Rebekah Irwin

Director of Collections & Archives at the Middlebury College Libraries.

Posts by Rebekah Irwin


A little look at Middlebury’s dwarf-sized books

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

We’ve been talking a lot about little things in the College’s Special Collections & Archives as we pay extra attention to pocket-sized books in our midst. Our smallest book (so far) is a 2 inch tall History of the Bible, published in Cooperstown, New York, in 1836 (pictured below).  The general definition of a miniature book is anything under 3 inches. We’re assembling miniature books up to 5 inches, since we’ve found big books and tiny books don’t play nicely on the shelves together and can cause damage to each another over time. You can learn more about miniature books here or visit us and ask to see our mini books yourself.

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Thanks to our hand-model, Joseph Watson, Preservation Manager and Special Collections and Archives .

“2-D printing, meet 3-D printing.”

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

The Korean American novelist Chang-rae Lee’s newest novel, On Such a Full Sea appeared in January with a technological twist: Lee collaborated with the 3-D printing company MakerBot to create a first-of-its-kind, limited edition 3-D printed cover, formed from a corn-based bioplastic and made on a MakerBot Replicator 2 Desktop 3D Printer.

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© Riverhead books

On Such a Full Sea

Middlebury College Special Collections & Archives, copy number 465

“What I like about this project is that it re-introduces the idea of the book as an art object. Content is what’s most important, but this [3D edition] is a book with a physical presence too.” Chang-rae Lee.


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Chang-rae Lee using a MakerBot Replicator 2 Photo © MakerBot

Middlebury’s limited edition copy, number 465 of 500 copies, will be on display in Special Collections and Archives in the Davis Library this spring.


A face-lift for the LIS Blog

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

Did you know the LIS Blog published its first post around the same time the iPhone was released? (For the technology history diehards in the audience: the first generation iPhone came out on June 29, 2007.)  In that time, the iPhone went through eight generations, but our original blog design stayed the same. As a rule of thumb, most Web designers often freshen up Websites every 4-5 years! It was time.

So, LIS Blog readers, meet your new LIS Blog design. We hope its clean, elegant, and most importantly, gets out our good news and updates.

Staff changes in Collections & Archives

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

I’m overjoyed to share two recent staff promotions from the ranks of library collections and archives:

Arabella Holzapfel has taken on a newly expanded role as Electronic Resources Manager and Library Systems Specialist. In this role, Arabella has taken on more responsibilities managing the lifecycle of the Library’s collection of online journals and databases. In addition, she’ll be providing more assistance to Bryan Carson with behind-the-scenes support of library-related systems and infrastructure.

Danielle Rougeau has a new title too: Assistant Curator of Special Collections and College Archivist. Officially, Danielle is now the recognized subject expert of the College’s historical archives and has significant oversight of the collecting practices, organization, outreach to academic and administrative departments, and the long-term preservation of the College Archives collection.

Cheers for Arabella and Danielle.

Founder’s Day viewing of the original College Charter

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

To mark Founder’s Day, the original Middlebury College Charter, signed by the Governor of Vermont on November 1st, 1800, will be on view in Special Collections & Archives in the Davis Family Library from 1-5 p.m. on Friday, November 1st, 2013.


Old Chapel, 1890

The Technologies of Makerspaces

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

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

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

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)