Author Archives: Rebekah Irwin

About Rebekah Irwin

Director of Collections & Archives at the Middlebury College Libraries.

The Technologies of Makerspaces

Below is a dispatch from The Technologies of Makerspaces workshop, attended recently by Heather  Stafford and Rebekah Irwin…


Makerspace smack in the middle of a Connecticut library

But wait! Before you read on, it might be helpful to browse the following Wikipedia entries: Maker culture, DIY cultureHackerspaces, Fab Labs, Raspberry Pi3D Printing, and STEM fields (also sometimes STEAM 1 with an “A” for art).

So what’s a makerspace? Generally, a place where DIYers, Makers, and anyone else interesting in making things, designing things, or fixing things, rather than plain ol’ buying things, join together to fabricate, code, build, and collaborate. Makerspaces are also something of a theoretical ideal: a communal educational environment where kids and adults can use new, and old, hands-on tools in meaningful and creative ways.

Why were we at a Makerspace workshop? The article, What is a Makerspace? Creativity in the Library  2 helps answer that question:

When most people think of libraries, they naturally think books. Anyone working in a library today, however, knows that we are so much more than just books. Libraries are places of community engagement. Recently many libraries have begun to develop spaces for design and activities that both teach and empower patrons. The learning in these spaces varies wildly–from home bicycle repair, to using 3D printers, to building model airplanes. Fittingly, they are called makerspaces.

So we went to learn how a makerspace, and the culture of designing, creating, and building, might fit into the activities that are already taking place in our library spaces and across campus. We learned about 3D printing from colleges and universities already doing it (like Williams, Yale, Colgate, Brandeis and Wheaton); we watched the blinking lights on our instructor’s handknit scarf thanks to an Arduino LilyPad microcontroller board and conductive sewing thread; and to top off our day, we hooked up peripherals and booted up the Raspbian operating system on a Raspberry Pi Model B.

Presentation materials were shared with all attendees and included this slideshare on the Technologies of Makerspaces as well as a Google presentation on 3D printing.

Thanks for reading.


  1. Science, Technology, Math, “Art” and Math.

Exhibition cases, on display

During the October break, two exhibition cases will be relocated adjacent to Special Collections & Archives, near the Harmon Periodicals Reading Room.

Please stop by and view the collections on display. We’re looking forward to sharing the College’s unique and historical items with a wider audience (especially outside of the hours of our Reading Room) and better accommodating classes. We’re happy when we’re bursting at the seams, but it doesn’t make for a smooth visit when we’re short on tables, chairs, and space for books and bodies.


Rebekah Irwin (as Interim Curator of Special Collections)
Daniella Rougeau, Assistant Curator of Special Collections & College Archivist
Joseph Watson, Preservation Manager, Special Collections & Archives Associate (Chair of the Space Team)

Reading Rowland Out Loud


Recently, while digitizing some song recordings from the Helen Hartness Flanders Ballad Collection, we discovered an undocumented recording of a man reading from Rowland E. Robinson’s book Uncle Lisha’s Shop: Life in a Corner of Yankeeland.  We recognized it as a Robinson story because of the characters mentioned, so we searched the online version of one of his most popular books for the word “voter”, which seemed unlikely to be a common word in the story, and we found that the text being read starts on pg. 13, seven lines from the bottom of the page.   We recommend that you read along in the book while listening to the recording. Click here for the online text and listen to the recording by clicking the icon below.

The reader takes on the accent of two of Robinson’s classic characters, a “Yankee” and a “Cunuck”, aka French Canadian.   Robinson wrote most of his fiction in the 1890s and it was very popular, particularly in Vermont, right up through the 1930s and 40s when Flanders was collecting her ballad recordings.  Unfortunately we don’t know who the reader is or when the recording was made.  The ballad recording that precedes it on the tape was originally on a disc, which means it was recorded between 1939 and 1950, but the story on the tape seems to be covered over by the ballad recording, and how that happened is a bit of a mystery yet to be solved, and we can’t be certain the singer of the ballad is the same person reading the story.  We may eventually discover a more complete version of the reading.

For more about the Flanders Collection and to hear some of the recordings visit this site.

The home of Rowland E. Robinson is a museum open to the public in nearby Ferrisburgh.

A footnote to your blog

Thanks to a request by the New England Review, a new plugin called Simple Footnotes and Simple Footnotes Editor Button can be activated on your WordPress site for fast, elegant, hyperlinked footnotes.

First, activate Simple Footnotes under the Plugins menu at your WordPress Dashboard. When you create a new post or page, you’ll notice a new ab1 button in the editing toolbar.

Screen Shot 2013-10-07 at 3.00.40 PM

When you’re ready to add a footnote, click that new button:

Screen Shot 2013-10-07 at 3.04.27 PM

Type the text of your footnote in the Insert a footnote box that pops up and then Insert.

Screen Shot 2013-10-07 at 3.08.14 PM

Use the Preview button to see how your footnotes look. While in edit mode, you’ll only see “tags” around your footnotes, like this = 1. Don’t fear! Your footnotes will look wonderful to the rest of the world once you publish your post or page, like this:

Screen Shot 2013-10-07 at 3.14.19 PM

And at the bottom of your page, your footnote will look like this:

Screen Shot 2013-10-07 at 3.15.34 PM



    In the past, we have used OCLC’s “FirstSearch” web page to search WorldCat, OCLC’s database of worldwide library holdings, along with several other research databases.

    Over the past years, OCLC phased out many of those research databases and launched a new public face for WorldCat – –  a more mobile device-friendly interface with social networking capabilities and other enhancements.


    As of mid-July, we are pointing our links to so that we can better understand how well this new search tool suits us.

    So please search to your heart’s delight and then send any feedback by email to or comment on this post.

    By the way, you can always find the go-link at go/worldcat.

    Newly added library collections

    Here are some things that we added to our collections during the 2013 fiscal year:

    Online resources

    Online journals

    Print titles

    • Frieze - devoted to contemporary art
    • Bidoun - art and culture from the Middle East
    • Detail : Zeitschrift fuer Architektur und Baudetail – architecture; in German and some English text
    • Three month subscriptions to print versions of foreign titles for browsing during the Language Schools – Ogonek and Allure (Russian), Teva HaDvarim (Hebrew), Al Jamila and Sayidati (Arabic [at Mills College])
    • History of al-Tabari, State University New York series in Near Eastern studies (40 volume set) located on the third floor shelves of the Davis Family Library (call number: DS38.2 .T313 1985)

    Friday Links – June 7

    Commencement Address
    Watch author Jonathan Safran Foer’s commencement thought-provoking address. Then, congratulate Media Services and LIS staff responsible for capturing and streaming this event! And finally, read one of Safran Foer’s books from our library collection.

    Google Reader Replacement
    Attention, people saddened by the July 1 demise of Google Reader: I found a replacement that I (Carrie) like! The Old Reader. It’s in beta, but hopefully if enough people use it, it’ll last at least as long as Google Reader.  I tried NetVibes but found it wasn’t syncing frequently enough. I tried Feedly but found that within categories, I wasn’t able to sort feeds manually (they sort alphabetically and it seems that can’t be changed). Here’s one blog  (among MANY) that describes these readers: LifeHacker: Five Best Google Reader Alternatives.

    Open Access
    The fox offering to guard the hen-house?
    Jennifer Howard. “Publishers Propose Public-Private Partnership to Support Access to Research.”The Chronicle of Higher Education. Wired Campus, June 4, 2013.