Rebekah Irwin

Director of Collections & Archives at the Middlebury College Libraries.

Posts by Rebekah Irwin


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)

Reading Rowland Out Loud

Categories: Midd Blogosphere


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

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

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.

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

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

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

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

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It’s getting easier to download free ebooks and audiobooks

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

Overdrive, our provider of popular fiction and non-fiction titles, launched a new platform. It’s a little less clunky and less hampered by Digital Rights Management road blocks.

And we’ve added new titles too.

Visit the site at, go/overdrive,go/audiobooks, go/bookstogo).

You canwatch a tutorial on the new platform here.

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