Don’t get mad, get new books and ancient newspapers

Melamed_LibraryColumn_NewBooks
The author stacks up on new library books. Photo Credit – Erin Toepfner

I felt like I was in an episode of “Mad Men” when I opened the UB student newspaper from the late 1950s. A half page ad for Marlboro jumped out and told me Marlboro was the most popular cigarette on college campuses nationwide, along with a U.S. map that had each state visually represented by an open pack of cigarettes.

Fortunately, I hadn’t exactly travelled back in time to that decade. I was safely scanning Langsdale Library’s archive of UB’s student newspapers, in the lovely smoke-free Special Collections reading room on the 4th floor of the Learning Commons, in the lovely, smoke-free, Langsdale Library.

But it felt a little like time travel. I was watching history unfold, reading students’ first-hand responses to events that seemed like staples of reality. The events of the past were so much a part of the fabric of my memory and existence that it took a few minutes for it to sink in when I read the headlines that Martin Luther King Jr had been assassinated, that this news was hitting people for the first time. It wasn’t a history book I was reading, it was history.

And a lot of it was infuriating—assassinations, sexist cartoons and cigarette ads to name a few of the more disturbing aspects of history I came across.

The further back in time I went with UB’s student newspapers, the larger the cigarette ads became. They slowly creeped up from half page ads to full page ads as they went back to the earliest issues in the 1930s.

On the other hand, it was spectacular to feel the fervor in the front page articles about the first Earth Day on April 22, 1970. It was a relief to watch women take on more roles and work towards more diverse degrees, instead of being pigeon-holed into a few select majors. It was fun to see people streaking through the 1970s. It was heartening to read about the formation of a bike club in 1972.

It was fascinating to read about the anticipation for the then-new Langsdale Library, scheduled to be built in 1966, while the same building was being renovated right across the street in the present day. Plans for the state-or-the-art design repeatedly appeared in the student newspaper in the 1960s. In contrast to the current library designs with more glass letting in natural light, windows were being designed small, to cut down on the glare for people reading books. The plans were being published in the paper. I saw renderings of the new old library. Then, finally, in 1966, Langsdale Library was built and a photo of the “modern” building appeared on the front page in the student newspaper.

It was exciting to see the Langsdale Library make the front page repeatedly, every time the library received a new collection of books. There it would be in big blocky letters, headline after headline—“Langsdale Library receives X number of books,” in contrast to the present day, when libraries are giving away more and more books as we become more and more digital.

Although Langsdale Library has recently given away many books, there is no need to get mad.  The library recently received several carts of new books for its collection. This may not make the front page of the paper but here it is in the middle. The new books themselves can be found on the New Book Kiosk as you enter the library. Come check them out!

UB’s student newspapers will eventually be online back through the 1930s. Check out the UB Post back to 1981 in Langsdale Library’s  Special Collections for a little bit of time travel—and let me know what T.V. show you feel like you’re in!

Letter from the Editor: Oct. Issue 2015

We hear it everyday: newspapers, just like books, are becoming obsolete, overshadowed by online articles, instant and immediately accessible with just the tap of a fingertip. Gone are the days of patiently waiting for the morning paper only to discover the latest tragedy or newest world development. Now we know about it before it is even over. Having instant access to all forms of knowledge is a wonderful gift that I would never give up, but there’s something about the smell of newsprint and the dust it leaves on your fingers, just as feeling the starchy softness of a book page creates a physical connection to the story, that just isn’t the same when all you have to do is tap a button.

As a Publications Design student, I know this feeling all too well. I fell in love with designing for print a little too late. This reality cannot be ignored. As I browse job descriptions for graphic designers, the requirement of ad- vanced knowledge of HTML and CSS is becoming more and more prominent. But no matter how many times I see a publication in its digital form—which is typically over and over as I scrutinize every inch before sending it to the printer—there is always something magical about holding the final print in my hand. The smell of the ink, the roughness of the paper, and the magical transition from screen to paper all become part of something beautiful.

As I’ve begun to explore the visual arts in its many forms, I’ve taken note of the current fascination both de- signers and the general public have with letterpress. This technology for printing dates back to the fifteenth century and creates a physical imprint from the block letters left behind on the paper. Once considered an imperfection of the process, the slight impression left in the paper is now often sought after for its distinctly nostalgic look. I’m beginning to realize that in our current world, where digital images and words are constantly thrown in our face, there’s still a secret desire in our hearts for the tangible.

Although The UB Post is accessible online and we are strengthening our online presence step by step, we still publish a printed issue monthly. Next time you’re on your way to class, pick one up and feel the dusty texture of the newsprint as you take a glance. Take solace in the soft colors of the photos, different from the bright screen that assaults your eyes. Let the classic letterforms guide your eye as you indulge in a story about your community at UB. It’s not just cold, hard news; let yourself become enveloped in the experience of reading The UB Post.

Sincerely,

Nicole Hovermale

Enjoy!

UB Post_ Oct2015 Issue