Dean's Update: Joining the Drexel 125th Anniversary Celebrations
I write this month’s update just hours before the campus grand celebration of the University’s founding 125 years ago. The Libraries has enabled many to join the history bandwagon; a few highlights of its contributions follow.
The University Archives, an important department within the Libraries, offers a wealth of evidence to tell the many historic stories shared on the occasion of our anniversary. Elsewhere in this issue of In Circulation you can read Archivist Matthew Lyons’ account of the very recent and exciting return to campus of the 1861 property indenture document that conveyed land to build the Drexel Institute where today’s Main Building stands. In celebration of the anniversary, the Archives staff also mounted an exhibit of images marking historic moments in the University’s history, featuring several published in the anniversary book, Building Drexel: the University and its City, 1891 – 2016 [Richardson Dilworth and Scott Knowles, editors. Philadelphia: Temple University Press 2016]. The exhibit is now on display in the W. W. Hagerty Library lobby.
Now in its fifth year, the Libraries’ quarterly ScholarSip event is also focusing on the 125th anniversary. The first of the year’s gatherings was held on December 5th in the Academic Bistro. Over 60 attended to hear Professor Dillworth add “food for thought” from his experience in editing the collection of essays that compose the anniversary book. This record-breaking attendance was in part the result of the Alumni Relations Office’s co-sponsorship of this ScholarSip. Over a dozen participants were alumni, with six no longer working or studying at Drexel but simply interested in coming back to campus to join colleagues while learning a bit about the University’s interdisciplinary research. The winter and spring ScholarSip events will feature “food for thought” from other contributors to the anniversary publication—Vice President Susan Aldridge will share her research on the history of online education, and CoAS faculty member Cordelia Biddle will tell her story of writing the family history of her ancestor and Drexel founder, Anthony J. Drexel.
This past month the Libraries also launched its ScholarSnack series. Similar to ScholarSip, it aims to build cross-campus community and share experiences in interdisciplinary research. ScholarSnack—featuring pretzels—invites Drexel students to add the “food for thought” from their experiences in exploring information and data in their research. The first session was held December 1st in the W. W. Hagerty Bookmark Café. About a dozen students, staff and faculty came to hear College of Arts and Sciences students Jason Ludwig [a graduate student working with the Center for Science, Technology and Society] and Bucky Stanton [an alum who recently earned his undergraduate degree in history]. They shared their experiences doing research in the University Archives as they helped prepare the anniversary book and ended up co-authoring one of its chapters. Their presentation attracted interest from another handful of students studying in this library social space who took a break to learn about their university’s history.
Preserving the past through archival records, publications and artifacts is an important mission of the Libraries. But these are just objects, until people engage with them to learn the stories that emerge from connecting the historic evidence they document. It is inspiring to see that the forethought of our predecessors to keep these materials has given us dynamic resources to reflect on the University’s origins, understand progress to evolve its mission and celebrate its anniversary this year!
As we also end the year, I extend best holiday wishes on behalf of the Drexel Libraries staff.
Danuta A. Nitecki
Dean of Libraries
Drexel alum Bucky Stanton presents on his research in the Archives during the Libraries' ScholarSnack event.
Drexel graduate student Jason Ludwig (right) discusses his Archival research during the opening of the Building Drexel exhibit celebrating Drexel's 125th anniversary.