Indiana State University
The newest addition in the Cordell Collection at Cunningham Memorial Library is also its oldest.
Italian humanist Johannes Tortellius' "De orthographia dictionum e Graecis tractarum," published in 1471, was purchased with funds from a special sesquicentennial event at Indiana State University in November. The event celebrated the university's Cordell Collection and the Schick Lecture Series and featured Martha Barnette and Grant Barrett, co-hosts of "A Way with Words." The popular National Public Radio show examines language through history, culture and family. All of the proceeds benefited the Cordell Collection's purchase of a new dictionary.
Tortellius, who is largely known for his work with Pope Nicholas V and helping to establish the Vatican library, spent five years in Greece learning Greek in order to write this book, which documents Latin words of Greek origin and was completed in 1451.
The book was printed on the second press established in Rome and is now the oldest printed book in the Cordell Collection of Dictionaries. The collection's next oldest printed piece was published in 1478.
"De orthographia dictionum e Graecis tractarum" includes a short introduction to Greek spelling, pronunciation and syllabification. Each entry, which range in length from two lines to 24 pages, gives the word's Greek and Latin pronunciations, definitions and its earliest appearance in Latin literature.
"There are a couple of pages missing and, somewhere along the line, someone replaced the pages with ones from another edition, but the book has the original binding and is very typical of the time period," said Cinda May, chair of Special Collections at Indiana State. "There is no title page, as was the practice in early printed books, and it has a wonderful illuminated page. It is a lovely example of a book of the incunable period (1454-1501), with the thin columns of text and wide margins that were intended for glossing. This book not only has the beautiful illumination, but also it has other fancy initials and details drawn in red and purple pen work."Like so many early books, this piece also has worm holes. Today, we say ‘bookworm' and we mean someone who reads, but there really are bookworms."
The text served as a pre-cursor for dictionaries and etymologies that followed, May added, making it a seminal work in its own right.
"It influenced Ambrogio Calepino, one of the earliest Italian lexicographers, and Thomas Elyot, whose1538 dictionary set the template for Latin-English word books. These books were not really intended to be dictionaries like we think of today," May said. "Instead, they were part of the tradition where knowledge was being rediscovered in the West and languages had to be learned again. That gave rise to dictionaries and etymologies when people were trying to figure it out again, so they could pass the learning and ability to read these languages and unlock the literary and nonfiction works of the Classical period."
The Cordell Collection of Dictionaries began in 1969 with a gift of 453 English dictionaries to Indiana State from Warren and Suzanne Cordell. Warren Cordell, an Indiana State alumnus, continued to add to the collection over the years until his death in 1980. In total, he donated 3,232 editions and variants totaling 3,913 volumes. Today, the collection houses more than 30,000 volumes.
The collection includes in-depth, multiple editions of any work that is available and the latest piece helps fill in a gap in the collection's early dictionary works.
"It wouldn't have been possible for us to purchase the ‘De orthographia' if it hadn't been for the support of the attendees of the ‘A Way with Words' fundraiser," May said. "But now that it's here, I think Mr. Cordell would be pleased that it is part of the collection."
Indiana State University
The Center for Bat Research, Outreach and Conservation at Indiana State University has been awarded a $900,000 grant from the N.C. Department of Transportation for a three-year study into the distribution, preferred habitats and migration habits of the federally endangered gray bats.
The gray bat lives mostly in Tennessee, Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky and Missouri. Last year, however, hundreds of gray bats were found to be living in state transportation structures in North Carolina.
Because NCDOT routinely conducts maintenance, cleans and upgrades bridges, state officials need a better understanding of where the bats are located and when they are there.
“Bats are faithful to their structures and their routes to get to these structures,” said Joy O’Keefe, associate professor of biology and director of the Bat Center. “They want us to determine where the bats are, and that may not just be in Asheville — these bats can fly great distances.”
Bats will be tagged with a temporary transmitter that O’Keefe’s team can hear through receivers and antenna towers around Asheville, she said. “We’ll also use acoustic detectors to find bat hotspots around Asheville, and we’ll be searching other bridges to find bats, coordinating with the state and Fish and Wildlife Service. Airplanes will also be used to track the bats’ migration.”
The beeper on each bat will emit a distinctive code. “Adult females are of particular interest,” O’Keefe said.
Indiana State researchers will also use ground crews to catch and trap bats three times a year, in early spring, in summer after the young gray bats can fly and then again in fall. In this manner, scientists can determine where the gray bats are foraging for insects, which would help improve conservation efforts, O’Keefe said. She said her team would be able to take guano samples and may determine exactly what the bats have ingested.
“With our research, hopefully, the North Carolina Department of Transportation would be able to find things to avoid,” O’Keefe said. “For instance, they might schedule construction on bridges after the bats have migrated for the winter. Or the information they get from us could prompt them to modify road improvement projects to better protect the bats’ habitat.”
Bats gobble as much as their weight in bugs every night, protecting humans’ comfort, health and economy. Human encroachment on these flying mammals’ habitats and white-nose syndrome — a deadly disease that is thought to spread from cave to cave, attacking bats as they hibernate — have decimated many bat species, including the gray bat.
“It’s more important than ever to protect this bat,” O’Keefe said.
The NCDOT sought out State researchers after a biologist stumbled across a bat roosting under a bridge in Asheville in 2016. The biologist had contacted a mammalogist, who saw one of the bats and said, “This looks like a gray bat,” said O’Keefe. “She pulled the bat out from a bridge crevice, and it was a gray bat.”
A few weeks later, those state biologists “caught a bunch of gray bats” at the same bridge.
One of the biologists who helped to find the gray bats is State alumnus Joey Weber, ’15, who earned a master’s degree in biology. His thesis project was identifying migration routes for the Virginia big-eared bat and was also funded by NCDOT.
When Weber’s project was complete, he was able to tell NCDOT exactly where these bats cross roadways, O’Keefe said. Knowing where the bats are, where they migrate to and what route they take is critical information needed by the NCDOT because might be able to alter proposed construction projects to avoid the bats and help preserve the animal’s habitat.
O’Keefe would also like to involve the community of Asheville in the gray bat project. “I would like to see an outreach campaign, where local residents can become engaged in the project. I would like to see the Asheville citizens take ownership of the bats. I think it would be great if the people in Asheville knew about their bats.”
She referred to a success story involving the people of Austin, Texas, and the Mexican free-tailed bat. A colony of the bats made their summer home under the Congress Avenue Bridge, located about 10 blocks south of the Texas State Capitol. These bats make up the largest urban colony of bats in North America, with an estimated 1.5 million bats devouring 10,000-30,000 pounds of insects every night.
The town works to protect the bats, and the bridge area each night has become a tourist attraction as the bats emerge from their roost to find food. O’Keefe said she hopes a similar involvement might occur in Asheville, with its residents embracing its unique population of endangered gray bats.