Suzy Morgan began making books in high school – not writing or editing them, making them.
“I’m less interested in what the words say and more interested in what kind of paper a book is printed on – what does that feel like – and how the binding is done,” says Morgan, who manages the Conservation Lab in Hayden Library, where she repairs and preserves books and other materials as the ASU Library’s conservator.
Morgan is the creator of a new library exhibit called “What Is a Book?” that looks at books through a material lens, ignoring their intellectual value and instead appreciating them as things – made objects that come in a variety of formats and reveal fascinating histories of ownership, artistry, classification, craftsmanship and culture.
“There are so many ways a book can be,” says Morgan. “It can really go a lot of different directions.”
Morgan’s exhibit, located on the ground floor of Hayden Library, displays the full spectrum: big books shelved with tiny books, books that once were books but aren’t books anymore, pop-up books, artist’s books, and books with flaps and strings and other moving parts.
There is even a book earring.
“I’m not one of those people who has a favorite song or a favorite food. I like the variety,” says Morgan, who sees books as the ultimate cultural comfort item.
Even when unread, the presence of books – their colors, shapes, smells and textures – is meaningful to many. (Recently, the popular Oregon-based bookseller Powell’s City of Books released a book-scented fragrance.)
“Some books I have at home I’ve never read but someday will read,” says Morgan. “Some books literally become furniture. I have kept books only because they held up my monitor at the right level.”
Things she found in books
Morgan describes the Conservation Lab as a place of constant discovery, where she and her staff engage with a constant steam of diverse materials flowing in and out. (Morgan’s Twitter feed offers a glimpse of the work that gets carried out in the lab.)
All of the things people routinely shove into books, she says, eventually find their way out.
“I have a whole file of fun ephemera – math homework, postcards, Polaroids,” she says.
But what she really loves discovering are old books in fine condition – books that have somehow managed to survive without a scratch.
“I like finding a book that looks exactly like it did when it was made 200 years ago,” says Morgan. “Part of this exhibit is pulling back the curtain on the making of books. A lot of students are probably not familiar with the technology, or even the history of how books are made, and also how they fall apart.”
The exhibit “What Is a Book?” will be on display in Hayden Library through January 2021.
“We’ve had these collections and materials for years,” said Deborah Abston, a liaison librarian for the ASU Library's social science division. “Now is a good time to shine a light on them.”
Abston is among a circle of ASU librarians who came together, virtually, shortly after the murder of George Floyd, amidst the COVID-19 pandemic and the growing Black Lives Matter movement, to create a library guide with the intention that it might serve as a jumping off point for research and personal education about systemic racism in America.
“We are doing our best to provide the information that people need, in whatever form that needs to be,” said Abston.
The library guide points learners in all directions – to books, articles, films, podcasts, reports, courses and talks about the history of racial injustice – on everything from Jim Crow and the practice of redlining to the Tulsa race riots of 1921.
There are sections devoted to police violence data, resources for K-12 learners and information about ASU allies.
“We wanted to highlight educational, historical and self-care resources for all ages, and to help people shape their teaching and instruction,” said Rene Tanner, associate liaison librarian for the ASU Library's humanities division. “We also wanted to make it relevant to what’s going on here at ASU and in the United States.”
Abston says that while some of the terminology may be changing, the materials that the library has been collecting for decades has not.
“If you do a search for ‘Tulsa and race,’ the books that pop up are ones we’ve owned for a long time,” said Abston. “What happened in Tulsa close to a hundred years ago has always been called a riot, but really it was more like a massacre. The important thing is that people are starting to talk about it.”
The ASU Library’s statement of support for the Black community is featured on the front page: “We stand with the Black community of ASU and Arizona, and we will continue to support individuals as they speak their truth and document their stories of resiliency and acts of racism against marginalized communities across the state. We see you, we hear you, and you matter.”
A living document, the guide is updated weekly – and suggestions on how to improve it are welcome. The librarians say they’d like to see the guide used more widely for instruction, research and personal discovery.
“No one asked us to do this,” said Karen Grondin, a licensing and copyright librarian. “We decided ourselves that it needed to be done.”
Beginning this month, Sun Devils living outside of Maricopa County and on Native reservation lands can now request the shipment of library materials to their home residence free of charge.
The ASU Library's improved home delivery service now reaches areas that were previously excluded: zip codes in Maricopa County identified as tribal communities, all Phoenix areas outside of Maricopa County, and P.O. box and rural route addresses across the continental United States, including Alaska, Hawaii and Puerto Rico.
As part of the service, the ASU Library will cover the cost of shipping and the return cost. (See details.)
“Due to the lack of internet connectivity on most Native reservations, the home delivery of circulating library materials is vital during the pandemic,” said University Librarian Jim O’Donnell, who worked with a team of ASU librarians, including Jeston Morris, Alex Soto and Lorrie McAllister, in developing solutions for the hurdles that many Native communities face in accessing library resources.
The permanent changes to the home delivery policy are among a number of service updates the ASU Library has implemented during the COVID-19 pandemic, including extended hours for students seeking virtual librarian support and a collection of learning tools that have been made publicly accessible as part of ASU For You.
In honor of November being Native American Heritage Month, a team of student workers in the ASU Library's Labriola National American Indian Data Center have curated two book displays, one at Hayden Library and one at Fletcher Library, around six different themes that contribute to Indigenous self-empowerment and self-determination.
The #LandBack book displays, created by ASU student Mia Johnson, in collaboration with Lourdes Pereira and Shaleigh Yazzie, invite the ASU community to explore written works that can lead to a better understanding of Indigenous perspectives and Indigenous resiliency.
Part of a global movement demanding the return of all public lands to Indigenous people, #LandBack has gained notoriety on social media over the past year.
"The goals of the Land Back movement align with past Native activist movements, like the Red Power movement of the 1960s and 1970s, #IdleNoMore in 2012, and #NoDAPL in 2016," write the students. "As we celebrate Native American Heritage Month, the Labriola Center feels that it is improtant to remember who we are and why we fight. As Indigenous peoples, we need to center ourselves within our own communities in order to understand what #LandBack means to us. By doing so, we can come together to effectively advocate for our communities."
What does #LandBack mean to you?
#1 Education and History
Education is the biggest equalizer within Western society. It is the key to leading future generations into a progressive future. History is also a vital part of understanding how society is structured in today’s world, and it is important to know where we have been in order to choose the right path for the present. Unfortunately, Indigenous perspectives are typically left out of whitewashed educational systems, erasing the history of the Indigenous Peoples throughout the world. The histories of genocide, forced removal from ancestral territories, ethnic cleansing, historical trauma, and forced assimilation are not fully acknowledged by the dominant settler society. This perpetuates false narratives that there were no civilized societies before settlers came, and also omits that settlers raped and systematically murdered Indigenous Peoples and pillaged their land and resources. To this day, the United States school system does not educate its students on colonialism, leaving them ignorant of true Indigenous histories. For these reasons, books by and for Indigenous People are important to counteract settler narratives and to uplift Indigenous resiliency.
There are over 500 federally recognized tribes within the United States, each with their own sovereign powers and government to government relationship with states. The Indigenous Peoples who reside in the United States are not just an ethnicity, they are also a political entity.
Tribal nations in the United States each had their own sovereignty and forms of governance prior to colonization. Contemporary sovereignty means that tribal nations can self-govern how they see fit. The federal government is supposed to acknowledge tribal nations and their sovereignty to claim independent identity, determine citizenship, and be stewards of their lands. It is an ongoing fight for the federal government to uphold their legal promises to tribal nations, codified in treaties for many tribes. Since tribal nations are a political entity, knowledge of federal law and Indian law is crucial when fighting against the massive injustices that the Indigenous Peoples of North America have survived.
Indigenous Peoples pass down their stories and songs orally, often with the use of metaphor and rooted in deep knowledge of the natural world. This is how traditional knowledge has stayed within tribes from generation to generation. Indigenous literature, whether we are aware or not, is an extension of storytelling in contemporary times. Keeping these stories alive is not only important to culture, but also to remember why our people are strong and resilient. Humor is a key coping strategy for many Indigenous Peoples, and in many of the books selected here, readers will see examples of how Indigenous storytellers use humor to deflect pain, poke fun at stereotypes, and recognize our shared experiences. Stories set in contemporary times validate the humanity of Indigenous Peoples, and teach the realness of Indigineity to readers who may not have many other experiences with Indigenous Peoples.
#4 Language and Culture
It is impossible to learn Indigenous language without knowing the culture of the people. Traditional Indigenous languages teach Indigenous identity and offer a lens for viewing the land, food, patterns in nature, health, government, family, etc. Ancestral knowledge keeps Indigenous Peoples connected to their culture. Due to past Indigenous advocates, more schools offer Indigenous language classes. For instance, ASU offers Navajo and O’odham language classes. Learning the language is a way for Indigenous Peoples to revitalize their identity and deconstruct colonial structures, since English was forced onto the Indigenous Peoples of North America in order to assimilate them into colonial society. Keeping languages alive for future generations is a very important form of resilience.
#5 Music and Graphic Novels
Music and dance have always played major roles within Indigenous cultures. Traditional songs embody lifeways and contain teachings, and singing has always been a vital part of Indigeneity. Traditional songs unify ancestral knowledge and aesthetic expressions of spiritual experiences. In contemporary times, Indigenous Peoples have inserted their musical expressions and cultures through modern music styles. For example, Indigenous youth often connect with subcultures that use music as a resilience strategy and protective factor. Modern music plays a huge part in expressing the experiences of Indigenous Peoples as they assert their identities, and this has been channelled through hip-hop, punk, metal, country, jazz, electronica, and waila.
Similarly, many Native illustrators and authors have created graphic novels. The artwork in graphic novels makes it easier to visualize decolonial realities since it re-imagines Indigeneity. Archetypes that can be found across tribal (and world) cultures, such as Trickster, Twins, Little People, Witch, Devil/Horned Monster are often woven into the contemporary settings of graphic novels, as well as other timeless stories that many Indigenous Peoples share, such as flood stories, death/rebirth, pandemics, and morning star stories.
#6 Gender and Sexuality
Indigenous Peoples have always understood the range of genders and the spectrum of sexuality. The Puritanism of America’s first settlers was incorporated into later waves of colonization, and through processes of social change in Indigenous societies adapting to settlers, rigid views on gender and sexuality became entrenched in many Indigenous cultures. Any expressions of gender norms or sexuality that conflicted with the patriarchal and misogynist attitudes of settler society eventually came to be prohibited or discouraged in many tribal communities. Settler colonialism has obscured our original teachings about gender and sexuality. Decolonizing tribal perspectives on gender and sexuality is part of the solution to addressing gender-based and sexual violence in our communities.
Two book displays, one at Hayden Library and one at Fletcher Library, a writing workshop and a film screening are among some of the events hosted and co-hosted this month by the ASU Library’s Labriola National American Indian Data Center in celebration of Native American Heritage Month.
The month-long celebration at Arizona State University is an opportunity for various groups, many of them student-led, to provide a platform for Indigenous students to share their culture, traditions, values and solutions to build a stronger community.
See the full list of events in honor of Native American Heritage Month.
Calling all readers and writers!
Launched by ASU student Mia Johnson, in collaboration with Lourdes Pereira and Shaleigh Yazzie, the curated book displays at Fletcher Library and Hayden Library, titled #LandBack, invite the ASU community to explore indigenous authors and indigenous-focused fiction and non-fiction around six different themes that contribute to Indigenous self-empowerment and self-determination.
"We hope throughout this month, Indigenous and non-Indigenous people will gain a better understanding of Indigenous perspectives and Indigenous resiliency, and of how we survive and thrive in the 21st century," write the students.
Gansworth, a writer and visual artist, has published a dozen books, including the novels, “Apple” (Skin to the Core), "Mending Skins" (Pen Oakland Award) and "Extra Indians" (American Book Award, NAISA Book of the Year), the young adult novels, "If I Ever Get Out of Here" (Honor Award, American Indian Youth Literary Award; One Book, One Philadelphia 2020) and "Give Me Some Truth" (Whippoorwill Award). He has recorded audiobooks for recent books.
In partnership with American Indian Student Support Services and the student group Indigenius, the Labriola Center is proud to present a virtual screening of the film “Gathering,” an intimate portrait of the growing movement amongst Native Americans to reclaim their spiritual, political and cultural identities through food sovereignty while battling the trauma of centuries of genocide.
The film will be screening Friday, November 13 at 5 p.m. Register here for the virtual cinema experience.
Finally, the Labriola Center will collaborate with Community Driven Archives on a "Show and Share" event, Nov. 18, to share stories through photos on resiliency. More information to come on how to register.
Every year, the ASU Library takes a long, hard look at the world of scholarly publishing and traditional avenues for knowledge construction, and we ask ourselves: How can we make research more accessible and inclusive?
“Open with Purpose: Taking Action to Build Structural Equity and Inclusion” is the theme of this year’s international celebration of Open Access Week, a global, community-driven week of action to open up access to research.
This year’s theme is an invitation to examine the publishing ecosystem, both traditional scholarly publishing and newer open access models, and recognize that our systems and practices are built upon legacies of historic injustice. We acknowledge that many of the ways we communicate scholarship and research perpetuate inequities of participation and access and continue to dismiss historically marginalized ways of knowledge construction.
Looking for access to reliable information about the election?
The Wall Street Journal has partnered with ASU to provide free digital subscriptions to all students, faculty and staff, which now include a number of new election-related resources to keep you informed.
Talk 2020is a new tool that searches years of public statements so you can track the candidates’ positions over time, hone in on the issues and get your questions answered.
2020 Election+Business Newsletter is aweekly newsletter that dives into business, finance and the election, looking at how companies are tackling the challenges and opportunities of politics and policy.
In addition, there are number of virtual events on WSJ+ and an array of student resources at education.wsj.com.
The voter registration deadline in Arizona has changed from Oct. 5, 2020 to Oct. 15, giving voters more time to register and prepare to participate in the upcoming general election.
According to a 2018 report by the ASU Morrison Institute for Public Policy, 45 percent of eligible voters in Arizona did not cast a ballot in the 2016 general election – putting Arizona 43rd nationally for voter turnout – and more than 65 million potential voters in the United States reported that they were unable to vote in the 2016 general election due to not being registered.
Here are6 ways you can be #VoteReady:
Register to vote! (Duh!)
If you have never voted before, recently turned 18 or have become a U.S. citizen, you must register to vote if you want to cast a ballot in the upcoming national election.
Make a plan to vote!
Will you cast your ballot by mail or in person? If the latter, what forms of identification will you need to vote at your polling place? (And where is your polling place?) Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, it is even more critical that voters make a plan to vote this year. Use our handy (librarian-made) checklist.
Share resources and encourage others to be #VoteReady.
Sometimes we all just need a little nudge and some helpful information. This is a good time to remind friends, students and family members to register to vote and/or to check the status of their voter registration.
Important dates for Arizona voters:
November 3 is the national election.
Not an Arizona voter? Check vote.org to find dates, deadlines and rules for the election centers in your state.
The ASU Library is ending its subscription to Web of Science, effective January 1, 2021.
The decision to transition away from Web of Science to exclusive use of the Scopus index is in line with the library’s commitment to fiscal responsibility and meeting university budgetary needs.
Scopus is an abstract and citation database of peer-reviewed literature and web sources with tools to track, analyze and visualize research. Scopus provides access to a broad portfolio of peer-reviewed content from around the world.
Switching to Scopus will result in a significant annual savings, as the annual subscription cost of Scopus is far less than that of Web of Science, which carries a six-figure price tag. Both indices offer similar functionality and coverage with a 97 percent overlap in content.
To assist faculty in transitioning to Scopus, the ASU Library will be offering virtual and in-person workshops on the Tempe campus.
It’s that time of year again, when we celebrate the power of books and our right to read them. Banned Books Week is both a joyous celebration and a stark reminder of the dangers of censorship.
Banned Books Week began in the 1980s, a time of increased challenges to books, as a way to promote and protect intellectual freedom.
“When we ban things, it’s just this gut reaction to suppress things that don’t reflect our own reality,” says ASU librarian Ashley Gohr.
More than 350 challenges were made last year to library, school and university materials.
The top 10 most challenged books of 2019, as recorded by the American Library Association (ALA) Office for Intellectual Freedom, included “I Am Jazz” by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings, “The Handmaid’s Tale” by Margaret Atwood, the “Harry Potter” series by J.K. Rowling, and “George” by Alex Gino.
The impulse to censor, Gohr said, is a direct response to the inherent power ideas hold and the strength of books to spread them.
“Books are thought of as dangerous, and they are! They contain ideas and stories that can change minds and lives.”
This year, Banned Books Week, an official ALA event, encourages us to find our freedom to read and to appreciate books for what they are: portals to discovery.
The ASU Library acknowledges the twenty-two Native Nations that have inhabited this land for centuries. Arizona State University's four campuses are located in the Salt River Valley on ancestral territories of Indigenous peoples, including the Akimel O’odham (Pima) and Pee Posh (Maricopa) Indian Communities, whose care and keeping of these lands allows us to be here today. ASU Library acknowledges the sovereignty of these nations and seeks to foster an environment of success and possibility for Native American students and patrons. We are advocates for the incorporation of Indigenous knowledge systems and research methodologies within contemporary library practice. ASU Library welcomes members of the Akimel O’odham and Pee Posh, and all Native nations to the Library.