.

Summer Reading 2011

Tis the season for bbq, beaches, and hopefully some fireworks. In addition, it might be your moment to take some time and read for pleasure. Do you do this anymore? If so, where? I’ve been experimenting with reading on the iPad, and it’s not so bad. It’s unlikely to ever replace the tactile sensation of print for me, but during this season of travel, it’s convenience wins. How about you? Where do you do your reading these days? Does it depend on what you’re reading?

If you’re looking for some suggestions as to what to read, you could start with the New York Public Library’s Summer Reading Program. They’ve put out a list for adults. We’ve got several of the titles at Case-Geyer, including The Bad Girl and The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet. Nancy Pearl, of the Seattle Public Library and library figurine (with shushing action) fame, also has a list of 10 Terrific Summer Reads up on NPR. She’s included a set of graphic novels, Castle Waiting I and II. We’ve got the first. Did you know that we have graphic novels? Castle Waiting I is not alone on the shelf.

If we haven’t got something you’re looking for, Connect NY might have it.

I’ll be reading Bossypants and listening to The Harrow and the Harvest, Gillian Welch’s first new album in almost 10 years. What about you?


Tour de France

This is the annual contest that I wait for every summer, the Tour de France. And what a start it has been! With the prologue and 2 stages complete (haven’t seen today’s stage 3 results yet – that’s for tonight’s re-broadcast), there has already been numerous crashes, and some big names are out of the competetion. Everyone held their breath at the end of stage 1, when crash after crash took down competitors, one crash bringing the entire peleton to a stop. In stage 2, the combination of rain and oil leaked from an officials motorcylce took down numerous favorites and took Christian Vandevelde (broken ribs) and Frank Schleck out the race!

What’s in store: today was cobblestones (hopefully, they had a dry day), then more than 3,000 km of “flat”, mountains, and an individual time trial. I wish they’d bring back the team time trials, there’s nothing quite so beautiful as a well executed team stage. It all cumulates in the final triumphant (and heart stopping) finale down the Champs Elysees.

Follow the action on the official Tour de France website, and for those of us following on TV, Versus (Time Warner channels 50 and 803). In the libraries, you can also catch news from databases like LexisNexis Academic and Access World News International, or check out books in our catalog on cycling, bicycle racing, or the Tour itself.

Government Document(s) of the month: in memory of Robert Byrd

Early today, the U.S. Senate’s longest serving member, Robert Byrd (D – West Virginia), died at Inova Fairfax Hospital. Perhaps best know for his knowledge of and passion for the Constitution (he is reported to have always carried a copy on the Senate floor), he was also a fiddle player, and the author of 5 books: The Senate, 1789-1989; The Senate of the Roman Republic:  Addresses on the History of Roman ConstitutionalismLosing America: Confronting A Reckless and Arrogant PresidencyRobert C. Byrd: Child of the Appalachian Coalfields;  and Letter to a New President, co-authored with Steve Kettmann. Colgate owns most of these books, the majority of which are official U.S. government documents. Take a look at them in our catalog, and then in person.

There is a lengthy obituary about Byrd in the Washington Post, and more information about him is available on the Senate website.

As might be expected, speeches about Byrd came quickly in Congress. You can read those by going to and search for Byrd in the Congressional Record daily. I’d limit your results to after June 27, 2010 and add terms like remembering, condolences, and memorium. Try this link, and see if it gets you there (don’t know if FDSys has durable URLs).

2010 World Cup

That quadrennial sporting event beloved by the world and ingored by a significant number of Americans, is underway in South Africa. If you haven’t found your way to watch the matches or stay up to date on the news and events, check out our list of online and TV sources. Have a good one that isn’t listed? Post a comment with the link and I’ll add it our webpage.