A Long Time Ago, in a Galaxy Far, Far Away…


By Lauren Fralinger, Learning & Research Services

In 1977, there was nothing quite like it. A fantasy story with the scale of an epic history, the overtones of a war story told through old news reels and touches of a Western from its saloon brawls and quick-drawing characters.

Star Wars planet Alderaan. User: Yesuitus2001 / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-SA-3.0

The opening lines of “A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away,” put early audiences in mind of a fairy tale’s promise of “once upon a time”—and Star Wars indeed had all of these fairy tale elements as well.

Set in space and amid a series of exotic worlds and creatures, Star Wars tied together themes and characters that were familiar to audiences, but set in a strikingly complex, futuristic setting in a time when science fiction movies were not unheard of, but rare.

The story of the tyrannical Galactic Empire at war with the upstart Rebellion has not only continued to survive but also has evolved. The original is at the top of the list of highest grossing movies ever, and it has inspired a host other movies with similar characters, settings, themes, and ideas.


Star Wars: Kenobi by John Jackson Miller is one of the more recent literary spin-offs to the series.

The enormous success of the original Star Wars led to sequels continuing to chronicle the adventures of the Rebellion’s heroes as they overthrew the Empire and restored the Republic. Followed in 1980 by The Empire Strikes Back and 1983 by Return of the Jedi, the second and third movies seemed to complete the adventures of the original three heroes—Princess Leia, Luke Skywalker, and Han Solo. Fans demanded more, and an expanded universe of books and graphic novels were released detailing the heroes’ further adventures in the galaxy far, far away.

After 1983, the juggernaut that was Star Wars slowed, but never stopped. Rumors of prequels percolated for years, sparked by the Episode V preceding the title of The Empire Strikes Back. In 1999, those rumors became reality, and a prequel trilogy made its way to theaters, telling the story of Darth Vader’s fall to the Dark Side.

Though the prequels were fraught with criticism, their release sparked off a renaissance in Star Wars, bringing in new fans and spurring the creation of new merchandise and stories, ensuring that another generation would grow up familiar with Darth Vader, Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, lightsabers, and the Force.


Hot air balloon in Mexico built to resemble Star Wars’ infamous villain. Tomas Castelazo / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-SA-3.0

That renaissance is still continuing. On December 16 of this year, Star Wars will once again hit theaters around the world. Star Wars: The Force Awakens will be the first of a new series of sequels, picking up after the end of the original trilogy. Though old heroes such as Luke, Leia, and Han will be returning, new heroes will be introduced, and the saga of Star Wars will continue to grow, thrive, and sweep us off to a galaxy far, far away. Until then, be sure to check out some of UM Libraries’ films and books based on the Star Wars franchise.


Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace

Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones

Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith

Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope

Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back

Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi



Non-Fiction Books

The Science of Star Wars: An Astrophysicist’s Independent Examination of Space Travel, Aliens, Planets, and Robots as Portrayed in the Star Wars Films and Books by Jeanne Cavelos

The Gospel According to Star Wars: Faith, Hope, and the Force by John McDowell

Finding the Force of the Star Wars Franchise: Fans, Merchandise, and Critics by Matthew Wilhelm Kapell and John Shelton Lawrence

Star Wars: Where Science Meets Imagination by Ed Rodley

How Star Wars Conquered the Universe: The Past, Present, and Future of a Multibillion Dollar Franchise by Chris Taylor



Fiction Books

Kenobi by John Jackson Miller

Heir to the Jedi by Kevin Hearne

Star Wars: Scoundrels by Timothy Zahn

UM Libraries Celebrates Banned Books Week

by Lauren Fralinger


How often do you think about your right to read? It is often said that words can change the world, whether they’re spoken aloud or written down. The First Amendment recognizes the power of words, enshrining our freedom of speech. But what happens when that speech is challenged? When we’re told we can’t speak out, can’t read words that might challenge our thoughts or give us new ideas?

September 27–October 3 is Banned Books Week, a time of year designated to raise awareness of banned and challenged books, and an opportunity to understand the consequences of censorship.

Banned Books Week was founded in 1982 by Judith Krug in response to the sudden surge of challenged books. Krug, a First Amendment defender and library advocate, strongly opposed censorship. She felt that no one should be restricted from books or ideas, and that readers should have the freedom to develop their own opinions.

In the thirty-three years since Krug began her initiative, there have been more than 11,300 books challenged, according to the American Library Association (ALA). Just last year ALA reported 311 challenges, including John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars and David Levithan’s Two Boys Kissing.

If a book is challenged, someone is trying to keep it from the hands of readers. ALA’s Office of Intellectual Property has reported the top three reasons for a challenge are: 1) the material was considered to be sexually explicit, 2) the material was considered to have offensive language, and 3) the material was considered unsuited for any age group.

Challenges by various groups have resulted in books commonly regarded today as classic literature being banned from libraries and schools across the United States: In 1957, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz was banned from the Detroit Public Library for “having no value for children of today, supporting negativism, and bringing children’s minds to a cowardly level.”

Other classic works that have been banned include:

  • Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, on the grounds of profanity and racially charged language.
  • J. D. Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye, described by detractors as a “filthy, filthy book.”
  • First edition copies of Allan Ginsberg’s Howl were seized by the San Francisco customs for obscenity in 1957; however, after a trial the obscenity charges were dropped.
  • John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath was temporarily banned in the in region of California in which it was originally set for “alleged unflattering portrayal of area residents.”
  • The Diary of a Young Girl, by Anne Frank, was once banned by an Alabama textbook committee, deeming it a “real downer.”

Banned Books Week at Richter

catcherBanned Books Week highlights these and many other influential works that have endured censorship, bringing together proponents of free speech, librarians, publishers, teachers, and book lovers of all genres.

Come join us for a week-long celebration of free speech and great literature. Look around Richter Library for books that have been challenged or banned, starting with a banned books exhibit on the first floor. Some of the titles may surprise you!

We’re Improving Our Wifi!

Beginning September 22 UMIT will be upgrading Wifi antennas in Richter Library. Please note that though most of this work will be taking place prior to the library opening there may be occasional noise and disruption intermittently throughout the week. Please visit the Information Desk if you need assistance locating a quiet study space.

We apologize for any inconvenience as we work to make this essential improvement.

Save the Date: Upcoming Events at UM Libraries


The University of Miami Libraries are hosting and co-presenting several events this fall and in the coming year. Please mark your calendars and join us for what promises to be a series of stimulating talks and presentations.

September 24, 2015 | Book Traces

9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. | Otto G. Richter Library
Join in the search for unique library books! The UM Libraries are hosting an event for readers and book enthusiasts in the community to help locate some of the many old books with original reader markings—from pencilled notes to hand drawn maps to sketches in the margins—that are housed at Richter Library. The customizations, known as marginalia, are the focus of a national library initiative started at the University of Virginia to preserve information about unique copies of library books in the wake of wide-scale digitization. In addition to hosting an exciting search for marginalia in UM Libraries collections with assistance provided by librarians, the event will feature the following presentations:

Book Traces and the Technology of Memory
Andrew Stauffer, Founder of Book Traces, University of Virginia
11:30 a.m., 3rd Floor Conference Room

A Delicate Balance: How Functionality, Artifactual Evidence, and Resource Allocation Affect Preservation Decision-making
Kara McClurken, Principal Investigator on the Book Traces grant, University of Virginia
4 p.m., 3rd Floor Conference Room


October 28, 2015 | MEET the Ghostly Treasures of Special Collections

7 p.m. | Special Collections, Otto G. Richter Library
Special Collections will highlight a series of spooky, mysterious, and otherworldly texts from its rare and distinctive collections for the Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami’s October ICA MEETS event. As Halloween draws nigh, guests will learn about and explore rare books, manuscripts, photos, and ephemera culled from the thousands of historical books and documents related to spiritualism, the occult, and UFOs from the collections of Jackie Gleason and others. Special Collections is located on the 8th floor of the Otto G. Richter Library.

November 19, 2015 | Quince Sellos Cubanos Reception

6:30 p.m. | Roberto C. Goizueta Pavilion, Otto G. Richter Library
Join us for a reception and conversation with artist María Martínez-Cañas highlighting her exhibition, a portfolio of 15 gelatin silver prints now on view at the library along with the original Cuban stamps that inspired her work. Exploring themes of history, memory, and identity, the limited-edition series was donated to the Cuban Heritage Collection by Alan Gordich in 2014. The exhibition will remain on view through December 2015.

January 14, 2016 | Arva Moore Parks Presents George Merrick, Son of the South Wind

6:30 p.m. | Roberto C. Goizueta Pavilion, Otto G. Richter Library
As UM kicks off the 90th anniversary celebrations in 2016, Miami historian and University trustee Arva Moore Parks will present her latest book on Coral Gables’ founder and UM visionary George Merrick. Parks’ presentation at the library, co-sponsored by Books & Books, is in conjunction with the official opening of The Pan American University: The Original Spirit of the U Lives On, an exhibition of historical materials from the Libraries’ unique and distinctive collections reflecting the University’s enduring connection to Latin America and the Caribbean.


Featured events are free and open to the public. For more information or to RSVP, please contact richterevents@miami.edu or call 305-284-4026.

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Help Us Create the Next Great Place on Campus!

Take our survey!In Fall 2016, a new Learning Commons will open in Richter Library. Among other things, it will bring together Library and academic service groups to provide more convenient, enhanced, and integrated services. We aspire to create a place that supports the entire University of Miami community in their research, work, and learning activities.

As part of the planning process we would like to hear from our community. Please take a moment to fill out the survey at bit.ly/theLCsurvey. It will take approximately 5-8 minutes of your time. Not all questions are required.

All respondents are eligible to win one of five $15 Starbucks gift cards. If you are interested, you will be prompted at the end of the survey to enter your contact information.

Take the survey now.

If you have any questions about the survey, please contact brightspot strategy, who is consulting with us on a multi-stage design process: yen@brightspotstrategy.com.

Thank you in advance for your input in this very important endeavor!

Now Available at UM: Mendeley Institutional Edition

mendeleyTraining_600x600Attend the Training Session on 9/22

A highly acclaimed reference management application that allows researchers to organize documents, collaborate with others online, and discover the latest research trends and statistics is now available to all UM students, faculty, and staff. The University of Miami recently subscribed to Mendeley Institutional Edition, an institutional version of Mendeley with premium user features and additional institutional support.

To celebrate the purchase of this new product, UM and Elsevier, Mendeley’s parent company, are presenting a training session for UM researchers and all students or employees that would like to learn more about using the Mendeley Institutional Edition and how it can support their research.

Tuesday, September 22
3:30 – 5 p.m.
Information Literacy Lab, Richter Library, 3rd floor

An Amazon Kindle Fire HD will be raffled off at the end of the training session.

Mendeley is cross-platform and supported by all major browsers. With more than three million users, the program is know for

  • driving researcher productivity by helping users manage, read, share, annotate and cite papers and projects.
  • enabling collaboration and knowledge sharing by hosting a network for users to connect with like-minded researchers and discover research trends and statistics.
  • providing a crowdsourced database with a unique layer of social research information and Open API, leading to additional insights, and is useful for app-building.


You can now join the official UM Mendeley group on the Mendeley website and gain the benefits of our institutional membership.

Learn more about Mendeley by attending the training session. Register now by contacting William Jacobs at billajc@miami.edu.

Join Us for Expanding Career Opportunities for PhDs in the Libraries‌


UM College of Arts & Sciences Center for the Humanities Presents
Expanding Career Opportunities for PhDs in the Libraries‌
Friday, September 25, 2015
12:30 p.m.

M. Christine Schwartz Center for Nursing Education
Executive Board Room
5030 Brunson Drive | Coral Gables, FL 33146

For UM Faculty and Graduate Students
Register now

Engage in conversation about career opportunities in 21st-century libraries and cultural institutions with a distinguished panel of University of Miami Libraries administrators and postdoctoral fellows, whose research interests include the humanities, social sciences, and sciences.  Listen to their stories, learn about library and archives career exploration strategies including fellowship opportunities, and ask them your questions at this interactive session.


About the Speakers

Charles Eckman, Dean of Libraries, Otto G. Richter Library, University of Miami
Dr. Eckman previously served as university librarian and dean of library services at Simon Fraser University (2010-13), director of collections at the University of California, Berkeley (2006-10), and principal government documents librarian and head of the social sciences resource group at Stanford University (1997-2006).

Dr. Eckman has managed and consulted for several digital library initiatives.  He has served on the board of directors for the Association of Southeastern Research Libraries, Canadian Association of Research Libraries, and Canadian Research Knowledge Network; he also served on the Depository Library Council to the Public Printer. Dr. Eckman’s research interests include information policy, open access initiatives, digital scholarship, and the evolution of scholarly communication. He holds an MLIS from UC Berkeley, a PhD and MA in Politics from Princeton University, and a BA in Political Science from Indiana University.

Kelly Miller, Associate Dean, Learning & Research Services, University of Miami
Dr. Miller earned a PhD in Slavic Languages and Literatures at the University of Michigan and held a Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) Postdoctoral Fellowship at the University of Virginia. Prior to joining the UML, she worked at UCLA Library.

Timothy Norris, CLIR Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Miami
Tim Norris is a second-year Council of Library and Information Resources (CLIR) Postdoctoral Fellow in Data Curation at the University of Miami Libraries. He earned a PhD in Environmental Studies (a.k.a. Geography) at the University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC). Prior to his doctoral work at UCSC he started and maintained a small development NGO in Peru.

Martin Tsang, CLIR Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Miami
Martin Tsang serves as a liaison librarian for faculty and students in History and Area Studies. Martin is working to develop print and digital collections, provide consultative and instructional research support services, and assist the Libraries in designing a new model for transformative library engagement with our research and teaching communities. Martin is an anthropologist and received his PhD at Florida International University. He was awarded fellowships at the Cuban Heritage Collection for his doctoral dissertation that focuses on the Chinese Cubans. Prior to his position at UML, Martin was a postdoctoral research fellow on a National Institutes of Health-funded project investigating HIV, drug use, and the tourist industry in the Dominican Republic using a “syndemics” framework.

UM Libraries to Host Hunt for “Hidden Treasures” in Richter Library Stacks

UML Book Tracesby Sarah Block, Library Communications

UM Special Collections Librarian Jay Sylvestre believes that every book, as a record of stories from the past, is unique. The old, seemingly forgotten texts he unearthed in a recent search of the Richter Library Stack Tower are markedly one-of-a-kind, adorned with notes, illustrations, and even physical objects belonging to readers past. Now piled on his desk on the 8th floor, the stack of books, some that are long out of print, will soon come to light again. Their unique markings, known as marginalia, are the target of Book Traces, a nationwide crowdsourcing project started at the University of Virginia (UVA) soon touching down in Miami.

The project aims to preserve information about unique copies of library books, providing a website in which libraries and their users nationwide can upload examples of marginalia ranging from penciled notes about the work to hand drawn maps and sketches inspired by the text. One of Sylvestre’s findings from Richter Library, Jack London’s Tales of the Fish Patrol, contains the symmetrical stain of pressed flowers between two pages. “It’s a little bit like a treasure hunt,” he says. “Because you find these traces of the past and suddenly it’s not just a book you’re looking at, but a window into someone else’s life from another time period. It’s fascinating.”

Now hoping to foster public engagement on these unique library books, Sylvestre is organizing UM Libraries’ first annual Book Traces event on September 24, inviting all book enthusiasts in the community to explore and discover unique books in the stacks and share them on the Book Traces website. A number of groups from UM’s College of Arts and Sciences, including English, classics, and musicology classes, are participating in the event, and Sylvestre hopes to attract the participation of individual students, faculty, and community members joining in the hunt as well, as he’s confident that many more exciting discoveries lie ahead.

“There are many books that were donated during the early years of the University with very distinctive marginalia left by their original owners,” he says. Although books from before 1800 have likely been moved into the Special Collections department, where Sylvestre works, there are many distinctive books—with unique marginalia—from the past two centuries that are still in circulation in the library’s general collections and housed in the Stack Tower, he explains.


Marginalia in the form of a photograph captured for the Book Traces website in 2014. The photo was found in a copy of the nineteenth-century journal The Spirit Messenger, housed at Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Book Traces focuses chiefly on books from the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries that are little used because of their age, and yet not distinctive enough at this point to be housed in special collections. “With many books from this time period being made available in a digital format, people are engaging less with the very interesting copies that exist on library shelves,” Sylvestre says. The Book Traces stated mission is to engage the question of the future of the print record in the wake of wide-scale digitization.

Sylvestre explains the project is also about preserving the history of reading, and readers. He comments, “Books are tools, so the way people used books one hundred years ago gives us insight into the life they led during that historical period. The books have anthropological value.”

The Libraries welcomes readers and book enthusiasts throughout the community to join in the search for unique books at Richter Library by participating in its first annual Book Traces event, which will take place September 24 from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Participants can come at any point throughout the day to explore the stacks floors for marginalia, and will be provided with instruction and assistance by UM Librarians as well as the opportunity to submit their discoveries to the Book Traces database.

The event will also include a presentation by the project’s founder, Andrew Stauffer, director of NINES at UVA, on digitization and the future of nineteenth-century print, at 11:30 a.m. in Richter Library’s 3rd Floor Conference Room. Kara McClurken, director of preservation services at UVA and a principal investigator on the grant that funds Book Traces, will close the event at 4 p.m. in the 3rd Floor Conference Room with a presentation on libraries and print preservation decision-making, discussing the delicate balance of functionality, artifactual evidence, and resource allocation.

Additional information on the Book Traces mission and examples of marginalia can be found on the Book Traces website. More on the UM Libraries Book Traces event will be available in the coming weeks on the Libraries’ homepage. This event is free and open to the public.

RSVP by September 17 to richterevents@miami.edu or 305-284-4026.


The historic pastime of pressing flowers comes to light in a copy of Gray’s School And Field Book of Botany (1870) at Mount Holyoke College Library containing leaves pressed between its pages. The marginalia was posted to Book Traces in 2014.

CHC Hours Update

The CHC will have modified hours during the week of September 7-11. Please note the following holiday and early closure:

  • Monday, September 7: Closed for Labor Day
  • Wednesday, September 9: The CHC Reading Room will be closed all day in preparation for the event Broadcasting Modernity: Cuban Commercial Television, 1950-1960. Researchers will still be able to access and receive assistance from the Conference Room from 9 a.m. through 4 p.m.

For more information, please visit our Hours & Directions page.


Now On View at Richter Library: Natural Cuba

Natural Cuba

An exhibition highlighting the island’s vibrant flora and fauna and their historical depictions, from iconic botanical illustrations to stunning wildlife publications to the beautifully colored specimens of the polymita picta, Cuba’s native tree snail. A series of historical photos, books, and other materials preserved by the Cuban Heritage Collection are now on display through Fall 2015 at the Roberto C. Goizueta Pavilion at the Otto G. Richter Library.