Ready to Research: Newly Processed Collections Asian American Resource Workshop and the Fenway Alliance

Black and white image of people marching and holding signs
Demonstration against the construction of the DD Ramp into Chinatown, circa 1997, photographer Anne Marie Booth. Asian American Resource Workshop records, Northeastern University Archives and Special Collections.

Introducing the Asian American Resource Workshop Finding Aid
Contributed by Dominique Medal

The Asian American Resource Workshop (AARW) was founded in 1979 as one of Boston’s first pan-Asian organizations. AARW expanded from an initial focus on cultural and educational programming to addressing social and economic justice issues facing the Asian American community, including violence against Asian Americans and urban renewal and development in Chinatown.

Two women painting a mural
Two women painting a mural of faces, circa 1990, photographer unknown. Asian American Resource Workshop records, Northeastern University Archives and Special Collections.

The records held by the Northeastern University Archives and Special Collections date from 1979 to 2012 and document AARW’s activities through administrative records, photographs, reports, documentaries, promotional materials, and subject files.

The collection focuses on AARW programs, including Asian and Pacific American Heritage Week, the Boston Asian American Film Festival, the Civil Rights Capacity Building Project, the SafetyNet Violence Prevention Project, and the Sticky Rice Project.

To learn more about the Asian American Resource Workshop records, explore the finding aid and digitized content from the collection in the Digital Repository Service.

Introducing the Fenway Alliance Finding Aid
Contributed by Irene Gates

The Fenway Alliance is a consortium of Fenway neighborhood cultural organizations and educational institutions (including Northeastern University). It was first founded in 1977 as The Boston Plan. The consortium addresses areas of shared concern that range from security and parking to physical improvements of the neighborhood.

The records date from the 1970s to the 2010s and document the administrative records, plans, reports, photographs, and subject files. A recent donation by the organization’s Director of Planning from the late 1970s to the 1990s includes photographic slides such as the one featured here.

A body of water with lush trees and grass behind it. A stone bridge is visible in the distance
Back Bay Fens, July 1988, photographer unknown. Fenway Alliance records, Northeastern University Archives and Special Collections.

Collection topics include Fenway area transportation, housing, demographics, physical landscape, historic preservation, and cultural programming. Some major projects undertaken by the Fenway Alliance in the past include the Avenue of the Arts designation, the Fenway Cultural District designation, and the Muddy River restoration.

To learn more about the Fenway Alliance records, explore the finding aid.

2024 Reading Challenge Update: April Winner and What You Read This Month!

The end of April means the end of the semester! Congratulations to all of Northeastern’s 2024 grads, and to everyone who made it through final exams and final projects.

Aliah Mahadeo is the April Reading Challenge winner! Aliah will receive a digital gift card to—perfect for picking up some new summer reads. Congratulations to everyone who read a book this month and told us about it. April’s theme was “a book about nature, the environment, or climate change.” Here are some of the eco-focused titles you enjoyed:

What You Read This Month

Cover of Fire Weather

Fire Weather: A True Story from a Hotter World, John Vaillant
Listen to the audiobook
“A stressful and well-written read, edge-of-your-seat action and the science behind modern fire.” — Kim

Cover of Into Thin Air

Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mt. Everest Disaster, Jon Krakauer
Find it at Snell | Find it at F. W. Olin
“I listened to the audiobook, which had me on the edge of my bus seat during my morning and evening commutes. Jon Krakauer’s firsthand account of the 1996 Mt. Everest disaster is gripping and visceral, and you can really feel his own heartbreak, helplessness and guilt. Really, though, maybe people should stop climbing Mt. Everest?” — Brooke

Cover of Birnam Wood

Birnam Wood, Eleanor Catton
Read the e-book | Find it at Snell
“There’s no such thing as an ethical billionaire.” — Priscila

Cover of The Sixth Extinction

The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History, Elizabeth Kolbert
Find it at Snell | Find it at F. W. Olin
“It explores the current mass extinction event and the impact of human activity on the planet’s biodiversity. Kolbert provides a compelling narrative that weaves together scientific research, history, and personal anecdotes to illustrate the severity of the ecological crisis we face. It’s a thought-provoking and sobering read that sheds light on the urgent need for action to protect our planet. — Sudhanva

Cover of The Overstory

The Overstory: A Novel, Richard Powers
Read the e-book | Find it at Snell | Find it at F. W. Olin
“This book was greatly out of my comfort zone…I really enjoyed how all the characters’ stories were so interconnected with each other and the natural world. I really enjoy books that really focus on the characters, so I really liked that about this book, but I did find it to be very slow and sometimes the wording seemed a bit muddled or dense. I overall liked this book even though it was not the type of book I normally read.” — Aura

Cover of The Age of Miracles

The Age of Miracles: A Novel, Karen Thompson Walker
Find it at Snell
The Age of Miracles is a poignant and thought-provoking novel that explores the consequences of the Earth’s rotation shown through the eyes of a young Julia. Karen Thompson Walker’s storytelling is both captivating and hauntingly beautiful, offering a unique perspective on resilience, adaptation, and the fragility of human existence. The novel’s exploration of the interconnected way of all living things and the importance of cherishing the present moment makes it a standout work of speculative fiction that stays with the readers, including me, long after they have finished reading. Highly recommended for those interested in thought-provoking narratives about the human condition in the face of existential crisis.” — Shivangi

And What to Read in May

The Reading Challenge theme for May is “a comic book or graphic novel.” Whether you’re a longtime comics fan or brand new to the genre, here are some recommendations for your May read!

They Called Us Enemy, George Takei, Justin Eisinger, Steven R. Scott, and Harmony Becker
Read the e-book | Find it at Snell | Find it at F. W. Olin
Long before he played Hikaru Sulu on Star Trek, George Takei was born to Japanese immigrants living in Los Angeles. In 1942, when Takei was five years old, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, which ordered the incarceration of all Japanese and Japanese American people living in the United States. For the next three years, until World War II ended, Takei and his family were shuttled between internment camps. They Called Us Enemy is Takei’s graphic memoir of life behind the barbed wire of the camps, and of the resilience of his family and community in the face of a hostile and suspicious nation.

Black Panther, Volume 1: A Nation Under Our Feet, Ta-Nehisi Coates and Brian Stelfreeze
Read the e-book | Find it at Snell | Find it at F. W. Olin
Even if you’re not a Marvel superfan, it’s hard not to be thrilled by Ta-Nehisi Coates’ rendering of T’Challa, aka Black Panther, the Wakandan king who doubles as a superhero. Coates’ story and Stelfreeze’s illustrations bring Wakanda to life in all its Afro-futuristic sci-fi super-tech glory.

Paper Girls, Brian K. Vaughn, Cliff Chiang, Matthew Wilson, and Jared K. Fletcher
Find it at Snell | Find it at F. W. Olin
It’s easy to imagine Stranger Things vibes in this series from Saga creator Brian K. Vaughn, but Paper Girls defies all comparisons. In 1988, four young paper girls discover a mystery that will shake their small suburban world to its foundations.

The Making of Another Major Motion Picture Masterpiece, Tom Hanks
Read the e-book
If anyone knows the movie business, it’s Tom Hanks. This unique novel, interspersed with Tom Hanks-created comic books, offers a tongue-in-cheek glimpse behind the behind-the-scenes of Hollywood. A World War II soldier returns home, then disappears; a comic book artist creates a superhero based on that soldier; a director decides to turn that comic book into a superhero epic; and then we meet the eccentric cast and crew.

Need more reading recommendations? Check out our suggested e-books and audiobooks for May! If you’re in Boston, you can stop by the Snell Library lobby in person on May 15 and 16 for Reading Challenge stickers, bookmarks, comics and graphic novels to check out, and friendly librarians who love talking about books!

And when you finish your next book, make sure to tell us about it for a chance to win the May prize drawing! (For more chances to win, make sure you submit your reading to the Massachusetts Center for the Book, as well as the Northeastern University Library.)

As always, happy reading!

Sourcery Request Button is Live for Archives & Special Collections

Sourcery logo

For the past several years, Northeastern University Archives and Special Collections has partnered with the University of Connecticut’s Greenhouse Studios to test and pilot Sourcery. Sourcery is a platform that aims to remotely connect researchers with primary sources at a variety of cultural heritage institutions through scan requests. With this mission, the Sourcery team hopes to provide broader access to archival materials for any researcher anywhere.

Icon of the Sourcery button

The newest development for this project is a Sourcery button that can be found in the archives’ finding aid catalog, ArchivesSpace. When users view a specific collection’s finding aid, the Sourcery button will appear. Clicking it will generate a citation of the collection’s series or folder currently being viewed and bring the user directly to Sourcery to make a request for a specific file from the institution where the collection is located.

To use Sourcery for archival research, create an account at the Sourcery app website. Once registered, requests can be made directly from the Northeastern University Archives and Special Collections’ finding aid catalog via the purple Sourcery button in the upper right corner of the page.

A tip for researchers: The more specific, the better! While the Sourcery button appears the moment you open a collection’s finding aid, try navigating within the finding aid’s organization to provide a more granular citation. Making requests for specific items within a collection by going to that item’s (or file’s) page will greatly help archives staff fulfill requests in a timely manner.

Screenshot of Sourcery in action

As the archives continues to prepare for a full opening, staff are looking forward to assisting researchers on any platform!

For more information about Sourcery’s progress, visit their substack blog.

Steps Toward Sustainability with Snell Library’s Solar Panels

Dean of the Library Dan Cohen poses next to a solar panel on the Snell Library Quad
Dean of the Library Dan Cohen flips the switch to solar electricity in a ceremony on April 2, 2024.

Northeastern University’s commitment to sustainability was evident at Snell Library on April 2, as the university held a ceremony to unveil the new solar panels installed on the library’s roof as part of the building’s ongoing renovations.

“Libraries have long been associated with light, as places that light up our world. Today, the Northeastern University Library continues this tradition by holding resources and expert staff members that shine light on learning and research,” Dean of the Library Dan Cohen said at the event. “So it’s nice that today we are able to make this association between the library and light literal in addition to metaphorical. We’re thrilled that Snell Library can capture and distribute light in a different way, and that this light will help our campus and our environment.”

The panels will be providing 157.8kWp DC of power to Snell Library and will save around 13,600 kilowatt hours of electricity annually.

The project was led by Northeastern’s Planning, Real Estate, and Facilities (PREF) Division, and the panels’ installation was completed by Ameresco, a leading renewable energy integrator. The undertaking also involved efforts by the Climate Justice and Sustainability Hub, NU Trades, and more.

Infographic with statistics on the sustainability of Snell Library's solar panels

Installing rooftop solar panels on an urban campus is a complicated process with multiple considerations to manage. Limited space and logistical complications meant that the project took nearly a year to plan and execute. But Snell Library proved the perfect location for the panels, with its height, flat roof, and minimal shading, and the ongoing renovations to help ensure a seamless integration to the campus’ electrical grid.

Four workers in construction gear pose with a solar panel on the roof of Snell Library
Some of the team of workers installing solar panels on Snell Library’s roof.

“My hope going forward is that all new buildings are going to be designed to hold solar panels so that they’re maximizing as they go,” said Jacob Glickel, Director of Sustainability Operations for PREF.

The Northeastern University Library is excited to play such an important role in Northeastern’s progression toward sustainability.

For more information about the project, visit the PREF website.

2024 Reading Challenge Update: March Winner and What You Read This Month!

March is over, and with the end of the month comes a new Reading Challenge winner!.Congratulations to Amanda Myron, whose name was drawn this month. Amanda is based at the Roux Institute in Portland, Maine, and will be receiving a Northeastern University Library finals week/end-of-semester care package.

And big congratulations to everyone else who read a book this month and told us about it. There are still nine more months of the Reading Challenge, so if you haven’t won yet, you still have time. For more chances to win, make sure to submit your reading to the Massachusetts Center for the Book, as well as the Northeastern University Library.

What You Read This Month

The theme for March was “a book whose protagonist has a different culture or lifestyle than you,” which opened up a lot of possibilities. Here are some of the stories you enjoyed this month:

Cover of Wandering Stars

Wandering Stars, Tommy Orange
Read the e-book | Listen to the audiobook
“Beautifully written and raw prose from multiple POVs dealing with important historical realities as well as contemporary issues faced by the Native American community. It is important to acknowledge the historical events in this book and the experience of people who lived through them. It was difficult reading because it was real and life is often difficult and messy but there is hope in the end of the book which is a testament to resilience.” — Carla

Cover of The Covenant of Water

The Covenant of Water, Abraham Verghese
Read the e-book | Listen to the audiobook | Find it at Snell
“I absolutely adore Abraham Verghese and was so excited when I learned he had another book coming out. It’s a long book but never felt like it was dragging. I loved it!” — Kerri

“This book makes you wonder about how big and small our lives are at the same time. It encapsulates the life of three generations of the same family set in a small town in Kerala and how the world changing around them is affecting them but also not at the same time…One of the best. Read it many times. Let it sink in.” — Anoushka

Cover of Shark Heart

Shark Heart: A Love Story, Emily Habeck
Read the e-book | Listen to the audiobook
“What a masterpiece of lyrical writing. The author presents us with layered characters with different issues and traumas that manage to find wholeness and joy throughout the painful process of life. — Priscila

Cover of Land of Milk and Honey

Land of Milk and Honey, C Pam Zhang
Listen to the audiobook | Find it at Snell | Find it at F. W. Olin
“Engaging storyline, complex characters, thoughtful setting, and poetic writing. Poses a question to the reader of who they are, of where they’re from, and of what constitutes them.” — Harrison

Cover of The Island of Missing Trees

The Island of Missing Trees, Elif Shafak
Find it at Snell
“I thought I was choosing a different culture by picking a book with a protagonist who is an immigrant from Cyprus living in London. Little did I know that the main protagonist of the book would be a fig tree. A truly insightful, deep, and intriguing read!” — Michal

Cover of The Country of the Blind

The Country of the Blind: A Memoir at the End of Sight, Andrew Leland
Listen to the audiobook | Find it at Snell
“This memoir opened up an entire world for me, one that I was only vaguely aware of before delving into it. Leland’s account of losing his vision to retinitis pigmentosa and the incredible people he’s met on his journey towards becoming blind were at once moving and educational. Before reading this book, the thought of becoming blind myself would have terrified me. Now, I see that blindness is not something to mourn or fear, but rather a different way of being in the world that comes with its own joys and challenges. It’s a beginning, rather than an ending.” — Bianca

And What to Read in April

The theme for April is “a book about nature, the environment, or climate change.” which is perfectly on theme to celebrate Earth Day on April 22. Here are some eco-friendly reads to help you get in touch with nature—even if you’re stuck studying for finals.

Birnam Wood, Eleanor Catton
Read the e-book | Find it at Snell
A guerrilla farming group in New Zealand takes on an American billionaire in this thriller (yes, a thriller about guerrilla farming!) that Stephen King calls “as good as it gets” and “a treat.”

Better Living Through Birding: Notes from a Black Man in the Natural World, Christian Cooper
Read the e-book | Listen to the audiobook
Christian Cooper unwittingly came to the public’s attention in May 2020, when a video went viral of a white dog owner calling the police on Cooper, a Black man, after he asked her to leash her dog. But beyond the Central Park incident, Christian Cooper is an avid bird watcher, a science writer and editor, and the first openly gay writer and editor at Marvel Comics. Cooper’s memoir explores the pleasures of nature, travel, and birds.

Yours for the Taking, Gabrielle Korn
Listen to the audiobook
In the climate apocalypse of 2050, cities are in ruins, and the air is toxic. The privileged take refuge in climate-proof settlements, but Ava knows she won’t be among them—until she meets billionaire visionary Jacqueline Millender, who is building the newest climate-proof settlement in New York City. But as Ava and those around her bask in the newfound security of “Inside,” they begin to realize that something is very wrong, and Jacqueline might not be what she seems.

A City on Mars: Can We Settle Space, Should We Settle Space, and Have We Really Thought This Through?, Kelly Weinersmith
Read the e-book | Find it at Snell
“Wherever you are on this planet,” this book begins, “you’ve recently given some thought to leaving it.” Human colonization of Mars seems like an alluring option in the face of climate change, but as Kelly Weinersmith points out, we might not have really thought this through. A City on Mars looks at the facts of Martian colonization through a funny and approachable lens, with clever illustrations by the author’s husband.