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The archive of Shannon Engineering Inc., an aviation company that specialized in “hush kits” to muffle the roar of Boeing 707s during takeoff, has landed in Cornell University Library’s Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections .

Containing more than 400 reports and technical drawings detailing various airplanes, helicopters and engine types, the archive is a valuable primary source for scholars researching commercial air travel, aerospace technology, aviation regulation and related topics, said Jill Powell, engineering librarian at Cornell.

“There are going to be people looking at this who are interested in the way engineers worked back in this time period, between 1970 and 2008, when the company was operating,” Powell said.

The archive also gives would-be entrepreneurs a lesson in finding opportunity in times of adversity and change: Getting laid off from Boeing sparked Jack Shannon to start his company, which focused on aircraft performance analysis, testing and certification. When international noise regulations became more stringent, he jumped on the idea of retrofitting Boeing 707 engines to make them compliant.

Shannon credited his company’s success to his team of “experts who cared” about aviation; he donated the company’s archive to Cornell University Library to preserve and make their work accessible for generations of flight scholars and enthusiasts.

“This is a profound compliment to the engineers and employees of Shannon Engineering,” he said.

More information about the Shannon Engineering archive is available at Cornell University Library’s LibGuide online resource .

This story also appeared in the Cornell Chronicle.


A four-part webinar series devoted to academic libraries’ role in a sustainable future concluded with a discussion of how three libraries in China have responded to the coronavirus pandemic.

The April 27 installment, “ Three Chinese Academic Libraries’ Experiences During the COVID-19 Outbreak ,” was the last in a series titled “ Academic Libraries for Sustainable Development Goals ,” launched in October by Cornell University Library.

The series brought together librarians and thought leaders from around the world to address issues outlined by the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

“The Sustainable Development Goals may seem remote from the day-to-day work of academic libraries,” said Gerald Beasley, the Carl A. Kroch University Librarian. “However, although many problems addressed by the United Nations are at their most intense outside North America, there are also many communities within this country that would benefit from a focus on the SDGs.”

An advocate for libraries’ contributions to SDGs , Beasley said the COVID-19 pandemic has further highlighted libraries’ urgent role in addressing sustainability goals that include nurturing good health and well-being ; fostering quality education ; and promoting just, peaceful, and inclusive societies .

Common themes that emerged from the final webinar included bolstering online resources and digital means for supporting the priorities of universities during campus closures; gathering and promoting open-access e-resources; working with vendors to continue, and even expand, digital resources for students and faculty; and integrating pandemic planning into the fabric of library operations.

“We really cannot situate academic librarianship only within the confines of teaching and research,” said Xin Li, associate university librarian, “because ultimately, what is Cornell for if not for contributing to a sustainable world?”

The final webinar was conducted entirely in Chinese, as part of Cornell University Library’s commitment to inclusion, Li said.

“Sustainability requires inclusiveness of people who can express their views most adequately in their native languages,” she said. “It challenges us to find ways to share their views with our English-speaking audience.”

Guest speakers for the final installment included: Yuan Qing, associate library director of Huazhong University of Science and Technology; Liu Xia, associate library director of Wuhan University Library; and Zhang Qiu, associate library director of Tsinghua University Library, a co-organizer of the webinar. A total of 142 librarians from United States, China, Canada and Singapore participated.

A summary of the final webinar in English, as well as recordings of previous webinars in the series, can be found on the Cornell University Library website .

This story also appeared in the Cornell Chronicle


Witnesses and survivors of the Holocaust and other acts of genocide are dwindling in numbers, but their faces and voices will live on through Cornell University Library’s recently acquired permanent access to USC Shoah Foundation’s Visual History Archive (VHA).

Spanning 65 countries and 43 languages, the audiovisual archive includes 55,000 firsthand accounts of genocide – from the Jewish Holocaust to the massacre of Armenians; from the atrocities against the Rohingya in Myanmar to the civil war in South Sudan.

“The Visual History Archive is a massive resource for research and teaching, but it should not be thought of only as a repository of victims’ experiences of genocide,” said Jonathan Boyarin, the Mann Professor of Modern Jewish Studies in the College of Arts and Sciences, and director of the Jewish Studies Program. “It is also a repository of the full lives they lived before and after these events.”

Magnus Fiskesjö – an associate professor of anthropology in the College of Arts and Sciences who was awarded a teaching fellowship by USC Shoah Foundation – uses the archive to teach ANTHR 6552, Genocide Today, a class studying examples from the past to examine current atrocities against ethnic minorities in Myanmar and China.

Because the video testimonies in the archive have been thoroughly indexed, Fiskesjö’s students can use keyword searches to explore various topics.

“The archive provides research materials for several different angles on genocide,” he said, including the conditions and warning signs of atrocities, the complex relationship between memory and trauma, and the tensions between national and ethnic identities that can lead to violence against minorities.

Fiskesjö said testimonies also have a potential to be used as evidence in the International Criminal Court.

“I speak to my class about the importance of not letting perpetrators get away with what they’ve done,” he said, “because that paves the way for the next genocide.”

Patrick J. Stevens, curator of the Fiske Icelandic Collection and a Judaica bibliographer who coordinated the acquisition of the archive, said the VHA’s testimonies also serve as powerful reminders.

“Living witnesses are becoming fewer, whether it’s Jews who experienced the Holocaust or the indigenous peoples who suffered under oppression in Guatemala,” he said. “At the same time, we have upcoming generations who may not know about these genocidal acts. And if they don’t know, how can they work to try to prevent these events from happening again?”

The library first gained access to the Visual History Archive in 2015, with philanthropic support from Betsy and Philip Darivoff. A portion of the funds they provided to the Jewish Studies Program and a recent gift from Steven Chernys ’83 – a supporter of Jewish collections and a decadeslong donor to Cornell University Library – funded permanent access to the VHA.

Other alumni have been vital to building the archive and providing access to the Cornell community.

This story also appeared in the Cornell Chronicle.

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