Mar 23, 2018

New ILL program

Image by  Dave & Margie Hill/Kleerup, from WikiMedia Commons, CC BY-SA

The O'Grady Library has switched from iLLiad to a new interlibrary loan program (ILL), one that should be cleaner and easier to use.* iLLiad will stay online through April 12 to allow users to download any PDFs still in the system and to save their search histories.

Below is a quick video with Stefanie Gorzelsky, one of the librarians, highlighting some of the advantages of the new system.

Below is a short video that shows the new ILL landing page and also shows how you can set it up to give you text alerts when items come in.

Below is a short video on request screens and email notifications, which are slightly different from iLLiad.

* For anybody interested, the new program is called Tipasa, but we will simply use "interlibrary loan" or ILL instead of referring to the product name.

Mar 8, 2018

Butterflies and Bibles

The lower level of the library has been claimed by butterflies and family Bibles.  Each is a theme for displays in the two  cases just outside the Special Collections and University Archives office.  

The displays are the work of part-time volunteer archivist, Pam Sowers.  In the past, special collection and archive materials were kept safely away from public to protect and preserve them, but Sowers and Library Dean, Scot Harrison, like other archivists around the world want these items to be seen by students, staff, and faculty alike and even used for research by more than just select academic scholars.


The butterfly display was inspired by a Wall Street Journal column on gardening that a friend sent to Sowers.  She wanted to display some of SMU’s large collection of books on flowers and gardening that have been donated over the years.  The display features dozens of butterflies cut from the pages of older used books like out-of-date atlases by student workers in the Center for Student Learning, Writing and Advising, including Luis Lara-Espinoza, Keleen Tork, Madeline Miller, and Savannah Schilperoot.  

Most of the books are non-fiction guides, but two of the books are novels.  The top row features a unique book, Kanzaka Sekka’s A Flight of Butterflies, published by New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1979.  The book is a fold out that stretches to thirty-one feet when fully extended.  It is actually a facsimile of the original that was published in Japan in 1964.

Family Bibles

Sowers noted that SMU actually has a modest collection of family Bibles from the area.  Some of these Bibles belonged to some of the first white settlers in the region, others are newer.  The oldest Bibles in the collection were printed in the 1700s.  Not as widely kept in the United States now, family Bibles are an old European/American tradition through which families kept their genealogy, recording births, baptisms, confirmations, marriages, and deaths.  For many families even into the early twentieth century, the family Bible may have been the only book in the home.  

Sowers said she is fascinated by idiosyncratic language use in the Bibles.  For example, in one Bible, it appears that the same person recorded most of the information, using the phrase “was borned” instead of the now customary “born.”  Later, though, the same writer dropped the “was” and simply wrote “borned.”  Most of the Bibles are in English, although the university holds a French family Bible and a German one, as well.  

“Some of them are just too big for the display case,” Sowers said, but then pointed out that the smallest Bible in the case is a missionary Bible that was published in the 1870s and taken on a missionary journey to China in the 1930s.

Mar 2, 2018

Read Seuss Lately?

Award-winning* author Theodor Seuss Geisel, best known as Dr. Seuss, was born 114 years ago on March 2, 1904, in Springfield, Massachusetts.  Best known as a children’s book author, (with good reason as he published over 60 during his life-time), Geisel’s books have been translated into at least twenty languages. Over 200 million copies of his books have sold worldwide.

Geisel got his start creating political cartoons and satire (he was voted class artist and class wit in his senior year of high school), and was widely published in over one thousand newspapers and sixty periodicals.  Geisel was also an advertising man.   

Despite this, or more likely because of this, Depression-era publishers were reluctant to publish a children’s book by Geisel.  Thankfully, Geisel persevered, and after multiple rejections, And to Think That I Saw It On Mulberry Street, was published in 1937, to much acclaim.  

It is Geisel’s “I Can Read It All By Myself” Beginner Books that are the true stars sales-wise.  Responding to a challenge from his publisher to write a story using a prescribed first grade word list, Geisel crafted The Cat in the Hat using 225 of the words.  Published in 1957, the book was an instant best seller.

In 2001 Publishers Weekly listed The Cat in the Hat as the ninth all-time best-selling hardcover children’s book. Green Eggs and Ham, Geisel’s response to his publisher’s bet that he couldn’t write an entire book using only 50 different words, fared even better—according to the same list, this is the fourth all-time best-selling hardcover children’s book.  In comparison, How the Grinch Stole Christmas (published in 1957), while certainly a top-seller, is “only” twenty-fifth.  

Theodor Seuss Geisel passed away on September 24, 1991 in La Jolla, California, but his legacy lives on.  Geisel changed the world of children’s literature—and books to teach children how to read— forever.

Make yourself comfortable, and grab a book or two by—or about— Dr. Seuss.   Happy reading!

*Theodor Seuss Geisel received many awards. Here is a partial list: Pulitzer, Lifetime of Contribution to Children’s Literature (1984) ; Academy award & Oscar, Best Cartoon (Gerald McBoing-Boing, 1951) ;  Emmy, Best Children’s Special (Halloween is Grinch Night, 1977, and The Grinch Grinches the Cat, 1982) ; Peabody (animated specials How the Grinch Stole Christmas! and Horton Hears a Who!, 1971). 

Information from:

Krull, Kathleen. The boy on Fairfield Street : How Ted Geisel Grew Up to Become Dr. Seuss. New York: Random House, 2004.

Pease, Donald E.. Theodor Seuss Geisel. New York: Oxford University Press, 2010. 

Images from:

(Children in Seuss hats): “Get Ready to Read Across America!” National Education Association. Accessed 27 Feb. 2018.

(Political cartoon, first published July 8, 1941): Minear, Richard H. Dr. Seuss Goes to War : the World War II Editorial Cartoons of Theodore Seuss Geisel. New York: The New Press, 1999. Page 38.  Also, @DaveKeating. “America First was an isolationist movement in the late 1930s with strong links to Nazi Germany. This is a 1941 political cartoon by Dr Seuss."  Twitter, 23 Jan 2017, 9:00 p.m.,

(Flit ad): Voort, Garry Vander. “Classic Pesticide Ad with Illustration by Dr. Seuss.”  Retroist, Sept. 22, 2009.

(Black and white portrait): Ravenna, Al. World Telegram & Sun, 1957. Wikipedia Commons.