Staff Picks Spring 2015 Thursday, Mar 19 2015 


“When spring comes to Paris the humblest mortal alive must feel that
he dwells in Paris.”
Henry Miller

“He who contemplates the depth of Paris is seized with vertigo.
Nothing is more fantastic. Nothing is more tragic.  Nothing is more sublime.”
Victor Hugo


The latest installment of staff picks will immerse you in the streets of Paris.  The selection, like the city, is multifaceted.  It features, for example, espionage, mystery, drama, comedy, gourmet cuisine and a nineteenth century giraffe!  So, whatever, your reading preferences, leave the darkness of winter behind and explore the City of Light!

Zarafa: A Giraffe’s True Story; from Deep in Africa to the Heart of Paris – Michael Allin

The Elegance of the Hedgehog – Muriel Barbery

Gourmet Rhapsody – Muriel Barbery

Brassaï: For the Love of Paris – Brassaï

Mission to Paris – Alan Furst

The Other Paris: Mavis Gallant

Paris Notebooks: Essays and Reviews – Mavis Gallant

Barefoot in Paris: Easy French Food You Can Make at Home – Ina Garten

Paris to the Moon – Adam Gopnik

A Moveable Feast – Ernest Hemingway

A Giraffe goes to Paris – Mary Tavener Holmes

Strangled in Paris – Claude Izner

Charles Marville: Photographer of Paris – Sarah Kennel

Henri’s Walk to Paris – Leonore Klein

Missing Person – Patrick Modiano

Suite Française – Irene Némirosky

By Kirsty Dain, Circulation Assistant

Unicorns in Residence : Providence Friday, Mar 13 2015 

 Unicorns Providence logo copy


“Within her granite walls, filled with the genius of mankind, we learn to discover that what we thought was impossible, might be possible ….” Sylvia Moubayed, Executive Director, Providence Athenaeum Annual Report, 1981.

The Providence Athenaeum is participating in a citywide interactive arts experience, Unicorns in Residence: Providence, inspired by the work of NYC-based contemporary artist Camomile Hixon. To learn more about this art experience, which will run Spring-Summer 2015, please visit the website.

The following books from the Athenaeum’s collection are on display at the library through April 2015.

Be sure to stop by and have a look!


Travels in Tartary, Thibet, and China by Evariste Régis Huc. London: Office of the National Illustrated Library, 1852.

“The unicorn, which has long been regarded as a fabulous creature, really exists in Thibet. You find it frequently represented in the sculptures and paintings of the Buddhic temples. Even in China, you often see it in the landscapes that ornament the inns of the northern provinces. … We have not been fortunate enough to see the unicorn during our travels in Upper Asia.”


Land of Forgotten Beasts by Barbara Wersha,  NY: Athenaeum, 1964.

“I am a Unicorn,” the beast replied, “a legend that men believed in long ago. I was the prize of emperors and kings, and they hunted me throughout the forests of the world, hoping to cut off my horn. Sometimes they would try to trick me by sending a beautiful maiden into the woods, for they thought that I would be drawn by her gentleness and fall asleep in her lap. But I was never captured ….”


The Unicorn in the Garden” Fables for our Time by James Thurber,  NY: Harper, 1940.

“The man walked slowly downstairs and out into the garden. The unicorn was still there; he was now browsing among the tulips. “Here, unicorn,” said the man, and he pulled up a lily and gave it to him.”

Additional items have been loaned from the Athenaeum’s Philbrick Rare Book Room to the Brown University Libraries for an exhibition tracing the history of the representation of unicorns by different cultures, from Medieval times to the present. The exhibition, The Unicorn Found: Science, Literature and the Arts, is on view at the John Hay Library through July 2015.

For a full listing of events and happenings related to Unicorns in Residence: Providence, please visit the website.

Thanks to Collections Librarian, Kate Wodehouse, and Librarian, Stephanie Knott for this post.



Edward Gorey Wednesday, May 7 2014 

There is an independent film maker, Christopher Seufert, who is raising money to bring a documentary of Edward Gorey to the Sundance Film Festival and later to PBS. Here is his  Kickstarter campaign and here is the official trailer:

YouTube has an extensive list of Gorey videos including versions of the PBS Mystery! introduction.

A search of the Providence Athenaeum’s collection produced a cross section of titles; from the children’s room to poetry, to adult art and biography:

For a complete bibliography of Edward Gorey’s works (as of 2006) check out Goreyography. Titles can be viewed, with cover art, alphabetically or chronologically.  For fans of Pinterest there are some eclectic boards. And if you live in the Northeast, there is the Edward Gorey House in Yarmouth Port, Massachusetts.

Pencil sketch by Bruce Gerlach

Pencil sketch by Bruce Gerlach

Who doesn’t love the artist Edward Gorey?



Providence Athenaeum Illustrated Monday, Dec 23 2013 

Talent abounds among the staff of the Athenaeum. Most are writers, but we do have an artist, Mary Brower, Head of Circulation.


Athena in the Reading Room

By day she is the heart of library operations, but by night she creates whimsical art like this:


Christina holding court at a Salon

Here is her latest: a quirky interpretation for the holidays.

Happy Holidays 2013

Happy Holidays 2013

Cheers! And Happy Holidays!

~Ravenous ~

Emoticons, Emoji, Language? Wednesday, Dec 18 2013 

Language is alive. It grows and changes with usage. PBSoffbook speculates emoticons are expanding our language and represent our future:

Emoji, Japanese ideograms used in digital messaging, have migrated around the world and thanks to this Kickstarter campaign have resulted in the translation of Moby Dick into:

The Guardian has an interesting article about emoji and Fred Benenson, the creator of Emoji Dick.

This American classic has seen other creative translations like Matt Kish’s 2011 illustrated version. Ravenous embraces Moby Dick in all it’s forms.

Justin Rowe, Book Sculptor & Paper Artist Friday, Jul 26 2013 


Justin Rowe’s “Love’s bright dream”

UK Artist Justin Rowe has a marvelous portfolio of book/paper sculptures that are well worth your time. He recently had an exhibition at the British Academy’s Literature Week, this video is an expression of that work:

If you’d like to see Justin’s work on a regular basis you can follow him on Facebook. (Ravenous did)

Ravenous writes regularly on book arts, if you’re interested, here are some older posts.


Su Blackwell, Book Sculptor Extraordinaire Wednesday, Feb 27 2013 

Ravenous has found another wonderful book artist from the UK, Su Blackwell.  Here is a sample of her work:



In her profile she discusses her process:

I always read the book first, at least once or twice, and then I begin to create the work, cutting out, adding details. The detail is what brings it all together, the magic element.

To view more of Su’s sculptures go to her portfolio.

The Providence Athenaeum has a budding paper sculptor, Robin Wetherill, Circulation and Development Assistant. A sample of her work:


Creative and clever, what a great combination.

Let There be Light! Wednesday, Feb 20 2013 

The re-invention and re-purposing of books continues, this time it is into lamps. The above example is called the Lumio, created by architect, Max Gunawan, and fully explored in a post at Colossal. Portable and cool, this is a Raven-ous favorite.

Studiomeiboom, has another approach they call the Enlightenment:


Evidently some of the proceeds from the sale of these lamps goes towards education.

Philip Hansen, a San Diego designer, and host of  Typewriter Boneyard has a quite literal take on book lamps with his Hardback Book Lamp design:


Now if you’d like to make your own “book lamp” there are instructions at Grathio Labs to make this model:

This sampling of book lamps is hardly exhaustive,  there are many more clever designs out there for your illumination.


Edgar Allan Poe, Illustrated Friday, Jan 18 2013 

Literature and the visual arts have fed off of each other for as long as the two have existed. It should be no surprise to anyone reading this that the evocative imagery of the works of Edgar Allan Poe have been complemented with illustrations numerous times in their publication history. This includes several of his short stories collected as Edgar Allan Poe’s World of Fear in a 1969 issue of Weekly Shōnen Magazine, a Japanese comic anthology (note the Japanese toy ads at the bottom of the image).

valdemar japan

click image for details

The most iconic illustrations, however, come from the edition of Tales of Mystery and Imagination illustrated by Harry Clarke (the Providence Athenaeum has a copy). Both of the illustrations included depict the climax of Poe’s short story The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar which, while not the most well-known of Poe’s works, is  visually distinctive, and really shows the difference in the two art styles.


click image for details

     January 19th 2013,  Happy 204th Birthday,  E.A.P.


Dragonfly Bindery/Studio Exhibit Wednesday, Jan 9 2013 


John Russell Bartlett Society members Pat and George Sargent have operated their Dragonfly Bindery for thirty years, offering a wider range of services than most binderies, including restoration and design work that makes use of their art background and training as alumni of the Rhode Island School of Design. They have been able to challenge their creativity and explore new directions in producing unique bindings, casings, and displays for rare books and other printed artifacts which elevate the presentation up to and beyond the artistic level of the content.


The Providence Athenaeum will be exhibiting books, posters and artifacts in the Philbrick Rare Book Room from January 8th to January 29th.

The Sargents will be presenting a talk:  Looking Back at 30 Books from 30 Years at Dragonfly Bindery / Studio on Saturday January 26 at 1 pm.

Thanks to guest blogger, Kate Wodehouse, Collections Librarian



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