Jonathan Coulis, Emory Oral History Program Coordinator, Emory Libraries

“Emory, and Atlanta more broadly, is a lovely place to listen to people’s stories. Their voices offer perspectives that perhaps don’t often intersect with our own daily rhythms and experiences.” – Jonathan Coulis

Jonathan Coulis is the coordinator of the Emory Oral History Program. He assumed this role after working as a Woodruff Fellow while completing his PhD. The oral history program is based around the idea of interviewing people and hearing about their life stories. “It’s all about recognizing the importance of people’s experiences and their understanding of the past and the present. We create a space and invite people to tell stories as they choose, and learn how their experiences have shaped their lives,” says Jonathan.

A native of Ontario, Canada, Jonathan earned his bachelor’s degree in history and English from McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, his master’s degree in history and international development from the University of Guelph, and his PhD in modern Latin American history (focusing on Brazilian history) from Emory University. “I’ve always been interested in where things come from so I started studying commodities and then coffee, which brought me to Brazil,” says Jonathan.

While out of the office, Jonathan is beginning to learn carpentry skills. “I like the idea of doing something with my hands and getting away from of the computer.”

Regarding his new position, Jonathan notes, “The best thing about this new role is that we get to build something. And with the great support here, we will continue to grow, engage more broadly and offer resources and services to the community. Emory, and Atlanta more broadly, is a lovely place to listen to people’s stories. Their voices offer perspectives that perhaps don’t often intersect with our own daily rhythms and experiences.”

You can reach Jonathan, and learn more about oral history, at j [dot] e [dot] coulis [at] emory [dot] edu. “We’d be happy to hear from you and talk about your project ideas.”

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Pet of the Week: Kitka

photo of a cat


“I rescued this tiny kitten from a restaurant parking lot over the weekend. Would you like to come and meet her?”

This was a former library employee, Martha Ebener, standing at my desk one Monday morning in 2003. Martha knew that I had lost my beloved cat Boris, age 14, to cancer about a year before, and that I was currently cat-less. Martha has an uncanny knack for finding a homeless animal and matching it with someone who may or may not have realized that they needed this animal in their life. I hadn’t really been thinking about getting another cat anytime soon, but agreed to at least go over and have a look.

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Kitka shares my love of Atlanta United!

A few days later I went over to Martha’s to meet this tiny bundle of joy. And by tiny I do mean tiny! She could easily curl up in the palm of your hand and take a nap, which is exactly what she was doing when I arrived. She woke up, and no sooner had Martha set her down on the floor than she climbed up my leg using her razor-sharp kitten claws. Me-OWWWW!!!  (That was me, not her.) I guess this was her way of “claiming” me, by using me as a scratching post. What else could I do but take her home?

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Lee Meriweather as Kitka.

I named her Kitka, after a character in the 1966 Batman movie starring Adam West and Burt Ward. Miss Kitka was the Russian reporter alter ego of The Catwoman, as played by Lee Meriwether. (It’s a great movie, by the way, featuring all of the classic Batman villains. I have it on DVD if you’d like to borrow it.)

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Kitka keeps an eye on things.

It took me a minute to become accustomed to having a cat again. A very energetic kitty, she was! I remember sitting on the sofa watching her running around and jumping on things and thinking, “Wow, I can’t believe I have a kitten!” Once I kitten-proofed my apartment, all was well.

Nowadays, at age 16, Kitka is not the jumping bean that she once was. She’s had a few health issues in recent years but seems to be feeling pretty good most of the time. She still greets me at the door when I come home, eager to have her food dish refilled. She still loudly demands that I come over and sit down RIGHT NOW so that she can curl up on my lap and go to sleep. Fortunately she gave up on using my leg as a scratching post long ago!

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LITS recent headline and upcoming events

Headlines & Events graphic banner

Recent LITS headlines:

Upcoming LITS events:

(go HERE for more information for each event)

  • August 28Classes Begin
  • August 29Event: Dennis House Retirement Celebration, 1:00 – 13:00 pm, Jones Room, Woodruff Library
  • August 30 – September 1Event: Decatur Book Festival
  • September 12Event: LEAF Coffee Hour, 10:00 – 11:00 am, Calhoun Room, Health Science Library, optional tours available
  • September 19IT Briefing: 10:15 – 12:00 pm, 4th Floor Auditorium, North Decatur Building
  • September 19Event/Exhibition: Chip Robert: Life as Art,” 6:30 – 8:00 pm, Rose Library
  • September 25InfoForum: 10:00 – 11:00 am, Jones Room, Woodruff Library
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Tumbling Dice: a LITS-centric collaboration with a rock legend you might not know of

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Chuck Leavell (photo courtesy of Allen Farst)

Have you ever heard of Chuck Leavell? Maybe not.

How about the Rolling Stones? The Allman Brothers? Eric Clapton? Now we’re getting somewhere.

Chuck Leavell is one of the best piano players in rock history. A native of Birmingham, AL, Chuck was an original member of the Allman Brothers, joining the band shortly after Duane Allman died in 1971. He played the piano solo on a little song you may have heard of called Jessica. In 1981, Chuck became the touring keyboardist for the Rolling Stones, a job he has held ever since.

Other acts Chuck has recorded for or performed with include Eric Clapton (Old Love), Train (Drops of Jupiter), John Mayer, Pink Floyd’s David Gilmour, The Black Crowes, The Beatles’ George Harrison, Blues Traveller, The Fabulous Thunderbirds, and many others, as well as recording five solo albums. He is a member of the Music Hall of Fame in both Georgia and Alabama.

So, what does Chuck Leavell have to do with LITS?

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Chuck Leavell playing with the Allman Brothers in the 70s. (photo courtesy of Wikipedia)

Chuck is Steve Bransford‘s father-in-law. A year ago, Chuck approached Steve (who works in ECDS) about creating a video of a live recording of the song Tumbling Dice, which Chuck had recorded with the Frankfurt Radio Big Band. Although Steve is a documentarian with no music video experience, he took on the project as something to do with his free time at home. He elicited the help of fellow LITS documentarian Adam Forrester (Online Learning), and away they went.

Chuck’s idea was for them to create a video of himself playing the song on stage with projections of musicians taken from over 100-hours of big band archival footage. The trick was to first edit together a video of these archived musicians matching the instruments in Chuck’s song, then make a second video of Chuck playing the piano on stage with the projections ‘playing’ with him.

Steve and Adam were given access to videos of the bands that played with Duke Ellington, Benny Goodman, Louis Armstrong, and many more. The footage, which was provided by Reelin’ in the Years Productions, formed the first video that Steve and Adam arduously edited together to match Chuck’s song.

Many videos have used cutaways to archival footage, but it is extremely unusual to incorporate the footage with the actual live performers. “We stretched the limits of our video software,” says Steve.

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(L to R) Steve Bransford and Adam Forrester.

The actual shoot was done in March at the Plaza Theater in Atlanta. Steve and Adam recorded Chuck with a skeleton crew (which included LITS’ own Derek Butler, Student Digital Life). “One of the big breakthroughs was when we decided to use the projector as the key light,” says Adam. The key light is the main source of light for a recording. “It was a cool idea, but it was also very challenging to make the light work.”

The result is this amazing video of Tumbling Dice.

The release of the video times nicely with Chuck’s new album, Chuck Gets Big. He is also currently on tour with the Stones as their musical director. Billboard Magazine recently interviewed Chuck and featured the video in their article. Chuck was also interviewed by the Wall Street Journal.

Are Steve and Adam going to become music video directors? “Who knows? But I am making a little video for a friend of mine, so you never know,” says Adam. They are both soon screening some of their documentary work at the Sidewalk Film Festival in Birmingham, AL. Steve’s showing Well-Placed Weed and Adam will be debuting Some Million Miles, a film about meth addiction and recovery in northern Alabama.

Regarding this music video experience, “It was a fun opportunity. It’s rewarding to be faced with a technical challenge and still pull it off,” says Steve. “This work felt totally collaborative,” added Adam. “We were helping each other out to obtain a combined vision. It was very cool.”

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Woodruff Library Level 1 Breakroom Redux or ‘Please pardon our progress!’

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The current condition of the 1st level employee breakroom in the Robert W. Woodruff Library.

Woodruff Library’s level 1 employee break room is getting a major facelift this fall. This change is happening due to the efforts of the Library Employee Advocacy Forum (LEAF) and Emory Libraries leadership, along with the LITS Business and Finance team. Employees can expect changes to take place in stages that started last week with the quick relocation of the soda and snack machines to the corner of Peets. You can find more details on the rough timeline for changes below.

Since the early days when LEAF was called GLEAC, a staff break room has been on the minds of our employee advocates. Legend has it that the designers of the new Center for Library And Information Resources (CLAIR) were not planning to have a general employee break room in Woodruff at all until GLEAC asked for it. That is why the setup doesn’t really resemble a formal breakroom. Updates and homey touches through the years have been nice, but the growth of the libraries, and feedback at LEAF coffees, made it clear that LEAF needed to find out if and how people used the Level 1 breakroom and if they wanted change.

A survey in 2017 revealed that changes were needed (you can see the results here), and in 2018 LEAF worked with the Library Facilities team to get a few updates done and the new coffee machines installed. We began to see more use of the break room at that point.

In 2019, LEAF members did some formal observations of the uses of the break room and presented the findings to Library leadership. The data made it clear that LEAF should move forward to deliver a formal plan to leadership for furniture, flooring, and appliance updates to the break room.

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Some of the proposed changes.

This year, LEAF formed a break room sub-committee to begin working with leadership on the changes. Each step of the process has been shared with the LEAF reps to communicate and get feedback within their areas. Now that leadership has approved the project, here are the physical changes you can expect over the next twelve weeks (approximately):

  • Step 1: Remove old coloring space cabinets to prep for flooring replacement.
  • Step 2: Remove two upper cabinets and have flooring installed
  • Step 3: Install flooring and new wall base
  • Step 4: Paint and patch
  • Step 5: Install new appliances
  • Step 6: Surplus to remove old furniture the day before new furniture installs
  • Step 7: Install new furniture (1st or 2nd week of November)

We don’t have exact dates, so just look out for emails from LEAF.

LEAF offers a huge thank you to Yolanda Cooper, who has been an avid supporter of LEAF, to Michael Williamson, who has ushered us through the procurement of Emory Project and Design services, and to the Library Facilities team ,who has had to put up with the complaints and cleaning issues for the past 20+ years.

We also thank ALL library employees and especially those who have served on LEAF through the years (if you hadn’t kept up membership in this group, we wouldn’t have a voice to give on this project). And as always, any feedback is welcome via the “Straight Talk” form:

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Pet of the Week: Dougie

Dougie Jones Morgan-Adams (AKA Mr. Jackpots), aptly named after the Twin Peaks: The Return character, is a recent addition to our home. Over Mother’s Day weekend, I made the delightful mistake of just “looking around” at the Humane Society in my hometown and found Dougie. A charmer from the start, I took him home to an incredulous partner, Ben, (“no more dogs” was the rule) who soon fell in love with him as well.

A longtime shelter dog, Dougie is an anxious little dude (we’re talking other dogs, the ice maker, thunder, large shrubbery, shadows), but makes up for it in sweetness and energy. He’s stumpy but surprisingly quick, which makes the many times he wiggles out of the back gate that much more interesting. Also, he lets us put clothes on him and doesn’t even complain, he loves us that much.

We are trying to teach him commands like ‘sit’ and ‘stay,’ but his immediate response to any approach is to either sploot or splat (depending on his mood) and await pettings from the benevolent giants that give him treats.

We are very lucky that Dougie Jones has found us and hope that, one day, he will behave.

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Assessment and User Experience team passes first test

The AUX Team (L to R): Kristan Majors, Chris Pollette, Michael Luther, Doug Slaughter, and Pat Culpepper.

This June, the Assessment and User Experience team (AUX) successfully completed its first project to find out how members of the Emory community think about using different electronic resources.

AUX launched last September as a new section of the Research, Engagement, and Scholarly Communications group (RESC) with Pat Culpepper, Kristan Majors, Chris Pollette, and Doug Slaughter. Doug, who formerly worked with Pat as a student, became a permanent employee as part of the reorganization. In February, the team welcomed leader Michael Luther, who united the team and led them in their first user research project.

In 2018, Emory Libraries shifted its online databases search to Springshare’s LibGuides A-Z list. With that change came the opportunity for users to choose databases by the type of content inside. Assisted by the Oxford Library, Woodruff Health Sciences Center Library, and graduate assistants at the Woodruff Library, AUX polled 205 members of the community regarding the 14 pre-generated database types.

Most people (72.1%) said they used Journal Articles. E-Books were next at 40.2% and Archival/Primary Sources followed in third with 18.6%. Least used were Tests & Measures (0.5%), Government Information (1%), and Musical Scores (1.5%). As expected, there was greater understanding of the 14 types among librarians than in other members of the community. Images, Audio/Video, and Musical Scores were the most well-understood by both librarians and the community, while understanding of Bibliographies, Tests & Measures, and Encyclopedias, Dictionaries, and Handbooks was more variable.

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Sarah Morris.

Electronic and Continuing Resources is applying the database types in the new web page, and AUX, working with Sarah Morris and others, is looking for additional ways to leverage its research for instruction and engagement.

Although the scope of this first study was small, AUX is learning how to reach out to members of the Emory community for user experience research. As the department continues to reach out to more users, AUX hopes to enable the Emory Libraries to improve its services for all of its audiences.

The full report is available on Emory Box.

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