Ancient Geographers and "Known Unknowns"

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“Reports that say that something hasn’t happened are always interesting to me, because as we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns — the ones we don’t know we don’t know.”  (Donald Rumsfeld, former Secretary of Defense)

With the news of the former Secretary of Defense’s new book appearing, entitled Known and Unknown, I was instantly reminded of the quote above. Many in the media at the time believed that this just added to a growing mountain of funny Rumsfeld quips.  I was also reminded, however, of a talk I gave here at the Library 2 weeks ago for CNU’s Latin Day to a group of young Latin students from around Hampton Roads.    Read more

The Library Shuffle

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Last week in the pages of the New Yorker magazine, I read that the Vatican Library had re-opened to the public after a 3-year closure for renovations and enhancements.  Even though the re-opening happened last September, it somehow escaped my notice.  If you are a subscriber to the magazine, the article, entitled “God’s Librarians: The Vatican Library Enters the 21st Century” is well worth the read (
The essay mentioned the great extent to which this closure provoked anxiety and frustration among scholars needing, really needing to consult the 75,000 manuscripts and 1.6 million volumes in the Library. As a former academic, I can truly appreciate how awful it is being deprived of access to the objects of one’s study.  One can lose one’s job if papers aren’t produced, and that cannot happen without access to texts.

The New Yorker essay reminded me that when we closed our doors for the move to CNU in April 2007 and did not re-open to the public until late December of that year, we also caused disappointment and frustration among our patrons.  We aren’t the Vatican Library, but we are probably the largest maritime library in the Western Hemisphere and house unique collections. There are scholars who also really, desperately need access to our manuscript, book, map, journal and photograph collections.   Read more

Secrets in the Stacks for 2011

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Join us at the Library for these upcoming Secrets in the Stacks!

  • January 5, 2011 – Notes on Knots: the Bushby Manuscript – Bill Edwards-Bodmer, Assistant Archivist
  • February 2, 2011 – The Mariners’ Museum Library’s Unique Clippings Collection – Jennifer Anielski, Librarian, Technical Services
  • March 2, 2011 – A. Aubrey Bodine’s Photographs – Tom Moore, Senior Curator of Photography/Photo Archivist

 Secrets in the Stacks are a chance for you to see rare or seldom-seen items from the Library’s collections.  These talks are held at 12:00 p.m. on the first Wednesday of each month.  See you at the Library!

"Notes on Knots" Online Exhibit Coming Soon

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From the rigging of the Niña, Pinta,and Santa Maria to the humble fisherman’s line, knots have been at the foundation of many of the most important, and everyday, events in maritime history.  Without knots, much of the maritime world would literally fall apart.

Library staff recently unearthed what many in the knot-tying community consider to be the “Holy Grail on knots,” Henry North Grant Bushby’s manuscript “Notes on Knots.”  Composed of eight volumes with over 1,900 hand-written pages and beautifully drawn pen and ink diagrams,  Bushby’s manuscript represents an in depth study of knotting and ropework, as well as knot theory.  Written between 1902 and his death in 1926, Bushby’s work was never published.  Bushby’s daughter, Dorothy, donated her father’s writings to The Mariners’ Museum Library in 1957.   Read more

The Unveiling of the Trireme

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On Tuesday December 7, 2010 the Library welcomed The Mariners’ Museum’s Bronze Door Society and Friends of the Library for “The Unveiling of the Trireme.”  The event showcased the Library’s newest addition, a scale model of a Greek trireme built by model maker Mark Wilkins.  The highlight of the evening was Dr. John Hyland’s talk on the history of the trireme.  Dr. Hyland is Assistant Professor of history at Christopher Newport University.In other trireme-related news, mark your calendars for March 17-18, 2011 when Friends of Trible Library at CNU and Friends of The Mariners’ Museum Library host the “Celebration of the Trireme.” The two day event will include a panel discussion on “The Triremes and Athenian Democracy” and a presentation on “Rowing the Olympias.”  Stay tuned for more details!