News & Notes

Great Forests, Great Nations

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In the early 19th century, Midwestern farmers loaded their crops on flatboats at the end of every summer and floated them down the Mississippi River to New Orleans. The timber that was used to make these boats came from places like Minnesota and Wisconsin, and yet because the river’s current was so strong, it was impossible to take the boats back upriver after they had been unloaded. Instead, they were sold for scrap in New Orleans and were subsequently used to build many of the city’s houses.

Although the flatboat trade ended with the coming of the railroad, another product of the Wisconsin woods recently found its way to Louisiana. Between 1996 and 2006, Gaylord Schanilec and Ben Verhoeven (both of Midnight Paper Sales) collected 24 species of wood near Schanilec’s home fifty miles southwest of Eau Claire—ranging from maple and birch to ironwood and black walnut—and wrote a “biography of a forest.” But it’s not just a catalog of dry, scientific facts. “Gaylord and I have found that trees are fitting vehicles for human history,” Ben writes. “They have been not only witnesses, but also players in many pivotal events, both nationally and locally.” Bound in beautiful wooden boards and featuring, in the text, cross-sections or “portraits” of each of the 24 trees, the book is entitled Sylvae (from the Latin word for “forest”). LSU Special Collections recently purchased a copy of it for the E.A. McIlhenny Natural History Collection.

Almost 350 years ago, the English writer and horticulturalist John Evelyn wrote a similar book, Sylva, or A Discourse on Forest Trees (1664). The English may not have used flatboats to get their crops to market, but they did need trees for something else that was just as important—their navy. England’s famous “wooden walls” protected it from being overrun by foreign armies, and yet, as Evelyn complained, landowners “oftener find wayes to Fell down, and Destroy their Trees and Plantations, than either to repair or improve them.” A great nation, he pointed out, needed great forests. Although England ended up getting most of its timber from North America and Russia in the 18th and 19th centuries, Evelyn’s work was very popular and went through many editions. LSU now owns two copies—the second edition of 1670 and a later, annotated edition dated 1801.

— Michael Taylor, Assistant Curator of Books

Michael Taylor is Curator of Books, LSU Libraries’ Special Collections

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Recent Faculty Publications


Comeaux, Dave;  Emily Frank; and Mike Waugh. “Supporting Student Success: E-books as Course Materials,” CODEX: Journal of the Louisiana Chapter of the ACRL. Volume 5, Issue 2 (Fall/Winter 2019).

Miles, John David. “Colfax, Kate Grant, and the Domestication of Reconstruction’s Violence,” Civil War Book Review. Volume 21, Issue 2 (Spring 2019).

Miles, John David. “The Loyalty of West Point’s Graduates Debated,” Civil War Book Review. Volume 21, Issue 1 (Winter 2019).

Miller, Marty. “Curriculum, Departmental, and Faculty Mapping in the Visual Arts Department,” Art Documentation, Volume 38, p 159-173 Issue 1 (March 2019).

O’Neill, Brittany; and  Allen LeBlanc. “Evaluating Trends in Instruction Scheduling Management: A Survey of Louisiana’s Academic Libraries,” CODEX: Journal of the Louisiana Chapter of the ACRL. Volume 5, Issue 2 (Fall/Winter 2019).

Russo, Michael, “The Moon Belongs to Everyone:  ResearchGate and Subscription Databases Compared.”  Louisiana Libraries. Winter 2019 (v. 81, no. 3).

Russo, Michael, “Information Literacy through Service Learning”  in Library Collaborations and Community Partnerships: Enhancing Health and Quality of Life.  Fannie M. Cox, Henry R. Cunningham, and Vickie Hines-Martin, eds., 2019.

Simms, Sarah; Hayley Johnson. “Hidden in Plain Sight,” 64 Parishes (Magazine of the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities). Issue 4, Summer 2019.

Ziegler, Scott; and Cara Key. “More Than a Pretty Interface: The Louisiana Digital Library as a Data Hub,” CODEX: Journal of the Louisiana Chapter of the ACRL. Volume 5, Issue 2 (Fall/Winter 2019).


Hebert, Andrea. “Information Literacy Skills of First-Year Library and Information Science Graduate Students: An Exploratory Study,” Evidence Based Library and Information Practice Volume 13, Issue 3 (September 2018).

Miller, Marty. “Sacred vs. Profane in The Great War: A Neutral’s Indictment: Louis Raemaekers’s Use of Religious Imagery in Adoration of the Magi and Our Lady of Antwerp.” Catholic Library World, vol. 89, no. 1, Sept. 2018, pp. 20–32.

Rasmussen, Hans. “The Life and Death of Raquette in Nineteenth-Century New Orleans,” Sport History Review 49 (May 2018): 23-38.

Wilder, Stanley. “Delayed Retirements and the Youth Movement among ARL Library Professionals,” Research Library Issues, no. 295 (2018).

Wilder, Stanley. “Hiring and Staffing Trends in ARL Libraries,” Research Library Issues, no. 295 (2018).

Wilder, Stanley. “Selected Demographic Trends in the ARL Professional Population,” Research Library Issues, no. 295 (2018).

Ziegler, Scott; and Richard Shrake. “PAL: Toward a Recommendation System for Manuscripts,” Information Technology and Libraries, Vol. 37, No. 3 (2018).


Caminita, C.; Cook, M.; and Paster, A. (2017). Thirty years of preserving, discovering, and accessing U.S. agricultural information: Past progress and current challenges. Library Trends, 65(3), 293-315.

Dauterive, Sarah; John Bourgeois; and Sarah Simms. “How little is too little? An examination of information literacy instruction duration for freshmen.” Journal of Information Literacy, 11.1 (2017): 204-219.

Fontenot, Mitch; Emily Frank; and Andrea Hebert. “Going Where the Users Are: Three Variations on a Theme,” Louisiana Libraries, Fall 2017.

Hawk, Amanda K. “Highflying Crowdfunding: Creating a Successful Partnership with a Campus Donor,” Archival Outlook, July/August 2017: 12-13, 19.

Hebert, Andrea; and Marty Miller. (2017). Using FSA-OWI photographs to teach information and visual literacy. Louisiana Libraries, 79(3), 19–25.

Johnson, Hayley. “#NoDAPL: Social Media, Empowerment, and Civic Participation at Standing Rock,” Library Trends, Fall 2017.


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