“Beyond Love”: Emory Libraries Student Ambassadors Curated Display in Woodruff Library

A new student-organized mini-exhibit has opened in Woodruff Library! The exhibit, entitled “Beyond Love: Perspectives on Human Connection,” was fully designed and curated by Emory undergraduates in Emory Libraries Student Ambassadors (ELSA). The collection features both print and digital titles––including several titles new to Emory Libraries’ holdings––in the recently-added level 2 display space. The exhibit will run through the end of March. 

In the collection, ELSA asks: What do you think of when you hear the word love? Friends and family? Romance and sex? Heartbreak? With books ranging from fiction bestsellers to academic anthologies, “Beyond Love” brings together a diverse, interdisciplinary selection of writing about the nature of our relationships. Whether you’re intrigued by the psychology of attraction or the philosophical contemplation of love, ELSA invites you to explore the complexity of human connection and consider what it means to love and be loved.

As ELSA’s co-president, Ansley Langham, explains, “February is often dubbed the ‘month of love,’ and nearly everyone has strong feelings about that designation one way or another. We wanted to create an exhibit that makes space for all kinds of emotions that come up this time of year, cynicism included.” Ambassadors chose to organize the books thematically, rather than by genre, in categories like “Familial Love,” “Critiques of Love,” and “Tragic Love.” In this way, library patrons can find titles that speak to many different conceptions of love. “Having Derrida’s ‘The Politics of Friendship’ next to Sally Rooney’s novel ‘Beautiful World, Where Are You’ is a little unconventional, but it works perfectly in a collection this varied and interactive,” Langham adds.

ELSA began work on the exhibit last fall, with support from Chris Palazzolo, Social Sciences librarian and head of Collection Management, who oversees the rotating collection space. Students were involved in all aspects of the curation process, from handpicking the titles to making the eye-catching strands of paper hearts that hang from the ceiling above the exhibit. ELSA’s members played to their strengths when putting together the collection: Ella Abend, a first-year student and library ambassador, drew the art for the “Beyond Love” bookmarks, and Emilio Rosas Gutiérrez, a third year and ELSA’s secretary, designed all of the display signage. “It was amazing to be able to have a hand in creating a collection with the ELSA team and library staff,” says Cece York, a first-year ambassador. “It was super exciting to be given freedom and support to make a collection we are passionate about and give back to the library in such a way.”

Ambassadors (left to right) Ramlah Amer, Yazi Zheng, Nava Klopper, Ansley Langham, and Andrew Yin in front of the “Beyond Love” collection.

In total, a dozen undergraduate students were involved in developing “Beyond Love.” As first year ELSA member Josefina Logrippo says, “Everyone in ELSA was so dedicated to the collection and we worked very hard to choose books that would appeal to Emory students and reflect our commitment to the spectrum of feelings about love. It’s great to have found a community that sees the importance in that.”

ELSA also worked with expert library staff members like John Klingler (exhibitions preparator), Christian Hill (graphic designer), and Natalie Heimerle-Warthan (Access Services senior specialist), all of whom were essential to the project. First-year ambassador Ramlah Amer shares, “It was really exciting to see the library staff so enthusiastic about collaborating with students. They gave us a lot of ownership over the collection but helped out immensely along the way. I love the ELSA team and it’s amazing that we get so much support from everyone in the libraries.”

Ambassadors installing the collection, including the colorful e-book cover images on the side of the shelving

“Beyond Love” will run through the end of February. To celebrate the collection, ELSA is hosting two free events. A DIY Valentine-making event will take place on February 14 in the lobby of Woodruff Library. On February 23, ELSA is putting on “Beyond Love: A Panel Event” from 5:30-6:30 pm in the Jones Room (Woodruff Library Room 311) where Emory faculty will discuss the ways in which their research has informed their understanding of love.

—compiled and written by the Emory Libraries Student Ambassadors (ELSA)