Library exhibit spotlights climate issue

Whitney Baker and Sarah Goodwin Thiel, members of the KU Library Exhibits Committee, arrange documents for the Environmental Change exhibit in the display case installed on the third floor of Watson Library. The exhibit will be on display from Febuary 12-April second.

A new exhibit on the world's environment featuring a blend of the arts, engineering and the social sciences will debut Thursday at Watson Library.

KU Libraries will hold a grand opening of the new exhibit, "Environmental Change: an Interdisciplinary Perspective," at 5 p.m. on the third floor.

Several University departments and organizations contributed materials to the exhibit, including the department of dance, EcoHawks, the Institute for Policy and Social Research, C-CHANGE, the department of design, the School of Engineering, the Center for Remote Sensing of Ice Sheets, and the Spencer Museum of Art.

Rebecca Smith, director of communications for KU Libraries, said the new exhibit was the first project of the newly founded library exhibits committee. The committee plans to rotate five exhibits each year; the current exhibit will run until April 2, Smith said.

Smith said the exhibit's installation did not affect the general study layout of the library. The committee installed a new plasma television, repainted walls, refinished exhibit cases and installed new flooring, at a cost of about $6,000. The exhibit program is funded by private donations made to KU Endowment for library funding, Smith said.

Sara Goodwin Thiel, associate librarian and chairwoman of the library exhibits committee, said the world's ecological situation seemed an obvious topic for the first exhibit. Goodwin Thiel said she hoped the exhibit would increase awareness of climate change and other environmental concerns.

"All these environmental issues impact everything in life," Goodwin Thiel said, "even the humanities."

In addition to highlighting library collection pieces, the exhibit will feature student work. Goodwin Thiel said the department of dance contributed video of interpretive dance with an environmental image.

Sunny Sanwar, Kansas City, Mo., senior and EcoHawks member, submitted computer-aided drawings of an auto project to the exhibit. Sanwar said his team had been working on making a Volkswagen Beetle more efficient since August. The group is experimenting with biodiesel and ethanol engines to make the most efficient vehicle possible, Sanwar said.

"We're really just recycling an old vehicle to make it much more eco-friendly," Sanwar said.

The team of 16 engineering students redesigns different parts of the car to make them more streamlined and efficient. Sanwar said the group hoped to have the car completely finished by mid-May.

"We're just trying to get people to think about how inefficient the auto industry is," Sanwar said.

Sanwar said EcoHawks was pleased with the library committee's choice of climate change as its first exhibit theme. He said EcoHawks hoped to receive visitor feedback on the computerized design plans of the car the group will showcase at the exhibit.

"I think it's a good step forward because everything we see on TV is about global warming, and how we're not going to have enough energy for the future," Sanwar said. "So this project is definitely important to society as a whole."

Smith said the new exhibit's environmental theme would complement other campus exhibits such as the "Climate Change at the Poles" exhibit at the Spencer Museum of Art.

"The libraries see that they have an important role in showcasing scholarship happening all around campus." Smith said.

- Edited by Chris Horn