Category Archives: libitsblog

Exhibit of early printed books opening June 14th in the library

Special Collections’ summer exhibition, In the Footprints of the First German Printers: 1450-1500, retraces the expansion of printing in Europe. The exhibit follows the German pioneers who initiated and spread the historical evolution of the art of bookprinting and developed a tradition that transformed the world of learning.

All but one of the books featured were donated by Helen and Arthur Tashiera, Californian benefactors of Middlebury who summered in Vermont. In 1946, they generously gifted forty-three printed books from the infancy of print, primarily from Italy and Germany. (The other book on display was a gift of Middlebury alumna Ruth Hesselgrave, class of 1918.)

Woodcut print from the Nuremberg Chronicle depicting the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, Lot’s wife turning into a pillar of salt. The Nuremberg Chronicle was produced in 1493, a lavishly illustrated retelling of the history of the world. Middlebury’s copy is in German and was donated by Ruth Hesselgrave, class of 1918.

Each book contains the history of the early evolution of printing. By studying the materials of the covers, pages, inks, the page layout implemented, the hand-painted additions to the printed text, we learn about how the first printers’ processes developed and how readers’ interpretation of texts evolved. (And that’s without even reading them!) 

In the Footprints of the First German Printers: 1450-1500 was curated by Marie Théberge (P ’10) and designed by Mikaela Taylor (’15) with additional support by Danielle Rougeau and Rebekah Irwin. It will be on display in Davis Family Library atrium (main level) and Harman Periodicals Reading Area (lower level) from June 14th through September 30th.

Come celebrate the season with Robert Frost and the Spiral Press

Join us Thursday, December 14th at 4:00pm in the Davis Family Library Atrium for a reception to honor and enjoy the current Special Collections exhibition, Holiday Greetings from Robert Frost and the Spiral Press, curated by College Archivist Danielle Rougeau.

Light refreshments will be served. 

On display for the first time since 1961, when Corinne Tennyson Davids donated the Wales Hawkins Memorial Collection of Frostiana to Middlebury, Robert Frost’s complete set of 28 holiday cards tell the story of an artistic collaboration spanning more than three decades. Robert Frost and the Spiral Press created holiday greeting cards of the highest craftsmanship and design from 1929 until 1962. Works of art in themselves, the cards also stand as true first editions of the chosen poems. Frost became a true champion of fine letterpress, and commented that “the Spiral’s typography and printing found things to say to my poetry that hadn’t been said before.”  

MIDCAT v. Summon, a tale of two systems

image of woman

Literatures & Cultures Librarian Katrina Spencer has a few words to share about MIDCAT and Summon.

This is Katrina Spencer, the Literatures & Cultures Librarian and this post is for everyone who uses MIDCAT and Summon to navigate library resources. At this point in the semester, however, the message is primarily for students. Students, as you prepare for your end-of-year assignments, I want to tell you a bit about how I use both MIDCAT and Summon differently. If you speak to another librarian, you will likely get a whole new set of ideas, interpretations and uses, which is good and enriching. Take a look below to see my impressions and visit the rest of the team at the Research Desk for more conversation on this topic.

MIDCAT ~ Will provide results for library materials including print books, e-books, DVDs, CDs, VHS, government documents, sheet music, microfilm and microfiche, and a variety of technological equipment held in Davis Family Library, Armstrong Library in Bicentennial Hall, Davison Library at Bread Loaf, Twilight, etc.

When I use MIDCAT…

  • I am searching for a specific item (usually a book, DVD or CD) I know or suspect Middlebury College Libraries own
  • I am searching for an item by title or author
  • I am searching for an exhaustive list of materials by Subject, for example, “Abenaki,” as depicted in the screenshot with 78 results.
a MIDCAT subject listing for the search "Abenaki"

MIDCAT browse list showing results for the subject search “Abenaki”

  • I need to know an item’s call number and where it is housed in the libraries
  • I want to know the status of an item/if it has been returned
  • I want to know how many copies we have of an item
  • I want to know if we have a certain item in multiple formats, both in print and digitally
  • I want an exhaustive list of a particular type of holding, for example, all of the films in a certain language

    a screenshot from the go/midcat/ menu highlighting videos and languages with red arrows

    Advanced search menu showing one way to search MIDCAT for Middlebury’s film collection by language.

Summon ~ Except for some relatively small types of material such as the tech equipment the library makes available for loan, Summon will provide results for almost everything MIDCAT holds AND other library materials including databases, journal articles, photographs, dissertations and theses, magazines, newspapers, sound recordings and more. You can also use Summon to search libraries other than Middlebury’s.

When I use Summon…

  • I am looking for journal articles.
  • I am looking for something I’m not sure exists.
  • I am using a complex string of keywords to find a variety of materials (journal articles, photographs, audio recordings, etc.)
a screenshot from the advanced search menu in summon for selecting content type

This is a screen capture of the advanced search screen in Summon. This box holds dozens of content types and these three examples — interactive media, journal/e-journal and journal article– are a limited selection of what is available.

  • I am looking for materials held by libraries other than Middlebury.
a screenshot of a search performed in Summon indicating the "Add results beyond your library's collection" button indicated with a red arrow

After entering a search in Summon, users can select “Add results beyond your library’s collection,” indicated above with a red arrow, to review holdings outside of Middlebury’s resources.

  • I am attempting to use resources that ask me for money.  The College subscribes to many paid resources, and in order to gain access to them, I must arrive at them via a Middlebury site and sign in with my Middlebury username and password
  • “Boolean” searches are helpful, employing “AND,” “OR,” and “NOT” to limit or increase my results.

I welcome you to comment on anything I missed and to introduce new approaches. Visit the bottom of the page at go.middlebury.edu/askus to see the times at which the Research Desk is staffed, more than 40 hours a week, and visit go.middlebury.edu/librarians to find discipline-specific specialists.

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

Beast, Animal, Brute

Inspired by the 18th century French philosopher Denis Diderot’s massive, thirty-five volume Encyclopédie, the current exhibition in Special Collections & Archives reveals our enduring curiosity of animals through a selection of rare and unusual books dating from the 17th through the 20th centuries.

The Lamia, a mythical demon from ancient Greece who devoured children, from Edward Topsell’s The historie of foure-footed beastes, 1607

 

Other works on display include Edward Topsell’s The historie of foure-footed beastes, published in 1607 in London (and possibly one of  William Shakespeare’s literary sourcebooks) and a polar bear as described by Captain James Cook, the British explorer, in the 18th century, upon arrival in the Russian Arctic Circle.

Zoology of New York, or the New-York fauna : comprising detailed descriptions of all the animals hitherto observed within the state of New York, with brief notices of those occasionally found near its borders, and accompanied by appropriate illustrations, by James De Kay, 1842-44

Also on exhibit in the Davis Family Library: Banned and Banished: Ovid and 2,000 Years of Exile curated by Mikaela Taylor.

Beast, Animal, Brute

Inspired by the 18th century French philosopher Denis Diderot’s massive, thirty-five volume Encyclopédie, the current exhibition in Special Collections & Archives reveals our enduring curiosity of animals through a selection of rare and unusual books dating from the 17th through the 20th centuries.

The Lamia, a mythical demon from ancient Greece who devoured children, from Edward Topsell’s The historie of foure-footed beastes, 1607

 

Other works on display include Edward Topsell’s The historie of foure-footed beastes, published in 1607 in London (and possibly one of  William Shakespeare’s literary sourcebooks) and a polar bear as described by Captain James Cook, the British explorer, in the 18th century, upon arrival in the Russian Arctic Circle.

Zoology of New York, or the New-York fauna : comprising detailed descriptions of all the animals hitherto observed within the state of New York, with brief notices of those occasionally found near its borders, and accompanied by appropriate illustrations, by James De Kay, 1842-44

Also on exhibit in the Davis Family Library: Banned and Banished: Ovid and 2,000 Years of Exile curated by Mikaela Taylor.

What’s up with “My Books Smell Good”

Last summer, Special Collections & Archives rolled out new swag: black tote bags (er, book bags) and stickers emblazoned with the slogan My books smell good. First, we want to thank Carey Bass, Middlebury’s talented graphic designer, for the bold serif font and brash ending punctuation. But, “What does it mean?” (People have asked, with a skeptical gaze.) As well as: “Isn’t it a little vulgar?” A little behind-the-scenes seemed overdue.

In a 2010 interview in The Paris Review, the science fiction writer Ray Bradbury  was asked about e-books and Kindles:

Those aren’t books. You can’t hold a computer in your hand like you can a book. A computer does not smell. There are two perfumes to a book. If a book is new, it smells great. If a book is old, it smells even better. It smells like ancient Egypt. A book has got to smell. You have to hold it in your hands and pray to it. You put it in your pocket and you walk with it. And it stays with you forever. But the computer doesn’t do that for you. I’m sorry.

That sums it up, though a little curmudgeonly.  And from the Journal of Chromatography, chemists used solid-phase microextraction and gas chromatography/mass spectrometry to analyze volatile organic compounds emitted from a naturally aged groundwood pulp paper originating from an old book. (Read it for yourself here.) Volatile organic compounds. This is what we’re talkin’ about:

And another recent article lays out a framework to identify, protect and conserve the smells that influence the way we engage with the past. Smithsonian Magazine wrote about this research, and here’s a photograph of a scientist taking a deep sniff at the National Archives of The Netherlands.

From Smithsonian Magazine, April 7, 2017

 

Whatever it is that brings you to our doorpoetry, history, chemistry, or a hankering to smell a centuries old book for yourselfjust come. We have lots of bags left and they make memorable graduation gifts. (Totes are $5, while they last).

Email specialcollections@middlebury.edu
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“State of Marriage” Film Screening

On Wed., April 19th at 4:30pm in Dana Auditorium,  Middlebury College Special Collections & Archives will host the first Addison County screening of the documentary film “The State of Marriage.”  The film draws on archival footage and more recent interviews to tell the gripping story of the remarkable men and women who pioneered the national marriage equality movement through their groundbreaking efforts in Vermont.  The work of Susan Murray and Beth Robinson, then attorneys in Middlebury, is featured as they work through the legal system and create a grassroots movement, all the while facing stiff opposition to the idea of gays and lesbians marrying legally.

There will be a question and answer segment following the film with the filmmakers Jeff Kaufman and Marcia Ross of Floating World Pictures, and key participants in the Vermont Supreme Court case, Baker v. State, including attorney Susan Murray and plaintiffs Lois Farnham and Holly Putterbaugh. The event is cosponsored by Chellis House – Women’s Resource Center, the Film & Media Culture and Political Science Departments, and Middlebury College Queers & Allies. In 2015, Middlebury’s Special Collections & Archives became the official repository for the Vermont Freedom to Marry Task Force’s archives. This nonprofit task force, formed in 1996, was instrumental in passing both Vermont’s landmark civil unions law in 2000 and subsequent same-sex marriage law, which took effect in 2009.

The Huffington Post wrote that “The State of Marriage” is, “Gripping. Audiences will cheer” and the Hollywood Reporter described it as, “Indispensable. A suspenseful nail-biter right up to the feel good ending.” Free and open to the public.  Popcorn will be served!

Plaintiffs in the Baker v. State case celebrate the passage of the Civil Union Law in 2000 (Photo courtesy of Floating World Pictures)