All Things Bakelite at Dibner Library (Brooklyn)

Plastic rods in the background and "All Things Bakelite The Age of Plastic" written in the foreground.

A new display in Dibner Library features Bakelite, the first synthetic plastic and its inventor, Leo Hendrik Baekeland. A Belgian chemist, Baekeland immigrated to the United States in 1889 to do chemical research on photographic paper and eventually patented his new paper under the name ‘Velox’. In 1907, he filed a patent for  oxybenzylmethylenglycolanhydride, later called Bakelite, a synthetic thermosetting plastic that could be molded and then cured by applying heat and pressure using a Bakelizer machine.

Bakelite was used for a wide range of products from clocks and radios to billiard balls and gears – all of which can be seen in the display. Bakelite jewelry is still popular among collectors, impressive for its resistance to chemicals and wear. The jewelry on display is actually contemporary work made using vintage phenolic rods by the local artist Jorge Caicedo – which just goes to show how remarkable Bakelite is in terms of durability. During its heyday, Bakelite was hailed as the “material of a thousand uses” and advertisements focused on its variety of applications in all sectors of production. Since Bakelite was an excellent electrical insulator, it became widely used in industrial settings and cars, so much so that their modern counterparts are still being used to this day! A variety of these automotive parts and industrial tools are also in the display.

The display will be up in the atrium of Dibner Library until July 1st, but you can always find more information about Baekeland and Bakelite at! Keep an eye out for a screening of the documentary “All Things Bakelite” on PBS, coming soon.

The Bakelite display was curated by dual-degree student Zoe Blecher-Cohen (Poly Archives Graduate Assistant) and Lindsay Anderberg (Poly Archivist) with help from donor Hugh Karraker (All Things Bakelite producer).

New Databases: September 2018

The NYU Libraries regularly acquires new databases. Take a look at the new database we added to our collection in September 2018:

  • Films on Demand: In an increasingly flat world, an understanding of the histories, politics, cultures, and economies of different countries and regions of the globe is becoming essential to more professions than ever before. This large collection contains critically acclaimed documentaries and feature programming on some of the world’s fastest-growing countries, such as China, India, Russia, and Brazil, as well as major regions including Africa, the Middle East, Latin America, and more.
  • Geriatrics Care Online provides information created to ensure that all health care professionals have the latest research on caring for older adults.
  • American Founding Era:  Rotunda’s Founding Era Collection is an integrated research environment that covers the correspondence of a number of key figures from America’s founding era.

Closing Event – Oct. 9 | The Unflinching Eye: The Symbols of David Wojnarowicz

Panel Discussion & Reception:
Tuesday, October 9th, 6:30-8:30 PM

Bobst Library, 3rd Floor, 70 Washington Square South

The summer of 2018 offered a slew of exhibitions, programs, new publications, and criticism surrounding the work of David Wojnarowicz. The Whitney Museum’s retrospective, History Keeps Me Awake at Night, was the epicenter of activities, with several concurrent exhibitions elsewhere, including PPOW Gallery’s Soon All This Will Be Picturesque Ruins: The Installations of David Wojnarowicz and NYU’s The Unflinching Eye: The Symbols of David Wojnarowicz.

Photo: David Wojnarowicz work depicting sculpture of open eye with ant crawling on the eyeball.
Untitled (eye with ant), 1988. Silver gelatin print courtesy of PPOW Gallery.

To mark the closing of The Unflinching Eye, NYU’s Nicholas Martin welcomes Whitney curator David Kiehl, PPOW Co-founder Wendy Olsoff, and NYU Contributing Curator Hugh Ryan for a reflection on these disparate exhibitions, how they complement and contrast with one another, and how the events of this summer reflect and build upon Wojnarowicz’s legacy here in New York and the world over.

Panel discussion 6:30-8:00. Reception to follow.  R.S.V.P

The Unflinching Eye:
The Symbols of David Wojnarowicz

Now through October 11th, 2018
Free and open daily to the public until 11 pm

70 Washington Square South | New York | NY | 10012

NYU is grateful to the Keith Haring Foundation for its support of The Unflinching Eye.


Call for Submissions – 2018 Bobst Film Festival


New Databases: August 2018

The NYU Libraries regularly acquires new databases. Take a look at the new database we added to our collection in August 2018:

  • CNBKSY Database is a database of both English- and Chinese language newspapers of the 19th and early 20th centuries from the collections of The Shanghai Library. The Database includes: North-China Daily News, Herald Newspapers and Hong Lists.
  • Environmental Issues Online brings together multimedia materials (text, archival primary sources, video and audio) around key environmental challenges, including climate change, water/air pollution, biodiversity, conservation, agriculture, deforestation and more.

New Databases: July 2018

The NYU Libraries regularly acquires new databases. Take a look at the new database we added to our collection in July 2018:

  • Screen Studies: Starting with an initial collection of nearly 270 screenplays and eBooks and updated annually, Screen Studies includes content by leading screenwriters and award-winning directors; cult and classic films and critical and contextual writing on film history, theory and practice, from the beginnings of cinema to the present day. It also includes practical instruction on screenwriting, TV, animation and filmmaking technique.