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University Libraries

Celebrating Gifts

By Katy Kelly

On Thursday, Nov. 10, campus partners and library donors celebrated the opening of the Marian Library’s new Christmas exhibit, Juggling for Mary: Vocation, Gifts and Performing for Our Lady. This exhibit is the first of three that will provide UD students with innovative hands-on learning opportunities made possible by gifts to the Libraries for One Day, One Dayton in 2022.

Visitors during opening week of the exhibit. Photo by Ryan O'Grady.

Students, faculty, staff and community members visit during opening week. Photo by Ryan O'Grady.

The exhibit is curated in a way for visitors of all ages to experience the Christmas story of the Juggler as it has been adapted through the centuries in books, operas, ballets and animated films. Here’s how the story goes:

A humble juggler struggles to find an appropriate Christmas gift to offer to the Virgin Mary; finally, he offers the gift of a juggling performance, and a statue of Mary miraculously comes to life!

Student and Faculty Participation 

Visitors will see the gifts (in some cases, performances) of many faculty, staff, volunteers and students, coordinated by the Marian Library’s faculty and staff, led by Sarah Cahalan, director. Associate professor and archivist Kayla Harris, assistant director, and Eve Wolynes, library assistant, facilitated experiential learning opportunities for students.

Story Walk

Story walks, popular in public libraries, combine literature, learning and physical activity. Students of Mary-Kate Sableski and Jennifer Adams in EDT 350, Foundations of Literacy through Literature, created an interactive story walk about Tomie dePaola’s version of the Juggler, The Clown of God. Using dePaola’s materials, students gained a deeper appreciation for the way stories can be retold and adapted for different audiences, which informed their work. Participate in the story walk by following the white sandwich boards around campus, beginning and ending outside the main entrance to Roesch Library.

Juggler Story Walk

Children pantomime juggling as prompted by the student-produced story walk. Photo by Kayla Harris.  

Story Times

Students will also practice the art of reading stories aloud at scheduled story times. Each children’s book in the gallery’s library relates to finding and sharing unique gifts and talents. View the schedule on the exhibit website.

Teacher education students practice reading aloud.

Teacher education students practice reading aloud. Photo by Tash Nelson ‘23.

Original Performance

A cast and crew of students directed by theater professor Jerome Yorke created Simple Gifts, a cabaret of stories performed last weekend. Simple Gifts explored Marianist clowning as part of the multifaceted exhibit. Each story celebrated how we each contribute to the common good in our own unique ways. 

Faculty and students perform Simple Gifts

Professor Jerome York and students perform Simple Gifts. Photo by Sarah Cahalan.

Exhibits Engage Learners

In addition to programs designed in partnership with UD’s housing and residence life staff, we look forward to showcasing student learning in our galleries for years to come. One Day, One Dayton gifts are making these upcoming learning opportunities possible:

  • Rituals of Healing: Body, Mind, Spirit (Feb. 8–April 20, 2023) will be curated by UD first-year students in Professor Liz Hutter’s writing seminar and co-facilitated by Marian Library faculty and staff. Students will write narratives to explore what groups believe about religion, medical expertise and healing. 
  • In fall 2023, artists’ books will be showcased in the Stuart and Mimi Rose Gallery, organized by a group of students and coordinated by Professor Suki Kwon in the Department of Art and Design.

The University Libraries are proud to be a leader and collaborator in students’ curricular and cocurricular experiences. Visit Juggling for Mary: Vocation, Gifts and Performing for Our Lady through Jan. 27, 2023, to see gifts come to life. 

Student juggling

A student learns to juggle in the gallery. Photo by Kennedy Kish ’24.


— Katy Kelly is a professor in the University Libraries and the coordinator of marketing and engagement.

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