ASU announces new interim director for Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing

February 13, 2017

Following the resignation of founding artistic director Jewell Parker Rhodes earlier this year, the Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing is proud to announce and welcome a new interim director at the center: Matt Bell, assistant professor of creative writing at Arizona State University.  

With two novels, two short story collections and stand-alone work in many leading literary journals and magazines, Bell is widely considered to be one of the foremost voices in contemporary literature. More than this, he has dedicated himself to uplifting and supporting the voices of others, frequently contributing book reviews and criticism to major media outlets like the New York Times Book Review and PEN America. He has served as a senior editor at the independent publisher Dzanc Books, was the founding editor of "The Collagist," and currently serves as faculty advisor for ASU's own Hayden's Ferry Review. Piper Center Interim Director Matt Bell Matt Bell, interim director for the Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing Download Full Image

Angie Dell, assistant director for the Piper Center said: "Matt Bell is a true asset to ASU and the Center. His strengths as a writer, teacher, and leader have already had a deep influence on the student body and local literary community, and I have confidence his artistic vision and extensive knowledge of the creative writing field will guide the Center to excel across our programs."

Most recently, Bell authored the novel "Scrapper," a Michigan Notable Book for 2016, and the short story collection "A Tree or a Person or a Wall." His previous novel, "In the House upon the Dirt between the Lake and the Woods," was a finalist for the Young Lions Fiction Award and an Indies Choice Adult Debut Book of the Year Honor Recipient, as well as the winner of the Paula Anderson Book Award. He is also the author of the short story collection "How They Were Found," the novella "Cataclysm Baby" and a non-fiction book about the classic video game "Baldur’s Gate II."

Bell's stories have been published in magazines such as Tin House, American Short Fiction, Conjunctions, Gulf Coast, Ninth Letter, Unstuck, Fairy Tale Review, Guernica and Hobart, as well as anthologies including "Best American Mystery Stories" and "Best American Fantasy." His poems have appeared in Salt Hill, Spork, Barn Owl Review, Waxwing, Tupelo Quarterly and Big Lucks, among other venues. He has written book criticism and coverage for The New York Times Book Review, The Los Angeles Times, The Believer, PEN America, Rain Taxi, American Book Review, The Quarterly Conversation and The Brooklyn Rail.

ASU workshop to explore 'The Future of Print'

February 13, 2017

As books move out of Arizona State University's Hayden Library, in preparation for its impending renovation, ASU Library is developing plans for how they will return.

"The printed book has a long and glorious future in front of it, but it won't come about as a result of negligence," said university librarian Jim O'Donnell, the principal investigator of a grant that is looking at new ways to envision print collections in the digital age. Jim O'Donnell University Librarian Jim O'Donnell Download Full Image

Funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and in collaboration with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the grant project aims to explore how print materials will co-exist with digital ones at a time when many libraries around the world are significantly reducing their print collections in favor of adding more community and study space.

Titled "The Future of the Academic Library Print Collection," the grant project will bring together librarians, faculty and key participants in library architecture, March 16–17, on ASU's Tempe campus, for a two-day, hands-on workshop to discuss major issues and new design strategies for print curation in the 21st century. 

The results of the workshop will directly inform ASU and MIT plans for library renovations, as well as produce a whitepaper on the sustainable and meaningful future of local print curation in academic libraries.

Although digital and print collections are often presented as being in opposition to one another, comparing them is often a case of apples and oranges, O'Donnell said.

"Digital media allow speedy access and easier cooperation between libraries and scholars across the country, but print offers historical specificity and a staying power that has yet to be matched by any digital format," O'Donnell said. "Taken together, they offer a chance for libraries to build collections aimed at the communities that they serve without having to give up on breadth."

O'Donnell said a large part of the project is therefore to think about how to tap into the best traits of both approaches to collection, and sees the upcoming renovation of ASU's largest library as a great opportunity to rethink how the academic library print collection might engage and inspire its communities as never before.

"Books and other cultural artifacts survive and flourish when there is a community that cherishes them. Our job in the next generation is to cherish the print book and nurture it into its next stage of flourishing," he said.

With that goal in mind, the workshop will focus on ways to make library collections more accessible and engaging with a special eye towards serving the learning, researching and cultural needs of local communities.

Katherine Reagan, curator of Rare Books and Manuscripts at Cornell Libraries and founder of Cornell University's hip hop collection, will be the event's keynote speaker.

Britt Lewis

Communications Specialist, ASU Library