Jade Chang wins VCU Cabell First Novelist Award for ‘The Wangs vs. the World’

Jade Chang’s debut novel, “The Wangs vs. the World,” tells the story of an immigrant family whose sudden loss of a cosmetics empire and their home sends them on a road trip across America where they discover what endures as a family and within themselves. (Jade Chang photo credit: Teresa Flowers)

Jade Chang has won the 2017 VCU Cabell First Novelist Award, which honors an outstanding debut novel published during a calendar year. Her winning book, “The Wangs vs. the World,” published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, tells the story of an immigrant family whose sudden loss of a cosmetics empire and their home sends them on a road trip across America where they discover what endures as a family and within themselves.

Chang will receive the award Nov. 16 at Virginia Commonwealth University, where she will give a reading and participate in a roundtable and discussion with VCU students and the public. The event will be held in the Cabell Library Lecture Hall (Room 303) at 7 p.m. For additional details, visit www.firstnovelist.vcu.edu/event/. Chang was one of three finalists for the prize, now in its 16th year. The other finalists were Chad Dundas for “Champion of the World” and Margaret Wappler for “Neon Green.”

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VCU Libraries secures $1 million Cabell Challenge grant

VCU Libraries has achieved a major fundraising goal by matching a $1 million challenge from the Cabell Foundation. The fundraising challenge was issued by the foundation in December 2015, and VCU Libraries exceeded the $1 million goal 90 days before the deadline.

The Cabell Foundation, a prominent Central Virginia philanthropic group, seeks to make lasting, positive impact on the Richmond region by strengthening key educational and cultural institutions and projects. The challenge grant was intended to stimulate philanthropic support of VCU Libraries as well as provide essential funds to fulfill the rich promise of VCU’s new library building on its Monroe Park Campus. The challenge was a success on both fronts: VCU Libraries exceeded the monetary goal, and expanded its community of supporters, through a record 434 gifts and pledges from alumni, faculty, staff, community members and others.

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VCU Libraries exhibition showcases incredible medical, scientific illustrations by VCUarts students, alumni

Hannah Huddle (B.F.A.’16/A), a 2016 graduate of the School of the Arts, created this study of a beetle specimen found in Virginia Beach.

A new art show at the Tompkins-McCaw Library for the Health Sciences at Virginia Commonwealth University is featuring medical and scientific illustrations by students and alumni of the Department of Communication Arts in the School of the Arts.

“Intersections II” features the work of 16 students and alumni of the Department of Communication Art’s scientific and preparatory medical illustration track, which requires a rigorous set of science courses hosted by the Department of Biology in the College of Humanities and Sciences and VCU Life Sciences in addition to their art courses.

The exhibition, which opens today, is free and open to the public at Tompkins-McCaw Library, located on VCU’s MCV campus at 509 N. 12th St. Images from “Intersections II” also will be displayed on the James Branch Cabell Library Big Screen beginning Monday, Feb. 27.

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Cabell Library wins “2016 New Landmark Library” award

James Branch Cabell Library has been named a 2016 New Landmark Library by Library Journal, widely viewed as the most trusted and respected publication for the library community.

A highly competitive national competition, the New Landmark Library Award considered academic libraries where building projects were completed between 2012 and 2015. Five winners, including Cabell Library, were chosen by a panel of judges with knowledge of both libraries and architecture. The redesigned Cabell Library opened in December 2015.

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Three pieces from VCU Libraries’ collections to be displayed at the new National Museum of African American History and Culture

This postcard of Sixth Mount Zion Church is from VCU Libraries’ Rarely Seen Richmond digital collection of postcards of vintage Richmond postcards. The church was saved from demolition in the 1950s when construction of Interstate 95 cut a swath through Jackson Ward, effectively bifurcating a historically African American neighborhood in Richmond.

This postcard of Sixth Mount Zion Church is from VCU Libraries’ Rarely Seen Richmond digital collection of postcards of vintage Richmond postcards. The church was saved from demolition in the 1950s when construction of Interstate 95 cut a swath through Jackson Ward, effectively bifurcating a historically African American neighborhood in Richmond.

Two digitized photographs and a digitized postcard from VCU Libraries’ Special Collections and Archives will be featured in inaugural exhibitions at the National Museum of African American History and Culture, which is slated to open Sept. 24 on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.

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Digital collection of wildflower photography is a ‘time capsule’ from the early days of the James River Park System

Richmond environmentalist and James River advocate Newton Ancarrow took thousands of photos of wildflowers along the James River, including these shots of Grape Hyacinth, Blood Root and Rocket Larkspur.

Richmond environmentalist and James River advocate Newton Ancarrow took thousands of photos of wildflowers along the James River, including these shots of Grape Hyacinth, Blood Root and Rocket Larkspur.

Between 1968 and 1971, Richmond environmentalist and James River advocate Newton Ancarrow snapped thousands of photographs of wildflowers, documenting more than 400 species, as he walked along the banks of the James, searching for evidence of illegal sewage dumping into the river.

Ancarrow, who is perhaps best remembered today for his namesake, the James River Park System’s easternmost waterfront park area and boat launch, Ancarrow’s Landing, used his wildflower photos as part of a slideshow presentation he gave to Richmond garden clubs, women’s groups and civic organizations as part of his efforts to drum up community support for a cleaner James River.

The 354 wildflower photographs in that presentation, titled “Flower Show No. 2,” have been digitized by VCU Libraries and are being shared publicly for the first as an online digital collection, the Ancarrow Wildflower Digital Archive.

“These slides are special because they’re a snapshot in time at the very early beginnings of the James River Park System — before, during and maybe even a little bit after it was created,” said Anne Wright, director of outreach education for the VCU Rice Rivers Center and an assistant professor in the Department of Biology in the College of Humanities and Sciences. “So, as a time capsule, they’re very interesting.”

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Cabell Library’s new 400-square-foot outdoor screen to display art, animation, video, scholarly work

Photo by Julia Rendleman.

Photo by Julia Rendleman.

Virginia Commonwealth University’s James Branch Cabell Library is poised to debut its newly installed 400-square-foot outdoor screen that will showcase art, animation, video and information about scholarly work from throughout the VCU community.

The screen, which overlooks the Compass, is 21 feet wide by 24 feet tall, and is located above the main entrance of Cabell Library, which recently wrapped up a major expansion and renovation that added 93,000 square feet of new construction and 63,000 square feet of improvements to the existing Monroe Park Campus library.

The screen has been installed with the hope to intrigue, inspire and inform the tens of thousands of VCU community members who pass by daily.

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Student catalogs VCU Libraries’ collection of pre-1800 books, greatly enhancing their research value

Julian Neuhauser, a VCU English graduate student, has been cataloging VCU Libraries' collection of books published before 1800, greatly enhancing their research value and discoverability.

Julian Neuhauser, a VCU English graduate student, has been cataloging VCU Libraries’ collection of books published before 1800, greatly enhancing their research value and discoverability.

The stacks of books in Julian Neuhauser’s office in James Branch Cabell Library are very old and very rare. There is a tiny book, dating back to 1709, that is bound with tortoise shell. There is an early goatskin-bound copy of “A Dictionary of the English Language,” the original dictionary by Samuel Johnson. And there is a 1723 edition of “Daimonologia, or, A Treatise of Spirits,” an occult text from the personal library of Richmond fantasy author James Branch Cabell, namesake of the James Branch Cabell Library.

These rare books have long been available to researchers as part of VCU Libraries’ Special Collections and Archives, but now, thanks to the efforts of Neuhauser, a graduate student in the Department of English in the College of Humanities and Sciences, they are more accessible than ever before.

Over the past year, Neuhauser has been cataloging VCU Libraries’ trove of books published before 1800, allowing researchers to not only search by author, title and subject, but also now by a wide variety of material features.

“Especially with older books, one thing that’s interesting to book historians like me is the material aspects of the books,” Neuhauser said. “Now that we have opened up the catalog to be searched by material terms, you can, say, look for all of VCU Libraries’ books that have a certain type of paper, or that have a specific type of binding, or have gold tooling, or have gilt edges and things like that.”

For book historians, he said, studying the physical properties of books provides insight into the printing processes and bookselling industry of a period, which opens up new culturally significant literary readings.

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Library boosters and student leaders partner for book sale fundraiser

VCU Libraries' inaugural spring book sale with new student leaders as partners was a success.

VCU Libraries’ inaugural spring book sale with new student leaders as partners was a success.

For many years, the Friends of VCU Libraries has held an annual book sale to raise funds to support library programs. The annual fall sale was not held in 2014 and 2015 during construction of the new Cabell Library.

During the hiatus, the development office and the book sale committee evaluated the sale and decided that it, like the building itself, was due for a makeover.

While the book sale has been a steady source of income for Friends of VCU Libraries programming, it also requires an investment of hundreds of hours of staff and volunteer time to organize and manage the sale. “Nationwide, lots of libraries hold book sales. Generally, as a fundraising tool, they’re not terribly efficient. They’re hard, dusty work and they demand lots of staff and volunteer time,” said Kelly Gotschalk, director of development and major gifts for VCU Libraries.

“Their greatest value is in their community service and community engagement aspects. People rally around the sale and like to help. For book lovers, it’s the ultimate reuse-recycle shopping experience and you can buy wonderful books for very little money.”

How could VCU’s book sale move to the next level in its community service and be better managed in the future? The answer Gotschalk arrived at: Tap into VCU’s deep student talent pool.

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Oral history project tells story of African-American schools in Goochland County

Photos by Cris Silvent, John Tyler Community College

Photos by Cris Silvent, John Tyler Community College

A new oral history project led by researchers at Virginia Commonwealth University and John Tyler Community College explores the experiences of former students of Goochland County’s Rosenwald Schools, which were among the nearly 5,000 built throughout the South in the early 20th century to educate African-American children.

The Goochland County Rosenwald Schools Oral History Project features 19 video interviews with 18 participants, fully searchable transcripts and tape logs, photographs of the schools and various related documents.

The project is a joint venture by Brian Daugherity, Ph.D., assistant professor in VCU’s Department of History in the College of Humanities and Sciences, and Alyce Miller, Ph.D., associate professor of history and chair of Department of Humanities and Social Sciences at JTCC, in partnership with VCU Libraries, which is hosting the digital collection.

“It’s important to understand the Rosenwald Schools because they were a catalyst, along with local activism and pressure, for improving educational opportunities available for African-Americans in the South in the early 20th century,” Daugherity said. “Southern school funding disproportionately benefited the education of white schoolchildren, so black activism and support for Rosenwald Schools was an important corrective to the injustices and inequities of that time.”

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