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J. Murrey Atkins Library Newsletter, February 2021

Kate Dickson: A Passion to Protect

By Denelle Eads
Edited for space

Kate Dickson knows all about “the right thing” and when she follows her passion, it’s never about her. It’s about making sure others are supported and are given a fair deal.

“For me, it’s all about helping people,” says Dickson, Atkins’ Copyright and Licensing Librarian. “As an attorney, I worked on lots of issues that I cared about passionately. One of those things is voting, something so many people had to fight for over the years. My experience and what I know about the law, help me recognize my obligation to make sure certain rights are not violated. Voting is the most fundamental right that we have and people need to be able to exercise that right.”
For several years, Dickson has volunteered with the election process, typically for presidential
elections. As a poll observer and a volunteer for the voter protection team, 2020 made that experience different from any other election year, an outcome mainly due to the pandemic.

“This year the election process was different. So many people voted by mail and absentee ballot, for security reasons and because of uncertainty. They wanted to feel safe in exercising their right to vote. For those who physically went to vote at their precincts, it was our job, as poll observers, to make sure voters were safe,” says Dickson. 

Armed with full protection of masks and face shields, Dickson fulfilled her civic responsibility. “During election day I was a poll observer assigned to a church in Chapel Hill. It was different this time. There were plexiglass barriers between everyone and in front of everyone. Some election workers were going around sanitizing everything, spraying all the surfaces. This year, with this new activity, there was an extra layer added to my role. In addition to paying attention to how the election process was going for voters, we were also safety monitors, making sure things were going smoothly,” says Dickson.

But that added layer of support wasn’t too out of the ordinary for Dickson. She pursued her law degree for many of the same reasons—a desire to help people. “I didn’t go to law school with the intention to make a huge amount of money and gain lots of power. I went to help people who were disfranchised and mistreated. As a lawyer, I saw how power could be used in a good way. I was motivated by the thought of being able to use that power to help people,” says Dickson.

“Since everything has happened in the last year, people are much more motivated to get involved and contribute to citizenship. Opportunities are available all year round. People don’t have to wait until an election cycle comes around to get involved to contribute to society. There are all sorts of non-profit organizations that do a lot of work to help people on local and county levels. You can start with local precincts, community groups, and other organizations that you are passionate about,” says Dickson. 

Atkins Book Club: I'm Not Dying With You Tonight

For this semester’s Atkins Book Club selection, the library will join the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library (CML) for their March 2021 Community Read which focuses on creating a community dialogue around the themes of racism and social justice. The selection is a YA book titled, I'm Not Dying With You Tonight by Kimberly Jones and Gilly Segal. Told from two viewpoints, Atlanta high school seniors Lena and Campbell, one black, one white, must rely on each other to survive after a football rivalry escalates into a riot.

Atkins Library has purchased an electronic version of I'm Not Dying With You Tonight for unlimited users to access through its catalog. Atkins will host its own book discussion on Zoom for the campus community on March 31 from 2:00-3:30 PM. 

Digital Media Literacy Instruction


By Catherine Tingelstad

One of the most important issues facing us is our ability to critically analyze and share online information. Recognizing the need for education and awareness about misleading and manipulated information, a team of librarians at Atkins Library created the Digital Media Literacy working group. The goals of the group are to teach students strategies for effectively evaluating online content, to empower faculty to incorporate core digital media literacy concepts into their instruction, and to build a network of campus partners to create outreach opportunities.

Instruction librarians are currently teaching concepts such as lateral reading, photo identification, and fact-checking in sessions for the University College, First-year Writing, Critical Thinking and Communication, and subject area classes. We provide students with the opportunity to evaluate online content in an active learning environment and ask them to decide if they would share that information on their social media or with others. 

The working group has created an infographic featuring a series of steps to use when reading online content. This process recognizes the need for online readers to slow down and check their emotions before reacting to and sharing potentially inaccurate information.

The Digital Media Literacy resource guide is a repository of tools and information including articles, activities, lesson plans, and videos. Faculty are encouraged to use the content in this guide in working with their classes. 

Telling Our Stories: Black Alumni at UNC Charlotte

Atkins Library’s Special Collections and University Archives has embarked on an exciting project to document and archive the oral histories of UNC Charlotte’s Black Alumni by collecting first-hand accounts of the lives of Black students over the decades. The histories will be gathered and preserved in the University Archives, which serves as the collective memory of our campus history.

This is an alumni-driven project, inspired by interviews we have already gathered, notably that of  James Cuthbertson, Jr., who was a member of the Black Student Union in the late 1960s and early 1970s. As the university celebrates Black History Month, we invite you to listen to the alumni interviews that have been uploaded to Goldmine. 

Should your story be in this collection, or do you know someone who may want to take part? Sign up to schedule a virtual meeting with an interviewer. Interviews will take between an hour and 90 minutes.

Wish List: The Marrow of Tradition

By Joseph Nicholson

Born in Ohio to free persons of color originally from Fayetteville, Charles W. Chesnutt spent his early years in North Carolina after his family returned to the state at the end of the Civil War. His family’s experience of racial oppression in the Reconstruction-era South was the stimulus for a series of novels that offer a searing portrait of a society riven by racial violence and hypocrisy and a moving account of the agonizing dilemmas faced by those who, like Chesnutt himself, were of mixed race ancestry and could pass back and forth across the color line.

Perhaps the best-known of his novels, The Marrow of Tradition (1901) is a scorching fictional treatment of the 1898 Wilmington riot, when white insurrectionists used violence and intimidation to overthrow a Fusionist city government in which African Americans shared power with whites. Special Collections and University Archives currently lacks a copy of the important 1901 first edition of this landmark novel, which would bolster its growing holdings in African-American literature and history and provide crucial literary context on one of the ugliest chapters in North Carolina history to its users. 

Currently, a first edition of this book can be found for approximately $750. Please contact Associate Dean Dawn Schmitz if you would like to discuss making a donation in any amount targeted toward this purchase. We also welcome gifts to supplement one of the endowment funds that support the development of our rare book collection.

UNC Charlotte History Ebooks

Atkins Library holds a number of books on UNC Charlotte that were previously published by UNC Press in print. Our goal is to convert these print books to digital ebooks to be stored in Niner Commons. Niner Commons hosts and promotes the scholarly works of faculty and researchers from UNC Charlotte while providing valuable long-term preservation. Niner Commons features a record of efforts, partnerships, results, and products that advance individual and institutional goals, and allow access to the global community. These books could be converted to an ebook for about $500 each. If you’re interested in sponsoring a digital conversion, please contact Bob Price, Associate Dean of Planning, Innovation, and Engagement at 704-687-0490, or Judy Lekoski, Director of Development at 704-687-0084.

The Making of a Research University: James H. Woodward and UNC Charlotte, 1989–2005
William Thomas Jeffers
Published 2016

Dean Colvard: Quiet Leader
Marion A. Ellis
Published 2004

Charlotte and UNC Charlotte: Growing Up Together
By Ken Sanford
Published 1996 

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