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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.”

By: Marian Fragola

Stellar Students – Ryan O’Donnell and Shreye Saxena
Tuesday, October 29 at 3:00 p.m.
D. H. Hill Library, West Wing Auditorium

Ryan O'Donnell

Shreye Saxena

Ryan O’Donnell and Shreye Saxena share a passion for creating meaningful social change. With a small team of students, they created Pennies 4 Progress, a non-profit organization based on a penny-donation model. O’Donnell and Saxena will discuss their project and how they are employing the skills they are learning at NC State to build a better world.

This program is part of NCSU Libraries Stellar Student Series and supported in part by the Tom Russell Charitable Foundation, Inc. Free and open to the public. For more information contact Marian Fragola at or 919-515-3481.

By: David Hiscoe

It started with a medieval manuscript in a shoebox and ended with an endowment that will support some of the latest in modern library technologies. From an early book to the bookBot—that is the arc of the story of the Hunt Library’s new “Turlibot.”

Linda Turlington’s family had long treasured a fifteenth-century book of meditations that has been passed down from generation to generation. And that family is, as Turlington explains, “completely red and white.” Her husband of almost 40 years, Jimmy, is a 1968 NC State graduate in civil engineering. Her son Ryan obtained his B.S. from the College of Textiles in 2001.  Daughter Courtney earned her B.A. from the College of Humanities and Social Sciences in 2007.

So when the family decided that the Latin manuscript—once laboriously copied out by Carthusian monks—needed a safer long-term home where its treasures could be available to scholars throughout the world, the NCSU Libraries Special Collections Research Center was a natural choice.

An extension of the family

It was the start of another deep relationship, one that Turlington—CEO and owner of Pura Vida Promotions, a Kernersville-based advertising specialties company focusing on logoed merchandise—insists also feels like an extension of the family.  Though the Turlington family had long supported the Wolfpack Club, this was their first real exposure to the work of the NCSU Libraries.  “Everybody has just been so wonderful,” says Turlington. “And from the very beginning we felt like we belonged with what was going on with the Libraries.”

Now a board member of the Friends of the Library, Turlington has thrown her considerable energy and marketing savvy into ensuring that the Hunt Library will have the impact it promises for the state and the university: “Everybody is going to be amazed at the global outreach this new facility will enable—it will be amazing, all of those who are touched by it.  I probably never have a conversation that I don’t mention what’s going on at NC State because it’s turned into a passion of mine—the reach is going to be incredible.”

“We have been so fortunate”

The signature technologies in the new library especially interested the Turlington family, everything from the giant large-scale visualization walls to the handheld devices and Raspberry Pi’s that future engineers can now check out at will. “We are so fortunate to have these opportunities in North Carolina, especially at NC State,” she concludes.

But the bookBot automated book delivery system was particularly interesting to a family that once kept a medieval manuscript in a shoebox.  So, they seized on one of the Hunt Library naming opportunities, and the “Turlibot”—one of the four robots at the core of the bookBot—will now spend the next decades delivering books and other items to students and faculty.

A lasting legacy

Turlington says that ultimately the most rewarding work she does is to make personal contact with potential supporters, work exemplified in a Hunt Library presentation that she recently helped host for alumni at the Piedmont Club in Winston-Salem, NC, and also at the Foundation Room atop the Mandalay Bay Hotel in Las Vegas.  But the naming of the bookBot robot is also very special.  Seven centuries ago, a monk copied out an enduring monument to learning, the medieval manuscript the family donated to the NCSU Libraries. The Turlington family has put its own mark on a lasting monument to educational achievement: “the bookBot is part of our legacy, and our children will always have something that is permanent at NC State.”