This article is from the archives of the UB Reporter.

Librarians offer quick gift ideas for the odd or academic

Published: December 16, 2004

Contributing Editor

Your aunt Soozy would die for a map of Iceland. Mummy loves rooms that smell like oak moss. Your OCD Uncle Buddy sure could use a seratonin T-shirt. And wouldn't your collie love a statue of St. Francis of Assisi made of meat?

But where, oh where, to find such gifts, not to mention the forensic skull your wife has been dreaming about? When in doubt, ask a librarian, although in this case, you don't even have to ask.

Librarians in the Arts and Sciences Libraries have constructed a Holiday Gift Web Site at

It is heavily academic and a little weird, but a lot of fun, and will satisfy the peculiar cravings of those cell biologists, mathematicians and other academics or students on your list.

The site was constructed by Fred Stoss, associate librarian in the Science and Engineering Library, and David Bertuca, associate librarian in the Libraries' Central Technical Services Department.

But why?

"Researchers and educators (and students at all levels) are known to wear clothes, jewelry and other adornments expressing their disciplinary leanings," says Stoss, "and we wanted to offer a list of places from which you can order something special with an academic or disciplinary slant for that special person or 'odd duck' in your life."

Bertuca adds that the good news—besides the darling hominid faux-fossils from—is that some of the gift sites listed, like The Ultimate Trail Store, which sells "Hiker in a Bottle," contribute portions of their revenues to organizations in their fields.

The UB site links to dozens of Internet stores like The Archaeology Store, EcoMall, The Museum Store, the Museum of New Mexico Foundation Shops and the Mt. Washington Observatory—places offering gifts celebrating wetland insects, contemporary or historic maps and DVDs to help you navigate among 2,500,000 stars and deep-space objects.

It will help you find odd, handcrafted jewelry, handmade textiles, crafts, artistic replicas and wood renderings of St. Francis Bulto, not to mention an 11-foot turquoise carved rabbit with unusually expressive ears.

Gift choices don't stop with the cute and holy, however. Environmentally concerned? The site links to "Professor Lee Key Drum," who will sell you something special for that hazardous waste manager or remediation technician in your life (a glow-in-the-dark hazmat shirt, for instance).

It connects to a site thick with Donny-Darko stuff, like "Carpe Noctem" ("Seize the Night") T-shirts for that geek you love. There are sites that sell poetry gifts, literary quotes in calligraphy, brewmeisters' neckties and towels that celebrate coral reefs, if they are on your shopping list this holiday season.