Category Archives: Books

Gleeson Library Remembers: John Ashbery


“I tried each thing, only some were immortal and free.” – John Ashbery, Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror

American poet John Ashbery  passed away on Sunday September 3, 2017 at age 90. In his acclaimed career, Ashbery published more than 20 volumes of poetry, most noted for their intricacy and controversy. He has won almost every major American poetry award, including the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, the Yale Younger Poets Prize, the Bollingen Prize, the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize, the Griffin International Award, and a MacArthur “Genius” Grant. Ashbery is remembered by the public mostly for his reflective work titled Self -Portrait in a Convex Mirror, and this where his legacy most strongly lives on. These poems are rooted in radical and complex ideas, yet portrayed with simple and non-grammatical line structure. The stream of lines and stanzas move and flow without having to do with one another, but later unite to present the bigger picture. Many memorial think pieces have been written about Ashbery in the wake of his death, but you may want to check out the article about Ashbery written by Matthew Zapruder in the San Francisco Chronicle, available through the library’s subscription to Access World News.DSC_3606

Gleeson Library staff has prepared a display to honor Ashbery and his works just past the circulation desk. Please feel free to stop by, browse, and pick up a physical copy of a couple of his books. You can also browse his books in the library’s catalog, and use the “request” function to place a hold on any of interest to you. If the work you’re looking for is checked out or not available, for example the single volume Some Trees, you can request a copy for a later pick at Link+, an easy-to-use consortium Gleeson Library belongs to.

The display will be up until September 17, 2017, but you can always view the ebook of his work The Tennis Court Oath, listen to a recording of Ashbery’s work through the LA Public Library Aloud series, or watch one of the streaming videos through the library’s collections that features Ashbery:


IT: Clowns, Coming of Age, and Comedy


Bill Skarsgård nails his performance as Pennywise the Dancing Clown in the 2017 adaptation of IT. Illustration from the San Francisco Chronicle.

Fall is quickly approaching, so what better way to get into the spooky season than with Stephen King’s IT. This haunting tale just celebrated 31 years of print, alongside 27 years since the IT miniseries aired. Keeping with the twisted 27 year theme, Warner Bros. has recently released their own take on this frightful classic. I went to one of the first showings in San Francisco this past weekend after speeding through the paperback book.

In short, in both the book and the new movie, horrifying and vivid details superbly frame the mysterious 1957 town of Derry, Maine, where peculiar is the norm. 27 years after a rather odd and grotesque murder, we flash forward to another brutally haunting murder. Michael Hanlon solicits the help of his childhood friends a.k.a The Losers Club. Familiar with this freakish trend, they unwillingly venture back to Derry to eradicate this evil once and for all.

King’s story digs into fears we harbor as children that never really leave us. If you’re ready to reprise repressed childhood memories while being totally frightened like I was, this horror staple is for you. The book’s point of view alternates between each member of the Losers Club’s youth and adulthood. I still cannot tell if I like this style or not. Quite ambitious on King’s part and executed moderately well, 700 pages in, the style of the book may either leave you annoyed or bored of the adult Loser’s Club, who seem to be sticking around only to give voice to their childhood counterparts. Having read the book in about two weeks, I found some parts absolutely thrilling while others dragged on. This book is available to check out at USF through Link+, an easy-to-use consortium that Gleeson Library belongs to; books can be requested from another library and sent to the building for pick up in as little as 2 days.

Don’t want to wait for Part 2 of IT, the movie? You can always read IT, the book. Just sayin’.

— Stephen King (@StephenKing) September 11, 2017

2017’s reboot of IT is terrifying. Director Andres Muschietti’s retelling of this story is divided into two parts: the first, focusing on the kids’ encounters and a “Chapter 2” sequel planned for a later release date. This adaptation follows the book more closely than ABC’s 1990 miniseries of the same title. The plot of both novel and movie is about IT’s ability to continue living by keeping the characters’ biggest fears present. The screenwriters change only a few details of the Losers Club’s original story to keep the scares and plot relevant to the new time period of 1986, while maintaining the plot’s integrity. Most notably, the movie also lacks the amount of mysticism that is extremely prevalent in the book. Muschietti has stated, “I was never too crazy about the mythology…”

Watching this film brings a mix of familiar cringy childhood nostalgia and an “edge of your seat” feeling that something is not quite right, even once the movie ends. The movie’s high intensity scenes are equally balanced by the Losers Club’s amazing performances, crass humor, and preadolescent behavior. The subtle scary aspects of the story build up the anticipation for the bigger battles between the Losers Club and Pennywise. The 2017 adaptation of IT sparked much needed excitement to hit the box office following a less than exciting summer movie season, and brings together a perfect blend coming-of-age themes and quintessential scary movie components to kick off this fall’s lineup of scary movies. A more in depth review can be found in the database Access World News (a database brought to you by Gleeson Library), written by Peter Hartlaub from the San Francisco Chronicle.

Image: We All Float Down Here by Carl Glover

The Vida of María de Jesús

Nearly all of the books held by Gleeson Library can be found by searching Ignacio, our library catalog, but did you know that we’re adding information to Ignacio all the time?

Just this week, I cataloged a book from the Donohue Rare Book Room and put the information into Ignacio. The book was published in 1683 and it describes the life and miracles of a Conceptionist nun from Mexico, María de Jesús de Tomelín (1579-1637), also known as The Lily of Puebla.

Lemus, Diego de. Vida, virtudes, trabajos fabores y milagros de la Ven. M. sor Maria de Jesus angelopolitana religiosa. Leon: Anisson y Posuel, 1683.

The book was formerly part of the rare book collection at the San Francisco College for Women, and it bears the bookplate of Monsignor Joseph M. Gleason.

In adding information about this book to our library catalog, I inspected the volume and recorded the author, title, and other publication details. Then I needed to identify the subject, María de Jesús, and briefly get a sense of who she was so that I could classify the book and shelve it near other books on the same topic.

María de Jesús was born into a wealthy family in Puebla, Mexico in 1579, and is said to have had mystical visions from a young age. At 19, she made her profession of faith and joined the Convent of the Immaculate Conception in Puebla. Popular and controversial claims about María de Jesús included her reported visions of the Virgin Mary and of purgatory, as well as her ecstatic experiences that included physical manifestations such as levitation and bilocation. She died in 1637 and is said to have emitted a sweet smelling ‘odor of sanctity’ providing further evidence of her holiness.

Painting of María de Jesús Tomelin from the Museo Nacional del Virreinato

Following her death, there were efforts to have her named as a saint within the Catholic Church, and publications supporting María de Jesús’ beatification asserted that she had performed eleven miracles in life and many more after her death. These idealized biographies, known as “vidas” were accounts of her virtues, works, and miracles which emphasized her sanctified nature and were designed to increase her reputation beyond her home city of Puebla. Three notable publications about María de Jesús would be used to support her candidacy for sainthood. This book in the Gleeson Library special collections is one of those publications. It is written in Spanish, most likely based on manuscripts written by her fellow nun, Agustina de Santa Teresa, and her confessor, an Irish Jesuit missionary named Michael Wadding, who was known in Mexico as Miguel Godínez.

Although Pope Pius VI officially recognized the virtues of María de Jesús, she was never formally canonized as a Saint by the Catholic Church. The reliquary holding her remains is located in the chapel of the Convent of the Immaculate Conception, Puebla, Mexico.

If you would like to view this book about María de Jesús, stop by the Donohue Rare Book Room on the third floor of Gleeson Library.

For more about the life of María de Jesús and the lives of religious women in Colonial Mexico, try these books:

Drago, Margarita. Sor María De Jesús Tomelín (1579–1637), Concepcionista Poblana: La Construcción Fallida De Una Santa. City University of New York, 2002. PDF available to USF Library patrons

Ibsen, Kristine. Women’s Spiritual Autobiography in Colonial Spanish America. University Press of Florida, 1999. Ebook available to USF library patrons

Jaffary, Nora E. False Mystics : Deviant Orthodoxy in Colonial Mexico. University of Nebraska Press, 2004. Ebook available to USF library patrons

Myers, Kathleen Ann. Neither Saints Nor Sinners : Writing the Lives of Women in Spanish America. Oxford University Press, 2003. Ebook available to USF library patrons

Lavrín, Asunción. Brides of Christ: conventual life in colonial Mexico. Stanford University Press, 2008. Print book available via Link+

Go Read Summer Challenge

Gleeson Library joins with GoUSF to bring you our first-ever Go Read Summer Challenge. We encourage you to read a book (or more if desired) this summer. Enjoy the liberty and discover new adventures found in its pages. Join the challenge by logging into your Hubbub account or signup if you haven’t already! Log in those minutes!

Not sure what to read for the summer? The books surrounding you don’t feel challenging? Your Gleeson staff and librarians have put together two displays of recommendations and award winning literature for you to choose from. You can find our summer hours here.


Happy Reading!!

Go Read Challenge
Wednesday, June 1 – Thursday, June 30
Join Go Read on Hubbub »

Join the Go Read Challenge by yourself or encourage your family and/or friends to participate with you! Throughout June, check in each time that any of you read for 20 minutes. To complete this challenge, you must check in 20 times. All USF employees who complete the Go Read challenge will be entered into a raffle to win a prize!

Book Recommendations
Wednesday, June 1 – Thursday, June 30
Gleeson Library

Looking for a good summer read? Check out the favorite picks from Gleeson’s staff or browse from a selection of books that have won the Pulitzer, Mann Booker, Orange, Agatha, or Hugo awards. The Staff Picks display is located on the first floor of the library near the puzzle tables, and the Award Picks display is located near the reference desk under the LCD TV screen.

#GleesonLibrary #GoUSF

Poetry Rare Book Pop-Up

Please join us from 12-1 pm on Thursday 4/28 in the library foyer for a rare book pop-up exhibit of small and fine press poetry books by female poets of the Beat Generation.

kandel collected 3
Lenore Kandel with a Siamese Cat

The center piece of the pop-up is Lenore Kandel’s The Love Book, which went on trial for obscenity here in San Francisco in 1967, and the associated newspaper clippings from the Chronicle.

There will also be books containing the work of Joanne Kyger, Diane di Prima, and Ruth Weiss on display.

The pop-up has been curated in conjunction with the Ignatian Literary Magazine’s feature on the female writers of the Beat Generation, which in turn inspired the National Poetry Month display in the library foyer.

We look forward to closing out National Poetry Month with a bang. Hope to see you there!

National Poetry Month @ Gleeson

April is National Poetry Month! We’re celebrating a couple ways.

We’ve got a display of Women Poets of the Beat Generation up in the foyer of Gleeson Library through the end of the month. The display was made in conjunction with a feature from the new issue of the Ignatian Literary Magazine on the same topic. Stop by, read some poems, and check out some books.


On Thursday, April 14, Gleeson Library is cosponsoring the Ignatian Literary Magazine’s issue release party. Join us in the Del Santo Reading Room (Lone Mtn. 270) at 5 pm for refreshments. Contributor readings begin at 5:30 pm.


On Thursday, April 21, we will be celebrating Poem in Your Pocket Day by giving out laminated poetry keepsakes.

On Thursday, April 28, we will be showcasing titles by the Women Beat Poets with a Rare Book Room pop-up in the library foyer, next to the display. Come get a close look at some of the Rare Book Room’s treasures.

Looking forward to seeing you at any or all of our events. Long live poetry!


Mysterious Misattributions of the Quoting kind

This is a guest post by Reference & Research Services student assistants Jacqueline Cao and Andrew Gonzales.

William James vs. Gerald G. Jampolsky

“To perceive the world differently we must be willing to change our belief system, let the past slip away, expand our sense of now and dissolve the fear in our minds.”

It all started out with the reference question, “What is the source of this William James quote?” The stumper circled around library staff and was passed onto the student assistants as an exercise. We both took a shot at the question and now present our separate paths and findings on what began as a normal task but turned into a tedious mission. 


First I searched the library catalog, Ignacio, but found no results.

I then typed the quote with William James’ name into Google to see what it would lead to. That led to a citation that attributed the quote to James’s The Varieties of Religious Experience. Since this title is available as an ebook through the library’s subscriptions, I could search for the quote inside of it. However, there was no trace of the quote… I also looked up most of his other works and searched for the quote in Google Books. No luck.

I decided to take a different route of searching. The quote was also linked to Gerald G. Jampolsky so I looked in various sources to find the origin including Ignacio, Google, and Google Books. After many pages of Google results, I found a page that cited a Jampolsky article entitled, “Love Is Letting Go of Fear: A Guide to Peace for 1982 and on,” which was published in a magazine called New Realities. I searched for New Realities in Ignacio, discovered Gleeson Library owns it, retrieved the proper volume (#4, 1981) from the Periodicals stacks (2nd floor of Gleeson), and located the exact quote on page 18.

I had a discussion with the librarian that was originally asked the question, and we concluded that it was misattributed to William James quite a while ago through a chain of incorrect citations. It is probable that James said something similar, which is how the quote became modified/referenced to him.

Preview of “jamplosky-james quote.pdf”

jamplosky quote



Or was it William James?!

Late on an afternoon evening, one of the librarians received an IM from a faculty member asking for the details of the above quote. What was the exact source? Did it come from a James book or was it an oral quote? Hot on the case, I pursued the quote!

My initial assumption was that the quote was James’ and went about searching for the book that it came from. Yet my various searches in our databases kept leading me in circles or just simply coming up with nothing. The trail has gone cold.

I leaned on an old contact, Google. I asked Google as well as a undependable ally, an online “quote finder.” Showing the site the quote, my ally came through with a name. A different one than before! This brought up the first inconsistency! Now there were multiple authors being brought up in conjunction to the quote. A certain Gerald G. Jampolsky was framed as the origin of the quote. Yet I still couldn’t pull up anything more direct for the publication source.

It seems as if the source would be lost to the mists of ambiguity yet again. Clutching onto the thinnest of threads, I returned to Google, and waved the new supposed author and quote in front of him. He quickly snatched it, ran it through his system, and brusquely forwarded me to his his nemesis, the well-loved agent called Goodreads. Goodreads, through her network of underground spies (also called “book lovers” or “avid readers”), pointed me to a book called Love is Letting Go of Fear. Begrudgingly, Google’s associate arm, Google Books, lent me an electronic copy. Scanning the pages and finally reading to the bottom of one page, I zeroed in on the very first clause of the quote! The case was closing! The answer was to be ascertained at last! But alas, Google Books had ripped out the next page, telling me that I would have to pay if I wanted to see it.

Downtrodden, I stormed out of his office. Frustrated at being so close to answering the mystery, I wandered back to work, and I hopelessly went to see if we had a copy of this obscure book. My pulse quicken when the title came up in the library’s catalog. I hastily jotted down the call number and ran to the basement. Yes! There it was! A dusty copy of Love is Letting Go of Fear! I fluttered through the pages to where the quote was (pages 77-78), and it glimmered in whole, though dissected and strewn across a few paragraphs. I set the book down with a contented smile, and laid the case to rest.

Scanned from GL1AD(6)


We still do not know how the quote got separated from Jampolsky, paraphrased, and then attributed to William James, but least we all can rest better now knowing its true origins.