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By: David Hiscoe

“In memory of Jonathan Worth Daniels”

Jonathan Worth Daniels

“I was a terrible strain on the library—I did much more reading outside of class than inside.”  So claimed Jonathan Worth Daniels (1902-1981) in an oral history recorded at the University of North Carolina in 1977.

If the statement is a true one—hardly a given to anyone acquainted with Mr. Daniels’ usual wit—it certainly would not be the first time that the treasures in a good university library set a bright person on a great path.  White House press secretary to Presidents Roosevelt and Truman, long-time editor and publisher of The News & Observer, and author of twenty-one novels and books of history and cultural criticism, Jonathan Daniels left a strong legacy of tough-minded, progressive work that any library would be proud to claim.

The Josephus Daniels Charitable Foundation has made that legacy part of the Hunt Library by naming one of the four robots in the bookBot in memory of Jonathan Daniels, who served as president of the Friends of the Library in 1967-68.

Frank Daniels, Jr.—Jonathan Daniels’ nephew, 2012 North Carolinian of the Year, and himself a long-time N&O editor and force in the economic and cultural life of North Carolina—explained the thinking of the Foundation as they chose to honor his uncle:

Our principal thrust is in education, and we primarily give in eastern North Carolina and the Triangle.  I knew we wanted to give to the Hunt Library; my uncle Jonathan was always involved with the libraries at NC State.  And I was fascinated by the bookBot. It’s just the sort of innovative technology that should be strongly associated with our engineering school.

Frank Daniels, Jr. honors his uncle with Hunt Library robot

Citing the boon a great university is to the economy of a community, especially if the school is located in a state capital, Daniels sees the Hunt Library as an especially effective way to raise the profile of the College of Engineering:  “we need to do what needs to be done to accomplish that.”

Asked what his uncle’s response to the library might have been if he had been around for the Hunt Library opening, Frank Daniels, Jr. concluded: “Well, his first reaction to this grand building would have been to make a smart aleck comment to bring folks down to earth. But then he would have had something to say about how the building uplifts Centennial Campus and provides a center for it, how it is almost like the sun with its planets and satellites surrounding it—a point of inspiration.”

Jonathan Worth Daniels was named in honor of his grandfather, Jonathan Worth, North Carolina governor from 1865-1868.  His father, Josephus Daniels, was editor and publisher of the N&O, which he acquired in 1894, as well as Woodrow Wilson’s Secretary of the Navy during World War I and United States Ambassador to Mexico during the Roosevelt administration.

In addition to editing the N&O, serving in a number of positions during the New Deal era, and gaining a national reputation as writer and historian, Jonathan Worth Daniels wrote for Fortune magazine, published a weekly column in The Nation, won a Guggenheim Fellowship, and served on the United Nations Subcommission for the Prevention of Discrimination and the Protection of Minorities.

By: David Hiscoe

Citing the Hunt Library as setting “a new benchmark for access to immersive technologies,” Library Journal features Robot Alley in its 2013 “Year in Architecture” issue.

By: David Hiscoe

If it’s not quite time travel, it is the closest to it you will likely experience anytime soon.

More importantly, the Virtual Paul’s Cross installation in the Teaching and Visualization Lab at the James B. Hunt Jr. Library is a prime example of how innovative scholarship can use simulation, display, and audio technologies to invigorate teaching and research as the digital humanities come of age.

Launched on November 5, the Virtual Paul’s Cross project allows us to step into a virtual recreation of the church yard of St Paul’s Cathedral in 1622 as John Donne delivered his famous Gunpowder Plot sermon.

The project is the work of Professor John Wall from the English Department, Professor David Hill of the College of Design, John Schofield, the cathedral archeologist at St. Paul’s, and more than fifty other researchers, artists, and technicians, many of them here at NC State.  Combining the talents of experts in literature, history, design, simulation engines, acoustics, linguistics, and architecture, Virtual Paul’s Cross not only allows us to step back into the past— it presents a great model of the cross-disciplinary work that is becoming a hallmark of research at NC State University.

To ensure that the university community has a chance to enjoy, learn from, and be inspired by the project, Professor Wall will provide demonstrations in the Hunt Library Teaching and Visualization Lab at the following times:

  • Monday November 25, 9-10 a.m.

  • Tuesday November 26, 4-5 p.m.
  • Wednesday December 4, 9-10 a.m.
  • Wednesday December 11, 9-10 a.m.

If you cannot visit in person during these times, please see the News and Observer’s video or visit the project’s website.

By: David Hiscoe

Almost everyone who enters the Hunt Library immediately loves the chairs.  Now NC State Institute for Advanced Analytics grad students Peter Baumgartner and Jake Frost, as well as Erica Shirts Frost, have created the Chairs of Hunt Library blog to explore their stories.

Where else are you going to learn that the Lyra stool appears in The Big Lebowski or that the Sayl chair takes its name “from the resemblance of a ship’s mainsail when you look at the chair from the side”?

Updates every Wednesday!

By: David Hiscoe

According to The News and Observer, the Virtual Paul’s Cross Project in the Hunt Library’s Teaching and Visualization Lab has “created a new approach to scholarly research that employs a host of disciplines and technologies.”

The project provides students, scholars, and the public with a 270-degree virtual experience of this central place in the religious, literary, political, and social life of 17th century London.

“We wanted to create new research tools – new tools for considering events of the past, new tools for, in effect, bringing words off the page – and for reintroducing ideas like performance and hearing instead of reading,” concluded Professor John Wall.

Nov 01 2013

Try out the iPad Air!

By: David Hiscoe

Part of the NCSU Libraries’ mandate is to put the latest technologies into your hands to experiment with, to learn from, to create with, to stay ahead of those not lucky enough to be part of this Pack (your libraries, for instance, were the first in the nation to make the original iPads available for loan to students—you currently borrow nearly 200,000 pieces of technology a year through the Libraries’ Technology Lending program).

Starting November 1, ten iPad Air will be available for checkout—five at the Hunt Library, five at D. H. Hill.

Super lightweight and more powerful than most laptops available only three years ago, an iPad Air can be checked out for four hours at a time.  Previous generation iPads are now available for seven-day checkout.

By: David Hiscoe

Catherine W. Bishir, Curator of Architecture Special Collections for the NCSU Libraries and preeminent historian of North Carolina architecture, has published Crafting Lives: African American Artisans in New Bern, North Carolina, 1770-1900, a history of the important roles that black craftspeople created for themselves in one of the country’s most important sea ports during this era.

According to the publisher, the University of North Carolina Press:

“From the colonial period onward, black artisans in southern cities–thousands of free and enslaved carpenters, coopers, dressmakers, blacksmiths, saddlers, shoemakers, bricklayers, shipwrights, cabinetmakers, tailors, and others–played vital roles in their communities. Yet only a very few black craftspeople have gained popular and scholarly attention. Catherine W. Bishir remedies this oversight by offering an in-depth portrayal of urban African American artisans in the small but important port city of New Bern. In so doing, she highlights the community’s often unrecognized importance in the history of nineteenth-century black life.

Drawing upon myriad sources, Bishir brings to life men and women who employed their trade skills, sense of purpose, and community relationships to work for liberty and self-sufficiency, to establish and protect their families, and to assume leadership in churches and associations and in New Bern’s dynamic political life during and after the Civil War. Focusing on their words and actions, Crafting Lives provides a new understanding of urban southern black artisans’ unique place in the larger picture of American artisan identity.”

Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh will hold a book signing for the new publication on November 4 at 7:30.

To learn more about the history of architects and builders in the state, visit the North Carolina Architects & Builders online biographical dictionary (, edited by Catherine Bishir.

By: David Hiscoe

Drawing comparisons to the work of Thomas Jefferson and Stanford White at UVA, Inform: Architecture + Design in the Mid-Atlantic cites the Hunt Library “as a symbol of how long-held plans can be turned into lasting inspiration.”

By: David Hiscoe

“The Hunt Library is all of NC State’s best ideas, all put into one building.” NC State student on Twitter


The James B. Hunt Jr. Library was conceived and designed to provide a bold icon of NC State University’s commitment to educational innovation and to the transformational research and learning that happen on our campus.

Since its opening in January 2013, the new library has significantly raised the profile of the university through hundreds of articles, hundreds of thousands of interactions on the web, and a lively, inspiring conversation about the new space in the international social media.

  • In April, the Hunt Library will be featured in the new PBS primetime series Cool Spaces ( as an iconic building driving educational change.
  • Over 250 articles on the Hunt Library have appeared in print, television, and online media in local, national and international venues:
    • Associated Press:  Hunt launch covered globally in print and TV
    • Sunday edition of Boston Globe: one of the world’s “five novel libraries”
    • Complex magazine: ranked near the top of the 25 best academic libraries
    • Ploughshares magazine: Hunt as prime example of how libraries stand poised for “a digital renaissance”
    • Paris Review: discussion of the bookBot
    • Time magazine: “the library of the future”
    • Architect magazine: an “iconic social monument” capturing “the arc of the imagination”
    • “reinventing libraries for the future”
    • The Globe and Mail:  “the university library of the future”
    • Library Journal: the Hunt Library as cover story—Tomorrow, Visualized”—for annual Library by Design supplement
    • News 14: the Hunt Library “giving North Carolina worldwide appeal”
    • Campus Technology: NC State’s “next-gen library”
    • Consejo Profesional de Arquitectura y Urbanismo: featured as a “biblioteca del mundo”
  • Full-age ads from NC State’s marketing team, featuring Hunt Library as the face of innovation and proof point of NC State’s determination to shape the future in high-profile outlets such as Time Magazine, The Chronicle of Higher EducationPC Gamer, and The Smithsonian.
  • Over 156,000 views of the “Discovering the Hunt Library” social media page that collects the wave of tweets, posts, and other new media that fans are using to talk with each other about the building.
  • Over 250,000 visits to the Libraries’ Hunt Library website.
  • Over 44,000 views to the university’s Hunt Library mini-site from 39 countries including Brazil, Spain, the UK, China, and India.
  • Almost 97,000 views of Hunt videos on the Libraries’ and the university’s YouTube channels.
  • Over 3100 of Hunt photos posted to My#HuntLibrary from 1200 NC State students and visitors from around the world.
  • Scheduled tours for over 11,000 visitors—including every faculty member recruited by the university, as well as governors, legislators, diplomats, alumni, athletic directors and their recruits, architects, and educational innovators, not only from the U.S. but from France, Russia, Moldova, the Ukraine, Japan, China, Mexico, and Israel, just to name a few.  Thousands of others have taken the Hunt Library self-guided mobile tour or just explored on their own.
  • Site for 2nd international “Designing Libraries Conference,” hosting 250 library leaders, higher education leaders, architects, and others from the US, Canada, Europe, and Australia.
  • Prestigious design awards:
    • 2013 AIA/ALA Building Award for distinguished accomplishment in library architecture
    • American Libraries’ “2013 Library Design Showcase”
    • City of Raleigh Green Design Award
  • Steady stream of social media activity with special emphasis on how the Hunt Library is an inspiration in recruiting and retaining students.  Some representative samples:
    • “I can’t wait to go to State because I hear the Hunt library is on point. I’ll probably end up living there…” Tweet
    • “Seriously though—the NCSU Library makes me want to attend the school. It’s that awesome.” Tweet
    • “So psyched to go to #NCSU, the Hunt Library is one of the coolest buildings in existence.” Libraries’ Facebook page
    • “Hunt Library . . . Proof of why NC Sate is the best school in the country.” Tweet
    • “Back at Hunt Library.  I feel energized to study when I enter the doors.” Tweet
    • The students of NCSU have a true gem at their fingertips and I have never been so impressed with a facility. It is incredible.” College Confidential blog
    • “New Hunt Library on Centennial Campus single handedly making me want to be in college again.”  Tweet
    • “I graduated in 1974 and have never been more proud of our university.”  Facebook comment
    • “That’s me in 2 more years!” Tweet from high school student commenting on Hunt Library video
    • “ The Hunt Library sure does make it easy to work hard.” Tweet
    • “My first time in the Hunt Library—Is this Google headquarters?”  Tweet

By: David Hiscoe

Canada’s premier news outlet, The Globe and Mail, explores the Hunt Library as the “university library of the future,” a space where “books are important but people are central.”