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Update from the Curator

By August 23, 2020May 14th, 2021The Kerlan Blog

A Thank You

Thank you to the Kerlan Friends who have been keeping in touch during these Covid-19 times.


Where are you? And what are you doing? And how are you doing?

Screen shot of Zoom meeting with MCAD interns

Zoom meeting with Kerlan Board Member Mary Schultz, Lisa Von Drasek, Curator, and two MCAD interns.

I have been working from home.

We have continued to work with students and interns remotely through Zoom. Danielle Hill and Alana Gripne-Oslund pictured here had been working to connect the read aloud videos  from #OperationReadAloud   with creative literacy activities for home and the classroom in Writing Boxes: The Reading Writing Connection.

This has been a time of adaptation.

I have been producing and providing digital resources for teachers, librarians, and students. I have been keeping in contact with our donors, students, and volunteers.

#OperationReadAloud fills a needed gap for kids

The archivists have continued their work creating digital exhibits.

If you missed the exhibit A Woman’s Place: Women and Work, it is now available in a digital format. This was a collaboration across the Archives and Special Collections, created by Linnea Anderson, Kate Dietrick, and Caitlin Marineau.

Woman's Place exhibit banner

A Women’s Place: Women and Work. Exhibit designed by Darren Terpstra.

This has been a time to reflect and learn.


Facefront headshot, Dr. Bettina Love, Female presenting Black educator

Dr. Bettina Love


Book Cover, we want to do more than survive

I had attended a seminar by Dr. Bettina Love. I highly recommended: We Want To Do More Than Survive: Abolitionist Teaching and the Pursuit of Educational Freedom.

This has been a time to amplify unheard voices.

Sepia toned photograph circa 1925 of a group of women in an office

Louise Seaman Bechtel with her staff in her office circa 1925. Bechtel is the one on the phone.

My article on Louise Seaman Bechtel is now available in Children and Libraries. One hundred years ago in 1919, the first children’s book department in the United States was established by the Macmillan Company, headed by the then young and unknown editor-in-chief Louise Seaman. Link to the article.

And a time read

I have been doing a little reading besides children’s books.

On Shelf Awareness for Readers. (Shelf Awareness for Readers appears Tuesdays and Fridays and helps readers discover the 25 best books of the week, as chosen by booksellers, librarians and other industry experts.)

A round up of memoir with a humorous slant. Shelf Awareness From My Shelf June

Book Cover featuring an upright taxidermy raccoon with wide open mouth and out-spread arms

Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson

Cover of book with a very chubby bunny sitting upright.

Wow, No Thank You bu Samantha Irby

Book Cover featuring a steel refrigerator door and notepaper with the book title

Don’t Wait Up: Confessions of a Stay at Work Mom by Liz Astrof






And here are some cookbook recommendations: Shelf Awareness: From My Shelf August

Book Cover

From Bombay with Love. Dishoom Cookbook

Book Cover, Pickled vegetables on a tray

Japanese Pickled Vegetables by by Machiko Tateno

Book Cover is a photograph. The title Keepers is formed by the shaping of a pot pie dough lid.

Keepers: Two Home Cooks Share Their Tried-and-True Weeknight Recipes and the Secrets to Happiness in the Kitchen. by Kathy Brennan and Caroline Campion








Decorative illustration from Medium Article on Surge Capacity. human figure sitting in an upside down room

Surge Capacity Illustration by from

What is Surge Capacity?

Tara Haelle, a science journalist interviewed academics and researchers to explore why these pandemic times feel so hard. It’s not our imaginations. There is a reason that I am feeling “not-like-myself”, unusually fatigued, unwell and anxious. It is that my “surge capacity” is depleted.

Haelle writes, “Surge capacity is a collection of adaptive systems — mental and physical — that humans draw on for short-term survival in acutely stressful situations, such as natural disasters. But natural disasters occur over a short period, even if recovery is long. Pandemics are different — the disaster itself stretches out indefinitely.”

As Ann Masten, PhD, a psychologist and professor of child development at the University of Minnesota, explains it, “Surge capacity is a collection of adaptive systems — mental and physical — that humans draw on for short-term survival in acutely stressful situations, such as natural disasters.   natural disasters occur over a short period, even if recovery is long. Pandemics are different — the disaster itself stretches out indefinitely.”

According to Pauline Boss, PhD, a family therapist and professor emeritus of social sciences at the University of Minnesota who specializes in “ambiguous loss.” This is a time of ambiguous loss. We have lost our familiar lives and here we are coping with unprecedented loss of family, friends, and work. Boss notes that it especially hard for people used to pushing through and getting things done no matter what is going on.

“It’s harder for high achievers,” she says. “The more accustomed you are to solving problems, to getting things done, to having a routine, the harder it will be on you because none of that is possible right now. You get feelings of hopelessness and helplessness, and those aren’t good.”

Michael Maddaus, MD, a professor of thoracic surgery at the University of Minnesota examines the effect of the pandemic on our “resilience bank.”

I Really Appreciated

Haelle eliciting suggestions from the three experts on how to cope during these unprecedented times.

For more on this topic, go to the article on Your ‘Surge Capacity’ Is Depleted — It’s Why You Feel Awful

So how are you doing?

I really want to know. What are you reading? Are you teaching remotely? Are you home with kids? How is your creative life? Are you at capacity?

Look for updates for University of Minnesota Libraries Campus News on Continuum.

Look for updates on the Kerlan, the Children’s Literature Research Collections, and Virtual Events on the Blue Ox Review.

We may not be able to be on campus right now, but we are here to help in any way we can.

Stay safe. All my best, Lisa

small fluffy white dog peering over a laptop computer

Lisa’s home-from-work manager, Jane Isay supervising




Join the discussion One Comment

  • Ruth A Berman says:

    I enjoyed the article on Louise Seaman Bechtel. I didn’t realize how many outstanding children’s books were published under her aegis

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