Author Julie Williams to Speak about Her Great-Aunt and Uncle’s Survival of the Titanic

As the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic approaches, author, Julie Hedgepeth Williams, will give a public talk Wednesday, March 7, at 2:00 p.m. in Room 205 in Gorgas Library about the saga of one couple who survived – her great-aunt and uncle, Sylvia and Albert Caldwell.

Williams’ book, A Rare Titanic Family:  The Caldwells’ Story of Survival details for the first time the lucky rescue of Albert, Sylvia, and their 10-month old son, Alden, aboard Lifeboat 13.  The trip was only one part of a bigger nightmare.  The Caldwells had been Presbyterian missionaries in Bangkok, Siam, but fled in what they described as a desperate journey around the world to save Sylvia’s health.  Fellow missionaries, however, believed that the couple had plotted to renege on their contract at financial loss to the church.

Williams was so inspired by her great-aunt and uncle’s story that she majored in history and English at Principia College, and eventually got a Master’s and a PhD at the University of Alabama.  She currently teaches journalism part-time at Samford University in Birmingham.

Join us for the lecture, book-signing and refreshments.  Free and open to the public.

Co-sponsored by:  The Tolbert Lecture Series, University Libraries, and the Alabama Center for the Book

Click here for more information.


Cullen Murphy to Speak on Latest Book

Cullen Murphy, editor at large for Vanity Fair, will give a lecture about his latest book, “God’s Jury:  The Inquisition and the Making of the Modern World,” titled “The Inquisition through Modern Eyes” at 2:30 p.m. Feb. 22 in room 205 Gorgas Library.

Book signing and reception to follow.  The event is free and open to the public.

Co-sponsored by The Alabama Center for the Book,UA Libraries and the College of Arts and Sciences

The University of Alabama Libraries
The University of Alabama
Box 870266
Tuscaloosa, AL 35487-0266

AL Center for the Book speaker, Timothy Barrett, featured in NY Times

The speaker for the upcoming Alabama Center for the Book Annual Gathering, Timothy Barrett, was recently featured in this New York Times article. Mr. Barrett will speak at the meeting taking place on Saturday, March 3rd at the Amelia Gayle Gorgas Library, The University of Alabama. Click here for more information about this event or to register. 



High School Students Honored as Winners in UA’s ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ Essay Contest

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – School winners in The University of Alabama’s 11th annual “To Kill a Mockingbird” Essay Contest for high school students were recognized with a luncheon and awards ceremony Friday, Jan.27.


School winners in UA’s essay contest were recognized at the University Club with a luncheon in their honor.


Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and UA faculty member Rick Bragg was the guest speaker.

The essay contest began in 2001 to recognize author Harper Lee’s induction into the Alabama Academy of Honor.

Contest submissions were accepted from public, private and home-schooled high school students.

Each participating school chooses a winning entry, and a monetary prize is given to each of the winners. Participants were required to write a 500-750 word essay about how the book speaks to readers in today’s society.

In her essay, this year’s statewide winner, Melissa Lawrence of Hewitt-Trussville High School wrote, “Through the life lessons that are exemplified by Atticus Finch, the novel still illuminates the world Scout dreams of, where people are just ordinary people and social classes are nonexistent.”

As the state winner, Lawrence received $500 and $500 was also awarded to her school, Hewitt-Trussville High School. A panel of judges from the UA Honors College and English department selects the statewide student winner.

“To Kill a Mockingbird” speaks to students in this generation as powerfully as it did to students of previous generations,” said Dr. Fran Oneal, associate director of the University Honors Program and director of the International Honors Program, who also oversees the essay competition.

All students who win the essay contest at their individual high schools were invited to attend the luncheon and an awards ceremony at UA. Student essays are also archived in UA’s Hoole Special Collections Library.

Noted author Rick Bragg, a faculty member of the UA department of journalism, was the featured speaker at the luncheon. Bragg is known for his writing on the South and contemporary America. His most famous work, “All Over but the Shoutin’,” is a critically acclaimed autobiography about growing up in the South. The book is found on the reading lists of universities throughout the country.

Bragg’s other books include “The Prince of Frogtown,” an exploration of his father’s life in their hometown of Jacksonville, and “The Most They Ever Had,” stories of men and women who worked in the Jacksonville cotton mill.

The essay contest is sponsored by the UA Honors College and the Alabama State Department of Education. Further support is provided by The Alabama Center for the Book, the UA Offices of Academic Affairs, Alumni Affairs and Undergraduate Admissions, and the University Libraries.

The 2012 winners included:

Keyanna Abrams Northridge High School
James Albritton Andalusia High School
Adam Alfano Decatur High School
Cole Baker Sheffield High School
Cassidy Balkcom Highland Home School
Corey Boswell Hale County High School
Duncan Brittain T R Miller High School
Emily Buice Tallassee High School
Leah Clark Holy Spirit High School
Stephen Cooper Charles Henderson High School
Carly Fenn Thompson High School
Morgan Fletcher Locust Fork High School
Tajnea Foster Pelham High
Margaret Friedenreich Auburn Jr. High School
Sarah Hartley Shades Valley High School
Elizabeth Heiss Daphne High School
Blair Hendricks Zion Chapel School
Hansol Hong BTW Magnet High
Melissa Huynh Sylacauga High School
Sara Kachelman Florence High School
Dominique Kelly Brewbaker Technology Magnet High School
Melissa Lawrence Hewitt-Trussville High School
Chelsea Lee Fayetteville School
Phillip McClendon Benjamin Russell High School
JaNae McNeil Booker T. Washington High School
Brianna Miller Alma Bryant High School
Madison Minshew Geneva High School
Siddhartha Namda Virgil I. Grissom High School
Kayela Norris Berry High School
Destiny Powell Foley High School
Rebecca Sales Monroe Academy
Amy Sims Gaston High School
Kathryn Skelton Northside High School
Eric Skidmore Jefferson County International Baccalaureate High School
Heather Smith Brookwood High School
Olivia Snyder Shelby County High School
Dylan Stewart KDS DAR High
Layla Tajmir Hoover High School
Candace Ward Winfield City High School
Elizabeth Ward Walker High School
Claudia Watkins Shades Valley High School
Jay Williams Susan Moore High School
Matthew Wilson Robertsdale High School
Madison Wolfe Smiths Station High School
Dana Zahran Liberty School

Miniature Book Exhibit

Gorgas Library, University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, Alabama 

February 15 – April 15

For centuries individuals have been collecting miniature books.  To promote knowledge of these tiny treasures, the Miniature Book Society has created a national traveling exhibit showcasing modern masterpieces as well as historic examples.  Gorgas Library on the campus of the University of Alabama will be the site of the exhibit February 15 – April 15, 2012.  The exhibit is sponsored by University Libraries and the Alabama Center for the Book.

The traveling exhibit also includes books from the Miniature Book Society’s annual competition.  Two University of Alabama students from the School of Library and Information Studies Book Arts Program entered the 2011 competition. Their books will be featured in the collection.

Mary Elizabeth Watson’s book, CAT TALK, measures 3” x 2 5/8” and features images hand drawn and printed from photographic plates.

Timothy Winkler’s book, JUMBLE, 3” x 3” in size, is a letterpress book printed with polymer plates and linocuts.  The design is meant to represent a chaotic “mess” of ideas.  Winkler is both author and illustrator.

To accompany the exhibit, four additional display cases will be filled with 22 miniature books from W.S. Hoole Special Collections Library’s Book Arts Collection and information about the art of collecting miniature books.

In the United States, a miniature book is usually considered to be one which is no more than three inches in height, width, or thickness.  These petite jewels can be very valuable. Earlier this year, a miniature book from 1749, ‘T Oranje Geslagt, was priced at $20,000 on a bookseller’s website.

The exhibit is open to the public and can be viewed during regular library hours:  Monday-Thursday:  7:30 am – 2:00 am, Friday:  7:30 am – 6:00 pm, Saturday:  10:00 am – 6:00 pm and Sunday:  12:00 pm – 2:00 am.  For holiday closings and exceptions, visit: or call (205) 348-1416.

If you are visiting campus during the week between 7:00 am and 6 pm, there are three parking decks you may park in as a visitor:  Ferguson Center, Campus Drive, and North ten Hoor.  After 6 pm and on weekends a parking permit is not required and visitors may park behind Gorgas Library on Campus Drive.  For additional parking information visit:  or call (205) 348-5471.

Save the Date

Cullen Murphy
Lecture, Book Signing, and Reception
February 22, 2012, 2:30 p.m.
Gorgas Library Room 205

Click here for more information.

Alabama Center for the Book Gathering

You are invited to an Alabama Center for the Book Gathering

Alabama Special Collections and Archives for the 21st Century

Saturday, March 3, 2012 ∙ 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

Amelia Gayle Gorgas Library, 711 Capstone Drive, room 205 

The University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, AL

Co-Sponsors:  University of Alabama Libraries, the School of Library & Information Studies, and the College of Communication & Information Sciences

This day-long meeting will engage individuals and institutions state-wide interested in sharing information about its many public and private archives and special collections. The meeting creates opportunities for librarians, curators, archivists, book artists, museum administrators and collectors to share their thoughts on defining and redefining collecting, compare notes on physical and virtual exhibitions, and have a fruitful dialog about opportunities and options for special collections over the next two to five years.

2009 MacArthur Fellow Timothy Barrett, from the University of Iowa, will speak about his work in studying under what conditions ancient papers survive and thrive.

For a change in pace, renowned book artist Tim Ely will discuss his one-of-a kind painted books, written in his own language and inspired by thoughts of alien worlds.

Kenneth Gaddy, director of the Paul W. Bryant Museum, will give insight to physical and virtual exhibits.

John Cole, director of the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress, will conclude the afternoon with his thoughts on how special collections will evolve over the next five years.

Around these centerpiece presentations we will, with your participation, attempt to identify some of the many unique Alabama archive and special collections.

*If you are interested in presenting, up to five minutes, about your special collection, please contact Dr. Bob Riter, In your email, please include a brief description about your collection including the title, venue, and address.


8:30 Coffee and Introductions

9:00 Welcome – Dr. Louis Pitschmann, Dean of University of Alabama Libraries, and Dr. Heidi Julien, Director of the School of Library & Information Studies, University of Alabama

9:15–10:00 On The Longevity of Paper, Timothy Barrett, University of Iowa

10:00–10:30 Coffee Break

10:30–11:30 Defining Archives and Special Collections—Who Are We? A series of 5-minute speed talks moderated by Dr. Bob Riter and Professor Steve Miller, School of Library and Information Studies, University of Alabama*

11:30–12:30 Defining, and Redefining Collecting, moderated by Bill and Vicky Stewart of Vamp & Tramp, Booksellers, Birmingham, Alabama

12:30–1:30 Box Lunch

1:30–2:15 On Imagination and The 21st-Century Book, Tim Ely, Book Artist from Colfax, Washington, Introduced by Mary Ann Sampson, Ragland

2:15–3:00 Physical and Virtual Exhibitions, moderated by Kenneth Gaddy, Director, Paul W. Bryant Museum, Tuscaloosa, Alabama, Introduced by Steven MacCall

3:00-3:20 Break

3:20–4:30 Opportunities and Options for Special Collections and Archives Over the Next 3–5 Years, a presentation by John Cole, Director of the Center of the Book in the Library of Congress, Introduced by Dean Louis Pitschmann

4:30 Final Observations by Dean Louis Pitschmann

Click here to download the 2012 Registration Form.