Tag Archives: display

Celebrating Disability Employment Awareness Month

October is Disability Employment Awareness Month. Come to the Davis Family Library atrium October 2nd- 15th to see our display that includes books and DVDs that touch on a variety of themes related to disability. Also read below about the various efforts made to make our campus more accessible and inclusive. Many sincere thanks to Marlena Evans for her work in designing this month’s banner and to the Advisory Group on Disability, Access, and Inclusion for its generous guidance.

Name; Hometown; Role On Campus; Time at Midd:

BK: Bill Koulopoulos; Athens, Greece; Director of Academic Technology, 3 years

CC: Courtney Cioffredi, Lebanon, New Hampshire; Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Coordinator; 7 Months

ZS: Zach Schuetz; Bedford, New Hampshire; Senior Technology Specialist; 4 years (student) + 5 years (staff)

A young woman wearing a medical boot poses on a flight of stairs.

Junior Feb Ruby Edlin, from Hoboken, New Jersey, poses on the stairs wearing a medical boot meant to heal a former injury. At least one of her classes requires her to use the stairs.

KS: Katrina Spencer; Los Angeles, California; Literatures & Cultures Librarian; 8 months

We’re interested in disability access, inclusion, and full-participation. Why does disability awareness and inclusion matter?

BK: Because good design should accommodate everyone; one size does not fit all and variety is the spice of life.

CC: We (society) were supposed to have understood that separate is not equal a number of years ago, we are still fighting to see that concept realized; awareness helps to move toward inclusion. Inclusion matters because every body and difference adds value to our society. We will all likely be disabled someday: it’s only a matter of time for some of us; others live it every day.

ZS: Because designing systems to accommodate people with disabilities is often easy, but only if it’s planned from the start of the project. Changing things afterwards is often a lot harder; hence, it’s important to be aware of potential issues all the time and not wait for someone to make a complaint.

KS: As we continue to make our societies better for everyone, including those belonging to historically marginalized populations (racial, religious, sexual, etc.), disability must be treated with thoughtful attention, too. Disability is certainly intersectional and affects every color and creed. When we improve access, it helps broad swaths of the population and hurts no one.

Give us an example of improved access here at Middlebury that you want others to know about and why it matters. 

Cover art for Cece Bell's El Deafo which pictures a bunny in a superhero cape flying through the sky.

Featured here is the book cover image used for Cece Bell’s 2014 graphic novel El Deafo, a memoir that traces the author’s childhood experiences with deafness. This is one of the works to be featured in the October display.

BK: The College has subscribed to Sensus Access (go.middlebury.edu/sensusaccess/), which is a web-based, self-service application that allows users to automatically convert documents into a range of alternate and accessible formats. The service has been used hundreds of times the last couple of years, which suggests there is need for such a service and prompts us to reflect on additional ways to improve access.

CC: The College has added a second ADA Coordinator to Student Accessibility Services. Prior to that move, this was an office of one. The addition of this position allows two people to assist with access while the College continues to grow towards inclusive programs. This has allowed Student Accessibility Services to grow and provide additional programs, trainings and resources for students and faculty.

KS: When I started working here, I noticed that questions asked at the Research Desk could develop into conversations that lasted 15, 20 or even 30 minutes. I recalled that when I was a graduate student, I found it very uncomfortable to participate in research consultations having nowhere to sit, so I requested a stool be made available for lengthier conversations. It was a subtle change, but one for the better.

What are some resources to learn more about disability access and inclusion? 

BK: Understanding the principles and concepts behind Universal Design for Learning (UDL) will benefit anyone promoting disability access and inclusion at Middlebury College. UDL on Campus is a great resource on course design, materials and policy.

CC: Project Shift is a great resource and includes a number of readings regarding disability access and inclusion in Higher Education. I was also introduced to Mia Mingus recently and found her blog Leaving Evidence to be an excellent resource. Lastly, Student Accessibility Services is always willing to talk disability, access, and inclusion

A headshot of Audre Lorde wearing glasses and a necklace

Pictured is the cover art used for Audre Lorde’s 1980 autobiographical experience of breast cancer, The Cancer Journals, a work now on order for the Davis Family Library, also to be featured in the October display.

here on Middlebury’s campus.

ZS: I find that listening directly to people with disabilities has been really enlightening. There are a number of online communities where people are willing to share their experiences, and I’ve also learned extremely useful terminology like the curb-cut effect and the social model of disability.

KS: I recently learned that Middlebury has a Disabilities Studies Reading Group that has been meeting since 2009. Its first meeting this fall will be Thursday, October 12th, 7:00 p.m.- 8:30 p.m. in the American Studies Lounge, Axinn 242. For more on this, contact Susan Burch at sburch@middlebury.edu.

In what other ways might we forward disability access, inclusion and full participation? 

BK: Seeing accessibility and inclusion from a social model rather than a medical model lens requires a mindset shift. Education is key in facilitating this shift.  In the era of information technology, there is a wealth of resources available to individuals who want to learn more and people on campus ready to assist in the exploration.

CC: Shifting our Middlebury culture to a place where disability is celebrated as an identity, rather than something that needs accommodation would be a large step toward thinking about disability as part of diversity and inclusion. Each department, academic and operational, could own access in that department by seeking information and suggestions for ways in which events, classes, courses, and programs could be more inclusive to all. I would love to see student groups celebrating disability, access and inclusion and current student groups asking about how to ensure their events are accessible to all, including students with disabilities.

ZS: Classroom policies could be more focused on core pedagogical goals. Will students really not be able to learn the material if tests are untimed? If they can take notes on a laptop or record the lecture? If instructors make a note of sensitive material so people can mentally prepare themselves for it? Inclusion can be built in from the start. The ADA office is great, but for every student who’s already gotten a formal diagnosis, worked with them, realized what situations will come up in a course, and asked for specific accommodations, there’s one who hasn’t (yet) but could benefit from a little proactive thinking so everyone can fully participate in the course.

Two librarians seated at the Davis Family Library Research Desk, one using a stool

Literatures and Cultures Librarian Katrina Spencer and Director of Reference & Instruction Librarian Carrie Macfarlane pose at the Research Desk where a stool has been installed to improve access.

KS: Last semester I went to visit a foreign language class in Munroe Hall that was held on the third floor. I was carrying graphic novels with me at the time to share with students and had to haul them up three flights of stairs. I asked for an elevator and didn’t find one. This is when I realized that stairs can actually be a barrier to access for learning, working and creating community. How do we determine which buildings are accessible and which are not? How do we make our campus accessible to all?

If you have more ideas for how to improve access on and around our campus, or want to know more about disability access and inclusion at Middlebury, write to the Advisory Group on Disability, Access, and Inclusion at agdai@middlebury.edu. Also see the libraries’ lib guide  dedicated to disability studies, developed with and maintained by Librarian Amy Frazier.

African American Music Appreciation Month 2017

Literatures & Cultures Librarian Katrina Spencer kneels next to a newly installed display featuring African American musics..

I grew up in a very musical household and that identity follows me wherever I go.

Name: Katrina Spencer

Title: Literatures & Cultures Librarian

Hometown: Los Angeles, California

Collaborators: Kat Cyr, Arabella Holzapfel, Amy Frazier, Terry Simpkins, Marlena Evans, Heather Stafford, Innocent Mpoki, Joe Antonioli, Sue Driscoll, Dan Frostman, Kim Gurney, Janine McDonald, Todd Sturtevant, Bryan Carson, Joy Pile, Ryan Clement, multiple student workers, Barack Obama, Jimmy Carter, and others. Many sincere thanks to all of the energy you all have put into this.

Whatcha got goin’ here in the atrium and on the main level of the Davis Family Library?

Of the 23,000+ CDs we have in our collection, we are highlighting over 300 works by and about African American musical artists from June 1st- 22nd. Former President Barack Obama declared June as African American Music Appreciation Month, an initiative first shaped in 1979. President Obama was able to draw further attention to the commemorative month with his 2016 proclamation and the many artists his administration invited to perform at the White House.

Generally speaking, the content spans the 1940s to the early 2000s, including artists from every decade in between. African American music started much earlier than this, but when it comes to largely accessible sound recordings, the early 20th century was perhaps a good place to start in terms of our holdings.  However, we do plan to include some very early recordings and have a few monographs that address African American music in the late 1800s- early 1900s.

What motivated you to put this together?

There were so many motivations. First, I have lived now in five states– California, Missouri, Illinois, Wisconsin, Vermont– and while the demographics, landscapes, weather, and food fare change, the consumption of African American music as an avid pastime does not. Scratch that: it’s global. People love the soulful sounds born deep in the South of our country, among pain, oppression, and affliction, within the church, in the Great Migrations to urban spaces, on stage at Harelm’s Apollo Theater, within both Motown’s and Los Angeles’ major recording studios, and shown on MTV and BET. When you tell the story of African American music, you tell the story of our nation.

Second, I attended the Posse Plus Retreat back in February when I was hired and some of the facilitators did a great job of playing music during our set-ups for activities. There I told American Studies professor (and musician) Dr. Will Nash, “I’ll give you all the money in my wallet if you can tell me who’s singing this song.” He thought for a minute and replied, “Is it Brandy and Monica’s “The Boy Is Mine?”” I wasn’t expecting a white man, some 20 years my senior, to know an R&B hit from the 1990s– and I was wrong. Thankfully I was only carrying $1.63 in cash! But that conversation made me realize even more profoundly that music transcends race, class, geography, and other markers we tend to think divide us.

Lastly (and transparently), I love to see people of color taking ownership of our library spaces, myself included. Frequently at predominantly white institutions, people of color and oppressed minorities do not see themselves systematically reflected in the curriculum, the history of their colleges, and/or in the body of faculty and staff. My efforts in the library aim to speak to that scarcity of representation. I’m on a mission to reassert esteem, to remind my audiences that we’re in the 21st century, and that “America” is increasingly and beautifully brown.

How’d you decide what to include?

We crowd-sourced. We started up an Excel file and invited various people on the library staff to add to it. The seven of us rather easily came up with hundreds of works that would fit into our theme. Ha! New recommendations were coming in while we were loading the shelves!

Can I just say that I learned so much in the process of preparing this display? I found out about “soundies,” some of the very first “music videos” of the 20th century that preserve early performances by black artists, that the ubiquitous tune,“The Entertainer,” was composed by a black man, Scott Joplin, and, perhaps most importantly for me, if you ask for help on a project, you’ll get it. This display was nothing if not a collaborative effort.

The layout of the display is a bit unconventional. Can you say a few words about that?

Sure! The idea of adorning our tables (and carrels) with display materials had been brewing for awhile, however, the opportunity to test it out only presented itself this month. The whole point of a display is to draw attention to a theme. While it’s easy to walk past shelving containing “themed” items en route to a study space, it’s harder to miss items in a display that occupy one’s study space. I call it a “guerrilla” method. It’s a more aggressive attempt to engage an audience. (And people are noticing.)

What were some of the challenges in shaping this display?

I wish the students who are normally here during the academic year could see and enjoy the display. Many of them who frequent the Anderson Freeman Center <3 would appreciate the work. However, as we prepare for Reunion, many alumni will likely have an opportunity to encounter it.

We also realize that streaming is perhaps the most popular way for young people to consume music. While we have resources for this (see “Music Online: Listening (North America” within our databases under “M” at go.middlebury.edu/lib), the CD cases and inserts make for great visuals. For those of us wanting to listen to the CDs, know that we have multiple disc drives behind the Circulation Desk to loan out.

This display will last until June 22nd as the whole campus is gearing up for Language Schools and the content includes music in the English language. However, I have made efforts to include artists from the black diaspora like Beny Moré (Cuba) for the Spanish School, Les Nubians (France) for the French School, and Seu Jorge (Brazil) for the Portuguese School.

What do you want people to take away from the display?

I want people taking in the display to think critically about the contributions African Americans have made to this country. Music is merely one of them. Our economic contributions are often hard for people to stomach because they are mired in blood, sweat, and tears. Our scientific contributions experience historical erasures as The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks and Hidden Figures suggest. And our political ones are often met with violence, aggression and unpopularity, as the Civil Rights Movements demonstrate, while ultimately forwarding this nation.

How else can we enjoy this effort?

Like our Facebook page. For three weeks we will be sharing videos and trivia that speak to the African American musical experience and history. The content will be loosely chronological and you can follow the evolution of African American music with us.

Last words?

This display is an act of love. We welcome students, faculty, and staff to approach library workers with display development ideas and to continue making the library spaces your own. Also, while the music CDs typically “live” behind the circulation desk, they are still accessible to you. Come check it all out.

“Postcard to Mum”

If you visit the Davis Family Library atrium between now and Sunday, May 21st, you will see a very special display on the main floor, and continued in the glass display case on the Upper Level. Here’s what it’s about:

Middlebury student Miguel Castillo renders an artistic tribute to his mother with this interactive display.

Name: Miguel A. Castillo

Year: Junior/third-year

Major: Dance/Theatre

Hometown: Caracas, Venezuela

Collaborators: Aida Rodríguez [Tata], Andrew Pester, my family

Thanks Yous/Acknowledgements: Joseph Watson, Danielle Rougeau, Kim Gurney, Joseph Watson, Katrina Spencer, Deborah Leedy, Katrina Moore, Angela Valenzuela, Gabriel Ferreras, Emina Mahmuljin, Cathy Collins, Hedya Klein, Milo Stanley, Eliza Renner, Nando Sandoval, Ximena Mejia,  Wonnacott Commons, International Student Organization, and everyone else that said yes to this.

So what is this that you’ve set up on the main and upper levels of the Davis Family Library?

Part of the display on the upper level of Davis Family Library

It’s a three-part art installation that explores nostalgia, loss, and memory. This past year has been hard for me. On March 30th, 2016, my mother was diagnosed with brain cancer. On June 12th, 2016, she passed away under a bright blue sky. Dealing with her physical absence has been a journey, a messy one. I compare this process to dropping a stone in the ocean water. A stone that falls in water makes ripples; at first they are small, intense and constant. With time, they become more spaced out but larger. They are all the result of the same stone. This art installation has been an opportunity to collect my feelings about what is going on– a space to bring out what cries and laughs inside. My grandmother, my mom’s mom, came to live with me for a month, so I thought that having an artistic project to collaborate on would give us the opportunity to deal with something that is hard for us both, and this is what we came up with.

How are library patrons supposed to interact with it?

I hope people come to see it and check out all the parts. There is a typewriter, some postcards, envelopes and stamps. My hope is that people use them to write with an open heart to whomever comes to their minds. Maybe they’ll write one and send it to a random address. Mother’s Day is coming up soon. I hope that people can reflect on the ephemerality of life. Live fully not because one will die but because one is alive. Life is a fleeting moment and, as my mother said, “No hay tiempo para pendejadas” (“There’s no time for bullsh*t”.)

What do you hope the community will gain from the display?

I hope people stop for a second, breathe, and keep going feeling even more human.

The Library Responds to the Charles A. Murray Visit

The Middlebury Libraries are sensitive to the discord on campus surrounding Charles A. Murray’s recent visit. Given our core role of providing access to as wide a range of information as possible, as well as teaching the skills necessary to interpret and assess that information, we thought it might be useful to outline some of the ways we have responded to the controversy.

  • We have purchased additional copies of core titles by Charles A. Murray in order to meet the heightened interest from the community.  The library also holds multiple copies of works that respond to and/or dispute Murray’s conclusions, such as William Wilson’s The Truly Disadvantaged, and Stephen Jay Gould’s The Mismeasure of Man;
  • In response to the Scott Center for Spiritual and Religious Life’s email message recommending specific books about conflict resolution, we purchased titles we were lacking and highlighted these works with a display in the library atrium.  This display remained in place for over three weeks and was also highlighted in The Campus;
  • Special Collections has been identifying, collecting, and preserving a variety of Web-based content relating to the controversy and protests. This material includes blogs and social media feeds created by student political action groups, as well as local news articles covering the events. We hope that these Web archiving efforts — in addition to our growing collection of donated images and video — will enable future researchers and generations of Middlebury students to understand the Murray visit and the March protests in a fuller context, and ensure that student voices continue to be heard more clearly than they might be if relying solely on secondary, mainstream sources;
  • Special Collections also received a donation of digital photographs, videos, articles and responses to the Murray protest from August Hutchinson ‘16.5.  These materials, which the donor has called “The Middlebury Moment,” are now held in our digital repository along with other student-created materials documenting the event.

We continue to seek ways to provide thorough information about Murray’s work, the various responses to it in the literature, and the recent protests relating to his visit to Middlebury.  If there are additional titles that might speak to any these themes, we encourage you to submit them at go/requests/ (or go.middlebury.edu/requests/ if off-campus).  Finally, please feel free to email us with other ideas for the Libraries to consider as we continue to respond as a community to these challenging issues.

AIDS Memorial Quilt Panel on Display

A section of the AIDS Memorial Quilt will be on display on the second floor of the Davis Family Library, beginning the week of April 11 through the end of April. All interested members of the community are invited to visit the display.

MoreAIDS Memorial Quilt Panel on Display April 11-29, Davis Family Library

AIDS Memorial Quilt

(Photo of AIDS Memorial Quilt courtesy of the NAMES Project Foundation)

Read, and Cultivate Inclusion

Stop by the Davis Family Library atrium this month to browse our book display featuring literature and research in Ethnic Studies, Gender, Sexuality, and Feminist Studies, and Disability Studies.

inclusivity display

All materials are available for checkout, so grab a book and find a comfy blue chair to curl up in!

View more titles online at go/inclusivitydisplay and recommend books that have inspired you at go/displaysuggestions!

“Dear James” Exhibit

The exhibit entitled “Dear James,” currently on view in the Davis Family Library Atrium exhibit cases, was curated by Emmie Donadio, Asst. Curator of the Middlebury College  Art Museum, in collaboration with Special Collections, and mounted in the Library by Ms. Donadio and Special Collections Assistant Curator Danielle Rougeau.

The artist Ben Schonzeit wrote daily letters to his son, James Schonzeit, Middlebury Class of 2010, during James’s four years at Middlebury, and on each envelope he painted a portrait. The work came to the notice of Emmie Donadio who approached Special Collections to consider an exhibition of these unique and beautiful works for the entire Middlebury community to enjoy in the Davis Library Atrium, one of the highest traffic areas on campus. Mounted in mid-May, the exhibit was on display in time for Commencement week when James Schonzeit’s classmates and their families could  admire these extraordinary watercolor paintings. The exhibit, which continues to make a great impression on Library visitors, will be on display through the end of July with a possible extension through mid-August, after which the materials will be returned to the Schonzeit family.

Ben Schonzeit is the subject of a handsome monograph: Ben Schonzeit,  Paintings, by Charles A. Riley II [NY; Harry N. Abrams, 2002], and he maintains a website at www.benschonzeit.com.  None of the portraits is reproduced in the monograph, but the website may have examples of his portrait paintings.

[This post was contributed by Andrew M. Wentink, Curator, Special Collections & Archives.]