In making my way to the back offices of the library, I always pass a table that tells a story with books. I tend to only notice them once: how they’re arranged, what the theme is, and a good look at the covers (I don’t judge the books by that). I’ve never really appreciated the creativity involved in curating these displays until a few weeks ago when I was told that the library received some feedback on them, so I found out who made them, and asked her a few questions.
Our library staffer, Jenny Bigenwald, is the one who takes charge of our displays, and I asked her a few questions about them and her process in putting them together.
K: What is your favorite part about curating them?
J: My favorite part is pulling items (photos, books, etc.) from our archives and creating a whole display around them. I also love working with other departments and clubs on campus, and creating displays to highlight events they may be holding.
K: What is your hope/goal after you make the exhibits?
J: Depending on the type of display it is, I hope students will either become informed, either about a cause or event on campus, or enjoy learning a bit more about the history of this great college.
K: Where do you get the inspiration to make the displays?
J: Nancy Greco and our collection in our College Archives have been a great resource. Searching for ideas online. Professors, like Tim Madigan, or Yantee Slobert in the Multicultural Affairs offices have contacted me to do various displays for them, and some of my ideas are just passed to me by colleagues in the library.
K: Do you have a favorite display that you’ve made?
J: I think my favorite display I worked on was the one highlighting the life of Tom Way, which was on display during the Fall of 2013. Tom Way was a 1966 graduate of Fisher who fought in Vietnam and was Fisher’s first casualty of the war. He died in Vietnam on October 9, 1967, five days after his 23rd birthday. I had met with his sister and brother-in-law and used personal photos, letters Tom sent home from Vietnam, and other memorabilia that the family loaned us for the exhibit.
K: What can we look forward to seeing in the library next month?
J: It will be hard to top last year’s display of the 5-foot Christmas tree made out of books, which took 367 books to create! Maybe we will create a smaller tree this year. I am working on a display for this year’s Day of Celebration, which is held on December 3rd. I may set this up on the table by the elevator. I am also in the beginning stages of planning a display for the glass case for next semester, and I’m thinking about doing one on the history of SJFC’s Glee Club (we have some great artifacts in our archives).
I certainly look forward to seeing the exhibits and hopefully learning something from at least the subject of the display. Whether it’s basketball, feminism, or a local hero in Rochester history, Jenny puts these displays out so that we are more informed and the subject matter is even easier to get to and learn about.
If you’re in the library and happen to pass one of the exhibits, take a second to actually look at and appreciate it. And if you see Jenny in the library, make sure to tell her thank you for all the hard work she does in putting the displays together. Thank you, Jenny!
Until next time Fisher Fam,
Kyle Cataldo, SAB President and internet meme enthusiast