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

Hair Me Out: A Black Hair Celebration

The collaborative, locally sourced, internationally themed, contemporary and historical exhibit “Hair Me Out” is now installed on the Upper Level of the Davis Family Library and includes multimedia components in the atrium. It explores the political, diasporic and stylistic phenomena surrounding Black hair from all around the world. This exhibit will be installed from February 21st through March 22nd. Stop by to see it and visit go.middlebury.edu/hairmeout to see its digital representation.

Who’s involved in this latest exhibit?

four women holding a banner

Four members of the crew working on the Hair Me Out Exhbit, from left to right: Katrina Spencer, Kizzy Joseph, Thandwa Mdluli, Jade Moses.

Katrina Spencer (Literatures & Cultures Librarian) [KS]: Roll Call/ Credits:

  • Jade Moses, a sophomore from New York and Guyana who studies Psychology
  • Thandwa Mdluli, a sophomore from the small kingdom of Swaziland who studies Psychology and may seek a minor in Dance
  • Kizzy Joseph, a senior from New York and Grenada who studies American Studies and is pursuing a double minor in African American Studies and Education Studies
  • Betty Kafumbe, a staff member in the Finance/Controller’s Office from Uganda

    three women holding products

    A small portion of the cast responsible for the Hair Me Out Display, from left to right: Betty Kafumbe, Katrina Spencer and Jade Moses.

  • Professor Christal Brown from North Carolina who is Chair of the Dance Program
  • Natasha Ngaiza, a Tanzanian American Visiting Assistant Professor of Film and Media Culture
  • Lydia Clemmons, a community member and owner of the Clemmons Family Farm
  • Myself, a librarian from Los Angeles who regularly encourages creative and collaborative projects

“Hair Me Out”? Is that a pun?

a horizontal banner reading "HAIR ME OUT"

A screenshot from the Hair Me Out exhibit’s digital homepage

KS: It is! And all credit goes to our punny Jade Moses! The Hair Me Out exhibit is an opportunity for Black staff, students and faculty to showcase many of the ways we engage with our hair. The texture of our hair is one of the most definitive markers of our ethnic and racial identities and has suffered a great deal of persecution for centuries and even today with bans of dreadlocks (2012), Afros (2016) and braids (2017) still happening in schools, on work sites and in the armed forces in the United States, in parts of Africa and throughout the Black diaspora. The rise of the natural hair movement has invited Black peoples to re-embrace our hair in its natural state and has granted Black peoples license to appreciate our hair anew. A variety of styles and testimonies can be seen on the exhibit’s digital home page at go.middlebury.edu/hairmeout.

The Hair Me Out exhibit includes and represents this trend and the many others– weaves, extensions, press ‘n’ curls, relaxers, finger waves, et al– that have come in and out of popularity over time, inviting in-groups and out-groups to critically engage with this highly politicized part of our personhood. Have you ever wondered why Michelle Obama hasn’t been seen with an Afro? Or why Barack Obama hasn’t sported cornrows while delivering the State of the Union address? Hair has meaning and Hair Me Out taps into it.

How did you decide what to include?

various hair related items including a wig, hair literature and styling products

Part of the Hair Me Out Exhibit including a wig, hair literature and styling products

KS: As “we” say, “from jump” we knew that we would be working without a budget so we had to be creative about what we would include. Aside from books, mannequins and stands, 100% of the items– dashikis, wigs, combs, busts, pins etc.– and products– creams, oils, butters, etc.– are personal property belonging to some member of the group.

Two wooden busts adorned with colorful head wraps

Two wooden busts adorned with colorful head wraps

Lydia Clemmons from the local and Vermont-based Clemmons Family Farm really came through with beautiful items and realia sourced from West Africa: wooden statuettes of Black women with textured carvings of hair. When I provided the seed of an idea for this project, my vision was rather modest. It has grown impressively under the careful and loving eyes of many.

Is there co-programming that goes along with this?

KS: Yes! Newly tenured dance professor Christal Brown has leant her prowess in inviting both a barber and hair stylist to come to Middlebury to offer discounted services to students. Men’s barber, “Kev,” will arrive on February 25th to Solos Salon Associates on Court Street. See the Facebook event here.  And Linda Hill will be available at the same place on March 4th and 5th. See the Facebook event here. Both are ready to create a variety of styles for community members who normally have limited local access to Black hair experts.

Also, a cycle of screenings of thematic films has already commenced! UMOJA, the African Student Union, has screened Yellow Fever, a short film on Blackness and hair. And You Can Touch My Hair will be shown by  Women of Color (WOC) this coming Wednesday, February 21st at 7:00 p.m. in Chellis House.

What was the most challenging part of developing this?

KS: For me, I was literally involved in three other projects– the Black History Month Display, In Your Own Words and Black History Month Jeopardy— when I presented ideas around an exhibit that centered Black hair. I had figuratively tied my own hands because if I were to carry out the first three projects well, it was in no one’s interest that I take on a fourth as there are only so many hours in the day. That said, as you know, Middlebury starts its Spring semester in the middle of February [Black History Month], thusly, much of the planning for this effort needed to happen during J-Term. The group was very invested, working after class and even during the week of interim between J-Term and the Spring semester. I am continually impressed by their efforts.

hair-related items including creams, oils and synthetic hair

Part of the Hair Me Out Exhibit including creams, oils and synthetic hair

Of what are you most proud?

KS: I like to entertain myself with the idea that to some extent I educated these women on new uses of the library. Throughout this process, if they did not know how to do so before, they learned how to make purchase requests to grow our collections, how to navigate licensing for the public screening of films and they made many new contacts from Special Collections, Circulation in reserving spaces, props and materials and perhaps Digital Media Tutors in the Wilson Media Lab. I like to think it was a covert and crafty mission of mine in getting them to know new things but they were always open, willing, engaged, aware and quite awake. . . so I’m not that clever. LOL Middlebury students are very smart. And they miss nothing. Nothing is lost on them.

What do you hope others will gain from this exhibit?

KS: I’d love for them to sit with the idea of diaspora and gain a deeper understanding that there are Black people– black and brown humans worthy of dignity– all over the planet. I want people who do not identify as Black to gain a deeper of understanding of how much those of us who do identify as Black care about and for our hair. I want others to know that they, too, can take greater ownership of library spaces.

What did you learn in the process?

two wooden busts with textured hair and three wide-toothed, stylized wooden combs

West African wooden busts with textured hair and wide-toothed, stylized wooden combs

KS: I confirmed what I suspected: with a little guidance, students can develop amazing, educational works that edify the community. At times in this process, after providing an idea and information about accessing the tools necessary to shape this exhibit, it was more helpful for me to shut my mouth, step back and let others work. I say that with no offense intended towards me. But my anxieties about timeline and fears about quality of presentation were not especially useful to the group. And my idea of what might be an appropriate scale and scope were potentially limiting to the group’s vision. So I “coup d’état-ed” myself so that others could lead and lead well. And they did. Over and over again. It is my honor to be even marginally associated with this project. It was everyone else who did the hard work.

As a relatively new resident in Vermont, there are some regional resources I didn’t know about, like the Clemmons Family Farm. Betty Kafumbe found ways to engage the greater Vermont community and to ensure the discourse we engaged was both local and international. I must praise her efforts. Christal Brown, too, contributed and expanded the project in ways I could not have anticipated. Her access to dramatic props like mannequins and her professional contacts enriched this project. I mean, if this is not community, what is?

What’s next?

KS: Ooh, chile (<—African American Vernacular English, [@Marcos Rohena-Madrazo] also known as “AAVE”). We in the library got the Mixed Kids’ mixed race display; summin’ called “fat ‘n’ hairy: ways i’m failing the patriarchy” and “Resume of Failures,” too. Can’t stop, won’t stop.  Don’t ask what they are. Just keep a look out for ‘em. Various speakers will engage the topic of Challenging White Supremacy on the 26th. And supported by the Middlebury College Activities Board (MCAB) and Women of Color (WOC), Jade Moses and Thandwa Mdluli are bringing a poet, Porsha O., to campus on February 27th. It’s dizzying, really. Or as we said during Black History Month Jeopardy, “It’s lit”: “luminous, dynamic, enjoyable.”

Blind Date With A Book 2018

two student pose on either side of a book cart

Senior Feb Austin Kahn (2017.5) and senior Prasanna Vankina (2018) pose at the Blind Date With A Book Display in the Davis Family Library atrium.

Name: Katrina Spencer

Hometown: Los Angeles

Role at Middlebury: Literatures & Cultures Librarian

Time at Middlebury: 1 year, 10 days

Katrina, are you prepping a display… again?

Yes, I have a problem.

What’s it about?

My problem or the display?

Both.

I have an obsessive streak that is manifesting itself in this way. The display is a small celebration of Valentine’s Day. It’s called “Blind Date With A Book.” My former supervisor, Jessica Newman, at Steenbock Library at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, hipped me to it.

Doesn’t that kind of crowd the atrium?

Yes, we have a lot of great collections we want to highlight. Currently we have at least three temporary displays there: the Black History Month Display, the New England Review’s display, and Blind Date With A Book. (On the Upper Level, a display called “Hair Me Out” is being prepped, too. See if you can find it.)

a picture of textual instructions for the display

The instructions for engaging with Blind Date With A Book read as follows: 1. Choose an item and unwrap it. 2. Take a selfie for Facebook, tagging
Middlebury College Libraries.” 3. Check out your selection at the Circulation Desk.

What’s special about Blind Date With A Book?

Well, with this one, it’s only there for a limited time: February 11th- 19th. Many of the items are wrapped up so you can’t see what the title is and by unwrapping it, you make a small commitment of getting to know the work without knowing much about its content, hence the concept of a blind date. ;)

Take a selfie with the book you unwrap so we can show the match made in heaven on Facebook. Tag “Middlebury College Libraries.”

Also, don’t miss out on Special Collections’ (SC) awesome event, “DIY Valentine Event,” Tuesday February 13th. SC always has cool stuff.

Cover art for the film Chico & Rita

The cover art for the film Chico & Rita, a Cuban love story..

As an aside, I noticed we didn’t have many love stories featuring people of color so that will launch some new acquisitions: Love and BasketballLove Jones and Poetic Justice. The form at go.middlebury.edu/requests will allow you to make requests, too. For now, minimally, we have Chico & Rita. ;)

Who helped you to shape this?

You want me to name my accomplices?

Yes.

Leanne Galletly did the wrapping. Marlena Evans supplied numerous items, the book cart and the heart-shaped decorations. Kat Cyr also added titles that would be thematically appropriate for the project. I. . . I am an endless source of ideas.

Is that why they hired you?

Maybe. That and the degree (MSLIS). And the willingness.

a book cart with books and DVDs

The Blind Date With A Book display in the Davis Family Library atrium

Can you give us a hint as to what lies beneath the wrapping?

  • There may or may not be a classic work by a world famous South American writer there.
  • There may or may not be a work dedicated to telling Muslim women’s stories of love.
  • There may or may not be the story of two men falling in love and having to hide their intimacy from the world.
  • Maybe.

So who’s your Valentine?

TBD.

Celebrating Black History Month 2018

The Davis Family Library is celebrating Black History Month in February 2018 with a display of books, audio CDs, DVDs, podcast recommendations, multimedia-based interviews and programming. Come to the atrium to see what we have in store and get a sneak peek at go/bhmdigital/. Read below to find out about the variety of ways to engage.

Katrina (Literatures & Cultures Librarian), what are the libraries doing to celebrate Black History Month?

Let me highlight three projects in detail:

a collage of 55 artistic book covers from the Black History Month Display

User Experience & Digital Scholarship Librarian Leanne Galletly has prepared a digital space that allows users to preview the books appearing in the Davis Family Library’s Black History Month display. This collage includes The Hate U Give, by Angie Thomas, Les Blancs by Lorraine Hansberry, and The Mother of Black Hollywood by Jenifer Lewis, among many others. Click on the image above to access podcast recommendations, too!

The Black History Month Display in the Davis Family Library atrium, February 1st- 28th, will include books, CDs, DVDs and podcast recommendations created by and about black writers, entertainers and artists. The scope is broad with works from the late sociologist W.E.B. DuBois (1868- 1963) and living, contemporary screenwriter Issa Rae (1985- ); jazz pioneer Miles Davis (1926- 1991) and Grammy award winning rapper Kendrick Lamar (1987- ); the cinematic classic The Color Purple (set in the 1930s and made in 1985) and  filmmaker Ava DuVernay’s Selma (set in 1965 and made in 2014). We’ve also got Senegalese author Mariama Bâ’s French-language classic Une si longue lettre; Cuban singer Celia Cruz’s Azúcar Negra in Spanish; and Pelé: Birth of A Legend, a documentary on the Brazilian futbolista extraordinaire. Blackness, after all, is not contained to any one, geographic region. You can get a sneak peek at the books by visiting go.middlebury.edu/bhmdigital.

eight images of participants who participated in recorded interviews

The In Your Own Words oral history project can be found in the Internet Archive, go.middlebury.edu/ia.

Second, In Your Own Words, an oral histories project, features interviews with students, staff and faculty from the Middlebury community responding to a variety of questions, among them:

  • Racially and ethnically, how do you identify?
  • How do notions of race and ethnicity change based on where you are and who you’re with?
  • What do you wish others knew about race and ethnicity?

These audio recordings cover identities linked to the Southside of Chicago, the Afro-Caribbean and East Africa and can be found on StoryCorps and in the Archives along with pdf transcripts. They will also be aired on Wednesdays February 21st and February 28th from 2:00- 3:00 p.m. on the Middlebury College campus’ radio station, WRMC 91.1. If interested in delving more deeply into personal stories addressing African identities, seek out Life Stories, found in Special Collections, in which three alums,  Barbara Ofosu-Soumah (Ghana), Mukui Mbindyo (Kenya) and Cheswayo Mphanza (Zambia), tell of their their experiences at Middlebury.

an advertisement depicting

On Friday, February 16, 2018, the Davis Family Library will host a Jeopardy-inspired trivia event dedicated to black history and culture. A raffle will be held for tickets to the opening night of the superhero film Black Panther.

Third, a competitive trivia game event inspired by Jeopardy will be held this month. Participants will compete for coveted prizes including board games, coloring books and poetry collections. Audience members can participate in a raffle for tickets to the opening night of Black Panther at The Marquis. Twelve categories have been prepared for the game that cover themes like geography, popular culture, literature and more. Sponsors include the Middlebury College Libraries, Vice President for Human Resources and Risk Karen Miller and the Program in American Studies.

Who makes all this possible?

a cartoon of an African American woman at left on a banner announcing the Black History Month Display

Middlebury College alumna Coumba Winfield designed one of the two banners (pictured above) for the Davis Family Library’s atrium display. She is also the founder of PopGig, a 21st century app that allows users to set prices for the services they seek. Download the app here and hear more about it at the Jeopardy-inspired trivia event!

With fear of leaving someone out, let me describe some of the roles people take on:

  • Kat Cyr, Rachel Manning and their student workers in Interlibrary Loan help to prepare bibliographies and pull featured items from the shelves.
  • Digital Media Tutors like Pedro, Dan, Caleb, Alfredo, Fayza, Rachel and Emma, Cataloging Specialist Marlena Evans, Librarians Amy Frazier and Leanne Galletly and Alumna Coumba Winfield help with developing print banners and advertisements.
  • Kim Gurney and Dan Frostman help to reserve props and digitally mark items as “on display.”
  • Lisa McLaughlin, Michael Warner and Marlena help with much of the invisible magic of ordering items and cataloging print and multimedia purchases.
  • Carrie Macfarlane helps me to problem solve and to manage my own creative ambitions. ;)
  • Every person interviewed shared their personal testimonies, which is no small feat: Jade Moses, Shenisis Kirkland, Clark Lewis, Kemi Fuentes-George, Kizzy Joseph, Nicole Curvin and Sarady Merghani.
  • Patrick Wallace prepared all of the audio files for the Archives.
  • Bill Koulopoulos’ group provided the funds for transcription.
  • Meg Daly and Maddy Goodhart planned the airing of the shows on WRMC.
  • Austin Kahn posted advertisements for Jeopardy.
  • Susan Burch educated me, as she always does, on the Life Stories project.
  • And all this is without mentioning the many people who will be staffing the trivia event!
Twelve headshots of librarians

An image of Middlebury College librarians. (Patrick Wallace not pictured.)

How can we help?

  • Know your librarian. There are 12 of us and we all have different strengths and expertise. 
  • Make appointments. It is a tremendous help to be able to anticipate office visits.
  • Heed advice. Want to develop a display? Read go/displays/. Or want new items purchased? Use go/requests/
A screenshot featuring an image of late author Julius Lester (1939-2018).

A screenshot featuring an image of late author Julius Lester (1939-2018). He is the author of seven items in the Middlebury College Libraries catalog, including Black Folktales. The text reads, “”It’s strange that whites fear that anything addressed to blacks is an automatic rejection and condemnation of them. That is not necessarily so… whites do not want to acknowledge the fact that if they want to know blacks they will have to immerse themselves in what blacks have to say, and that there is no white Dante who can take them gently by their…hands and lead them on a guided tour of blackness and keep them from getting a little singed by the fires.” ~ Julius Lester, in a letter, 1970 (Children’s Literature Review, Vol. 41)”.

 

 

What did you learn in the process of prepping all this?

  • Kathleen Collins was an African American cinematic directing pioneer and a Middlebury Language Schools alum who developed 1982’s film Losing Ground.
  • Stand-up comedian, actress and talk show hostess Whoopi Goldberg directed a documentary about a humorist who influenced her by the name of Moms Mabley.
  • Roxane Gay, writer of Bad Feminist, wrote a work of fictional short stories late last year called Difficult Women. It is en route to the Davis Family Library.
  • There’s a book in our collection titled The Loneliness of the Black Republican.
  • Julius Lester (1939- 2018), author of Black Folktales, recently passed away. With a book history project in grad school, Singed By the Fires, it was his work that first taught me I could incorporate blackness into librarianship. So, I dedicate this work to him.

What’s next?

About a year ago, I wrote that I hoped my work would be contagious. I wanted it to inspire others to further and more regularly engage with difference. People have been receptive to those cues and are creating ever more dynamic discourses on this campus.

From easiest to hardest, Leanne [Galletly] (User Experience and Digital Scholarship Librarian) and I want to make the spreadsheets used for the displays from the last year public. I want to find more time to read, research and contribute to national discourse on librarianship. Lastly, I need to recruit more professional peers who are people of color into my life.

Taste of The World 2018!

image of a wooden cart full of books

Join the Student Government Association’s Social Affairs Committee as they celebrate cultural expo “Taste of the World” from January 22nd- 26th, 2018.

Quick Announcement: This week, January 22nd- 26th, the Student Government Association’s (SGA) Social Affairs Committee is hosting a cultural expo called “Taste of the World,” featuring foods from all over the globe. This week-long event includes explorations of world cuisine, calligraphy, dance workshops, a film screening of Fruitvale Stationan open-mic night interspersed with performances by dance troupes Evolution, Riddim, K-Pop and many more! There will also be a panel addressing several types of art featuring Christal Brown (Dance), Damascus Kafumbe (Music) and Marissel Hernández-Romero (Spanish & Portuguese)! For more information, see the event’s Facebook page at go/middlebury.edu/taste and stop by the Davis Family Library to see this thematic display! Event Contact: Adiza Mohammed, adizam@middlebury.edu.

On Very Short Introductions

woman hovering over a table of books

Literatures & Cultures Librarian Katrina Spencer poses with the Very Short Introductions display. With more than 500 titles, these works represent one of the libraries’ most diverse collections.

Hey, there’s a new display up of Very Short Introductions to usher in the New Year. Come check it out, January 3rd- 26th!

Katrina (Literatures & Cultures Librarian), what are these books?

Every title featured on the table belongs to the Very Short Introductions series. They attempt to treat big themes in relatively few pages. The topics covered are broad in range from anything as abstract as “love,” as concrete as “water,” as complex and involved as “American politics,” as controversial and problematic as “racism” and as esoteric as “Kant.”

How many do we own?

Between the print and digital volumes, our MIDCAT catalog shows records for over 500 items in the Very Short Introductions series.

multicolored cover art for a book

The cover art used for the Very Short Introduction on love by Ronald de Sousa.

Why are they on display?

Aside from having beautiful, eye-catching colors and covers, J-Term is dedicated to studying one particular theme intensely and for a brief period of time. These items are rather “meta” because they have the same objective. Do you see what we did there? ;)

How do I get access to more?

Visit go/midcat/ (or, from off campus, go.middlebury.edu/midcat) and type in “very short introductions” as a keyword search. The results will list what we own in our collection in both print and e-format.

Is there a place that I can see the whole listing in the series?

Yeah, if you check out the Wikipedia page, you’ll see every theme that’s covered, starting with “classics” and all the way through “the immune system,” as of January 3rd, 2018.

multicolored cover art for a book

The cover art used for the Very Short Introduction on hormones by Marin Luck.

How long will they be out in the lobby?

We’ve chosen a small collection of thirty items to represent the series and they will be in the lobby either from January 3rd- January 26th or until you, your buddies and colleagues pick them up and check them out. ;) You can always pick them up off the shelves to check them out and remember that Armstrong has various very short introductions in its holdings, too! For example, climate change, fungi, hormones, infectious disease, moons, nuclear physics and viruses, just to mention a few!

How many can I check out?

We haven’t got a limit.

multicolored cover art for a book

The cover art used for the Very Short Introduction on Islam by Malise Ruthven.

Is the writing accessible?

I say yes. However, reading them is not like reading a novel. The works are more academic in nature and reflect the words of experts and years of research. While made and written for the layperson, don’t expect character development– perhaps except in the cases of Jesus, Muhammad, Goethe and other historical figures– and plot. (Speaking of which, they could likely use some historical figures who are women in this series like the Queen of Sheba, Juana Inés de la Cruz, Marie Curie and Malala Yousafzai. Just sayin’.) They are written to be informative and, as with many other items in our collection that serves academic needs, you may find yourself drawn to certain chapters or sections and less inclined to read from the first word to the very last.

multicolored cover art for a book

The cover art used for the Very Short Introduction on African History by John Parker and Richard Rathbone.

Can I use these works for my research?

Yes, of course! Though tiny, these works are credible sources that can supplement broader research and be cited like any other. Here is a sample citation:

Parker, John, and Richard Rathbone. African History: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007. Print.

For more on citing, visit go/citations/ (or, from off campus, go.middlebury.edu/citations) or see a librarian at the Research Desk.

multicolored cover art for a book

The cover art used for the Very Short Introduction on colonial America by Alan Taylor.

Which is your favorite?

Me? I’m partial to the ones that feature religious themes, like the Koran and the Bible. Religion shapes so much of our lives and mores and having the opportunity to understand the contexts in which sacred texts were born is really enlightening. Since developing November’s display featuring Native American history and related content, I’ve also been eyeing the one on North American Indians. And there’s the one on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, something I’ve been trying to get a greater grasp on for nearly all my life.

Who’s behind this effort?

Every– EVERY– display is a group effort. Many invisible hands make these displays possible. While I’m a great source of ideas ;), Kat Cyr, Rachel Manning and their student workers help to pull items from the shelves, Marlena Evans consistently has excellent feedback (and leadership) on design and Kim Gurney and Dan Frostman exercise a lot of patience with me and my constant requests for reserving props and status changes. Come by and see the culmination of our work!

Throwback Thursday: Zach Schuetz

 

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: Zach Schuetz  

Former Role(s) on Campus: Class of 2011, Japanese Major, Linguistics Minor; Japanese Language School 2009

Current Role on Campus: Senior Technology Specialist; Advisor, Xenia Social House

When was this photo taken? Fall 2008, at the Quidditch World Cup (then hosted in Middlebury.)

What were you doing in this photo?

Just observing, though in other years I competed or performed with the Mountain Ayres for the halftime show.

How have things changed in your life since then? I’ve gained a lot of perspective on what I want out of life and what I’m willing to do to get there. For example, I love teaching, so at the time I was planning to be a college professor. But I’m not that excited about doing original research, so instead I found a position where I still get to teach and answer questions, but in a less formal setting, and without the stress of grad school and adjunct hell.

What hasn’t? I still speak Japanese sometimes, and I still enjoy watching anime, playing tabletop games, and attending events at Xenia. I also wear my wizard hat to work on special occasions.

What’s your favorite thing about your job? The satisfaction of solving a difficult puzzle, helping students and faculty do all the awesome things they do (both in an IT context and at Xenia), and getting to live and work in the wonderful community at Midd.

What is on the horizon? Getting more involved with the community and seeking social and romantic opportunities here and in Burlington. Paying off student loans and saving up for a down payment on a house so I can start to think about settling down.

For more posts like these, like our Facebook page.

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.