UMD hosts Reading Without Walls edition of Nerd Nite Duluth

 UMD Quidditch Club member Nathan Gasmen said that he wanted to spread awareness about his sport to help UMD's club grow. Photo by Tyler Schendel.

UMD Quidditch Club member Nathan Gasmen said that he wanted to spread awareness about his sport to help UMD's club grow. Photo by Tyler Schendel.

The Kathryn A. Martin Library and Kirby Student Center recently partnered with Nerd Nite Duluth to host Nerd Nite UMD: Reading Without Walls Edition on Tuesday, Feb. 13. The monthly stage show, Nerd Nite Duluth, features local personalities presenting on non-academic topics, which in the past have included zombification, space telescopes and Michael Bay films.

Reading Without Walls is a nationwide program that encourages students to read at least one book about a character that looks different from themselves, about a topic that they do not know much about and in a format or genre that they do not normally read. UMD Outreach Librarian Adam Brisk said that this was the third time that UMD has hosted Nerd Nite Duluth and the first time that the event has featured student presentations.

“It’s so cool to see a person who loves a subject, whether that’s a science, a history or some sort of literature, get up on stage and have a chance to share those ideas,” Brisk said. “You can see with an event like this, we have 40 or 50 different groups of nerds who are interested in very different things that are talking amongst each other and saying it’s okay to be really smart or passionate about something, so they get a big kick out of it.”

 UMD Outreach Librarian Adam Brisk said that faculty Nerd Nite presentations will take place in the fall. Photo by Tyler Schendel.

UMD Outreach Librarian Adam Brisk said that faculty Nerd Nite presentations will take place in the fall. Photo by Tyler Schendel.

One of the presentations included in Nerd Nite at UMD, “An Itch for Quidditch”, was presented by UMD student Nathan Gasmen. Based on the sport in the Harry Potter movies, quidditch has a real-world counterpart that has spread across many colleges in the United States and Europe, including UMD. A member of UMD’s Quidditch Club, Gasmen said that he simply wanted the chance to share what it is like to play such a unique and competitive sport with others who had maybe not heard of the game before.

“I just want people to know about the sport and I really want to advertise for the club,” Gasmen said. “I want the club to grow so we can do a lot with the club.”

Among other topics presented included the ubiquity of politics in science fiction and a “War of the Wizards” comparison between the characters Gandalf and Dumbledore. Brisk said that the library’s goal is to get more students excited about reading, learning and community, and he feels that Nerd Nite at UMD is one way to fulfil that goal.

“I hope that they get a chance to feel like it’s okay to be really passionate about something and to be kind and respectful about loving something, which is just one of the great things about this,” Brisk said. “We have people who love quidditch so much that they will go out and play it and create a club, we have people who love Gandalf and Dumbledore and wizards and all that stuff and want to talk about that.”

Nerd Nite will take place at UMD again in the fall, which will feature faculty presentations.

CultureTyler Schendel