Spotlight on Researchers – Noted Historic Landscape Architect Professor Emeritus Rudy J. Favretti Has Sights on Mansfield’s Past

One might think that after teaching at UConn for 33 years, writing some 20 books and scores of journal articles on the historic restoration and preservation of landscapes, and creating master plans for such national landmarks as Jefferson’s Monticello and Washington’s Mount Vernon – not to mention having those plans placed in the Smithsonian Institution’s Archives of American Gardens and Landscapes – Professor Emeritus Rudy J. Favretti, might be ready to sit back and rest on his proverbial laurels. That would be a reasonable assumption, if one didn’t know him.

Blessed with an abundance of energy and a “planning gene,” Favretti, 81, says much of his intellectual spadework has been done at the UConn Libraries.

Rudy Favretti in the Archives & Special Collections Reading Room.

Rudy Favretti in the Archives & Special Collections Reading Room.

“I use the library a lot – the art and history sections and interlibrary loan,” he notes. I have found the staff in all of these sections extremely helpful, in general, and especially as I search for odd and obscure material that is not readily available. It’s a great place!”

After earning his undergraduate degree from UConn in plant science, the Mystic, Connecticut native went on to earn advanced degrees in horticulture, landscape architecture, and regional planning from Cornell and the University of Massachusetts. At UConn, he served as an extension garden specialist and extension landscape architect from 1955-1975, and taught landscape architecture here from the late 1960s to 1988, developing the accredited landscape architect program, retiring when he was 55. During his career, he completed about 700 individual and collaborative design, master planning, and preservation projects.

In 2011, no longer actively engaged in design work, he agreed to share his personal papers with the Smithsonian. There, one can find the lion’s share of his research and work – 4,000 slides, drawings, and notes totaling some 27 linear feet. Having it housed there is a “huge honor,” he says. Some of his work can also be found in UConn’s Archives & Special Collections

Favretti made the restoration and preservation of gardens and landscapes his life’s work, appreciating not only their aesthetic value, but their value as a lens through which to view a person’s life and times. Several years ago, he shifted his focus from gardens directly to people, specifically those who lived in Mansfield, his home for close to six decades. To date, he’s written about Wormwood Hill (in concert with his friend and longtime resident of the area, veteran UConn administrator, the late Isabelle Atwood), Mansfield Four Corners, Mansfield Center (as co-author) and the Gurleyville/Hanks Hill area, which is a tribute to his friends, fellow UConn faculty members, the late Annarie and Fred Cazel, Gurleyville residents themselves, who had done some research on the area, but who died before writing a book. The couple’s bequest to the Mansfield Historical Society will allow more regional histories to be published.

Research for these histories, as well as for other undertakings including his keynote address in 2012 on the University’s iconic “Great Lawn,” has made Favretti a familiar sight in Archives & Special Collections and Homer Babbidge Library.

“Even though I’ve been on this campus for over 60 years, I didn’t realize that in 1908 President Charles L. Beach had hired prominent landscape architect Charles Lowrie, a founding member of the American Society of Landscape Architects, to help plan the placement of the buildings surrounding the Great Lawn. The plans are here at the Dodd Center. I didn’t know they existed until I began researching the Great Lawn. Just because you retire, your academic life doesn’t end,” he contends.

He is also currently at work on a book commemorating the 50th anniversary of Joshua’s Tract Conservation and Historic Trust, the largest such trust in Northeastern Connecticut, which he helped to found and whose papers are housed in UConn’s Archives & Special Collections. After completing that volume, he intends to finish his research into Mansfield Depot and produce yet another local history.

“Over the years, I’ve done all this research into local history. What would happen to it? That’s what I’m doing now – transposing it into books, which I’m enjoying very, very much.”

His enjoyment today extends well beyond Mansfield. While he continues to tend his own gardens and remain active in the greater Mansfield community, he and his wife, Joy, regularly savor performances at the Metropolitan Opera. While in New York, they stay with their son, Giovanni, keeping tabs on the garden he designed for Giovanni’s townhouse. Other pleasures come from following the activities of his two daughters, Margaret, a high school history teacher in Scarsdale, NY, and Emily, an artist in Chicago.

What hasn’t the energetic octogenarian done? “I’ve always wanted to write a novel. I’ve written so many straight-forward subject matter things like extension bulletins; when you write a novel, it’s about people.”
His training as a landscape architect, which required him to notice detail, should serve him well. “I can go to a cocktail party, come home, and describe what everyone was wearing. That kind of detail would be good for writing a novel,” he observes with a smile.

Connecticut Digital Archive Hits the Century Mark

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Branford House (University of Connecticut at Avery Point), University of Connecticut Photograph Collection, Archives & Special Collections

The Connecticut Digital Archive (CTDA) has reached the Century mark with the recent addition of the 100,000 object. The CTDA provides digital preservation services to Connecticut-based non-profit cultural and memory organizations, including libraries, archives, galleries and museums.

The first item placed in the archive in November, 2013 was from the Thomas J. Dodd Papers   from the University of Connecticut’s Archives and Special Collections.

Since then, thousands of other digital resources have been added to the archive from multiple institutions, including Trinity College Library, Connecticut Historical Society, the Connecticut State Library and Archives and the Fairfield Museum and History Center. Others are busy preparing their digital resources for preservation and access. A complete list of participating institutions and more information about the CTDA can be found here.

 

On Track with an Eminent Railroad Historian, Collector, and Donor J.W. “Jack” Swanberg

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Jack Swanberg Metro-North Railroad, Old Greenwich, CT. May, 2001

Jack Swanberg Metro-North Railroad, Old Greenwich, CT. May, 2001

Whether contending in the 1990s with the many issues facing the safe and punctual operation of Connecticut’s heavily used Metro-North commuter rail service in New Haven, writing a definitive history of the New Haven Railroad – a volume coveted by historians and collectors alike – or traveling aboard classic steam trains in exotic locations, J. W. “Jack” Swanberg has done it all.

He recalls a 1994 British charter trip into Pakistan’s Khyber Pass, almost to the Afghan border, as being particularly memorable. “Using British-built steam locomotives, we had a carload of Pakistani Army soldiers with us for security, although even they would not let us stop the train in areas that they deemed unsafe. Not a luxury train at all, but the mountain scenery was fantastic. Our base of operations was Peshawar, a Bin Laden stronghold where you certainly wouldn’t go today.”

Clearly an adventurer, Swanberg’s love of trains took hold when he was a toddler. During his life, he has indulged that early fascination by taking rail trips throughout the world, while simultaneously enjoying a 38-year career in railroad management. He began as a locomotive fireman shortly after his graduation from Hartford’s Trinity College, and ended as Lead Trainmaster for Metro-North in 2000.

Since 2000, the Guilford, Connecticut resident has shared his time, energy, and expertise with Laura Smith, curator of UConn’s Railroad History Archive. He recently bequeathed his rich collection to the Archive, which is being digitally scanned to catalogue and preserve it.

“Jack’s collection is extraordinary and comprehensive, most particularly to the history of the New Haven Railroad and of railroads in New England, but more generally in showing the impact and importance of trains and train travel in the United States,” Smith says. “It is no exaggeration to say that Jack’s collection reminds us of the importance of the railroad in the making of America.”

Railroads aren’t the only thing firmly within Swanberg’s grasp. He is knowledgeable about the defense of our country following four years of active service in U.S. Naval Aviation as an aerial transport navigator. He flew scores of missions worldwide, including many into Vietnam, and served another 25 years in the Reserve, retiring as a Captain.

Author of not only the notable New Haven Power, 1838-1968: Steam, Diesel, Electric, MU’s, Trolleys, Motor Cars, Buses & Boats, a history of the locomotives and motive equipment of the New Haven Railroad, published in 1988, the research for which is included in the donation, Swanberg continues to share his knowledge and insights with readers of Railroad History (a publication of the Railway and Locomotive Historical Society), Shoreliner

(a publication of the New Haven Railroad Historical and Technical Association), and other railroad history and enthusiast publications. Many photographs that he has taken and collected over his career with the railroad have been widely published, many by other railroad history authors.

Swanberg explains the rationale for his largesse this way: “Typically when a collector dies, his or her collection of photos, records, etc. goes to a dealer and is scattered by being sold off piecemeal, thus mostly becoming unavailable to future researchers,” he says.

“I’ve been collecting and accumulating photos going back into the 1800s for over 50 years myself, plus taking my own photos for just as long, plus collecting voluminous historical records. All of this is now consolidated, so why should it be scattered once again? I know that UConn will archivally preserve my collection and will make it available to researchers indefinitely.

Current authors, myself included, refer frequently to such collections, and I appreciate having my own collection being available for such research in the future.”

A regular visitor to the Railroad History Archive, Swanberg has applied his knowledge and helped Smith organize and describe materials in the collection, particularly photographs of New Haven Railroad steam and electric locomotive that were placed online in an early digital project.

“The UConn Libraries has benefited tremendously from our relationship with Jack, and we are honored to preserve his legacy as a historian, collector and creator of railroad history,” Smith added.

New Winter Art Exhibits at Babbidge

Illustrations of arguably the most famous French executioner alongside some of his almost 400 “subjects,” colorful collages of a crow, the focus of a children’s book inspired by Edgar Allen Poe’s poem “The Raven,” striking photographs of one of this country’s most beloved natural treasures, Yellowstone National Park, and surreal images inspired by mythology and nature are featured in the winter art exhibit series recently opened in Homer Babbidge Library and on view until February 20, 2015. Surreal acrylic paintings and highly polished sculpted wood figures round out the series.

Cora Lynn Deibler with some of French executioner Anatole Deibler's "subjects" in her exhibit.

Cora Lynn Deibler with some of French executioner Anatole Deibler’s “subjects” in her exhibit.

Illustration professor Cora Lynn Deibler showcases her graphic novel Anatole Deibler: The Tale of Monsieur de Paris about the most famous French executioner of all time. Deibler worked from 1885 until 1939 when executions were public spectacle and when the infant media of photography and film turned him into something of a celebrity. In her graphic novel, the artist showcases Deibler’s unusual career made more intriguing by the speculation that they may be distant relatives.

Alison Paul, who writes and illustrates children’s books for Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, exhibits work from her first book, THE CROW (A Not So Scary Story). Paul often builds dioramas for exhibition from the set pieces used in her stop-motion animation work. Two are on display.

Professor Alison Paul installs her exhibit featuring art from her children's book "The Crow."

Professor Alison Paul installs her exhibit featuring art from her children’s book “The Crow.”

Photographer Janet Pritchard examines the relationship between nature and culture in her photographic project, Yellowstone Dream: An American Love Story. Drawing upon insights developed while a fellow at the American Antiquarian Society in Worcester, Massachusetts where she examined maps, personal stories, and expedition records, Pritchard reflects upon her own time spent in Wyoming, and how generations have invested the park with their own values since its founding in 1872.

Lower Falls of the  Yellowstone River, Thomas Moran, 1872 & 1893, Smithsonian.

Lower Falls of the Yellowstone River, Thomas Moran, 1872 & 1893, Smithsonian. One of the images in photographer Janet Pritchard’s exhibit.

In the 1980s, Liviu Cupceancu worked in UConn’s neurobiology department doing research and creating scientific illustrations for professional journals. Now retired, the Tolland, Connecticut resident devotes his energies full time to his art. In this show, he exhibits his surreal acrylics, abstract oils, and wood sculpture.

Liviu Cupceancu, a native of Romania, next to an acrylic painting, Carpathian Sphinx, that draws up elements of his homeland.

Liviu Cupceancu, a native of Romania, next to his surreal acrylic painting, Carpathian Sphinx, which draws upon elements of his homeland.

 

Looking for Private Funding? Try Foundation Directory Online.

FDO Now AvailAll current UConn faculty, students, and staff now have access to Foundation Directory Online.  Covering 28 broad fields of interest ranging from agriculture to youth development, FDO provides information on U.S. based private and corporate foundations that fund national and international projects. The database includes information on each foundation’s application process, the number and amounts of grants given each year, recently awarded grants and their recipients, geographic focus, specified areas of interest, contact information, and more.  Additional content includes links to foundation websites, recently filed IRS 990 forms, listings of recently announced RFPs and Foundation Center newsletters.

Search FDO by grantmaker name, geographic region, fields of interest, recipient type, support type (fellowships, scholarships, research grants, travel awards etc.), grant amount, and names of trustees and officers. To learn more, go to: https://fconline.foundationcenter.org/welcome/tour

Foundation Directory Online is jointly funded by the Office of the Vice President for Research, the UConn Foundation, and the UConn Libraries.

Ebook Access and Privacy Concerns with Adobe Digital Editions

It has recently come to our attention that Adobe Digital Editions, the software we use to allow access our ebooks, has been transmitting unencrypted reader data. The information Adobe is collecting includes the title, publisher, and other metadata for the book you have downloaded, and the information is being sent to Adobe’s server in plain text. We stand with our colleagues at other libraries in opposition of these practices, arguing that this is not only a violation of privacy but also a security concern since it allows for the potential interception of the data. The vulnerability is limited to the newly released Digital Editions 4, which is a requirement for downloading ebooks.

If you are concerned about your right to privacy, we recommend that you uninstall Adobe Digital Editions 4 from all of your devices and contact either your subject specialist liaison or our electronic resource services unit for possible print options. You can also download an earlier edition of Adobe Digital Editions.

The UConn Libraries values your right to privacy and have expressed our concerns to our ebook vendors, asking them to advocate on our behalf. We are also members of the American Library Association, which is working with Adobe to correct this issue.

More Information:
Adobe is Spying on Users, Collecting Data on Their eBook Libraries
“Adobe is gathering data on the ebooks that have been opened, which pages were read, and in what order. All of this data, including the title, publisher, and other metadata for the book is being sent to Adobe’s server in clear text.”

Adobe’s e-book reader sends your reading logs back to Adobe—in plain text
“Adobe’s Digital Editions e-book and PDF reader—an application used by thousands of libraries to give patrons access to electronic lending libraries—actively logs and reports every document readers add to their local “library” along with what users do with those files. Even worse, the logs are transmitted over the Internet in the clear, allowing anyone who can monitor network traffic (such as the National Security Agency, Internet service providers and cable companies, or others sharing a public Wi-Fi network) to follow along over readers’ shoulders.”

Adobe Responds to Reports of Their Spying, Offers Half Truths and Misleading Statements
“Adobe hasn’t addressed all of the evidence against them, but they did admit that they were gathering info from users. They won’t admit to scraping my library, but they did admit to tracking a user’s activities.”

Library Resets Fall Schedule for Homer Babbidge Library

open late signIf you have walked around the Homer Babbidge Library at various times of the day you know the vibe changes depending on what time it is. The morning hours are a flurry of students printing out their paper before class, adding that last citation, or grabbing a cup of coffee at Bookworms and checking what happened on Instagram last night before starting the day. We also begin to see the serious researcher who will spend the better part of the day with us and as the day progresses a bustling space that serves as a central location to meet up with friends and classmates, picking up interlibrary loan requests, asking subject specialists for help on research projects and completing short bursts of work between classes. In the evening, the mood turns more serious, when we become the place where students hunker down, setting up in their favorite spot for the night.

Each and every stage of our daily usage is important to us and we heard from our users that closing at midnight instead of 2am was cutting into that late night serious study time. It is for that reason that we are resetting our fall hours to better serve those late night patrons. Starting this Sunday, October 19th the Homer Babbidge Library will reopen until 2am every Sunday-Thursday in the academic year.

And what happens during finals? All bets are off! During the 2013-2014 academic year we tested extending our 24/7 hours to two full weeks at the request of the Undergraduate Student Government. In the interest of working with them again this year we will once again provide that service. So starting on December 1st, the Homer Babbidge Library will open and remain open until 6pm on Sunday, December 14th.

We take our responsibility as part of the academic hub of the university with great importance. We continue to work towards providing resources and services online with the realization that our resources are valuable on and off campus. We are also aware that there are students who would like more time in the library, even after 2am and are currently working towards increasing available quite study space when the library is closed. When we have more finalized information about that we will share.

Teale Lecture Series Begins this Thursday – 9/25

pickettThe 2014-2015 Edwin Way Teale Lecture Series begins this Thursday, September 25th with a lecture by Dr. Steward T.A. Pickett. Dr. Pickett is the Distinguished Senior Scientist at the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies. His talk is titled “The Global Urban Crisis and an Ecological Way Forward” and will be at 4 pm at the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center, Konover Auditorium, at UConn. The lecture is free and open to the public.

Urban areas today are expanding at an unprecedented rate across the globe. There are more and more new cities by the year, and the largest of existing cities are growing still larger. On the one hand, cities can be the epitome of sustainability, reaping the benefits of proximity, efficiency, and innovation. On the other hand, they can be graveyards of dreams and sources of contamination. As cities grow, change, and become ever more connected to global networks, societies are presented with choices. Cities are in crisis: do they move toward sustainability, or do they slip backwards into unsanitary and vulnerable states?

The Edwin Way Teale Lecture Series brings leading scholars and scientists to the University of Connecticut to present public lectures on nature and the environment. The lectures are open to the public and do not require registration. For additional information please call 860.486.4460 or visit http://doddcenter.uconn.edu/asc/events/teale/teale.htm.

For more information, contact: Natural History Museum at 860.486.4460 or visit http://doddcenter.uconn.edu/asc/events/teale/teale.htm

Library Works Towards Reinstating Early Morning Hours

Interior views of the Homer Babbidge Library.This fall we altered the hours in our flagship facility – the Homer Babbidge Library. The new hours included closing at midnight on Sunday and weeknights instead of 2am, closing an hour earlier on Saturday night and opening both weekend days at 10:00am.

Since the change took effect we have received both thoughtful and constructive feedback from the students regarding the impact of the changes. Taking that into consideration, as well as the data our staff has collected and coordination with representatives from the Undergraduate Student Government, has led us to work towards reinstating early morning hours this fall.

The process for which we used to make the original decision and the information since has been reported in the Daily Campus in various articles and I would like to take this opportunity to share with you the reasons behind our original decision and what has transpired since then.
The decision to alter the hours was not taken lightly but instead based on three key factors – low usage, fiscal resources, and security concerns.

Low usage data. The gates that patrons enter and exit from are not just for security of physical items in the collections but also serve as counters, providing valuable data for when our facility is busy and when we are not. Our gate counts during 12-2am over the 2013-2014 school year show that on average 2-4% of our total seating capacity of 3,174 is being used. We felt that those patrons had an equally viable option for study space in Bookworms Café and the 24-hour quiet study room. Combined these spaces offer more than 200 seats, 18 computers, a tv lounge, and public restrooms.

Fiscal resources. There isn’t a successful organization today that doesn’t consistently and methodically look at their resources and how they can better apply them to what their users need. Through outreach with our users, which include undergraduates, graduates, faculty, staff and the public, we know that one reoccurring theme is the need for more electronic resources. Streaming content for classes, electronic journals for research, and access to multiple databases with online content are just a few of those resources we devote significant funding to. We are committed to ensuring that our electronic materials are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week through both our website and SkyBox@UConn. As we continue to expend significant funding for these electronic resources, physical upgrades to the building (like more seating and power), and improving services and outreach we are shifting financial resources from other places like staffing. These are challenging decisions that are necessary as stewards of collections and facilities.

Security. We are responsible for a half a million square feet of space within the facility. Securing that space with few people in the building and limited staffing early in the morning is a significant challenge. The change of hours was one method in a series of other changes we will be making going forward to improve our security which will include security cameras and piloting a program limiting access to only students in the late evening.

After the semester started, we began receiving comments from students who were concerned that the hours change was affecting valuable study time. We asked students to share their experiences in the facility during the early mornings to determine what was really necessary, including an exit survey at midnight. With a resounding voice, students indicated that they are not looking for services at that time but quiet study spaces.

With that information in hand, we invited representatives from USG to talk with us about our feedback and the feedback that they had received. It gave us an opportunity to open up the lines of communications with USG to discuss not only hours, but how this decision and others we make on services fit into the larger picture of identifying student needs to focus our resources on.

The meeting was very productive and collegial. The comments and suggestions from USG President Claire Price and Academic Affairs Committee Chair Tim Lim and their colleagues were thought-provoking and provided great insight that we had not considered previously. For example, we had seen a small increase in the late night usage compared to the same time in the fall of 2013 and they suggested that things like later science labs, more group work, less study spaces on campus, and students simply being more involved on campus was at play. They also indicated that the library is part of the mindset of the students, and that it is an important resource even just when being used as study space.

The result was an agreement from Vice Provost Martha Bedard to find the resources needed to reopen through 2am. We expect that it will take us through October to go through the hiring process for the staff member needed to fulfill those hours. She also shared with USG some ideas she has for improving the current 24-hour study spaces. Those include the possibility of reconfigure the spaces and adding new furniture that allows for increased seating, the possibility of allowing access to the staff lounge in the evenings for more quite study space, and considering closing off parts of the library in the late/early evenings. All of these would require funding so we are currently investigating the feasibility of all of them.

We would like to thank all of the students who reached out to us and the members of USG who took time out of their busy schedules to work towards a solution. We will continue to meet with them to discuss the possible change to the 24-hour study spaces and other areas of interests to the students.

Northeast Children’s Literature Collection Reception A Success

On a wet but warm Saturday afternoon in early August the UConn Libraries’ co-hosted a reception with Billie Levy for friends of the Northeast Children’s Literature Collection. The history of the collection begins as far back as the 1960′s with the purchase of approximately 600 volumes of 19th and 20th century children’s books from author/illustrator Nonny Hogrogian. During the 1970s the library engaged in the selective addition of the best historical and contemporary children’s books and manuscripts, focusing on prize-winners and works by New England authors and illustrators. In 1983, Billie M. Levy began the process of donating thousands of children’s books illustrated by American artists over the last 200 years. Her generosity and dedication to the collection has been on of the many reasons why this collection has grown into one of the top children’s literature collections in the country.

The reception included a glimpse at some of the new items that have been acquired as well as a special donation of materials from Billie Levy with the signing of her donation of Maurice Sendak materials to the collection.

“Seeing so many “builders” of the collection together, and celebrating-marking- Billie’s contribution was especially heartwarming”

We are pleased to have passionate donors to such a special collection and we look forward to more opportunities to engage with this community and continue to build the archives for future generations.

“Although my papers are in the collection, I had not understood the full scope of the libraries work. It is so nice to know that my artifacts are safe and in such good company.” 

 

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Billie Levy signs her donation of Maurice Sendak materials to the Libraries’ Northeast Children’s Literature Collection

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Greg Colati, Director of Archives, Special Collections & Digital Curation speaks with Bill Grey.

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Guests Kat Lyons and Nancy Elizabeth Wallace

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Event planners – Kristen Jones, Office of the Vice Provost; Martha Bedard, Vice Provost for UConn LIbraries, Jean Nelson, Marketing, Communications & Public Programming

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Martha Bedard with co-host Billie Levy and guest Elizabeth Payne

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Martha Bedard with the stuffed Martha from the illustrated series ‘George and Martha’ by James Marshall

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Authors Pegi Deitz Shea and Cynthia Weil look over the illustrations in the collection for their book “Ten Mice for Tet!”

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Terri Goldich, Archivist for the Northeast Children’s Literature Collection gives the guests a glimpse of new materials in the collection.

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Terri Goldich and Martha Bedard