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Pieces of Eight

ECU's Laupus Library Forms Friends Group

By Crystal Baity

Laupus Library, described as the heart of the East Carolina University Division of Health Sciences, has assembled a group of valentines to share its good work.

The Friends of Laupus Library, a volunteer organization, formed this spring to expand community awareness and increase support of the programs, collections and services of the only academic health sciences library east of I-95.

Evelyn F. Laupus, widow of the library’s namesake, Dr. William E. Laupus, is the honorary chair of the inaugural friends’ group.

Serving as honorary co-chairs of the friends’ group are Dr. Walter Pories, professor of surgery and biochemistry at the Brody School of Medicine and leader of the Metabolic Institute at ECU, and N.C. Rep. Marian McLawhorn, D-Pitt, who holds a master’s degree in library science from ECU. Dr. Richard D. Eakin, chancellor emeritus, has agreed to serve as chairman of the group’s inaugural board of directors. He will be assisted by Pories in leading governance and strategic planning efforts.

“Whether you are a health sciences student, a health educator, a biomedical researcher, or a clinician searching for evidence-based information to use in treating patients, Laupus Library links you to the quality health information, technologies and services you need,” said Dr. Dorothy Spencer, director of Laupus Library and associate vice chancellor for communication and information resources.

The library serves the Brody School of Medicine, College of Allied Health Sciences, College of Nursing, the recently established School of Dentistry, the Eastern Area Health Education Center, University Health Systems of Eastern Carolina and the entire region. It was established as the health affairs library in 1969 and renamed in 1993 for Laupus, former dean of the ECU School of Medicine and vice chancellor for health sciences.

Members of the group will act as the library’s alumni. They will serve as ambassadors to the community, financial supporters of the library and organizers and participants in activities and special events  Projects the friends support will benefit not only the library, but also the entire health sciences division.

Proposed goals for the first year include organizing the group structure, appointing working committees and hosting at least two events. Inaugural board members will be asked to serve as philanthropic role models by making an annual contribution.

 The library has grown from twelve tons of donated books in an old cafeteria with one librarian to a comprehensive resource center and biomedical information services program served by a staff of 15 professionals and 52 technical personnel.

In 2004, the library received the Karel B. Absolon History of Medicine Library, a donation of more than 2,000 items related to the history of medicine.

Previous library locations include, in addition to the old cafeteria, the Biology Building, Carol Belk Building and the Brody School of Medicine. In summer 2006, the library moved to the new Health Sciences Building, where it is increasing opportunities for interdisciplinary research and advanced learning through updated technology.

The first meeting of the inaugural board is tentatively planned for August. Those interested in becoming a founding member of the Friends of Laupus Library, contact Kelly Rogers at or 252-744-2232.


Ruth Moskop, curator of history collections at Laupus Library, sets up the suitcase exhibit in the Evelyn F. Laupus Gallery. Based on contents left behind in abandoned suitcases found at a New York psychiatric center, the exhibit provides insight into the lives and treatment of the mentally ill from the late 19th century through the mid-20th century. (Photo by Cliff Hollis)

Exhibit Examines Life, Treatment for Willard Center’s Mentally Ill

An exhibit at Laupus Library offers visitors insight into the treatment of people with mental illness.

“The Lives They Left Behind: Suitcases from a State Hospital Attic” is based on the contents of hundreds of abandoned suitcases found in the attic of Willard Psychiatric Center in Willard, N.Y., when it closed in 1995 after 126 years of operation.

The exhibit opened July 18 and will continue through Sept. 9 in the Evelyn F. Laupus Gallery on the fourth floor of the library during regular operating hours.

The 1,500-square-foot exhibit consists of a series of free-standing kiosks that present stories from the lives of men and women who were involuntarily admitted to the state hospital from the late 19th century through the mid-20th century. Actual suitcases are not on display.

The exhibit offers historical insight into the aspirations and accomplishments, and loss and isolation, of people with mental illness.

“The Lives They Left Behind: Suitcases from a State Hospital Attic” was developed by The Community Consortium and is circulated by the Exhibition Alliance Inc. in Hamilton, N.Y. It is curated by Darby Penney and Peter Stastny and funded by the van Ameringen Foundation and the Nathan Cummings Foundation.

For information, visit For library hours, go to Metered parking is available in front of the library. Individuals with disabilities requesting accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act should contact the Department for Disability Support Services at (252) 328-6799 (V) or (252) 328-0899 (TTY).

This page originally appeared in the Aug. 1, 2008 issue of Pieces of Eight. Complete issue is archived at