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Strange Data, Infinite Possibilities exhibitIf you’ve been in the library lately, you’ve probably noticed that the walls of the Donor Hall are covered with weird, wonderful graphics and the display cases are full of vintage science fiction books, Star Wars and Dune figurines, and other mementos of imaginary worlds far, far beyond the borders of our galaxy. “Strange Data, Infinite Possibilities” is the latest exhibit created by Special Collections, and it contains items from several of the library’s largest sci fi collections, including the new Edward E. Marsh Collection.

The exhibit features works from many science fiction genres: fantasy, utopian and dystopian fiction, early weird fiction, postmodern, and cyberpunk, to name a few. While the famous and familiar are well represented—Star Trek, Blade Runner, Isaac Asimov, Robert Heinlein, Greg Bear, and H.P. Lovecraft—it’s the offbeat little gems that caught my eye. Shouldn’t everyone’s bookcase contain a copy of Judith Merril’s Galaxy of Ghouls, the subtitle of which reads:  A Handy Guide for Vampires and Werewolves of Spells and Sorcery of Switches on Witches of Shape-Stealers and Soul-Swappers of Demons and Damnation?

Science fiction materialsThere’s more to “Strange Data” than just books. The exhibit features pulp fiction, sheet music, and original correspondence from authors such as Isaac Asimov. Ray Bradbury’s unproduced screenplay for The Martian Chronicles and L. Ron Hubbard’s original manual typewriter are on display; both items were part of Edward Marsh’s generous donation. My favorite item in the exhibit is Jeff Wayne’s 1978 concept album The War of the Worlds, which was narrated by Richard Burton and contains the hauntingly beautiful “Forever Autumn,” sung by Justin Hayward of The Moody Blues.

Set aside an hour one afternoon or evening and take a look at this exhibit. It’s worth your time.

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Magic lanternBefore television and motion pictures—before even filmstrips and slide projectors—magic lanterns entertained and educated people by projecting colorful and fantastic images on walls and screens. From the late 18th century through the early 20th century, showmen and conjurers traveled from town to town, their lanterns strapped to their back, performing in taverns, barns, homes, auditoriums, and churches.

Outside of antique stores and museums, magic lanterns are now scarce, but the San Diego State University Library and Information Access has a sizeable collection of these fascinating devices, as well as more than 4,000 glass slides. Through June 29, 2012, you can experience the marvel of magic lanterns at the library’s exhibit titled “Sources of Wonder: The Homer and Betty Peabody Magic Lantern Collection.” The lanterns and slides on display in the library’s Donor Hall were donated by Betty and Homer Peabody, for whom the collection is named.

magic lantern slide
The exhibit features around 30 professional, toy, and domestic lanterns dating from the late 19th to early 20th centuries and a large sampling of the different types and themes of slides, including caricature and comic slides, narrative slides, medical slides, elementary education slides, travel slides, temperance slides, and advertisement slides. It also includes a case displaying the different types of slides, including mechanical slides, as well as chromolithographic, photographic, and hand painted.

In conjunction with the exhibit, the American Magic-Lantern Theater will perform “A Victorian Valentine Show” on February 14. The show will be held at 7 p.m. in Room LL108 of the SDSU Library, and admission is free.

For more information about the collection and exhibit, please contact Special Collections at (619) 594-6791 or visit the online magic lantern exhibit. For exhibit hours, visit the Hours page on the library’s Website.

Native People's of Mexico exhibit display caseSDSU’s Center for Latin American Studies has created a very nice exhibit that’s currently on display in the library’s Donor Hall. “Native Peoples of Mexico: A Glimpse of the Mixtec, Zapotec, Maya, and Nahua Cultures” is geared toward K-12 level school children, but the photographs and cultural objects have plenty of appeal for adults as well.
Native People's of Mexico exhibit display case
The exhibit consists of “cultural discovery boxes” containing artifacts, such as textiles, games, dolls, and flutes, from Mexico’s four largest ancient, but still vital indigenous communities: the Mixtec, Zapotec, Maya, and Nahua. Stop and take a look the next time you pass through the Donor Hall. It’s a treat for your eyes!

Room LA1103

Room LA1103

Donor Hall

Donor Hall


Seriously, what’s going on with all the construction? First Aztec Center gets razed, now the library?

Easy there…we aren’t tearing down anything. We’re undergoing a few improvements. Room LA1103 is being converted into a tutoring center, which will open fall semester. The Donor Hall and Room LL108 (Quiet Study) are being recarpeted. They look like a mess now, but both areas are going to look great when they’re finished!