Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Groundbreaking Events

The room fills...anticipation builds...
Last Thursday, January 28, 2010, was an auspicious day for the Russell Library. It marked the beginning of a new era for special collections at the University of Georgia Libraries, as it brought faculty and staff as well as donors and board members together at the groundbreaking ceremony for the new Special Collections Building.

The new structure, slated for completion in 2011, will house the Russell Library, the Walter J. Brown Media Archives and Peabody Awards Collection, and the Hargrett Rare Books and Manuscripts Library. In addition to increased storage capacity for our growing collections, the building will provide expanded exhibition areas for each special collection. For us at the Russell, that means a more prominent role for our exhibitions program, expanded spaces for public programming, and a new oral history gallery and on-site recording studio…and that is just for starters. As a staff, we understand that the next year will involve a lot of work on our part as we relocate our holdings to this new facility (on the corner of Hull Street and Florida Avenue), but we also look forward to our new surroundings and the opportunities this building can open up for the Russell Library.

Blackmon preparing for the lecture
In addition to the groundbreaking, the Russell Library also hosted a prestigious speaker for several events on campus last Thursday. Douglas Blackmon, Atlanta Bureau Chief of the Wall Street Journal, won the Pulitzer Prize in 2009 for his book Slavery By Another Name: The Re-Enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War II. Blackmon graciously served as the speaker for two events sponsored by the Russell. At 2:00PM he led an informal discussion in our auditorium describing his research methodology for Slavery By Another Name, followed by a more formal lecture at the Miller Learning Center at 4:30 titled “A Persistent Past: Reckoning with Racial History in the Era of Obama.” Blackmon is an amazing storyteller and kept the audience spellbound with tales from his youth in the Mississippi Delta and his thoughts on dealing with a painful history even as we celebrate the election of the first African American President of the United States. How do we deal with a persistent past? Blackmon said the first step is acknowledgement because there are still so many stories out there to be unearthed and understood in a broader context.
Russell Library Director, Sheryl Vogt,
provides the introduction

In the clips below, Blackmon begins his talk by answering one of the most frequent questions he is asked at speaking engagements, how he became interested in this history. He recounts his experiences in a seventh grade essay contest, and later a speech competition, where he incited "strange adult behavior" with his investigation of a farm labor strike a decade prior.

Post-lecture book signing

There's more where this came from, and in the next few days we’ll post the full version of the talk on our website HERE. Check back soon!

Post by Jan Levinson, Assistant Outreach Archivist, Russell Library.

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