Thursday, January 29, 2015

Happy Birthday!

Happy 110th Birthday, John O'Hara!
January 31, 1905-April 11, 1970

Novelist and short-story writer John O’Hara was born in 1905 in Pottsville, Pennsylvania, in the state’s northeastern anthracite coal region. This month we celebrate O’Hara’s 110th birthday, as well as the 60th anniversary of the appearance of his novel Ten North Frederick, published in 1955 by Random House. The book was his greatest critical and popular success, appearing on the best-seller lists for thirty-two weeks and selling 65,703 copies in its first two weeks. In 1956 Ten North Frederick won the National Book Award for fiction.

O’Hara left Pennsylvania as a young man, but beginning with his first novel, Appointment in Samarra (1934), he set five novels and more than fifty short stories in what he called “my Pennsylvania Protectorate.” The characters of his fictional town of Gibbsville were the miners and poor immigrants, the country-club set, and the college-bred elite of his hometown. 10 North Frederick is the address of a house in the prosperous little city of Gibbsville. Its owner, the distinguished attorney Joseph Chapin, nurtures a secret desire to be President of the United States. The character of Chapin was played by Gary Cooper in the 1958 film of the same name.

O’Hara’s original study in Princeton, New Jersey, was faithfully recreated at Penn State in 1974, as the gift of his widow. The study and its contents is a memorial to the writer and a repository for O’Hara’s considerable legacy of books, manuscripts, letters, and memorabilia.

For information about visiting the O’Hara Study or consulting the John O’Hara Papers, email ( or call the Special Collections Library (814-865-1793).

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Welcome to a new (A)eon!

We're excited to announce that beginning January 26, 2015, the Special Collections Library will begin to use a Special Collections Management software called Aeon.  Aeon will allow us to manage our collections and our request much more efficiently by closing the typical gap between “discovery” and “delivery” and by enabling users to place reading room paging requestsautomatically from library catalogs, archival finding aids, and other online collection management systems.

What is Aeon?
Aeon allows researchers to submit requests for items in the Special Collections Library. Researchers will now be able to register and manage personal information and track requests from any computer using the Aeon system. Previously, registration and requests were done manually, while on-site.

How will Aeon help make research easier in special collections?
Once researchers are registered, special collections' staff will be able to approve requests and retrieve materials more efficiently. Researchers can watch the progress of each request to determine if an item has been retrieved, put on hold, or returned to storage. Researchers can also store all request information in their profile for future review of citation information regarding materials consulted in special collections and also place photoduplication/digitization orders.

Will researchers be able to request special collections manuscripts, books and periodicals using Aeon?
Yes. Books and periodicals housed in special collections are found by searching The CAT, the Penn State University Libraries’ online catalog. If an item in the catalog is located in special collections, the record in the CAT will display an option to request the materials.
Archival collections can be found through Special Collections online Finding Aids. Once you find the Archival Collection you are looking for in the database, you can request materials from individual collections via a “Request Button”.

Will professors be able to request materials for their students to use for class projects?
Yes. Professors can set up class visits as “Events” within their Aeon accounts. Materials to be used during class visits can be managed separately from the professors’ personal research requests. The history of materials requested for a class can be stored and viewed for future use.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Upcoming Exhibit: Chip Kidd

Art by Chris Ware for “The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle” by Haruki Murakami, first American edition, 1997, published by Alfred A. Knopf. Jacket design by Chip Kidd.

“Everything Not Made by Nature Is Design,” an exhibition from the Chip Kidd Archives, on display Jan. 12 through April 24 in The Eberly Family Special Collections Library, features the archives of award-winning graphic designer and Penn State Distinguished Alumnus Charles “Chip” Kidd (Class of 1986). Hours are Monday to Thursday: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Friday: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday: 1 to 5 p.m..

With praise like “the world’s greatest book-jacket designer” (from author James Ellroy) and “design demigod” (from New York magazine), it is easy to forget that Kidd is still in the prime of his career. The Pennsylvania native was born in 1964 in Lincoln Park, a suburb of Reading. After studying graphic design at Penn State with Distinguished Professor Emeritus Lanny Sommese, Kidd went to work at publishing house Alfred A. Knopf in 1986. Twenty-eight years later, Kidd has designed over a thousand book covers for Knopf and other freelance clients, for authors such as John Updike, Cormac McCarthy, Donna Tartt, Haruki Murakami and Michael Crichton — including the iconic cover of “Jurassic Park.” Kidd is the recipient of numerous awards, notably the Cooper-Hewitt Smithsonian Museum National Design Award, in 2007, and the American Institute of Graphic Arts Medal for lifetime achievement in 2014.

Kidd is also the author of several books of his own, including two novels: “The Cheese Monkeys,” a fictionalized account of his time at Penn State, and “The Learners,” which follows the autobiographical protagonist to his first job as a commercial designer. Other works include an original graphic novel, “Batman: Death by Design,” and a number of books about comics: “Bat-Manga!: The Secret History of Batman in Japan,” “Mythology: the DC Comics Art of Alex Ross” and “Peanuts: The Art of Charles M. Schulz.” His most recent book is “Go: a Kidd's Guide to Graphic Design.”

If all that were not enough, Kidd is also a prolific public speaker, including a popular 2012 TED Talk, and singer-songwriter for the rock band Artbreak, featuring Penn State dorm-mate Mars Trillion. In the additional role of editor-at-large for Pantheon Books, Kidd has worked on projects with some of the most acclaimed contemporary graphic novelists, like Chris Ware (the 2013 Lynd Ward Prize winner), Daniel Clowes, Ben Katchor, Charles Burns and Art Spiegelman.
Penn State’s Libraries acquired Kidd’s archives last year as more than 250 boxes of material and approximately one terabyte of digital data. The collection, which is still being processed and cataloged by the Special Collections Library staff, contains childhood memorabilia, student portfolios from Penn State, sketches, annotated manuscripts, original art, drafts and proofs of hundreds of designs that illuminate the creative process and the progression of works from concept through production. Remarkable correspondence with authors, artists, editors and other collaborators makes up a large portion of the archives as well. Print material includes rare first edition books, vintage comics and Kidd’s personal reference library on art history, design and typography. Altogether, the scope of the material provides valuable research opportunities for both scholars of literature and of pop culture.

The exhibition draws from early and late periods of the archive, featuring well-known works and never-before-seen student projects as well as selections from the extensive array of Batman collectibles. A gallery talk at 2 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 8, by the Kidd Collection archivist Alyssa Carver will discuss exhibit highlights and some of the challenges involved with organizing and preserving the hybrid (analog and digital) archive.

For additional information about this exhibition and gallery talk or if you anticipate needing accessibility accommodations or have questions about the physical access provided, contact Carver at or 814-867-0289.