Thursday, September 15, 2016

Throwback Thursday: The Computer Comes to Campus

New students: Have you gotten used to your Mac yet?

Seton Hill has a world-recognized technology program, and its commitment to being on the cutting edge is nothing new. Check out this clipping about "an intelligent, exciting newcomer to campus" in July 1980 (text transcribed below image):

Marjorie Knox and Russ Walker welcome an intelligent, exciting newcomer to campus.


It was an April day in 1918. Seton Hill's charter was up for consideration. The then-junior college had requested the power to confer bachelor degrees in art, music, and science. Two months later, the request had been reviewed and the charter was approved... with one stipulation. Because of what the reviewers considered "the unlikelihood of a sufficient demand for science by the students of a college for women," Seton Hill's power to grant the bachelor of science degree was limited to the field of home economics. 

Since that time, Seton Hill has used the ideals of its early education pioneers as criteria for development. Degrees are now awarded in biology, chemistry, mathematics, psychology, and sociology. Laboratory facilities have been expanded and modernized. And, on a recent July morning, some 62 years after the college's initial charter-reviewers disclaimed the need for science in a women's college, Seton Hill added its boldest and most sophisticated piece of scientific equipment. A computer.

A computer on campus has long been the goal of many faculty members and administrators. A five-year institutional planning process, begun during 1976-1977, identified as a high priority the need "to strengthen academic programs which are attracting students, and to develop new programs, especially those with career-interest." Specific educational needs were partly assessed by feedback from alumnae. Recommendations of business and industry recruiters and professional societies were also considered.

A college-developed proposal to the National Science Foundation CAUSE (Comprehensive Assistance to Undergraduate Science Education) Program, and its subsequent grand award-- $114,435-- allowed Seton Hill to greatly expand its original plan for academic use of the computer.

A Digital Equipment Corporation PDP 11/34 computer was installed in July and will begin its use as an educational tool this fall. It will prepare students for science careers, and for life in this challenging new world of push-button banking, two-way cable TV, and sophisticated communication systems.

Through a multi-disciplinary approach, virtually the total student body (95%) will achieve computer literacy over the next four-year period. "Computer literacy is as basic a skill," says College President Eileen Farrell, "as facility with written and spoken language. An understanding of the computer and its application to almost every phase of our lives is rapidly becoming an essential element of a liberal education."

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

September Reading Theme: Regional Fiction

The Greater Pittsburgh region may not strike everyone as a tourist destination, but we have plenty of history, culture, and natural beauty to offer. Hopefully September's featured book display in The Reading Room inspires an appreciative look at the many opportunities we enjoy here in western PA. 

Our featured titles this month:

Equilibrium by Elizabeth Lydia Bodner
"[Bodner's] first book, Uncompromising: Family Style... looked at the late 1800s and early 1900s through the eyes of immigrants passing through her grandmother's hotel in East Pittsburgh. Equilibrium [brings] the characters through to the next tumultuous century, maintaining the same family stability and strength." (Publisher's summary; we have Bodner's first book, too!)

Coal Bones by Karen Rose Cercone
"Karen Rose Cercone brings readers back to 1906 Pittsburgh, where a mysterious death in a coal mine involves Detective Milo Kachigan and reporter Helen Sorby in a case that pits big business, organized labor, and poor immigrant workers against each other in a deadly web of conflict." (Publisher's summary)

Steel Ashes by Karen Rose Cercone
"In the Pittsburgh of 1905, the burning of a rundown tenement and the deaths of two poor immigrants barely make the evening papers. But there are two courageous figures who refuse to let the murders go unsolved. One is the detective handling the case. The other is a social worker. Apart, they can barely scratch the surface of Pittsburgh's corrupt political machine. Together, they fight the discrimination that threatens to forever shield a sinister cover-up." (Publisher's summary)

The Man Who Liked Slow Tomatoes by K.C. Constantine
"Mario Balzic is one of those police chiefs so close to his people that nothing moves or even sits still in his town without his knowing how and why. His town is Rocksburg, a small coal mining town in western Pennsylvania where most of the coal has run out.... If you've not met this Serbo-Italian, profoundly American cop, it's time you did." (Publisher's summary)

The White Rocks by Alonzo F. Hill
"A fictionalized account of an actual murder case in Fayette County in the 1850's." (Publisher's summary)

The Fall-Down Artist by Thomas Lipinski
"Lipinski... presents a rather ordinary Pittsburgh private eye who specializes in insurance fraud cases. Carroll Dorsey maintains an adversarial relationship with his disappointed father (an ambitious attorney) but has found a sympathetic ear in lover Gretchen Keller, an M.D. Dorsey happens upon a vast insurance fraud conspiracy centered on steel mill closings that soon turns personally dangerous." (Library Journal review)

Julie by Catherine Marshall
By the author of the classic Christy. "Set in the last part of the Great Depression, a story of Julie Wallace and her family - of adventure and romance, of courage and commitment, of triumph and tragedy in a flood-prone town in western Pennsylvania." (Publisher's summary)

Snow Angels by Stewart O'Nan
"Arty Parkinson, the protagonist of this fine first novel, returns one Christmas to his hometown of Butler, Pennsylvania, to confront his haunting past-specifically, the winter of 1974, when he turned 15 and two terrible things happened: his family fell apart, and Annie Marchand, the young neighbor who had once been his baby-sitter, was murdered." (Library Journal review)

Two Cities by John Edgar Wideman
"A young woman who has lost her husband and her sons to street violence finally allows herself to love again, then ends up probing the death of an eccentric whose photographs document a half-century of African American history." (Library Journal review)

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Labor Day Weekend Hours

Image courtesy of

Labor Day Weekend Hours

Friday, September 2: 8:00 a.m. - 4:50 p.m.

Saturday, September 3: 9:00 a.m. - 4:50 p.m.

Sunday & Monday, September 4 & 5: CLOSED

Have a safe and happy holiday. 

Throwback Thursday: Send a postcard

You may have recently sent your parents or a high school friend a selfie with the Griffin, the Career & Professional Development Center's Handshake chair, or one of the statues around campus. Once upon a time, students had to stay in touch with those at home via snail mail, or, as it used to be known, "mail."

This scan of a postcard is titled "London plane trees View book."

If you're interested in learning more about London Planetrees, the Arbor Day Foundation's website is a good starting point ( "The tree was found to thrive in the sooty air and provide wonderful shade." Anyone who has hiked up the Hill on a hot day with a train roaring by will understand why these are good characteristics for trees lining the SHU drive!

Thursday, August 25, 2016

September DVD Spotlight: Documentaries

"Sometimes truth is stranger than fiction," as the old saying goes.  It is often the case that stories from real life are more riveting and affecting than those that spring from the human imagination, and with this in mind, Reeves Memorial Library is featuring documentary films from our DVD collection all through the month of September.  We've got something for everyone, with documentaries about topics as wide ranging as art, music, sports, history, healthcare, nature, social issues, and politics.

Featured titles include:

The War Room (1993)
Election season nearly upon us, which makes it a perfect time to check out this captivating behind-the-scenes look at Bill Clinton's 1992 presidential campaign.

Shoah (1985)
This chilling, 9 1/2-hour long examination of the Holocaust is not only a brilliant, monumental piece of filmmaking, but an important historical work and a revealing oral history as well.

F for Fake (1975)
Orson Welles's playful, experimental film about forgeries, hoaxes, and deception is also a throughly enjoyable meditation on the nature of documentary film itself.

Hoop Dreams (1994)
This acclaimed documentary, filmed over a period of five years, chronicles the experiences of two inner-city Chicago youths who dream of NBA stardom.  This one is not to be missed.

Helvetica (2007)
A fascinating look at the effect that graphic design has on our lives, tracing the development and widespread use of the titular typeface.

God's Country (1985)
French director Louis Malle's portrait of a small Minnesota farming community is an endearing and surprisingly candid look at everyday American life.

Gates of Heaven (1978)
Celebrated documentarian Errol Morris began his career with this look at a California pet cemetery.  This is one of cinema's best and most unexpected explorations of the human condition.

Crumb (1994)
This biographical portrait of legendary underground artist Robert Crumb and his eccentric family is a revealing look at his life and provocative work.

Check one out today!

Monday, August 22, 2016

Fall Hours

AUGUST 22, 2016—JANUARY 1, 2017
(Hours may vary during breaks and holidays)

Monday – Friday                                   8:00 a.m.  -  11:50 p.m.
Saturday                                                9:00 a.m.  -  11:50 p.m.
Sunday                                                  1:00 p.m. -   11:50 p.m.

AUGUST 22, 2016—January 1, 2017

Monday – Thursday                              8:00 a.m.  -  11:50 p.m.
Friday                                                    8:00 a.m.  -    4:50 p.m.
Saturday                                                9:00 a.m.  -    4:50 p.m.
Sunday                                                  1:00 p.m. -   11:50 p.m.


                        August 22 – August 25                          8:00a.m.  -  7:50 p.m.
                        September 4 – September 5                    CLOSED

                        EXTENDED WEEKEND
October 1 – 2                                          CLOSED
                        October 3 – October 4                              8:00 a.m. –  4:50 p.m.

November 22                                          8:00 a.m. – 4:50 p.m.
November 23                                          8:00 a.m. – 3:50 p.m.
                        November 24 – November 27                  CLOSED

December 6 – 8                                       8:00 a.m. – 9:50 p.m.
December 11                                          CLOSED
December 12                                          8:00 a.m. – 4:15 p.m.
December 13 – December 16                 8:00 a.m. – 4:50 p.m.
                        December 17 – December 18                  CLOSED                                 
                        December 19 – December 23                  8:00 a.m. – 4:50 p.m.
                        December 24 – January1                         CLOSED

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Throwback Thursday: Library Flood!

Did you know that librarians fear water damage more than they do fires? It's true. A collection of books can usually hold up to fire for a short time with minimal damage; the pages are packed so tightly together on the shelves that the paper doesn't catch easily or burn quickly. (Next time you have a campfire, twist some newspaper tightly and see how much longer it burns than a loose sheet.) Some good vacuuming, airing out, and occasional rebinding can often recover a collection after a small fire in the building.

Water, however, is a different story.

Archives materials spread out to dry

Water leads to warped pages, running ink, and, worst of all-- mold. Mold is the death knell for a book.

The SHU Archives used to be located downstairs in Reeves, where the Oversize books and the 800s-900s and CDs live now. In Summer 2007, the first floor flooded!

We don't have any pictures of the actual water because we were too busy moving materials to higher ground (we were wading through water up above our ankles in many places). But we do have some photos of the aftermath.

Public Services Librarian Kelly Clever checking on the air circulation

Note the box fan

These photos were taken on the first floor of Reeves. The present-day LECOM library and the O'Hara Room used to be one large room where we kept all of the print journals and magazines. You can see the print indexes on the wooden shelving above, and the bound journals are in the background on the metal shelving. We had hundreds of subscriptions and kept decades of back issues for many of them!