Author Archives: Katrina Spencer

About Katrina Spencer

I'm the Literatues & Cultures Librarian at Middlebury College. I am the liaison the Anderson Freeman (multicultural student) Center, the Arabic department, the French department, the Gender Sexuality & Feminist Studies (GSFS Program), the Language Schools, Linguistics and the Spanish & Portuguese departments

Throwback Thursday: Kat Cyr

Some of the employees working within the libraries once had other roles and separate affiliations with Middlebury. Follow their (r)evolutions on the first Thursday of every month this semester.

Name: Kat Cyr

Former Role(s) on Campus: Midd Class of 2011, Japanese Major, Linguistics Minor

(also a Japanese Summer Language School Alumnus)

Current Role on Campus: Interlibrary Loan Associate

When was this photo taken?

When I was studying abroad in Kyoto in 2010. This was before we had established a Midd-specific school in Japan so I was there via the Associated Kyoto Program (AKP).

What were you doing in this photo?

I’d gone up to Kurama Hot Springs with a bunch of friends for a day of cultural enrichment (i.e. soaking in huge volcanic baths) and inter-college outreach (i.e. goofing about with fellow study abroad students from other schools). We had gathered a small group of Magic enthusiasts and were playing in between soaking sessions; we were using Japanese cards of course, so studying was still happening. We were just also in our fancy robes, sipping tea, occasionally amusing the other hot spring patrons. I seem to remember several little old ladies approaching us in the bath to chat. It was a delightful day.

How have things changed in your life since then?

I’m a couple years older, a couple degrees further in debt, now thoroughly obsessed with fiber arts, and very much turning into a crazy cat lady librarian. Also my Japanese is much, much better than it was then.

What hasn’t?

I still love hot springs, though my access to them is now non-existent. I also drink entirely too much tea, study Japanese whenever possible, and play geeky games on a regular basis.

What’s your favorite thing about your job?

I love seeing all the interesting books that people request through ILL. We see some really cool things requested for research purposes, from microfilm of obscure government documents to foreign language comics to massive road maps. As schools borrow things from our library we also get to see some of the coolest books from the stacks that I would never have thought we’d have. And then there are just the awesome book recs we get from people ILLing fiction of various kinds. ILL is a spectacular place to work if you love books.

What is on the horizon?

I’m currently working my way out of debt and trying to establish a home that is a little less temporary than my string of dorm rooms and office-provided apartments. Other than that, I haven’t thought that far into the future. Right I’m just taking things one day at a time.

For more posts like these, like our Facebook page.

Image of the banner used in the November 2017 display including headshots from the class at left and a Native American woman in traditional headdress at right

Celebrating Native American/Indigenous and Alaska Native Heritage Month

In honor of Native American/Indigenous and Alaska Native Heritage Month, Dr. Irina Feldman’s Spanish 324 Class, Images of America, has collaborated with the Davis Family Library to develop a display including works that commemorate the many peoples belonging to these groups throughout the Americas. Visit the Davis Family Library to see the display and read more about how it all was shaped below. We thank Marlena Evans, Caleb Turner, Alaina HanksOshin Bista and all the unseen laborers and sponsors who make these projects successful.

The display in the Davis Family Library lobby will be staffed by students from the class on the evenings of November 6th and 7th to answer your questions on this theme. Plan to join us at 6:00 p.m. on Monday, November 27th in the Robert A. Jones (RAJ) ’59 Conference Room when Chief of the Abenaki Don Stevens will join the Middlebury College community for a talk on life in Vermont as a person of indigenous heritage. Also, stay tuned for Dr. Brandon Baird’s talk, “Unequivocally Authentic: Mayan Language and Identity in Modern Guatemala,” in the Carol Rifelj Lecture Series hosted by the Center for Teaching, Learning & Research on November 29th. The site go.middlebury.edu/calendar has more details. Continue reading

Throwback Thursday: Katrina Spencer

Literatures & Cultures Librarian Katrina Spencer visits Downtown Guadalajara Mexico with the Spanish School in 2010.

Name: Katrina Spencer

Former Role(s) on Campus: Master of Spanish Grad Student, Class of 2010; Portuguese School, 2014

Current Role on Campus: Literatures & Cultures Librarian

When was this photo taken?

Summer 2010

What were you doing in this photo?

I was studying in Guadalajara Mexico, completing my last requirements for my degree. There was a scheduled field trip for touring the downtown portion of the city. Here we’re all in an historic governmental building. It looks like one of my classmates caught me reviewing photos in my camera.

How have things changed in your life since then?

A number of things have changed in the last seven years. I’ve gained some weight. ;) Traveled to West Africa. Studied Arabic. (Mastering Spanish certainly gave me the confidence to approach other languages, though just last week I had a “por vs. para” slip up.) Started working in the professional world. And. . . have finally approached persuading myself to explore meatless meals.

What hasn’t?

I still wear leggings around three times a week. My tennis shoes (Tigers ‘n’ Reeboks) and purse (long strap and slightly exotic design) preferences are rather equal to those in the photo. I still strive for an abstract ethos and ideology of “equity.”

What’s your favorite thing about your job?

I get paid well to listen to and help students I love.

What is on the horizon?

I still have an appetite to build on the minimal foundation I have in Arabic. There are so many things I want to read: David Sedaris, Toni Morrison, Nicole A. Cooke… I’d also like to meet my niece.

For more posts like these, like our Facebook page.

The image of the banner to be used for the Disability Employment Awareness Display on a dark blue background with white text highlighting access, full participation and opportunity.

Celebrating Disability Employment Awareness Month

October is Disability Employment Awareness Month. Come to the Davis Family Library atrium October 2nd- 15th to see our display that includes books and DVDs that touch on a variety of themes related to disability. Also read below about the various efforts made to make our campus more accessible and inclusive. Many sincere thanks to Marlena Evans for her work in designing this month’s banner and to the Advisory Group on Disability, Access, and Inclusion for its generous guidance. Continue reading

The banner used on the 2017 Hispanic American/Latinx Heritage Month display in the Davis family Library.

Celebrating Hispanic American/Latinx Heritage Month

From September 15th thru October 15th, the United States celebrates Hispanic American / Latinx Heritage Month. Read below to find out how some of the people at Middlebury College engage with these identities. Also come by the Davis Family Library September 18th-29th to see the display. Many sincere thanks to Marlena Evans :) for her committed work in developing banner designs.

Names of Respondents; Hometowns; Roles on Campus:

Zarai Zaragoza, a Mexican American Middlebury College senior and studio art major sits in front of colorful art pieces.

Zarai Zaragoza, a Mexican American Middlebury College senior and studio art major sits in front of colorful art pieces.

ZZ: Zarai Zaragoza; Chicago, Illinois; Studio Art Major with Education Studies Minor – Part of Alianza, WOC [Women of Color], DMC [Distinguished Men of Color], Anderson Freeman Center Fellow, and so much more.

MRM: Marcos Rohena-Madrazo; San Juan, Puerto Rico; Assistant Professor of Spanish / Linguistics.

KS: Katrina Spencer; Los Angeles, California; Literatures & Cultures Librarian.

XM: Ximena Mejía; Salisbury, Vermont; Middlebury College Counseling Director. Continue reading

100 Years And Counting!

The Spanish School, one of Middlebury’s 11 Language Schools, celebrates its 100th year. Here are a few words from current affiliated staff who have witnessed some of its evolutions.

Professor Joseph Casillas of the Spanish School (MA, Class of 2010) poses for a photo.

Names:      

JC: Joseph Casillas

LC: Laura Cabrera

KS: Katrina Spencer

Bilingual Assistant Laura Cabrera of the Spanish School is pictured here, in Middlebury gear.

Hometowns:

JC: Phoenix, Arizona

LC: Salamanca, Spain

KS: Los Angeles, California

Roles:

Middlebury’s Literatures & Cultures Librarian Katrina Spencer poses at the Research Desk in the Davis Family Library. Having obtained a master degree from the Spanish School in 2010, she now serves the school as the Language Schools’ library liaison.

JC: Professor.

LC: I’m a bilingual assistant in the Spanish School.

KS: Library liaison.

When did you first encounter the Spanish School?

JC: My first experience in Middlebury was in 2007 as an MA student in the Spanish school.

LC: I arrived to Middlebury in 1998 when I was a little girl because my dad [Carlos Cabrera] was a teacher in the Spanish School.

KS: I arrived to Middlebury in 2009 and graduated from the master program in 2010. I’d been looking for a school that would allow me to complete my degree overseas and this was one of the two I found.

Has your role always been the same?

JC: No. I spent two summers in the Spanish school finishing my MA. Afterwards I spent two consecutive summers in the French school, as a pure beginner in level 1 and the following summer in level 4. The following two years I returned to the Spanish school to work as a bilingual assistant, and the past 3 years I have worked as a professor in the undergraduate 7-week program.

LC: First I came as a dependent with my parents but since 2007 I’ve been working as a bilingual assistant at the Spanish School.

KS: No. At first I was a master student, then a non-degree seeking student in the Portuguese program and now I’m a librarian.

Over the summer, the Spanish School placed several banners in the atrium of the Davis Family Library to commemorate its centennial. This one documents its beginnings in 1917.

Tell us about the diversity of the program.

JC: The Spanish school program is rather diverse. In any given summer there are professors and students from most of the Spanish speaking countries in the world. The students are particularly diverse in many different ways. In terms of age, in my classes I have had students that just finished high school, all the way up to retirees that decided to learn Spanish for fun. But the student body at Middlebury is diverse in other ways as well. For example, I have had students that work as government agents, and other military special forces, as well as high school teachers of other languages.

LC: Faculty and staff come from different places around the world: Spain, Mexico, Cuba, United States, Argentina, Colombia, Venezuela, Puerto Rico, etc. And we have some students that are from different parts of the United States and other countries like India and China, so the Spanish School is culturally diverse.

KS: In terms of the faculty, without having to do much mental exercise at all, I know that Cuba, Mexico, Peru, Spain, and the United States are all represented. In terms of the student body, you find students aged 19-50+. That’s always something that has quite impressed me. During my first summer, we had a nun in our program and at least one student completing the doctorate of modern languages. People come to Middlebury for a wide array of reasons and from a variety of backgrounds. This year they have a lawyer who’s engaged in immigration law.

This banner reflects some of the most recent developments and cultural celebrations led by the Spanish School.

Over the years, what changes within the school and what remains the same?

JC: There are many things that stay the same. Middlebury, itself doesn’t change much. In the ten years that I have been around, the faculty hasn’t changed too much. Certain aspects of the program that we do every year typically stay the same, but every summer is unique in its own way because of the students. Sometimes there are students who repeat, and the graduate students typically spend multiple summers in the program, but the majority of the undergraduate students are new. It is always fun to see how diverse and talented they are. I’ve also seen many of the professors children grow up over the course of several summers. It truly is a unique experience.

LC: In my opinion, almost everything is the same as my first time here. Some people come back and some people don’t, but the main spirit of the “Spanish school family” is the same, summer after summer. Middlebury is like a bubble, no matter how you spent the whole year, if you go back for another summer, you’ll feel the last summer was yesterday instead of a year ago.

KS: Much of the professoriate remains the same! The Spanish School attracts and retains excellent instructors. Some have been teaching in the program more than 15 years. Mariluz Gutiérrez Araus and Mercedes Fernández-Isla are two of them. One change that I’ve noted is that program now has a website where students can follow its activities. It’s very colorful and up-to-date, reflecting the technology use of our time. Also, I believe we have a school site in Argentina now. Formerly students were able to complete a summer of study in Mexico, which I did, and now you can do it in South America. Oh, and the Literary Analysis students join together and receive a library orientation session in Spanish!

Literatures & Cultures Librarian Katrina Spencer poses with an “abanico,” a fan, designed for the centennial. Other accouterments for the 100th year celebration included buttons and “pañuelos,” scarves or handkerchiefs, all marked with the letter “ñ“.

How do you and your community within the Language Schools use the libraries and our resources?

JC: I used the library much more for research as an MA student. Since then, I mainly use the library for preparing classes and meeting with students.

LC: As an office manager at the Spanish School, I don’t use the library so often. We usually borrow some films to show and some tech devices we need for the events. I think the students use the library more often, like a studying place and using the resources: books, movies, etc.

KS: When I was a student, we graduate students used JSTOR quite heavily to find academic articles of literary criticism. This database is still popular among Language School students in general. The Spanish-language browsing collection that includes readings like Manolito Gafotas and music by flamenco-style singer Buika is also popular. In the instruction sessions I give, I really try to plug Lexis Nexis for finding news articles,  Kanopy for online film streaming and our Alexander Street vendor for listening to music online. There are also special carrels/study spaces in the library assigned to each language school.

What do you envision for the Spanish School’s future?

The Spanish School hosted a special dance party with live music to which all the Language Schools on the Vermont campus were invited to fete the centennial occasion.

JC: I think one of the big changes facing the program in the upcoming years is related to heritage speakers. Every summer we get more and more students with this profile, which makes sense because of the changing demographics in the US, and I hope to see explicit attention given to these students in the program’s curriculum moving forward.

LC: I don’t know what will will be the future of the Spanish School, but I’m sure it depends on the students because they are a different group every summer. So, like Joseph said, I think the heritage speakers will be a very important part of the program in the next years.

KS: Changes in the school will likely mirror changes in society, ¿no es cierto? Perhaps there will be more demand for courses representing Central America and indigenous populations as we have more people within the United States that represent that region. I imagine the school will become even more diverse as more people realize the importance of speaking Spanish merely as residents in the Western hemisphere. And I hope that more classes will request library instruction sessions so students can navigate our spaces with even greater confidence. 

 

Katrina, Atlanta, and NCAAL

 

Katrina poses in front of the National Conference of African American Librarians’ banner.

Middlebury’s Literatures & Cultures Librarian Katrina Spencer attended the National Conference of African American Librarians (NCAAL) in Atlanta, Georgia. See a brief video from the opening session shared on Twitter and read more coverage of the event in American Libraries’ Magazine.

How was your conference?

OMG, great! I feel like this conference was Middlebury’s personal gift to me. It fed my soul, which was hungrier than I expected.

What made it great?

For the first time ever, I actually got to stay on site where the conference I was attending was being held. That makes a huge difference– to not have to catch a taxi, bus or train to the conference site and navigate inclement weather/downpours of rain, and also to be able to retire to one’s room to take breaks between sessions was a blessing!

There were beautiful people in the city. Beautiful black people. With braids, twist-outs, locks… And it was the first time that I’d seen black and white people voluntarily spending time together on such a scale. When I’ve seen this in the past, it has been rather exceptional and episodic. There I saw people from both groups treating each other fraternally. I can’t say I was expecting that and I can’t say, after 30 years, that I’d seen it before as such a normalized part of a landscape. But, to see that and to juxtapose it with the news from Charlottesville, Virginia is mind-boggling. Progress in terms of racial politics in this country, to say the very least, is spotty.

With much help from Davis Family Library’s Marlena Evans, the banners to be used during the February 2018 Black History Month display have been designed. Katrina’s presentation posed the question, “What do I put on display?” and encouraged librarians to think critically about their choices.

What was your presentation on?

The title of my proposal was “What I Wish I Would Have Known” and referred to my education on black history and blackness as a child growing up in Los Angeles in the 1990s. Succinctly, the Transatlantic Slave Trade impacted almost the entire Western hemisphere, not just the United States; the struggle for civil rights and social justice did not end in the 1960s; and black peoples are not defined by the violent scenarios and oppressive societies we encounter, yesterday, today, or tomorrow.

Katrina (far left) poses with librarians and archivists who all graduated from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, with library and information science degrees.

A screenshot from the Atlanta University Center’s Robert W. Woodruff Library website.

What did you do?

I visited historic and cultural sites, for example, the Auburn Avenue Research Library on African American Culture and History and the Atlanta University Center’s (AUC) Robert W. Woodruff Library that serves Clark Atlanta University, Morehouse College, and Spelman College. I also spent time with several alums from my library and information science alma mater, the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.

What did you learn?

  • Clark Atlanta University, Spelman College, and Morehouse College are all served by the same library.
  • The AUC’s archives currently hold Dr. Martin Luther King’s briefcase.
  • Malcolm X wrote postcards home from Lebanon and signed them “El Hajj Malik El Shabazz,” also held in the AUC archives.
  • Despite the fact that many HBCUs are suffering in terms of securing funds to properly maintain their grounds and facilities, the AUC is tremendous, popular, and well maintained.
  • There’s a published book of photos on Muhammad Ali’s life and fights that weighs over 70 pounds! A copy is held in the Auburn Avenue Research Library’s archives.
  • The library and information science field is more intimate than you might think!
  • Black librarians are interested in revamping the ways in which we teach about black history.
  • Tom Joyner is famous and funny. And he says he met his wife in a library.
  • BCALA is interested in recruiting new members to its body.

Were you inspired to pursue new projects? Come up with any news ideas?

Screenshot of an image published on the 3rd National Joint Conference of Librarians of Color (JCLC) website

Absolutely!

  • First, diversity recruiters Leo Agnew from the University of Iowa and Kathryn Kjaer from the University of California, Irvine, were essentially looking for ways to recruit and retain people of color within their libraries at their respective institutions. As someone from that target demographic, I have thoughts, strategies and insight I want to share with them.
  • Second, I learned that BCALA publishes its own seasonal newsletter, BCALA News, in which, among other pieces, literary works are reviewed. I’ll pitch an idea to the editor.
  • Third, in every conference bag, there was a save-the-date type of invitation to 2018’s Joint Conference of Librarians of Color. I wasn’t aware of the meeting but now I want to attend.

Anything you might do differently next time?

It would be great to have my presentation entirely prepped before departing for the conference site so that when I’m there, all I have to be concerned about is showing up.

Gad Kibet Comments on the School of the Environment

Name: Gad Kibet

Hometown: Kapenguria, Kenya

Major: Computer Science

Year at Middlebury: Junior

How did you decide to enroll in the School of the Environment and what are you hoping to gain?

I decided to enroll in the School Environment because I wanted to gain a better understanding of the environmental issues we face today. It goes without saying that climate change is one of the most debated issues today yet many have a limited understanding on the topic. Through the program, I hope to learn more about these issues so that I can play a role in shaping the future of our shared environment.

How is your day structured?

I would say that each day in the program is intense and demanding given that we have to fulfill an equivalent of three college courses in six weeks. Classes usually begin at nine and end between three and  five with a break in between the morning and afternoon sessions. There is also a host of extracurricular activities and leadership workshops students are required to attend. Despite its rather taxing and busy schedule, I would argue that the program offers a wide array of fun and engaging activities. The schedule ranges from busy in-class sessions to field trips which provide an opportunity to experience the delightful Vermont summer while learning about the environment.

What have you learned so far?

Unlike in normal classroom settings, I have been able to learn more by interacting with peers and professionals. Through the course of the program, I have come to learn more about my weaknesses and strengths and how I can flex my personality to better myself. Working in groups, in particular, has helped me realize the importance of listening to others and acknowledging  their perspectives.

To whom would you recommend the School of the Environment?

I would recommend this program to anyone who wishes to expand their thinking horizons and learn how they can effectively bring change in their societies.

How do the libraries help you achieve your goals?

The library has been resourceful in providing a peaceful and quiet space to facilitate group discussions and personal studies. Resources such as the [Wilson Media Lab] and Help Desk have also been instrumental in facilitating learning and in providing technical assistance whenever needed.

Librarian’s Note: To schedule use of the group study spaces in the Davis Family Library, visit go.middlebury.edu/groupstudy. For more posts like these, like our Facebook page.