Friends of the Old Dominion University Libraries

March 2006


The Friends of the Library annual author dinner is scheduled for the evening of March 29. This annual Friends celebration will be held in the North Cafeteria of Webb Center. A reception with cash bar begins at 6 p.m., and the dinner will be served at 6:30.

Paul Rasor, Director of the Center for the Study of Religious Freedom at Virginia Wesleyan College will be the speaker. His book, Faith Without Certainty: Liberal Theology in the 21st Century, was published in April 2005. The following introduction was prepared by Joe Jackson, board member, Friends of the ODU Library.

At a divisive time in our history when the American impulse toward empire concerns conservatives and liberals alike – when the President’s statement that “freedom is on the march” can be simultaneously seen as a commitment to freedom or, in the words of political philosopher Cornel West, evidence of “the gangsterism of America” – Professor Paul B. Rasor, Director of the Center for the Study of Religious Freedom at Virginia Wesleyan College and author of Faith Without Certainty: Liberal Theology in the 21st Century, likes to remind us that “the deep roots of democracy are more spiritual than political.”
Democracy has been called a secular faith, yet its three spiritual commitments – justice, questioning, and hope – are the same basic commitments of religious liberalism, Rasor says. “A commitment to the deepening of our democracy can also deepen our faith. One of the things I learned from living with the Quakers for five years is that the spiritual is political,” a fact often brought home these days by simply turning on the national and international news.
A Unitarian Universalist minister, Rasor received his Master of Divinity degree from Harvard Divinity School in 1994 and doctorate of theology five years later from Harvard University. He earned law and music degrees from the University of Michigan, practiced law six years in New Mexico, has been a professor of both law and theology, and likes to remind people that he plays a mean jazz and classical trombone. In the 1980s, he was involved in several human rights and humanitarian missions to Guatemala and El Salvador during the height of the “death squad” atrocities and political “disappearances.” In November 1989, he was involved in the investigation of the bombing of the offices of the group Mothers of the Disappeared when Jesuit priests were assassinated and nearby neighborhoods were strafed and bombed. He has been called one of the few Unitarian theologians actively at work today, and his observations on the roots and directions of liberal theology in contemporary American culture spring from a kaleidoscope of perspectives.
“Religious liberals today remain committed to such principles as free religious inquiry, autonomous judgment about truth claims, and openness to divergent views,” he writes in his Introduction, and these are among the young nation’s same nascent strengths identified 200 years ago by Alexis de Tocqueville in his classic Democracy in America. Yet these are also factors that create an uneasy, contentious dynamic in public life, with no pat answers – and thus, a continuing world of tensions. This tension can be “creative or paralyzing, freeing or frustrating,” but it is as undeniably a part of religious liberalism as it is intrinsic to the basic workings of true democracy.

Katherine T. Bucher, Professor of Curriculum and Instruction, will become the 12th recipient of the Friends’ Outstanding Achievement Award, annually conferred at the author dinner on a member of the university community who has consistently excelled through writing in his or her discipline for a span of years.

Dr. Bucher holds an Ed.D. in Administration and Curriculum from Auburn University and an M.L.S. from Rutgers University. She is the author of a wide range of texts and articles on topics ranging from young adult literature to middle school teaching to information technology for schools. She was awarded a major grant in 2005 by the Institute for Museum and Library Services for a project titled “Distributed School Library Media Graduate Program in Virginia.”

Baskets for Books, the annual basketball game to benefit the University Libraries and the Friends of the Library, was played in the Constant Convocation Center on December 17. The ODU Monarchs met the DePaul Blue Demons in an exciting game that ended with an ODU win.

Friends of the Library sold 290 tickets to the game, and the two contestants in the half-time free-throw contest made 21 baskets. Altogether, the Friends of the Library raised $2,265 through this event.

How do students learn to seek information – to use digital resources – to exploit the library fully – to evaluate information from the vast range of sources? This is the question we explored with University Librarian, Virginia S. O’Herron, for this newsletter report.

Newsletter: What information-seeking skills do students possess already when they come to college?
University Librarian: Although many may come to college with an awareness of what a library is, a large number may lack basic skills for using libraries and resources. Often, their first source is the Internet, but they typically don’t differentiate between the material retrieved in a Google search and those high quality digital resources that the library buys.

Newsletter: What kinds of tools do they need to acquire?
University Librarian: Students must understand the different kinds of information sources – books, journals, databases, for example – and develop the ability to select the type of source appropriate to their specific needs. They must learn to formulate an appropriate search strategy for that need, and they must hone the ability to recognize valid sources, among the flood of material retrieved.

Newsletter: What is the library’s role in teaching information retrieval skills to students?
University Librarian: The library’s mission is to foster the acquisition of lifetime information retrieval and use skills to serve the needs of lifetime learning.

Newsletter: How do faculty and librarians work together to help students develop these skills?
University Librarian: Instruction in basic library use is integrated into lower division coursework, and these experiences are followed by classes customized by discipline and developed in cooperation with faculty as students progress through their degree programs.

Newsletter: What are the approaches that the library uses?
University Librarian: In addition to instructional experiences integrated into courses, the library offers topical workshops, online tutorials, and research assistance on the library’s Web site. There is growing use of the library’s e-mail reference service for in-depth consultations.

Newsletter: Is instruction in information-seeking confined to work with undergraduate students?
University Librarian: Librarians work with nearly as many graduate courses as undergraduate. They meet with classes, often prepare course guides to go along with the instructional sessions, and make themselves available for follow-up consultations with individual graduate students. In addition, narrowly focused workshops on specialized resources and services are presented for graduate students and faculty.

In spring of 2004, leadership of the Virginia Symphony concluded an agreement with the Old Dominion University Libraries to transfer ownership of the symphony archives to the university library’s Special Collections Department. In the library, it was recognized, the valuable historical documents would receive appropriate preservation treatment and would be organized for easy access and continued use by researchers, as well as by those associated with the symphony and symphony league. The archives would extend the range and depth of collections in the library’s special collections, too, making a new aspect of Tidewater history available for present and future users.

The first archival materials from the symphony were delivered to the library in April of 2005, and their processing by library staff began. Each document received conservation treatment, and all were sorted into categories. Archival folders and boxes were labeled and filled with parts of the collection, and an inventory of documents was prepared. The transfer of archives will continue until all suitable materials have been received by the library, and the process of preserving, organizing, and preparing for use will continue.

To develop the symphony archive collection further, people who have records of past symphony operations are encouraged to donate them to the library to fill in missing parts of the symphony archives. Gifts of memorabilia – keepsakes, scrapbooks, and the like – also are valuable and will be welcome. For further information, the library’s contact for this project is Susan Catlett, and she can be telephoned at 683-4483 or contacted by e-mail at

One of the benefits of belonging to Friends of the ODU Library is the opportunity to serve as a volunteer – to immerse yourself in a part of the library of particular interest to you, to get a glimpse behind the scenes, and to make an important contribution to the growth of the university library.

Mary Mosier and Buddy Ammons both answered a call for volunteers in September and are thoroughly involved now in absorbing projects.

Buddy Ammons, a retired educator, works about six hours a week in the library’s Special Collections Department, where he is processing archives of former provosts of Old Dominion University. He reports being “totally amazed” at the numbers of people who make use of the library’s special collections – its university archives and its manuscript collections – as well as by the impressive amount of staff work that is required to maintain a healthy and viable special collections department in the university library. He also regards the association with students as a “huge plus.”

Mary Mosier also gives five or six hours a week to Special Collections, where she is processing the papers of former Norfolk City Council member, Conoly Phillips. She notes that Special Collections has an “amazing collection of local family papers,” which she enjoys exploring as a byproduct of her work in Special Collections. During the past five years, she was a library school student and used Perry Library for every class! She explains, “Volunteering is my way to say thank you to all the wonderful and talented librarians at the Perry Library that helped me the last five years.”

Those wishing to explore the possibility of a volunteer assignment in the university library may contact Mary Daniel, chair of the Friends’ Service Committee at or 745-1292.

If you have ideas for Friends of the Library programs or activities, the opportunity exists now for you to send them to Friends leadership. Have you been a member of another Friends organization that had ideas our group could borrow? Did you have expectations about the Friends of the ODU Library that haven’t been met? Are you a member of another organization with a successful activity that could inspire our group?
Please send suggestions to the president of the Friends of the ODU Library, Charles Burgess, at or 489-5808. And thanks for your input.

A gift to the Old Dominion University Library may be made in memory or in honor of a friend or relative. Such a donation is an enduring contribution that promotes the excellence of the university and its academic programs.

Gifts at all levels are used to purchase books for the library’s collection. Each volume purchased with memorial and honorary gifts will display the library’s special bookplate naming both the honoree and the donor.

To make a memorial or honorary gift to the library, send your contribution to Fern McDougal, Friends of the Library, Old Dominion University Library, Norfolk, VA

23529-0256. In addition to the name of the person in whose memory or honor the gift is given, please include the name of the person to be notified, in the case of a memorial gift.

Women in Jazz: Women’s Contribution to America’s Original Art Form is an exhibit mounted in the Diehn Composers Room and focused on women’s roles in jazz history from its origins to the present, with special emphases on women instrumentalists, vocalists, and all women bands.

The print exhibit – images, sound records, and books from the library’s collection – will be available until March 31, while the Web exhibit links audio and biographical material on selected artists. The Web exhibit can be found at

FRIENDS OF THE LIBRARY NEWSLETTER is produced by the Publicity Committee of the Friends of the Old Dominion University Library; members are:
Donna Bausch
Jean A. Major, Chair
Peter Schulman
Susan Weaver