Archives for April 2016

‘Freedom Riders’ Screening

Please join us Wednesday, April 20, 2016 at Ross Pendergraft Library and Technology Center as we present the documentary film Freedom Riders, an event that is free and open to the public. This film is part of the series Created Equal: America’s Civil Rights Struggle, in cooperation with the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History. The event will take place in room 300B.

In addition to the screening, Arkansas Tech alum Barbara Lackey, a 1960 graduate of Horace Mann High School in Little Rock, will share her experiences on life in the natural state during the civil rights movement and on her experience as a student at ATU.

For more information, please contact us at or call us at 479-964-0569. You may also contact Luke Heffley at 479- 964-0546.

Film Festival Wrap-Up

The inaugural international film festival, held with the cooperative efforts of the Ross Pendergraft Library and the Department of English and World Languages, has drawn to a close. The eight films presented were chosen based on the four languages taught at Arkansas Tech University: Spanish, French, German, and Japanese. Here is a list of films in case you missed them. If these films have peaked your interest in seeing more movies in these languages—perhaps to sharpen your language-speaking skills, to watch more of a director’s movies, or to widen your cinematic viewing know-how—look no further than the RPL DVD selections. Located on the first floor of the library, the DVD collection has expanded in its popular viewing and international selections, and is available to check out to students, faculty, staff, and alumni (information on loan privileges for each patron is available here). Here are a few of my picks, in each language, of movies available in the library:


Germany gets a bad rap for being unfunny, but you may find yourself chuckling at a few of our selections, or caught up in the drama and intrigue of others. Many of the choices here relate to activism and anarchy brought about by Germany’s tumultuous times following World War II and the Cold War.

What to Do In Case of Fire? (Was tun, wenn’s brennt?): (2001) An old bomb in a building has just exploded, and six former anarchists have to scramble together to hide the evidence. Hilarity ensues as they get through this less-than-ideal reunion.

Good Bye, Lenin!: (2003) A young man’s mother goes in a coma during the collapse of the Berlin Wall. In an effort to keep her from suffering a fatal shock once she awakens, he goes to great lengths to make it seem as though nothing has changed. It’s a heartwarming mother-son flick, and one of my favorite films we viewed in a German Film seminar I took long ago.

Downfall (Der Untergang): (2004) A gripping drama capturing the final days of the Nazi regime, and one theory to Adolf Hitler’s demise. One particular scene was made infamous on YouTube as a gamer rant. Masterfully filmed, it is an uncommon perspective on World War II.

The Edukators: (2004) A combination of the anarchist film and German Heimatfilm (or nature film set in or near the Alps), The Edukators is like a German-language version of The Bling Ring, except the young people who star in the film are poor students who protest the rich. A young girl and her friends decide to kidnap a wealthy businessman after strapping her with a mountain of debt following a car wreck.



Remember watching old Don Bluth films like The Land Before Time, or any of his other whimsical but deceptively heartbreaking animated films, and having a good cry at the overbearing realness of mortality, brought to you with cutesy animal characters and songs? Luckily for you, esteemed Japanese filmmaker Hayao Miazaki and others in the Studio Ghibli universe know full well that the impact of powerful, emotional storytelling doesn’t have to exclude animated films. RPL has an extensive collection of Miazaki’s films, a boon for patrons as these movies are often costly or difficult to find. If animated feels are not your thing, we also have quite a collection of films by Akira Kurosawa, whose feature Yojimbo played at one of the movie nights. Kurosawa’s movies have been a major influence on several American films; for example, the western The Magnificent Seven was inspired by Seven Samurai:

Rashômon: (1950) Following the murder of a samurai, the story of his death is told from the perspective of a bandit, the samurai’s widow, and (through a medium) the victim himself. The film causes viewers to question everyone, as unreliable narrators are everywhere.

Ran(1985) Inspired by samurai legends and and resonant with Shakespeare’s King Lear, a Japanese warlord decides to retire from his position and divide his kingdom among his three sons. If you are familiar with the Shakespeare version, you know that this does not end well. The film is widely held to be a classic and one to see before you die. If you are a fan of long shots and epic battle scenes, look no further.

Grave of the Fireflies (Hotaru no haka): (1988) A young boy tries to survive in Japan with his sister in World War II. After the death of their mother, and unsure if their father will ever return from his duties as a soldier, they must endure starvation and other wartime horrors together, finding sole comfort in watching fireflies at night.

The Tale of Princess Kaguya (Kaguyahime no monogatari): (2013) Based on a Japanese folk tale, the film begins with a bamboo cutter who finds a tiny girl sleeping inside the plant. The beautiful and rebellious young girl, at first the size of a finger, will remind viewers of Thumbelina and other Disney princesses. The film journal Sight and Sound wrote a review of the film last year.



Many years ago I was introduced to the works of Spanish director Pedro Almodóvar while channel surfing. I immediately fell in love with the scenery of the country and the complex relationships in which he peopled these stories. RPL has an extensive collection of these films:

Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (Mujeres al borde de un ataque de “nervios”): (1988) Many of Almodóvar’s movies feature characters of various backgrounds whose love lives cause their paths to cross. In this case, a woman’s lover turns out to be the lover’s lover to another woman.

All About My Mother (Todo sobre mi madre): (1996) Following the death of her son, a woman travels to Barcelona to tell the father, who never knew about him.

Talk to Her (Hable con Ella): (2002) Two men are in love—one with a famous bullfighter and the other with a dancer—both of which are in a coma. The two men form a friendship, but their closeness is tested when one of them commits a terrible crime.

Bad Education (Mala educatión): (2004) The film centers on the lives of two boys who meet in a Catholic school, and their complicated emotional and sexual relationship in the span of 30 years.

Volver: (2006) Spanish for “to return,” a mother who had died years ago comes back to the land of the living to resolve unfinished business with her surviving family. The film stars Penelope Cruz, who appears in another Almodóvar film, Broken Embraces. 



French movies are more than just romantic, scenic frolics around the Eiffel Tower; in fact, French cinema is well known for its contribution to the horror genre. Here is a list of a few of my favorite titles:

Diabolique: (1955) From the Internet Movie Database (IMDB): “The wife of a cruel headmaster and his mistress conspire to kill him, but after the murder is committed, his body disappears, and strange events begin to plague the two women.” It is considered a classic horror masterpiece.

Delicatessen: (1991) A French horror film set in the future where a shopkeeper serves up people as meat. Not for the faint of heart and queasy of stomach.

Man Bites Dog (C’est arrivé prèz de chez vous): (1992) This intersting mockumentary begins with an interview with a local serial killer, who explains, “Usually, I start the month with a postman.” The title is translated to English as “It Happened in Your Neighborhood.” Set in black and white, it is a meta-film about three directors (starring the directors!) filming a serial killer, who wind up getting their hands dirty in the process.

High Tension (Haute Tension): (2003) An excellent selection if you like your horror with a little psychoanalysis and feminist resonance. Although not available at RPL, director Alexandre Aja helped write this fairly recent horror film that plays with point of view, which you should definitely add to your Netflix queue if you enjoy the classic slasher film style of 80’s and 90’s horror.


If this list of suggestions has further whet your appetite for more international titles, use our Find It… tool to search for more! The library’s film collection continues to grow, so keep an eye out for new titles.

There’s a Map for That

Delve into Arkansas History with our latest database collection, “Digital Sanborn Maps, 1867-1970: Arkansas”.  This rich collection of early maps of cities and towns reveal the original footprints of buildings throughout Arkansas.  Sanborn maps were large-scale plans of a city or town, drawn to a scale of 50 feet to an inch.  These were created from 1867 to 2007 to assist fire insurance companies in assessing the risk of fire to various structures and buildings.  Today, they are used for a wide-variety of purposes, particularly for historic research, urban planning, or restoration of older homes and buildings.

A Sanborn map can show you street names, block numbers, sidewalks, railroad tracks, the location of water mains, churches, businesses, windows, doors, and even porches.  These maps–now digitized and available in an easy-to-search, online database—can carry you back in time to show you how a particular place looked over 100 years ago.

The Library owns the Arkansas collection  of digital maps, which include maps on just about every town in the state.  Smaller towns may contain only a few maps, but larger cities, such as Russellville, will contain maps from multiple years, spanning from the mid-1800’s to the mid-1900’s.


Once you have selected a city and a map, download the map for easier navigation and zooming.  There is even an option to print selected areas.

Sanborn map 1886, Russellville

July 1886, Sheet 1. One block on Main Street. The train depot is further left, with what is now Denver Ave. bordering on the bottom. The Central Hotel is now Sportscene.

Googlemaps image of Russellville block, modern day

Same block, circa 2016 Google Maps

Travel back in time today by exploring the Digital Sanborn maps.  For other questions about this resource, the library, or other databases available to you as an Arkansas Tech student, consult your Timelord librarians at

Library Survey

Do you think the library needs more computers? More study rooms? Less big tables, or more? Do you use some technologies and services more than others? Do you need more help getting the most out of your library experience? This is the time to let your voice be heard!

The school year is drawing to a close, and once again the librarian staff of RPL implores patrons to open our minds by taking the annual survey. This is an opportunity for students, faculty, staff, and alumni and community patrons to give us feedback regarding services and materials, as well as provide comments on levels of satisfaction. Feedback from this survey helps us determine what needs are being met, what sources are being used the most or least, and how best we can serve patrons throughout the year.

The survey is available on our website. Estimated time of completion is 6 minutes. The majority of questions issued relate to the relevance of available sources, both physical and electronic; the frequency with which these items are used (such as multimedia, microforms, periodicals, ebooks, etc.); and the satisfaction of service from circulation, reference, and interlibrary loan (ILL). Other services, such as individual instruction and special events, will also be a topic for feedback.

The deadline for taking the survey is Monday, April 11 at 11:59 pm. Please complete it as soon as possible. We really want to know what you think about us and how we can make this the best library for you!

just do it

History of Headstones

Join us  this Tuesday night, April 5th,  at 7:00 P.M. in room 300B of the Ross Pendergraft Library & Technology Center for a special presentation on the history of cemetery headstones.  Guest speaker, Holly Hope from the Department of Arkansas Heritage, will share her extensive knowledge of cemeteries and headstone symbolism found on graves from around the state.  Learn all about graveyard symbols like lambs, broken branches, clasping hands, and weeping angels this Tuesday night at the library.  This event, presented by the Ross Pendergraft Library and The Department of Arkansas Heritage, is free and open to the public.

Mt. Holly Cemetery, from Arkansas Historic Preservation Program website

Special Announcement


The Ross Pendergraft Library of Arkansas Tech University recently announced its plans to phase out all print materials from its facility. Beginning April 1, 2016, all books, periodicals, newspapers, law books, maps, dictionaries, microforms, and other physical items will be systematically de-shelved and destroyed. Library Director Brent Etzel stated to the bored local and national press, “Everything you could ever want is online or digitized now, and patrons rarely use these physical copies anyway, so we might as well get rid of them. Students and courtesy patrons only come here to use the computers, anyway.” Following his announcement, held outside the library steps, he glanced wearily at the face of Ross Pendergraft and muttered solemnly, “All in all, we’re just another brick in the wall,” before trudging indoors, avoiding further comment.

Chareen Austin, Circulation Manager of RPL, voiced her approval of the decision. “Once all the books, DVD’s and reference items are out of the building, student workers  and library staff can devote more time to helping patrons with the computers, since they won’t have to check in, check out, or re-shelve items anymore. With all this free time, I think we’re gonna start lending out student workers for ditch-digging duty. I hear the university approved plans to build a reservoir for Lake Tech.”

trashed library

Progress has been swift following the library’s announcement

The removal of said items, admits Circulation staff, will be no easy feat. Among these items are over 160,000 bound volumes of books, over 4,000 CD’s, 6,000+ DVD’s, 110,000 government documents, and the current and backlogged issues of over 300 scholarly journals. Special collections, popular reading, and children’s reading will also be “done away with,” stated Etzel. The library director did not provide details on what was to become of these items, but some reporters caught subtle references to a Ray Bradbury novel; anonymous insider information recently leaked online revealed a top-secret library staff “retreat” to be held following initial removal of items. Although the itinerary was composed of code writing consisting mostly of call numbers in both Dewey Decimal and Library of Congress, so far Internet code breakers have managed to piece together the call numbers on books in the recreation section that includes recipes to campfire s’mores. RPL library staff could not be reached for comment.

When asked about the dozens of artwork housed in the library, Etzel paused, then answered, “Yeah, we could probably trash those, too.”

Feedback from students on campus was mixed; some responses included “Meh,” and “The library has books?”

Click here to see the proposed schedule of physical items leaving the library.



Gotcha! Happy April Fool’s, everyone!