Home » Posts tagged 'Talking in the Library'

Talking in the Library

Manjula Padmanabhan, Talking in the Library – Video & Photos

The spring semester Talking in the Library event was held on Tuesday, March 28th at 5:00 PM in the Mary Tefft White Cultural Center.   The Library hosted a lecture by the author, comic book cartoonist and playwright, Manjula Padmanabhan. She won the 1997 Onassis Award for Theatre, for her play HARVEST. In addition to writing novels and short stories, Manjula created Suki, an Indian comic character, which was serialized as a strip in the Sunday Observer. She lives in the US.

This lecture was held in association with the School of Architecture, Art and Historic Preservation.


To read more about Manjula Padmanabhan please see:  http://rwu.libguides.com/c.php?g=619019

Please view Manjula Padmanabhan’s lecture below

Video Courtesy of RWUEDU



All photos: Megan Lessard/University Libraries/Roger Williams University

Talking In The Library: Rick Moody on April 3, 2017 Rogers Free Library 7:00 p.m.


Rick Moody is an American novelist and short story writer best known for the 1994 novel The Ice Storm, which brought him widespread acclaim, became a bestseller and was made into a feature film. Many of his works have been praised by fellow writers and critics alike, and in 1999 The New Yorker chose him as one of America’s most talented young writers,
listing him on their “20 Writers for the 21st Century” list. His most recent novel is Hotels of North America.

Monday, April 3, 2017

7:00 p.m.

Rogers Free Library 525 Hope St, Bristol, RI 02809

For more information on Rick Moody visit our LibGuide


Sana Mustafa visits RWU as the first Talking in the Library speaker of the semester













Photos by: Megan Lessard/Roger Williams University Library

Celebrating Reading Through Campus and Community Partnerships

Although the Roger Williams University campus and heart of downtown Bristol can seem like separate worlds at times, in fact it is only a six-minute drive between them. Through its open talks, lectures, and forums, the University Library has taken pride in sharing the campus learning environment with our Bristol neighbors. In order to further our relationship with the intellectually curious residents of Bristol, the University Library recently has been creating a series of partnerships with Rogers Free Library. This past year, jointly the University Library and Rogers Free were able to host Talking in the Library(s) event in the fall and the spring. The fall program welcomed novelist and short story writer, Jim Shepard, and the spring saw a packed house for novelist Claire Messud. In support of both of the events, RWU students and Rogers Free patrons alike engaged in the works of both authors, coming together in advance of each writer’s appearance to discuss the books. Additionally, Professor Ted Delaney hosted regular film screenings and discussions on Tuesday nights. “The expanding collaboration between Roger Williams University and Rogers Free Library is a great benefit for the local community,” says Rogers Free Circulations Supervisor, Cheryl Stein. “Increasing interaction and exchanging of ideas among students, faculty and members of the community has brought an ever widening world to all involved.”


So what else is on tap with the partnerships taking place at Rogers Free?


From May 11 – June 22, Rogers Free will host a memoir writing workshop that was developed by Rogers Free staff in conjunction with RWU interim Dean of Libraries, Betsy Learned, and University Library writer-in-residence, Adam Braver. It will be led by Susan Tacent. (http://rogersfreelibrary.org/memoir-writing-workshop/)


On October 5, 2016, novelist Dawn Tripp will be reading and discussing her latest novel, Georgia, a fictional account of the life of painter Georgia O’Keefe. (7 PM at Rogers Free. A partnership between RWU’s Talking in the Library / Mary Tefft White series, and Rogers Free’s Jane Bodell fund through their Friends of the Library). The appearance will be preceded by a book group discussion, with the date TBD.


April 3, 2017, as the 2017 Bermont Fund Distinguished Guest Writer, novelist, short story writer, memoirist, and critic Rick Moody will be speaking. (7 PM. A partnership between RWU’s Talking in the Library / Mary Tefft White series and Bermont Fellowship, and Rogers Free’s Jane Bodell fund through their Friends of the Library). The appearance will be preceded by a book group discussion, with the date TBD.


Also on the horizon will be programming in collaboration with RWU’s John Howard Birss program that celebrates the anniversary of a great book. The coming academic year will honor the 50th anniversary of One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez. Stay tuned for details on upcoming programs . . .


Honoring the 4th Annual Bermont Fellowship – Claire Messud

The annual Bermont Fellowship in Fiction and Nonfiction took place over April 10 – 11, 2016. Each Fellow, from several corners of the university, applied and were chosen through a blind submission process. For an afternoon, as guests of Katherine Quinn at the Anthony Quinn House, this year’s Fellows engaged in a Master Class with Distinguished Visiting Writer, Claire Messud.




We are pleased to honor the 2016-2017 Bermont Fellows:
Alexis den Boggende
Kaitlin Della Rocca
Olivia Fritz
Kerlie Merizier
Brittany Parziale
Adrienne Wooster

The following evening, in a collaboration between the RWU University Library’s Talking in the Library series, the RWU Department of Creative Writing and English Literature, and the Rogers Free Library’s Jane Bodell Endowment, Claire Messud gave a public talk at Rogers Free in Bristol.











Save The Date – Talking in the Library Spring 2016


Derek Nikitas


Date:  Tuesday, February 16, 2016
Time: 4:30 p.m.
Location: Mary Tefft White Cultural Center

Derek Nikitas is the Edgar Award-nominated author of the novels Pyres and The Long Division (St. Martin’s Press). His first novel for Young Adults, Extra Life, was released in 2015. He teaches fiction writing at the University of Rhode Island.



Jackson, Greg author photo credit Shelton Walsmith

Greg Jackson

Date: March 29, 2016
Time: 4:30 p.m.
Location: University Library, Mary Tefft White Cultural Center

Greg Jackson grew up in Boston and coastal Maine. His work has appeared in The New Yorker, the Virginia Quarterly Review, and Granta. He is a graduate of the MFA program at the University of Virginia and has been a Fiction Fellow at the Fine Arts Work Center and a resident at the MacDowell Colony and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. A winner of the Balch and Henfield prizes, he was a finalist for the 2014 National Magazine Award in Fiction. Prodigals is his first book.

Talking in the Library – Erin X. Smithers

On October 20th, Talking in the Library presents Jazz Photographer and Blogger, Erin X. Smithers, in conversation with Dean Robert Eisenger. They will discuss Smithers’ path from growing up in China with her vision of America through her father’s passion for jazz, to her direct experiences with that jazz world as an adult in the United States. The discussion will take place at 4:30 p.m. in the Mary Tefft White Cultural Center in the University Library. Following is a preview of Erin X. Smithers’ work.

Mingus In a Soulful Mood Angelique Kidjo We Are One Brian Blade If You See Lurah Bird Moose the Mooche Duke Black, Brown and Beige Charlie haden Hank Jone Come Sunday

John Hazen White – Talking in the Library – Mary Tefft White Cultural Center

By Abby DeVeuve, Connections Intern


On Tuesday, September 29th, the first lecture of the fall Talking in the Library series was also the very first lecture given in the new Mary Tefft White Cultural Center Instant Theater. It is fitting, then, that this inaugural lecture was given by John Hazen White Jr., the son of Mary Tefft White, the center’s namesake. Mary Tefft “Happy” White was a beloved alumna of Roger Williams University whose endowment made the Center and the lecture series possible. Her goal in providing the space and the lecture series was to introduce students to accomplished individuals who could share their professional and personal stories in order to inspire students in their search for their own careers. The Center has hosted nearly 400 presentations, including lectures from authors, faculty presentations, and student exhibitions.


Now, to more fully bring the original vision of the Mary Tefft White Center to life, and to expand its capacity as a learning space, it has been renovated as an Instant Theater. When not in use for a lecture, the glass walls enclose an area arranged with clusters of tables and chairs that can be changed into different layouts to accommodate students’ needs.


Seniors Stephanie Ressler, Daniel Ressler, and Eric Valenti have used the updated Center for all of their group project meetings this semester. “I like how we can change around the tables based on what we need them for. I also enjoy the updated, clean feeling of the glass walls,” said Stephanie. Eric commented, “It’s ideal for group work because you don’t disturb others in the library when talking to your group.”


When it is being used for a lecture, the glass walls and doors separate the lecture space from the low-level buzz typical of the first floor of the library. The students in the library are not disrupted by the lecturer, and the lecturer is not distracted by the students. However, the nearly invisible walls make the Center feel like an integrated part of the library because curious library patrons can still see the lecture and decide to join in. The glass is more inviting than closed-off walls, but more private than the previous open space.


The new space is called an “Instant Theater” because of how easily it can convert from student group space to lecture and presentation space. The Center also features a technological update, including four permanently mounted TV screens around the room and one larger screen that descends at the front of the room. These screens add to the functionality of the lecture space and the student space because the library is increasingly being used for multimedia purposes.


The updated Mary Tefft White Cultural Center will advance the purpose of the original space by inviting speakers from the outside community into Roger Williams and allowing these speakers to use the space in new ways. The legacy of Mary Tefft White lives on in this lecture series and in her son, John Hazen White Jr.


To kick off the lecture series, Mr. White talked about education, business, philanthropy, leadership, and civic-mindedness. Standing at the front of the new Mary Tefft White Cultural Center in his Easter-egg-green pants and his “live free or ride” Harley Davidson belt, Mr. White proclaimed, “I love every minute of my life.”


It was clear that Mr. White is grateful for the opportunities he has had, but he also feels a great degree of responsibility for making his life one he can enjoy. According to him, part of why he loves his life is because he feels good about his work, which involves philanthropy and community service. This service begins with his company, Taco Comfort Solutions, a hydronic manufacturing company that he inherited from his father. Mr. White repeatedly stated that his work is for the people: “I don’t go to work every day to make money. I go to work to perpetuate an environment where 700 people and their families can grow. I love my employees with my heart and soul.”


In order to create this work environment, his father created the Taco Learning Center, where employees and their families can take free classes taught by high school teachers and college professors. Classes offered at the Learning Center include English as a second language, math, and civics. The Learning Center is progressive in that it puts the employees’ needs first and treats them like people. Mr. White said that the Learning Center is his father’s greatest legacy, which is one he has been able to perpetuate and expand upon. Since 1994 Taco has run two art and music summer camps for children ages 6-12 and two oceanography camps for children ages 13-17. The camps are open to the extended families of employees.


Mr. White learned to be philanthropic by watching his parents. However, he admits that he did not always have a civic mindset – in fact, he claimed that he was given a job at his father’s company in an out-of-the-way sales position to keep him out of trouble. He surprised everyone, including himself, it seems, by growing his department into one of the largest in the company and then taking over the company from his father.


Mr. White revealed that a turning point came when his father died. “On that day, I had to decide if I believed in myself,” he said, looking at the audience with tangible emotion in his eyes. Throughout the talk, he was personable and intimate, at times revealing his struggles and at others making the audience laugh. He explained that he grew up watching his father take action in civics and politics and realized he wanted to make an impact in the same way. He created the TV show Lookout RI and became a watchdog on issues pertinent for taxpayers. Suddenly serious and subdued, he revealed how he felt responsible to step up as a leader when people told him he was a voice of the people. In the next moment he joked, “Plus, I love being on TV!”


Despite his success in taking over his father’s company and in continuing the mission of the White Family Foundation, Mr. White remains humble and self-deprecating. He does not consider himself a great businessman or a leader, but he does consider himself someone who knows how to consult experts on such topics. This was another main point of his talk: to cultivate relationships with other people and learn from them. Other people are the most important things in the world, he stated, and it is important to get to know their stories. Mr. White knows the names of all 700 of his employees and their family members’ names.


Of course, knowing people is just the first step for Mr. White. The next is helping them. The White Family Foundation focuses on the arts, education, and healthcare, because these are the issues that he believes will create a better community. Mr. White believes that everyone has a responsibility to give back to the community. He stressed that philanthropy is not all about money – it can be giving time and care, and learning about each other.


Mr. White’s own engagement in the community reflects what Roger Williams University is trying to do with the Mary Tefft White Cultural Center – to be present and active in the wider community. While talking about his many blessings and the things he is grateful for, Mr. White captured perfectly this purpose of the Mary Tefft White Center: “The greatest blessing that we’re given in this life is the time to share with others . . . to spend time to listen and to learn. If we listen and we learn, we’ll be better for it.”

Talking in the Library – John Hazen White Jr.


White Flyer small 092915

Talking in the Library – Fall 2015

 Upcoming Talking in the Library Speakers

20873119420_d156da6939_o copy

John Hazen White, Jr.

 September 29 at 4:30 p.m. in the Mary Tefft White Cultural Center at Roger Williams University Library

Mr. John Hazen White, Jr. (son of Mary Tefft “Happy” White), will provide the first Talking in the Library program of the academic year, reflecting and reinforcing the legacy of his mother.  Mr. White will talk about the value of working, taking risks and inviting initiative.  He will also consider how each of us answers the call to community service.




Jim Shepard, author and professor of creative writing and film at Williams College

October 7  at 7:00 p.m. at Rogers Free Library

 In collaboration with the Rogers Free Library, Bristol

Jim Shepard is the author of seven novels, including most recently The Book of Aron, and four story collections. His third collection, Like You’d Understand, Anyway, was a finalist for the National Book Award and won The Story Prize. His short fiction has appeared in, among other magazines, Harper’s, McSweeney’s, The Paris Review, The Atlantic Monthly, Esquire, DoubleTake, the New Yorker, Granta, Zoetrope: All-Story, and Playboy, and he was a columnist on film for the magazine The Believer.  Four of his stories have been chosen for the Best American Short Stories, and one for a Pushcart Prize.  He teaches at Williams College.


Erin X Smithers

Erin X. Smithers, Freelance Photographer

Jazz Photography, Blogging and the Family

October 20 at 4:30 p.m. in the Mary Tefft White Cultural Center at Roger Williams University Library

Moderated by Robert Eisinger, Dean of the Feinstein College of Arts and Sciences


Erin X. Smithers is a freelance photographer and blogger. Born and raised in China during the Chinese Cultural Revolution, Erin’s first introduction to jazz was from both her father and John Coltrane’s song Alabama, along with stories about the Civil Rights Movement in America. These opened the door and started a lifelong love of jazz for her, along with helping to form her strong beliefs in non-violence. From her father, Erin learned to be of service to others and to the world, and to empower herself with endless curiosity and learning.



Semahagn Gashu Abebe, Visiting Ethiopian scholar

From the Ethiopian Classroom to Exile in America: a Rescued Scholar in Connecticut.

November 17 at 4:30 p.m. in the Mary Tefft White Cultural Center at Roger Williams University Library

Co-sponsored by the School of Justice Studies

Dr. Semahagn Gashu Abebe, a rescued scholar from Ethiopia, currently is a visiting fellow at University of Connecticut. Prior to leaving Ethiopia, Dr. Abebe worked for several years as a university lecturer, a public prosecutor and an attorney. His primary focus is in human rights law, conflict studies, governance and development in Africa, federalism, traditional institutions and the law and African studies. Dr. Abebe received his PhD from the University of Goettingen in Germany. He also holds two LLMs from universities in the Netherlands and Germany, and has published extensively in European, African, and American academic journals on international economic law, constitutional theory, and traditional institutions and human rights in Africa.

NOTE: These programs are part of the Talking-in-the-Library series (sponsored by the Mary Tefft White endowment). They occur in the Library’s Mary Tefft White Cultural Center at 4:30 PM unless otherwise noted.