The Boy Who Lived On

Harry Potter has seen its fair share of new editions and re-releases, but none have been as highly anticipated as the October 6th release of the first fully illustrated edition of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. The Wheelock College Library is now the proud owner of this new book, so here is a bit of information on the artist behind the magic and how he brought the Wizarding World to life.

Artist Jim Kay has been working as a full time illustrator for seven years, and rose to international acclaim after he won the Kate Greenaway Medal for his illustrations in A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness. Now he has accepted the challenge of illustrating the entire Potter series, with one book planned to be released each year.

With hundreds of cover illustrations worldwide and seven EIGHT wildly successful movie adaptions, one might worry that Jim’s work would be too highly influenced by the preexisting visualizations of Potter’s world. I’m happy to say that this is not the case. His illustrations provide a fresh and inventive new perspective on the places and characters that we have come to know so well.

That’s not to say they were all pulled directly from his mind’s eye. Not only do the novels provide lavishly detailed imagery to work from, but Jim says he pulls images from everyday life and stores them to use when the right illustration comes along. His inspiration for Harry’s character came from a boy he met on the London underground. Hagrid was inspired by an old man wearing a metal band t-shit.



It’s hard enough to believe that one person can tackle so daunting a task as to illustrate an entire Harry Potter book in a year, but it seems nearly impossible when you learn that Kay actually builds entire sets for his illustrations in miniature. He created a to-scale Hogwarts out of cardboard and a figurine of Hagrid that is giant in proportion to toy soldiers that he staged as students. In the video below, you can see some of these models and the way in which Jim uses them to get every detail of an illustration to be perfect. You’ll also get a sneak peek at one of the books all-time favorite characters, who we won’t see fully imagined until the release of Chamber of Secrets next year.

My takeaway is that no matter how many times a work has been revisited, it can always be given a fresh new perspective. If you feel that you lost your mind’s own version of Hermione somewhere around the fourth movie (while Emma Watson’s portrayal of the character was absolutely spot on, they just never quite managed to mess up that hair!) then have a look at Jim’s re-imagining of the bossy but brilliant 11 year old conjuring her signature blue flame.


I clearly think Jim’s illustrations are a huge success, but you don’t have to take my word for it. Just stop by the Wheelock College Library to see this beautiful new edition firsthand. It is currently located on the library’s New Books Display, right inside the front doors.

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H is for

H is for History

H is forRight off, let’s start out being honest about the usual view of historians and history in our society. Perhaps the mention of history and historians brings to mind images of such things as:

  • high school history textbooks
  • test and quizzes requiring you to learn the names and dates associated with events, many of which you have since forgotten
  • dusty books
  • old papers and maps
  • dull lectures
  • the saying “those who do not understand the past, are doomed to repeat it”
  • people who were perhaps unwise when choosing their college majors

The list goes on. And I, the trained historian and archivist, have encounter each and every one of the items or situations listed above, along with a few others not listed above.  This might prompt others to ask if I am simply someone who enjoys boredom, or is there another side to history and historians that has not been shared with the general population?  While I will not pretend to be the most adventure seeking individual, I think the idea that history isn’t very useful or interesting is more of a public relations issue that an actual fact.

Over the next couple of months I plan to share the many ways the skills of historians and historical methods can be applied and how these application can be used for purposes other than producing lists of dates and names that are often times quickly forgotten.

In the meantime check out the resources listed below to learn more about the field of history and the work of historians from the American Historical Association (AHA).

“Why Study History”

 “What I Do: Historians Talk about Their Work”

Or if you are one of those who have like me already been bitten by the history bug, check out our history resource guide here.

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Drumroll, Please! And The Winner of This Year’s Pumpkin Decorating Contest is..

IT/Campus Services with Spice Gourds – who spiced up our lives during the week leading up to Halloween.


Congrats, IT/Campus Services!  All the entries were incredible this year.  After being here at Wheelock for several pumpkin decorating contests, I am always impressed by how creative everyone is with their decorations and appreciate that our participants are willing to take the time to bring some mid-autumn cheer into the Library.

Thank you to everyone who entered: Dot Hibbard, the Writing Center, Financial Services, Student Life, IT/Campus Services, and especially Teach Learn Create (TLC), our first and only student organization to join in.   Many of you have asked who made which entries.  Here are the other 5 entries with the names of their decorators.

Entry #2: Skeleton Band

The Writing Center

Entry #3: A tribute to music legends

Financial Services

Entry #1: the Beatles

Dot Hibbard

Entry #4: Phantom of the Opera

Teach Learn Create (TLC)

Entry #5: Student Life

Student Life

Thank you, also, to those who stopped by the Library to vote.  We’re happy that we got so many ballots back.  This contest could not have happened without you either!  There was a raffle for our voters and the winner of that raffle is Geraldine Metogho.  Congrats!



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Group photo of staff participating in Training Day.

Get to Know Our Newest Student Employees

For this week’s blog post, I wanted to give our newest student employees a chance to introduce themselves by sharing a little bit about their experience working at the Library and about the services borrowing325x210located in the Library.

In total, the Library hired 11 new student workers this fall and I could not be more proud of how quickly they acclimated to their positions and proven themselves to be valuable members of the Library staff.

Here is what some of them had to say:

Mariana McNeil – Class of 2019

What you like about working at the Library: I always learn something new through the people that come here.

One service you think other students should know is offered at the Library: The Writing Center

Lauren Parks – Class of 2019

What you like about working at the Library: One thing I like about working at the library is meeting new people and helping patrons.

One service you think other students should know is offered at the Library: The library offers drop-in research help every day from noon to close.

Courtney Stage – Class of 2019

What you like about working at the Library: I like the people I work with and helping others out when needed.

One service you think other students should know is offered at the Library: The Writing Center and Peer Tutoring

Ashley Wight– Class of 2019

What you like about working at the Library: After working at the library for a month and a half, the thing I like most about working there is that I have so much knowledge about all the resources the library can offer.

Nicholas Freni– Class of 2019

What you like about working at the Library: I enjoy my coworkers as well as assisting patrons.

One service you think other students should know is offered at the Library: Peer Tutoring

Virginia Hardy– Class of 2018

What you like about working at the Library: I like a few things about working at the library. First, is that I am able to interact with students and faculty of the Wheelock Community. Second, I have learned new skills in helping patrons, library research, and accessing resources. And third, I get to work in a calm learning environment.

One service you think other students should know is offered at the Library: I think other students should know that the library provides technology and museum passes.

Arianna Saunders– Class of 2018

What you like about working at the Library: : I like floor 2M.

One service you think other students should know is offered at the Library: Peer Tutoring

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Pumpkin Decorating Contest 2015 – Voting Begins Now!

Entries for this year’s Pumpkin Decorating Contest are on display in the case on the first floor of the Library. The theme this year is “Music”.   Our participants have all done an amazing job.  Cast your vote for your favorite entry.

Ballots are available at the Library Service Desk; voting starts today through Thursday, October 29.  Everyone who votes will be entered in a raffle to win a Halloween goody bag. The winner of the best display and of the raffle will be announced Friday, October 30If you cannot make it to the Library, you may also email your vote to

Pumpkins with their contest numbers.  Click to expand image.

  1. pdc1
  2. pdc2
  3. pdc3
  4. pdc4
  5. pdc5
  6. pdc6
    The participants behind this submission wired it with lights, which we cannot power while the submission is in the display case.  We’ve made a gif of it in action (click to play).20151023_152946(1)
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