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Richard Fyffe, Samuel R. and Marie-Louise Rosenthal Librarian of the College

On Oct. 1, Richard Fyffe, Samuel R. and Marie-Louise Rosenthal Librarian of the College and associate professor, began a permanent medical leave. Richard was recently diagnosed with ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis).

Julia Bauder, associate librarian and associate professor, is serving as Interim Librarian. A national search for a new Librarian of the College will be conducted in the coming months.

Since 2006, Richard has served Grinnell with great distinction, while working to raise the profile of college libraries nationally.

At Grinnell, Richard worked to develop the library's collections, promote initiatives in information literacy and research skills, strengthen our partnerships and consortia memberships, and advance technology in service of teaching, learning, and research. He served on many campus committees and task force groups that supported faculty, staff, and students, most recently as Science Division representative to the Executive Council.

An award-winning librarian, Richard placed a high priority on innovative services to benefit the Grinnell community. He oversaw the launch of Digital Grinnell, opened the archives of “Scarlet & Black,” and built closer, stronger connections between the libraries and academic departments.

Richard worked collaboratively with faculty to develop intellectual property policies and pass an open-access resolution. His innovations helped reinvent the College's libraries through the creation of a peer-mentoring program for research literacy and by rethinking collections philosophy. Richard was also instrumental in the opening of Kistle Science Library and the renovation of Burling Library, including media collection improvements, installation of a computing commons, expansion of the Burling Lounge, and upgrades that make the libraries more welcoming.

Under his leadership, the College received an Excellence in Academic Libraries Award from the Association of College and Research Libraries and American Library Association in 2011.

Richard was also active nationally. He has had leadership roles in the Iowa Private Academic Library consortium and the Oberlin Group consortium, served as co-chair of the American Library Association Scholarly Communications Committee, was an editorial board member of the peer-reviewed journal College & Research Libraries, and was twice elected as chair of the Board of Directors for the Center for Research Libraries in Chicago.

Please join the Grinnell College Libraries in recognizing Richard for his many contributions, thanking him for his distinguished service to the Grinnell community, and wishing him all the best.


The Historie of Foure-Footed Beasts

The Historie of Foure-Footed Beasts, written by Edward Topsell was published in 1607. It was printed bypage "Of the Vnicorne" from The Historie of Foure-Footed Beasts William Jaggard. The lengthy subtitle reads, “Describing the true and liuely figure of euery beast, with a discourse of their seuerall names, conditions, kindes, vertues (both naturall and medicinall) countries of their breed, their loue and hate to mankinde, and the wonderfull worke of God in their creation, preseruation, and destruction."

The Historie of Foure-Footed Beasts contains relevant information for those interested in a variety of disciplines, particularly history, art, and zoology. Looking through this bestiary gives readers a sense of how people of the Elizabethan era understood animals and nature. Readers will notice that along with factual information, Topsell offers some highly incorrect details. He states that weasels give birth through their ears, elephants worship the sun and moon, and that apes fear snails. Furthermore, he writes that the blood of an elephant and the ashes of a weasel are a cure for leprosy.

Topsell was a clergyman in the Church of England rather than a naturalist, so his book draws heavily on the works of others with more knowledge. On the title page, Topsell explicitly acknowledges the publications and work of Conrad Gesner (1516-1565), considered to be the greatest naturalist of his time. All of the animals featured in Foure-footed Beasts were taken from Gesner’s earlier work, Historiae Animalium. He also includes an extensive list of authors who have written about beasts as a guide for readers. 

Due to the fact that Topsell borrowed so heavily from other authors and naturalists, The Historie of Foure-Footed Beasts is best known for its illustrations. A variety of illustrators contributed to the work. Among the illustrations are Albrecht Dürer’s well-known woodcut Rhinoceros. While it is clear what animal most of the illustrations represent, a large majority are not strictly accurate depictions. For example, various mice appear very large and possibly vicious.

Foure-footed Beasts lists animals alphabetically, with illustrations and a detailed explanation provided for each animal. Although Topsell largely covered common animals such as goats, weasels, deer, and dogs, he also included animals that would have been unknown or considered exotic to English readers, such as elephants and rhinoceros. Of great interest to modern readers is the fact that Topsell did not confine himself to known animals, but also incorporated mythical animals. The book contains illustrations and explanations of the mythical creatures gorgons, unicorns, and satyrs.

We encourage anyone with an interest to drop by Special Collections and look at this fascinating book in person.  Special Collections and Archives is open to the public 1:30-5 p.m. Monday through Friday and mornings by appointment.

An Interview with Paula Smith, author of “Engaging Risk: A Guide for College Leaders"

Is it risky for a teacher of creative writing, also a poet, novelist and short story writer, to write a book on, say, risk management?  In search of an answer, we asked Grinnell faculty member Paula Smith a few questions about her recently-published book, “Engaging Risk: A Guide for College Leaders.” 

  1. Why did you write this book?Engaging Risk: A Guide for College Leaders

As soon as I started reading about risk management, I realized that its principles can apply to running a college. But the challenge lies in applying a set of ideas originally developed in the corporate world to an entirely different type of organization. Academic institutions will succeed not by imitating business models, but by keeping a steady focus on the sustainability of their academic mission and by building on the strengths of shared governance. Therefore, college leaders need a modified version of risk management. “Engaging Risk” proposes that new approach: risk management geared toward the aims of a liberal arts college.

  1. How, in brief, would you have Grinnell College and higher education engage in risk?

A useful first step is the “campus tour” to identify, evaluate, and understand the challenges that the college faces. Some of these risks can affect daily operations, while others have potential impact on broader strategic goals. But the all-important second step is to take action. It’s not enough to analyze data, bring in consultants, produce colorful charts, or write reports. Making a real change, by putting something in place to control the risk (whether it’s a change in what people are doing, or a physical change to the campus itself) can actually lower the likelihood of a negative event, or maximize the benefits of a positive one. Only at that stage does the college achieve a goal of effective risk management.

  1. You’re a creative writer.  How did your background as a writer impact the way you approached the topic of risk?  Or the way you wrote the book?

Both fiction writers and risk managers continually ask the question, “What if….?”  Writers drop their fictional characters into highly risky situations, and go on to explore how much the characters are willing to risk, what chances they’re willing to take. When we read fiction, we start anxiously anticipating what could go wrong for the characters, and wonder if they’ll be courageous enough to face what threatens them. Henry James called this sense “the imagination of disaster.” Risk managers take a similar approach. One of the favorite questions from a risk manager is, “What keeps you awake at night?”  I think risk could even replace the traditional framework of “conflict” as a key concept for fiction writers. I enjoyed writing the book because I had fun bringing ideas to life with examples, clear explanations, and active verbs. It doesn’t pretend to be a literary work, and maybe for that reason I was able to write it fairly quickly.

4.      Has the writing of this book changed the way you teach?

I’ve mentioned ideas from the book several times in class and when talking with students. Primarily, though, because the book contains such a strong message that teaching and learning are absolutely central to the life of a college (and that the biggest risks are those that threaten educational excellence), the experience of writing it has made me grateful to return to the classroom and work with students again.

Thursday, October 15 at 4:15pm, join Professor Paula Smith in Burling Lounge to help launch her new book, "Engaging Risk: A Guide for College Leaders," and learn why risk matters in decision-making at all levels. Between serving as dean of the college and her return to the faculty, Paula Smith played the role of "Professor Riskmeister" on Grinnell's campus and started a national dialogue about liberal arts colleges and risk (http://www.preparedcollege.com). Come to discuss the story behind her book and the deeper questions it raises about college governance.

Sports et divertissements

First published in 1923, Sports et divertissements is an album featuring 20 illustrations by Charles Martin, a prominent contemporary French fashion illustrator, alongside 20 short scores for piano written by famed composer Erik Satie. The project was commissioned by publishing magnate Lucian Vogel in 1914 and was intended to represent the sports and leisure activities that were fashionable at the time. Martin's illustrations transport viewers into a world of fashion and luxury rendered in the strong geometric shapes and bold colors that are emblematic of Art Deco. Satie's lighthearted compositions and the humorous, handwritten texts inscribed throughout the scores further imbue the project with the feeling of play. Sports et divertissements is a strong example of the early 20th century Avante Garde's interest in creating works of art that synthesized music, language, and visual art.

This exceptional work of art also has a remarkably strange publication history. Although the work was commissioned in 1914, the outbreak of WWI delayed publication. Because the album would have seemed inappropriately frivolous in light of the war, Vogel put the project on hold. By the 1920s, the mood in Paris had lifted and the Jazz Age brought an atmosphere of luxury and pleasure. In the ten years since the project was commissioned, fashion had changed so drastically that Martin's original drawings seemed dated. To ensure that the album remain au current, in 1922 Vogel commissioned Martin to create 20 new drawings. At long last, publication began in 1923, but the strangeness doesn't end there.

Nine hundred copies of Sports et divertissements were printed, but three different versions were created.

The first version of the album is extremely rare — only 10 copies were printed. This version features the 20 musical scores alongside both the 1922 illustrations and the original drawings from 1914.

The second version, issued in an edition of 215, features the musical scores alongside all of the 1922 illustrations. This is the version that we have in the Burling Library Special Collections.

The third version, comprising the remaining 675 copies, contains the entire score, but each copy only features one of Martin's illustrations.

This strange publication history has shaped how the album has been received. The public is most familiar with the third version; however, that is also the most diminished version because Martin’s contribution to the project is almost completely absent. Today, Erik Satie is often regarded as the primary artistic genius behind the project. This misunderstanding demonstrates that in order to fully understand a creative work, it is essential to research it as an object by delving into the history of its publication.

Sports et divertissements is currently part of our Visual Narratives exhibit. We encourage you to visit the Special Collections and Archives to examine this version of the album that the public rarely gets to see. We are open to the public 1:30-5 p.m. Monday through Friday and mornings by appointment. You can also read an extended analysis of the album’s publication history in “Satie and Martin’s Sports et divertissements: Towards a (re)Object-ive  Historiography” published by The Teh Drinking Musicologist blog.


Tutorial and Research Literacy

In the fall, Tuesday and Thursday mornings in the Libraries run at a hectic pace as librarians interact with Tutorial classes in a variety of ways -- teaching research literacy sessions in Burling’s computer commons, lounge, and computer classroom, visiting and teaching class sessions in Noyce and other classroom buildings around campus, leading tours around Burling Library and Kistle Science Library, and introducing first-year students to key members of library staff.Tutorial session with Phil Jones and Professor Andrews

These activities come about through partnerships between Tutors and faculty librarians. New students often first meet the Grinnell College librarians and initially encounter the Libraries’ print and online collections through these Tutorial experiences, which are meant to introduce students to library resources and to the people who will support their academic work in Tutorial and beyond.

Tutorial students are learning through these partnerships, and so are librarians, by paying close attention to the always-evolving research experiences that first-years carry along with them to Grinnell. Working closely with Tutorial students gives librarians the opportunity to see firsthand how each new generation of college students approaches their academic work, and librarians look forward to learning as they teach.

Tutorial session with Kevin Engel and Professor SandquistThese fall semester collaborations among librarians, Tutors, and first-year students are a major component of the Libraries’ research literacy program, and helping students develop research literacy is at the core of the work of Grinnell College librarians. Tutorial partnerships are a great way to begin this important work.

Vernon Faulconer ’61 – Devoted Alumnus of Grinnell College

Vernon Faulconer '61Vernon Faulconer '61– oilman, philanthropist, and art collector – was born in 1939 in El Dorado, Kansas, and grew up on a dairy farm. Faulconer and his future wife, Amy Hamamoto ‘59, met while students at Grinnell; a perusal of yearbooks from the College Archives shows a young “Vern Faulconer” in  group photos with fellow residents of South Younker Hall.  Amy is pictured with the women of Loose Hall, and was active in the Student Iowa State Education Association and Orchesis.

The couple began their married life in Kansas. In 1970, the family moved to Tyler, Texas, where Faulconer soon started Vernon E. Faulconer, Inc., an oil- and gas-equipment leasing company that soon grew to a large production company, currently operating oil and gas wells in nine states.

Longtime friend Ron Gleason commented in a recent interview that Vernon Faulconer was “anything but a stereotypical oil- and gas-man,” describing him as very humble. Gleason now directs the Faulconer Scholar program, founded by Vernon Faulconer in 1990. To date, the scholarship program has allowed 750 African-American and Hispanic students in the Tyler community to attend Tyler Junior College. “He really believed that the key to opportunity was education. He saw that in his own life, and in the lives of the people around him” (Williams).

Vernon Faulconer joined the Grinnell College Board of Trustees in 1984, serving for many years and on numerous committees. He was actively involved in the development and building of the Bucksbaum Center for the Arts, and in 1999, the art gallery was named in honor of Vernon and Amy Faulconer.  The Faulconers have been involved ever since with building the facility’s collection and program in close partnership with its director.

Start by Asking Questions: Contemporary Art from the Faulconer and Rachofsky Collections, Dallas, an eagerly-anticipated Faulconer Gallery exhibition, runs from September 18 to December 13. Vernon Faulconer’s legacy of enriching lives through art and education continues with this exhibition of forty-six works from The Warehouse, the contemporary art collection Vernon and Amy built with Howard and Cindy Rachofsky in Dallas, Texas. Represented artists include Janine Antoni, Eric Fischl, Mark Grotjahn, William Kentridge, Sigmar Polke, Yinka Shonibare, Kara Walker, and other artists of the 20th and 21st centuries.

Works Consulted:

Cyclone. Grinnell: Grinnell College, 1958. Print.

Cyclone. Grinnell: Grinnell College, 1959. Print.

“In Memoriam: Vernon Edward Faulconer ’61.” Grinnell College Website. Grinnell College, 2015. Web.

9 Sept. 2015.

Williams, Coretta. “Tyler Oilman, Philanthropist Faulconer Dies.” Tyler Paper (10 Aug. 2015). Web.

9 Sept. 2015.


Freshmen in Grinnell: 100 Years of New Students at Grinnell College

New Freshmen“Freshmen in Grinnell: 100 Years of New Students at Grinnell College” is now on display on the main floor and in Burling Gallery on the lower level. Using materials from the Special Collections and Archives, this new exhibit explores the differing experiences of first year students at Grinnell College from 1900 to 2000. Broken up into thirty year periods, each case explores the first year life and follows changes that occurred over time. Throughout the exhibit, the topics of housing, behavioral expectations, registration, and tutorial are discussed.

Items such as freshmen beanies from 1945 and 1957, student handbooks from 1901 and 1924, a variety of photographs, and new student guidebooks from the 1940s onward are featured. Stop by Burling Library to view the new exhibit — perhaps you’ll see something familiar from your own time as a first year!

This exhibit was curated by Allison Haack, with poster design by Hannah Condon ’16.

Online Bibliography for Peace and Conflict Studies Program guest speaker, George Lopez

G. LopezPeace and Conflict Studies Presents “Attaining Hard Peace, Soft Peace, and Smart Peace” with George Lopez

George A. Lopez, an internationally renowned scholar and expert in peace and conflict studies, will present a public talk on September 2 at 7 p.m. in Rosenfield Center, Room 101. During a week-long residency from August 31-September 4, Mr. Lopez is team-teaching the College’s pilot blending-learning course, “Introduction to Peace and Conflict Studies,” with Timothy Dobe, Associate Professor of Religious Studies.

For further study and in support of his work on campus, Grinnell College Libraries recently developed an online bibliography of George A. Lopez’s writings.

A Closer Look at the Iowa Prairie

"A Closer Look at the Iowa Prairie: Photographs by Justin Hayworth" is on view at Grinnell College through Sunday, Oct. 11, in Burling Gallery on the lower level of Burling Library.

Prairie dominated the Iowa landscape when the first white settlers arrived in 1833. Now, less than 0.1 percent of the original Iowa prairie remains.

Hayworth's macro photographs invite viewers to take a closer look at the beauty of prairie plants, celebrate the intricate aesthetics of prairie life, and teach about the unintended consequences of development. Macro photography is the art of producing photographs of small objects larger than life size.

Hayworth holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from Kansas State University and worked as a photojournalist at the Duluth News Tribune and the Des Moines Register before joining Grinnell College as photographer/videographer in 2012.

Gallery Talk

Hayworth and Jon Andelson, director of the College's Center for Prairie Studies, will give a gallery talk at 4 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 2. They will discuss the loss of the Iowa prairie, the importance of close observation and the aesthetics of prairie life, celebrated through macro photography. A reception will follow.

Nature Photography Session

On Friday, Sept. 4, Hayworth will lead an exploration of the Grinnell campus for those who want to bring cameras and learn how to photograph nature up close.

The session will take place from 4 to 6 p.m. and start in Burling Gallery. The rain date will be Friday, Sept. 11.

Individuals with all levels of photography experience are welcome. Each person should bring a camera of any sort, including digital single-lens reflex, point and shoot or cell phone. Grinnell College students, faculty and staff may check out cameras from the Audio-Visual Center.

The gallery talk, photography session and exhibition, which are free and open to the public, are sponsored by Grinnell College's Center for Prairie Studies and the Faulconer Gallery.

Hours and Accessibility

Grinnell welcomes and encourages the participation of people with disabilities. Accommodation requests may be made to Conference Operations, 641-269-3235.

Burling Gallery is open 10 a.m. through 10 p.m. daily. For more information about  the exhibition and related programs visit Faulconer Gallery.



New Version of Digital Grinnell Available

Digital Grinnell: Sharing and preserving Grinnell's heritage

After months of hard work, the Grinnell College Libraries is pleased to announce that a new version of Digital Grinnell is now online and available for use!

Digital Grinnell is the institutional repository of Grinnell College, and serves as a home for digital versions of student, staff, and faculty scholarship; art; books; and manuscripts held by the College. The updated version of Digital Grinnell includes many new features aimed at improving functionality and usability. A new main page format allows for easier navigation and a clearer understanding of the collections found within Digital Grinnell. The site now also features improved search capabilities and easier browsing to aid patrons in locating and accessing the information they need.

Omeka online exhibits will also be accessible through Digital Grinnell. There are currently two exhibits available, Classics and World Music Instruments, with more to come.

Contact us if you have questions about contributing content, the technology, or setting up a new journal or conference. Learn more about Digital Grinnell.