Friends of the Old Dominion University Libraries

FoL Newsletter May 2008

He Talks as Well as He Writes

Joe JacksonFOL Board member Joe Jackson will discuss his latest book on Wednesday, May 21, at 7 p.m. in Room 151 of the Perry Library. A master storyteller, Joe has created another non-fiction account that reads like a mystery. The Thief at the End of the World: Rubber, Power, and the Seeds of Empire is the story of how 19th century British explorer Henry Wickham absconded with the seeds of Brazil’s most valuable natural product. The theft would eventually lead to the collapse of the Amazon’s rubber economy.

Joe is the author of six books (in-cluding a novel) and a five-time Pulitzer Prize nominee. Before turning his talents to books, he was an investigative reporter at The Virginian-Pilot for 12 years. Joe lives in Virginia Beach with his wife, Kathy Merlock Jackson, son, Nick, and a clumsy dog.

Joe’s insights and wry sense of humor make this an evening you won’t want to miss. 

The event is free and open to the public. FREE (yes, free) parking is available in Parking Garage B (off of 43rd Street) after 6:30 p.m.  For more info, contact Fern McDougal at 683-4146 or

The University Village Bookstore will have copies of Joe’s book for sale at the lecture.

Calling All Members

The annual Friends of the Libraries Membership Meeting is slated for June 9 at 5:30 p.m. in room 151 of Perry Library. We’ll review the past year, elect a board of officers and begin to make plans for the Friends’ 15th anniversary celebration later this year. There’s no 2-for-1 dinner deal for early birds, but if you come early, you can catch a tour of the library and check out the latest additions. Refreshments will be served.

A Very Special Collection

The Old Dominion University Libraries has recently acquired a major collection of material from the Norfolk Public Schools covering the integration of schools from 1951 to 1991. The collection is staggering both in terms of its sheer volume (nearly 36,000 pages) and historical significance.

“This is living history,” said Sonia Yaco, Special Collections Librarian and University Archivist.  “It’s the actual writing and words of the people who lived it as it was happening. To have a collection of public records on this scale is a rarity.This is just a wonderful acquisition for the library and the community.”

The 40-year period, from the years leading up to integration to the end of enforced busing, was perhaps the most volatile era in Norfolk history.

On September 27, 1958, some four years after the Brown vs. Board of Education Supreme Court case ordering school desegregation, six Norfolk public schools closed as part of Virginia’s program of “Massive Resistance.” Some 10,000 students were displaced.

The schools opened five months later. On February 2, 1959, 17 African American students, who came to be known as “The Norfolk 17,” entered the once all-white schools, marking the beginning of school integration in Norfolk.

The collection includes correspondence, including the letter from Governor Lindsay Almond ordering the Norfolk schools to close. There are also court cases, school board resolutions, memoranda, recollections, statistical testing data, artifacts and maps. The collection further enhances Old Dominion’s growing reputation as a research library for scholars from all over the country, said Yaco. “We’re the only university in Virginia to have these types of public school records.”

Many of these materials will be digitized and added to a digital collection that will be available by the end of May, titled “School Desegregation in Norfolk, Virginia.”

Under the direction of Karen Vaughan of the Digital Initiatives Team at the library, the digital project has been a huge undertaking.  In 2004, the team began assembling and digitizing materials relating to Massive Resistance and desegregation from several of the library’s manuscript collections. Nearly 3,000 pages of correspondence, news articles and primary source materials are available to the public through a library Web site. Oral history interviews with some of the major figures of the time, including integration champion Ruth James, Vivian Carter-Mason, and A. Rufus Tonelson, principal of Maury High School during the period of Massive Resistance, are also included.

“The Web site will be available to scholars and researchers, both locally and nationally, teachers, students and anyone who wants to know the ‘whole’ story of Virginia’s desegregation,” said Vaughan.

It’s one more reason to be a proud member of the Friends of the Old Dominion University Libraries.

Library Honors Employees of the Year

Tonia Graves was named Librarian of the Year and Kathryn Boone Support Staff Member of the Year.  The pair were honored at a reception earlier this month. You could write a book or two about their commitment and service to the Library and students.

Tonia, who has been at ODU since 1998, serves as the Electronic Resources and Serial Services Librarian. Her nomination cited her not only her technical knowledge but also her "people skills."  She has been a member of the North American Serial Interest Group where she has sat on committees, presented at conferences and published.  Tonia has been active on library committees and teams and is involved with the campus community as an advisor in the LADDERS program for students, as well as serving as the Libraries’ representative for Community Care Day.

Library Employees of the Year

For 25 years, Kathryn has been the "go to" person at the library for both colleagues and students.  Her nomination highlighted her "above-and-beyond" customer service.  Kathryn has served as a leader for many of the Library’s activities, including the book sale and the staff development committee.  She has also been active in the Virginia Library Association's Paraprofessional Forum.

An Evening of Food and Food for Thought

The 14th Annual Author Dinner in April was a filling experience for the more than 60 Friends of the Mike D'OrsoLibraries and “friends of Friends” who attended.

Featured speaker Mike D’Orso took us on his personal journey through the tangled world of book publishing.  It’s a world D’Orso knows well.  Mike has written 15 books, his most recent “Eagle Blue: A Team, A Tribe, and A High School Basketball Season in Artic Alaska.”  It was selected a 2007 Alex Award winner by The American Library Association as one of 10 adult books that will appeal to teens.

Among his other books are “Walking With the Wind,” written with civil rights leader and current Congressman John Lewis, winner of the Robert Kennedy Book Award, and “Body for Life,” the best selling fitness book of all time.

While D’Orso presented statistics reflecting a declining readership among the American public and concern the publishing industry has become more about “industry” than “books,’ he said has not lost faith in the power of books.  “I remain, in the words of Martin Luther King, when interviewed shortly before his death, ‘a prisoner of hope’ for the future of books and readers.”

Dr. Lawrence J. Hatab, professor of philosophy and a teacher at Old Dominion University for 32 years, was presented the Friends of the Old Dominion University Libraries Outstanding Achievement Award.

University Librarian Virginia S. O’Herron spoke about the number of major research and special collections obtained by ODU in the last year that further the mission to become the best research library in the state.

Thanks to the University Bookstore for their help making the evening a success.

Editors: Fred Kirsch - Lisa Suhay