The DeLaMare Science and Engineering Library celebrates Earth Day with virtual book display

Web-based book display, “Confronting Environmental Challenges,” contains 24 curated works on various aspects of the current climate crisis, and other threats to the natural world.

Image of several melting pieces of ice on a warming ocean with birds flying overhead

University community members with a valid NetID can access Earth Day-themed e-books online now.

The DeLaMare Science and Engineering Library celebrates Earth Day with virtual book display

Web-based book display, “Confronting Environmental Challenges,” contains 24 curated works on various aspects of the current climate crisis, and other threats to the natural world.

University community members with a valid NetID can access Earth Day-themed e-books online now.

Image of several melting pieces of ice on a warming ocean with birds flying overhead

University community members with a valid NetID can access Earth Day-themed e-books online now.

The DeLaMare Science and Engineering Library (DLM) is celebrating Earth Day 2021 by launching a first-of-its-kind virtual book display. Titled, Confronting Environmental Challenges, the display is housed on DeLaMare Science and Engineering Library's website and contains 24 curated works on various aspects of the current climate crisis and other threats to the natural world, along with proposed solutions.

The first Earth Day was celebrated on April 22, 1970 marking the birth of the modern environmental movement. The event in 1970 inspired 20 million Americans taking to streets, parks and auditoriums to demonstrate against the impacts of 150 years of industrial development.

To date one billion individuals have mobilized for action every Earth Day, with more than 190+ countries engaged.  Earth Day gives voice to the public consciousness about the state of our planet.

“A remarkable journey. Read this and you can believe in the future.” – Fred Pearce, author of “When Rivers Run Dry.” Author: Gaia Vince. Book title: Adventures in the Anthropocene: A Journey to the Heart of the Planet We Made.
Seen here: Book cover art for “Adventures in the Anthropocene” by Gaia Vince. This e-book about a science journalist who travels the world to explore humanity’s ecological devastation—and its potential for renewal is featured in the DLM virtual book display.

What is a virtual book display?

A virtual book display makes a group of carefully selected e-books easily accessible from anywhere, anytime, and on any device. 

“It doesn’t matter if you are just getting your feet wet or are ready to dive deeper to develop a greater understanding of the state of our planet. This virtual book display provides an easy, safe and fun way to interact with Libraries resources,” virtual book display content curator, DLM project coordinator and maps administrator Nick Urruty said. “Those interacting with the display will discover ways to get involved or how to best take action. Having knowledge of a topic is important, but I wanted to be sure to provide information related to making a difference and/or how to get involved.”

Photo of man with beard wearing a blue and black plaid shirt
DLM virtual book display content curator, project coordinator and maps administrator Nick Urruty.

Creating the "Confronting Environmental Challenges" Virtual Book Display

Because the DeLaMare Science and Engineering Library is a part of the larger University Libraries organization, Urruty partnered with two different Libraries’ departments to help bring the virtual book display to life.

The Libraries’ Electronic Resources and Acquisition Services department (ERAS) and the Technical Services Department worked together to conceptualize, create and launch this forward-thinking project.

“Nick deserves a ton of credit,” University Libraries’ project partners Nathan Gerth and Paoshan Yue said. “Nick had the creativity to imagine the project and did a lot of work to help bring it to life, allowing it to be shared it with the University community.”

When Urruty approached the Libraries Head of Electronic Resources and Acquisition Services department, Paoshan Yue, he needed guidance to figure out a way to track usage of selected titles during the lifespan of the virtual book display.

Image of woman with glasses and shoulder-length dark hair
Paoshan Yue, head of E-Resources & Acquisition Services for the University Libraries

Urruty and Yue decided to use the ProQuest E-book Central Platform which contains more than 210,000 e-books across all disciplines. This particular e-book vendor offers an administrative tool to figure out a process for selecting books and tracking their usage.

“The usage reports provide various metrics by title,” Yue said.  “These metrics may provide a glimpse of library users’ interest in specific titles or subjects as well as their preferences in terms of e-book reading habits – whether it’s reading online, downloads, or print-outs.  It is our hope these findings will help inform future virtual book display planning.”

From the technical side of things, Nathan Gerth partnered with Urruty to help build an easy-to-use, attractive website to showcase selected e-books. Gerth is the head of Digital Services for the University Libraries.

Image of man in a light shirt and dark sport coat
Nathan Gerth, head of Digital Services for the University Libraries, provided the technical support needed to create the virtual book display.


“The visual presentation of the virtual book display really allows the e-book covers to leap out from the page,” Gerth said. “I hope users are able to let their curiosity guide them through the collection. At the same time, I hope users get a sense of why each title is important. After all, this set of featured works has been hand chosen, so to speak, by our librarians at DeLaMare.”

Once the Technical Services department had the materials, the chief challenge was getting all of the components on the page created and positioned correctly.

“While users see a cohesive package when the page loads on the public site, on the back end the we deployed 28 separate components,” Gerth said. “When it came to the ‘book cards,’ each of those components had a separate media file. Keeping track of all these pieces of the puzzle can be tough, but Nick did a great job of keeping the content well organized.”

The Future of Virtual Resources

As University students, faculty and instructors continue to teach and learn while facing the challenges of the pandemic, it is becoming clear to Libraries faculty and staff that this is a trend that we may see continue.

Book Cover Art: “Bad Environmentalism” Irony and Irreverence in the Ecological Age by Nicole Seymour. Image on the cover is of a Buck wearing a white turtleneck shirt, with human arms somewhat crossed with one hand resting under the opposite arm’s elbow, in a slightly crossed position.
Seen here: In “Bad Environmentalism” Nicole Seymour asks the reader to rethink environmentalist’s reputation for gloom and doom and instead argues for ironic, irreverent, and playful alternatives.

“When I first met with Nick, we were still seeing the number of COVID-19 cases drop from the surge in January, so there didn’t seem to be much point to putting together a physical book display,” Gerth said. “At the same time, we have seen users increasingly drawn to the Libraries virtual resources, a trend that could very well continue after the pandemic. Both of these factors made me feel that showcasing these materials online made sense.”

Yue echoed Gerth’s observation, “I would not be surprised if virtual book displays continue along side of physical book displays after the pandemic.”

To browse the Confronting Environmental Challenges virtual book display visit the DLM website. To make a suggestion, or for more information, please contact Nick Urruty.

About the University Libraries

The University Libraries embrace intellectual inquiry and innovation, nurture the production of new knowledge, and foster excellence in learning, teaching and research. During each academic year, the Libraries welcomes more than 1.2 million visitors across its network of three libraries: the Mathewson-IGT Knowledge Center, the DeLaMare Science and Engineering Library and the Savitt Medical Library. Visitors checked-out more than 80,000 items and completed more than two million database searches.