Egan Irish Harps: Neoclassical Art Meets Traditional Music

Burns Library helped to sponsor the publication and first American launch of Nancy Hurrell’s groundbreaking study The Egan Irish Harps: Tradition, Patrons and Players in conjunction with the Irish Georgian Society.

The harp has been the symbol of Ireland since the Middle Ages, not quite as long as the shamrock and St. Patrick, but long before its appearance on the label of that other Irish icon, Guinness stout. Yet it may never have become the national instrument played in Ireland today had it not been for the ingenuity of an early 19th-century Dublin harp maker named John Egan.

Unlike concert harps, Egan’s new-style harps were small and portable. They retained the characteristic bowed pillar of medieval Gaelic wire harps on which they were modeled, but used gut strings and modern mechanisms to change keys. Recognizing the excellence of Egan harps, George IV granted the maker a royal warrant. Although patronized by royalty, Egan’s Portable Irish Harp, painted green with golden shamrocks, was also viewed as an emblem of Irish nationalist pride in post-Union Ireland.

Cover of Nancy Hurrell’s 2019 book on Egan Irish harps. Courtesy of Four Courts Press.

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Offbeat, Irreverent, and DIY: The Poetry of Mass Transit

Recent acquisitions by Burns Library highlight the activities and writing of the Washington, D.C. “Mass Transit” poetry circle of the 1970s and 80s, including Irish American musician and writer Terence Winch and Welsh immigrant Doug Lang.

A 1973 Washington Post article profiling Mass Transit and Some of Us Press. Box 11, Folder 6, Terence Winch papers, John J. Burns Library, Boston College.

For many of us, the political protest, music, and fashion of the 1960s and 1970s are the most recognizable aspects of the countercultural revolution. Yet the literature of the era also provides a window into that movement’s values, struggles, and the society it was trying to create.

As novelist, poet, and Boston College professor of English Suzanne Matson has remarked: “Literary movements are not just made up of their texts, but their personalities, events, social dynamics, and behind-the-scenes discussions of goals and motives.” Recent acquisitions by Burns Library preserve and bring to light the activities and writings of a group of poets in the Dupont Circle neighborhood of Washington, D.C. who began meeting over the Community Book Shop in the early 1970s. They would eventually become known as “Mass Transit” or the “Dupont Circle School.”

The group included Terence Winch, an Irish American musician and writer, whose papers were acquired in 2017, as well as Ed Cox, Michael Lally, Tim Dlugos, Tina Darragh, and Doug Lang, a Welsh immigrant whose papers were acquired earlier this year. Together they created a magazine, also titled Mass Transit, with a rotating editorship. Among the early contributors to Mass Transit was the future actress Karen Allen, of Indiana Jones fame, who befriended Terence Winch and others in the circle when she attended readings as an aspiring writer.

Five issues of the Mass Transit magazine. Mass Transit, John J. Burns Library, Boston College.

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Strategies for Planning an Online or Hybrid Course

Will you be teaching an online or hybrid course? Here is how BC Libraries can help support your online teaching.

Many faculty and instructors are starting to plan for Fall courses. If you will be teaching an online or hybrid course, the BC Libraries can assist you in finding the best material and content delivery strategies appropriate for online students. As you design your course, we can review your reading list to make sure all the material you want to use in your teaching will be accessible to your students. We can also offer support for your students’ developing research skills with tutorials, embedded librarians, and synchronous online library instruction. This article will review some issues to consider and offer advice based on different types of teaching material.

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Backstage at the Digitization Lab

This photo essay shows the results of the recent renovation of the digitization lab in Burns Library and some examples of the kind of work that goes on there.

The Digitization Lab, housed in Burns Library but part of Digital Repository Services, underwent renovation in 2017-18. This photo essay shows the results of that effort and some examples of the kind of work that goes on there.

Jack Kearney, Digital Archives Specialist, working at a computer in the digitization lab, with a variety of other digitization equipment in the room.
Jack Kearney, Digital Archives Specialist, working in the renovated digitization lab, or digilab for short.

This is the view from the door into the renovated digitization lab. On the left is the Atiz BookDrive scanner; straight ahead through the doorway is the Digital Transitions RGC180 Capture Cradle and Phase One camera, for capturing large formats; on the right are areas for AV digitization and the forensic workstation (not visible in this photo). The old lab was only as big as the space you see on the left.

Paige Walker, Digital Collections & Preservation Librarian, working at the forensic station in the digitization lab. There are two computers on the counter, and other equipment, such as a mic stand, gear bags, speakers, and supplies stored below the counter and on shelves above it.
Paige Walker, Digital Collections & Preservation Librarian, working at the forensic station in the digitization lab, prior to acquiring the FRED forensic system.

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The Protean Academic E-Book

The world of academic e-books is complex, but the staff of Boston College Libraries works hard to make the user experience as seamless as possible.

The first thing you need to know about academic e-books is that everything about them is different from the e-books you download to your Kindle or nook. The market structure, the file types, digital rights, platforms, interfaces… everything. It’s an unlucky accident that they share the same name, because patrons who encounter their first academic e-book are usually confused.

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