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“After Chernobyl” at Ebling Library

“The closer you are to Chernobyl, the less dangerous it seems.”

This is the theme of Ebling Library‘s latest exhibit, “After Chernobyl: Photographs by Michael Forster Rothbart.” Though the Chernobyl of popular mythology is a dead, barren wasteland (or, in some tellings, a radioactive breeding ground for monsters), Rothbart’s photographs tell a different story. The Chernobyl he shows us, nearly thirty years after the nuclear disaster, is filled with life in unexpected places. From the residents, many of them evacuees, of nearby “safe” towns and villages, to the workers and managers who maintain the inactive power plant as it is decommissioned, to the samosely—elderly evacuees who illegally returned to their homes inside the Exclusion Zone after the accident, and still live there now—the Chernobyl area is not quite as dead or barren as terrible horror movies would have you believe.

It would be interesting to ask Marie Curie if, had she known what her work would ultimately lead to—among other things, disasters such as Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, and, most recently, Fukushima (a link between our last Go Big Read book and our current one)—would she still have pursued her line of inquiry? Do the benefits of nuclear energy outweigh the risks? In the aftermath of a nuclear disaster, is it worth it to try to build a new life in a radioactive home?

As the Ebling exhibit asks: after Chernobyl, would you stay?

“After Chernobyl: Photographs by Michael Forster Rothbart” runs until August 31st in Ebling’s third-floor gallery space.

For more information on the Chernobyl disaster, you can check out these library resources. Lauren Redniss writes about Chernobyl in the 2012-13 Go Big Read pick, Radioactive. The once-flourishing, now-abandoned city of Pripyat, which was built to house plant employees and their families, has its own fascinating website, set up by an organization seeking to turn Pripyat into a “museum city.” In the meantime, as seen in the Chernobyl Diaries trailer, there are guided tours that will take you into Pripyat and to the Chernobyl plant. If you’re not feeling quite that adventurous, you can take a look at these photos of Chernobyl and Pripyat at the Telegraph.

But your first stop, of course, should be the third floor of Ebling Library.

Science Expeditions

“‘Science Marches On’ in Chemistry Lab…”, UW Digital Collections

It’s been awhile, Go Big Readers! I hope everyone’s spring semester has been going well, and that you all got to take advantage of the nice weather over spring break.

For the past several weeks, the Go Big Read office has been kept very busy working on finding our Go Big Read book for 2013-14. The selection process is almost done: after receiving nearly 200 diverse and fascinating suggestions from all over the campus and Madison communities (thanks for those, by the way!), we’ve whittled our list down to our final choice, and we’re pretty excited about next year’s program! I can tell you that we’re doing something we’ve never done before. You’ll get to hear more about that later in the semester!

In the meantime, what are you up to this weekend? April 5, 6 and 7, UW-Madison and the Science Alliance present the 11th Annual Science Expeditions, a weekend of learning and exploration for all ages. On-campus events are free (!) and open to the public. You can even take a free Science Expeditions Trolley from place to place, while getting a free scientastic tour from a VIP tour guide. There are over 45 Exploration Stations, so it’s sure to be a busy weekend!

Included in the weekend’s events are free tours of Fallout, the Radioactive-inspired exhibit at Ebling Library. If you still haven’t seen it, first of all, what have you been doing with your life?! But also, this is a fantastic opportunity. Go get scienced this weekend!

You can find more information about Science Expeditions, including a list of Exploration Stations, info about the Expedition Trolley, and sneak peeks at Science Spectacular shows, at this link.

Wednesday Nite @ the Lab

If you’ve gotten to see “Fallout” at Ebling Library–or even if you haven’t!–here’s your chance to find out how the exhibit was put together! Join Ebling Library for Wednesday Nite @ the Lab on Wednesday, February 20th from 7:00-8:15 in Room 1111, 425 Henry Mall.

Curator Micaela Sullivan-Fowler

“Fallout” is an examination of subjects such as the early use of x-rays
in diagnosis & treatment, occupational hazards of working with
radiation, the military use of x-rays, the history of tanning, a UW
connection with Marie Curie, bomb shelters in the 1960’s, the bombing of
Hiroshima & concerns with nuclear accidents like Three-Mile Island,
UW’s Departments of Medical Physics & Radiology, shoe fitting
fluoroscopes and the like.

Micaela Sullivan-Fowler has been the curator and history of health
sciences librarian at Ebling Library for the past 14 years. She acts as
the liaison to the Department of Medical History & Bioethics within
the School of Medicine and Public Health. She works with graduate and
undergraduate students, helping them navigate the print and electronic
worlds when using primary material for their research papers. In designing exhibits, Micaela’s
primary goals are to highlight books in Ebling’s collections, and to
create thematic pathways between the subjects in the individual cases.
While the current exhibit on the history of radioactivity, x-rays and
radium has had glowing reviews, it was perhaps the most difficult to
tell in such a limited space. The discovery of so many interesting
stories is what Micaela loves to share…

Moderated Book Discussion and Exhibit

Have you seen Fallout at Ebling Library yet? If not, here’s your chance!

On Thursday, February 7 from 5:00-6:00pm, Ebling is hosting a viewing of the exhibit in its Historic Reading Room. And as if that’s not enough, History of Science professor Dr. Richard Staley will be holding a moderated discussion of Radioactive from 6:00-7:00pm. It’s a perfect double dose of science-y goodness! For more information, see the flyer below.

Dear Faculty,

Here on the west side of campus we have an engaging exhibition entitled: Fallout: The Mixed Blessing of Radiation & the Public Health. One visitor suggested, “…this is the coolest compilation of things I didn’t know about radiation.” The exhibition covers the time period of 1895 to the present and is culturally contextualized in terms of how x-rays, radiation and radioactivity have influenced diagnostics, treatment, occupational health protocols, politics, the teaching of radiology, the public’s engagement with fallout shelters, the aftermath of nuclear accidents and the like.

In addition to a narrative which weaves together the conflation of these three fascinating topics, x-rays, radiation and radiotherapy, there are artifacts, photos and provocative printed matter which illustrate this multi layered subject.
For example, one can learn the story of UW’s unfulfilled connection with Madame Curie or see the switch (usually held by the University Archives) that cut off the electricity before the first atomic bomb detonation.

I can give tours and explanations of the contents of the cases (there are 13). I can talk to students about how one designs such an exhibit. I can talk about what did not fit in the exhibit. I can discuss how one can start with this small bit of primary material and design an entire research project based on one resource.

In short, if you are looking for a field trip to take up your student’s class time when you have to go to a conference, if you’d like to bring your class, if you’d like to assign a visit to the class for extra credit…this is an open invitation to visit. Especially for those who may be reading Radioactive as part of UW’s Go Big Read program, Fallout was imagined in response to that initiative, so it would be particularly germane to your class.

Let me know if I can help with your Spring Semester…

Micaela Sullivan-Fowler, Ebling Library for the Health Sciences, 750 Highland Ave. Madison (608) 262-2402 or msullivan@library.wisc.edu

Here are a few links to add to the excitement.

Happy birthday, Marie Curie!

Madame Curie was born on this date in 1867, and would have been one hundred and forty-five years old today—pretty impressive!
Why not celebrate Marie’s birthday in true scientific fashion?  Head over to Memorial Library and spend a few minutes with the Marie and Pierre Curie exhibit in the lobby (just past the check-in desk).  Or wander over to Ebling to see Fallout: The Mixed Blessing of Radiation and Public Health, a fascinating exhibit currently on display in the gallery.  If you missed Lauren Redniss when she came to campus, you can watch her talk here.  Or, if you’d rather spend this gray day just curled up with a good book, you can always check out one of these great Marie Curie biographies in the library catalog.  (Or just re-read Radioactive—it’s always worth a second look!)
However you choose to celebrate, everybody here in the Go Big Read office wishes you a truly radioactive day!
Brooke Williams, GBR graduate student

Memorial Library Curie Exhibit

Pierre and Marie Curie with their bicycles.  Image source.

Next time you’re in Memorial Library, don’t just run past whoever’s checking IDs and head straight for the elevators!  Stop for a minute and enjoy this fascinating exhibit on Marie and Pierre Curie.  It’s right in the lobby, so you can easily check it out as you rush up to the stacks or to hunt out a study space.  Below is the official description from Robin Rider in Special Collections:
“In conjunction with this year’s Go Big Read
selection, Radioactive
by Lauren Redniss, an exhibit in the lobby of Memorial Library
highlights both the scientific work of Marie and Pierre Curie and
articles about them in publications aimed at the general public.
Marie and Pierre Curie — together, separately,
or in collaboration with others — produced scores of scientific
articles and longer works, some of which are on display. The dates
stamped within the volumes of such publications show that the
University of Wisconsin library received many of them quite
quickly, sometimes within just a few weeks of their publication in
Europe – this, at a time when such European publications reached
Madison by a combination of ship and rail.
The exhibit also includes a sampling of mainly
American publications from the 1920s and 1930s illustrating the
place of Marie and Pierre Curie in the public eye (and the public
imagination). All of the volumes on display are from the holdings
of Memorial Library.”
The image featured above comes from Marie Curie’s book Pierre Curie. Avec une études des “Carnets de laboratoire.” Paris: Denoël, 1955.  Full citation here.
Brooke Williams, Go Big Read grad student

Playing Radioactive games

It’s Friday, and what’s more, it’s a cold, gray, drizzly Friday.  Hopefully, the weekend will bring us some nice weather, so we can get out and enjoy the slowly-changing leaves and all those other lovely autumn things (after all, today officially marks the start of the new season!). But for now, it’s Friday, and it’s the perfect kind of day to spend inside.

With that said, I’m going to point everyone in the direction of this beautiful website, which has been on the blog before.  For those who haven’t checked it out yet, the site is a collaboration between the New York Public Library and Parsons the New School for Design.  Intended to work with last year’s exhibit at the famous public library on 42nd Street and 5th Avenue in New York City, the website is very much in the aesthetic of the book, but also includes videos, games and other interactive features.

With the “Curiograph,” you can make your own (digital) cyanotype images in just a few short steps; you can also explore the Curies’ laboratory, simulated with items from the NYPL’s collections, and watch a video on how to make a real cyanotype print.

(And if you’re interested in doing so, then I’m also going to point you over here, to information about a cyanotype workshop that’s coming in October, hosted by the Madison Public Library and the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art!)

My personal favorite game, however, is the Raidon Game: follow various mini-missions to collect all the crystals needed and deliver them to the Curies.  It’s a little like living inside the world of the book, if only for a few minutes.

So there you have it.  The best way to spend a rainy Friday afternoon?  Easy answer: playing Radioactive games with Pierre and Marie!

Have fun!

Brooke Williams, grad student assistant for Go Big Read

Our Nation of Others: Submit your Creative and Artistic Reactions

To encourage a variety of dialogs with this year’s “Go Big Read” selection, UW-Madison’s Memorial Library, Latin American, Caribbean and Iberian Studies Program, University Health Services, and the School of Education will hold a juried art and literature competition for creative and artistic responses to Enrique’s Journey.

All members of the Madison community, including students of all ages, are encouraged to submit a creative work made in reaction to Enrique’s Journey.

Submissions can be in the form of literary works (poems, short stories or essays) or visual works (photographs, paintings, sculpture, collage, etc.). A committee made up of UW faculty, students, and community members will choose the best works, which will be featured in a campus exhibit in Spring of 2012. The creators of the best works will also be recognized at a public awards ceremony and reception to be held in conjunction with the exhibit.

Please watch for a formal call for submissions, to be posted on the Go Big Read web site and distributed widely in late September 2011.

Last Two Weeks of Informing Consent Exhibit

As you plan your next two weeks on the west side of campus, please keep in mind that the popular “Informing Consent: Unwitting Subjects in Medicine’s Pursuit of Beneficial Knowledge,” closes on March 31st. Numerous classes, community members, students, faculty and staff have learned from seeing many of the themes in Skloot’s book “brought to life,” through photographs, newspaper clippings, magazines and medical journals.