Copley Connects -Spring 2022

DR. THOMAS REIFER: Catching up with a Copley Library Aficionado

When did you join the USD community? Do you recall your impressions of the university library at that time? I joined the USD community way back in 2004. To be perfectly honest, despite some wonderful and committed persons, the library at that time had fallen into disuse, and the scholarly work at USD suffered from this. Can you tell us a little about your service on the Library Committee? I believe (though you will want to check this) that I joined the L ibrary C ommittee, as Chair, when it first started up, after the new Dean, Dr. Theresa Byrd, arrived. I joined the committee because I love books, and I love libraries, and firmly believe that libraries are essential for making the world a better place, through education for per sonal and social transformation, and human liberation, and that libraries and books and reading can save and transform lives, as they did mine, as part of education in the context of relationships! I’ve greatly enjoyed getting to know others who share similar concerns about diversity, inclusion, scholarship, for educating students and engaging them in critical and provocative conversations about the world, and how to help humanity and other living things survive and thrive. You were also a member of the Library Renovation Committee. What made you want to be a part of the renovation process? What changes to the library space were you most interested in seeing? I wanted to be part of the renovation pro cess because it was important to make the library a welcoming place for students (young scholars), teachers, and members of the larger community, to revive our commitment to inclusivity, diversity, and the heterogeneity in thought and imagination that is essential for the simultaneous pursuit of the good, the true and the beautiful.

I was most interested in creating places where students, and faculty, could gather, read, discuss, and work together on com mon scholarly projects, or discuss matters of mutual interest. What is your favorite space in the renovated library? My favorite space: hard to say, but I try to come every morning to read the five [print] newspapers at the library, so I guess the tables right in front of the newspapers is cur rently my favorite place! What is the last book you read, or the book you’re currently reading? This question is hard, because I largely am reading multiple books, some half a dozen or more at the same time. This being said, I am currently reading the following books, which I highly recommend: a) Omer Bartov, Erased: Vanishing Traces of Jewish Galicia in Present Day Ukraine (New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 2007) b) P. Gabrielle Foreman, Jim Casey, and Sarah Lynn Patterson, eds. The Colored Conventions Movement: Black Organizing in the Nineteenth Century (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2021) c) Andrei P. Tsygankov, The Dark Double: US Media, Russia, and the Poltiics of Values (New York: Oxford University Press, 2019) d) Faith Hillis, Children of Rus’: Right-Bank Ukraine and the Invention of the Russian Nation (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2013) e) Robert M. Durling’s translation of Dante Alighieri’s The Divine Comedy (Inferno, Purgatorio, Paradiso) (New York: Oxford University Press, 1996, 2003, 2011) f) Dennis Looney, Freedom Readers: The African American Reception of Dante Alighieri & the Divine Comedy (University of Notre Dame, 2011) g) Elisabeth Young-Bruel, Childism: Confronting Prejudice Against Children (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2012)

DR. THOMAS REIFER, Professor of Sociology, is a long-time supporter and member of the Copley Library community. He has been a member of the Library Committee, a standing committee which serves in an advisory capacity to the Dean of the University Library, and the Library Renovation Committee, which worked to plan the recent renovation of our library spaces. We asked Professor Reifer to share some of his thoughts on Copley, scholarship, and our new space.


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