‘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 askalibrarian@atu.edu 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.

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

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!






International Film Festival

This week kicked off the first screenings of the international film festival, a brand-new event held at Arkansas Tech University. An effort put together by the Department of English and World Languages and the Ross Pendergraft Library and Technology Center, the film festival is free to students, faculty, and staff, and open to the public.

The series kicked off Tuesday, March 8, with a screening of the German-language film Mostly Martha. At the times listed here, the film festival will present two films from a country that represents each of the languages taught at ATU: German, Japanese, Spanish, and French.

The project is manned by Systems Librarian Philippe Van Houtte and Dr. Nelson Ramírez, coordinator of the world languages portion of the English and World Languages department at Tech. Film suggestions were supplied by the language instructors in their respective fields. While these instructors encourage their students to attend, any film buff or movie enthusiast not taking a language course is welcome to attend. Some of the films may be familiar, such as Guillermo del Toro’s Pan’s Labyrinth (El Laberinto del Fauno) and the recent German-based film Woman in Gold, starring Helen Mirren and pre-Deadpool Ryan Reynolds. But while many students can appreciate a Miyazaki film from Japan, they may be pleasantly introduced to Satoshi Kon’s animated film Millennium Actress.

The library and English/World Languages department are eager to see how the public and student body receives this inaugural event, which is a great (free) way to expand one’s film repertoire beyond the scope of popular Hollywood cinema.

For more information about the international film festival, please visit this article written by the campus newspaper or see the library webpage for scheduled listings. Allons-y! 


March Babies

Since March in Arkansas is known for its precarious and oft-unpredictable weather, why not find a new author whose works you can read by candlelight when the electricity goes out for the fourth time in a week? Below is a list of authors born on this month and their works available in Ross Pendergraft Library. Use the Find It tool available on the library’s home page to look up a title, call number, and current availability:

Ralph Ellison (Mar 1, 1914): Invisible Man (1952) is available at RPL, written by the African-American author. It addresses issues of social justice in the face of the early twentieth century, and has probably been on your reading list either in high school or college. If you enjoy Invisible Man, you may also like James Wheldon Johnson’s novel The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man, available online.

Theodore Geisel (Mar 2, 1904) aka Dr. Seuss: Rumor has it he wasn’t much of a kid person. Nevertheless, his countless magical children’s story books probably introduced you to reading. The library has over 25 of his books available in the Youth section (on the first floor). Feel free to browse our selection and take a few home to read to your younger siblings or children. Also available in the Compact Shelving is a collection of his private illustrations published in Dr Seuss: The Cat Behind the Hat.

Elizabeth Barrett Browning (Mar 6, 1806): “How do I love thee? Let me count the ways…” Browning penned this famous line and others in Sonnets from the Portuguese, available in stacks and online. The works of this Victorian poet are said to have influenced the writings of Emily Dickinson and Edgar Allan Poe.

Kenneth Grahame (Mar 8, 1859): Also available in the Youth section is Grahame’s famous children’s book The Wind in the Willows, first published in 1908. If you want to know more about the author you can check out Kenneth Grahame’s The Wind in the Willows: A Children’s Classic at 100, written by Donna R. White, one of ATU’s own professors of English.

Jack Kerouac (Mar 12, 1922): The quintessential beatnik writer whose writing inspires road trips and self discovery, Kerouac’s novels On the Road and The Dharma Bums are both available at RPL, and many more. If you like these, you can also read up on another Beat Generation writer, Allen Ginsberg, and watch the movie Howl, starring James Franco and featuring Ginsberg’s most famous free verse poem.

Lois Lowry (Mar 20, 1937): Lowry is best known for her dystopian novel The Giver, at a time when young adult dystopian novels weren’t a dime a dozen. In addition to The Giver are three more books to the series: Gathering Blue, Messenger, and Son. The complete series is available in the Youth reading section, as well as Number the Stars. You may be familiar with the title of the latter if you remember reading passages of this Holocaust survivor tale back in middle school. Despite its location in Youth reading, Lowry’s writing tackles complicated situations, sometimes from the perspective of the very young, that grown readers can still find challenging and inspiring.

Tennessee Williams (Mar 26, 1911): Chances are you have read one of Williams’s plays in high school, or maybe your school put together its own production of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof or A Streetcar Named Desire. Unless you’re learning the craft of playwriting, it is more appropriate to watch his works rather than read them. Check the DVD collections on the first floor to find the famous Marlon Brando and Vivien Leigh rendition of Streetcar, and if you want to see Cat on a Hot Tin Roof you can request it through interlibrary loan from the Ozark campus collection.

Robert Frost (Mar 26, 1874): Writer of the most-used graduation poem of all time (not to mention its common misreading of said poem), Frost’s books of poems are known to be dense with symbolism and nature. Take a look at our selections if you feel like unpacking these poems in your spare time (or when the Wi-Fi is down).

Anna Sewell (Mar 30, 1820): Black Beauty is one of my favorite books of all time and I have no shame in this. Unable to write the manuscript herself due to declining health, Sewell had to recite the story while her mother wrote it down. Written in the late nineteenth century, the famous tale of a horse’s life of cruelty and friendship was published at a time when animal welfare was just beginning to reach popularity in England. The library has the book available in Youth reading, but if you ever get a chance to watch the 1994 film version (unfortunately not available in the library), you’ll get the rare pleasure of seeing a movie in which actor Sean Bean plays a character who does not die. Let your inner Tina Belcher rejoice in one of the best film adaptations of Sewell’s classic animal tale.

tina belcher

If it’s the movie soundtrack, definitely.

Take a look at some of these authors’ works, either to introduce yourself to their writing or to relive your favorite childhood book. Keep in mind that the library’s opening hours will change during Spring Break (March 21-28), and will resume normal hours after the holiday week. Happy reading!

Quiet, Please!

It’s hard enough to prepare for upcoming tests, group projects, and paper deadlines when the group seated next to you is being noisy in the library, the sacred space for quiet and effective study. Spring midterms are fast approaching at Tech, and this means more students will be visiting the library. Like in finals week, this is one of the busiest weeks of the semester. More students inevitably leads to a higher-than-average buzz of activity and, namely, noise.

Bad study group

Don’t be like these guys

Try as we might, the librarians and staff can’t be everywhere at once (much as we’d like to shush to our hearts’ content in our continual quest to end needless noise). Luckily, we have a resource for students who want their peers at the next computer to lower their voices, for the gentleman with his headphones too loud, or the girls having a social break instead of studying Sociology—all without having to leave their desk and risk being caught tattling to a library worker.

Students can text (479) 802-4876 to report loud or obnoxious patrons. This anonymous tip line sends the message to a working librarian or staff member, who can handle the noise complaint so students can focus on their own work without having to shush their neighbors.  As long as the library is open, our shush line is open. Standard text message rates will apply.

And sure—we understand that group projects and study partners need a place to work, too.  That’s why the 1st floor is designated a “low-noise” floor.  However, the 2nd floor is our quiet study area–whisper only, please.  If you need to get a little louder, consider reserving a study room, where groups can meet and talk at normal volume.

Give our new texting service a try.  Your texts will help us enforce our existing noise policy when we cannot be in all places at once.

Remember–sometimes shhh happens.  But through our new texting service, you have the power to make shhh happen when you need it the most.