Tag Archives: Library News

Gad Kibet Comments on the School of the Environment

Name: Gad Kibet

Hometown: Kapenguria, Kenya

Major: Computer Science

Year at Middlebury: Junior

How did you decide to enroll in the School of the Environment and what are you hoping to gain?

I decided to enroll in the School Environment because I wanted to gain a better understanding of the environmental issues we face today. It goes without saying that climate change is one of the most debated issues today yet many have a limited understanding on the topic. Through the program, I hope to learn more about these issues so that I can play a role in shaping the future of our shared environment.

How is your day structured?

I would say that each day in the program is intense and demanding given that we have to fulfill an equivalent of three college courses in six weeks. Classes usually begin at nine and end between three and  five with a break in between the morning and afternoon sessions. There is also a host of extracurricular activities and leadership workshops students are required to attend. Despite its rather taxing and busy schedule, I would argue that the program offers a wide array of fun and engaging activities. The schedule ranges from busy in-class sessions to field trips which provide an opportunity to experience the delightful Vermont summer while learning about the environment.

What have you learned so far?

Unlike in normal classroom settings, I have been able to learn more by interacting with peers and professionals. Through the course of the program, I have come to learn more about my weaknesses and strengths and how I can flex my personality to better myself. Working in groups, in particular, has helped me realize the importance of listening to others and acknowledging  their perspectives.

To whom would you recommend the School of the Environment?

I would recommend this program to anyone who wishes to expand their thinking horizons and learn how they can effectively bring change in their societies.

How do the libraries help you achieve your goals?

The library has been resourceful in providing a peaceful and quiet space to facilitate group discussions and personal studies. Resources such as the [Wilson Media Lab] and Help Desk have also been instrumental in facilitating learning and in providing technical assistance whenever needed.

Librarian’s Note: To schedule use of the group study spaces in the Davis Family Library, visit go.middlebury.edu/groupstudy. For more posts like these, like our Facebook page.

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.

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.

Has an ebook disappeared on you?

Looking for an ebook you used recently but that seems to have vanished? Let us know right away; we can probably get it back. Our major ebook program is undergoing some changes due to soaring costs and increasing publisher restrictions on usage. A large number of titles will disappear from our catalog this week. The process is designed to leave available anything that’s been used recently, but because of behind-the-scenes technical work, there’s a lag between the vendor’s most recent usage reports and the actual catalog-record deletion. As a result, you may have used a title in the last two weeks and now can’t find it again. Just ask us to recover it, and if our supplier still has it available, we will!

We also added a new collection recently, with more than 140,000 ebooks from EBSCO. Check it out!

The Bread Loaf Preservation Project: Photo exhibit in the Davison Library

In June 2015, Middlebury College and the Vermont Land Trust, with the support of Louis Bacon ’79, signed a conservation easement forever protecting Middlebury’s 2,100 acre Bread Loaf campus. A photo exhibit in the Davison Library for the summer celebrates this initiative. Photographs by Brett Simison and stories from people involved in the conservation project illustrate not only the campus’s natural beauty, but also its literary lineage, ecological diversity, and imaginative space. This exhibit helps explain why Bread Loaf is a landmark place, and celebrates its perpetual protection. We invite you to come see these photos, read the stories, and think about why Bread Loaf is important to you.

Sponsored by Middlebury College’s Franklin Environmental Center at Hillcrest

EBL Ebook Program Suspended Until July 1

You may know that Middlebury uses what’s called a “purchase on demand” model for its largest collection of electronic books, EBL (Electronic Book Library). Under this model, we place the catalog records in Midcat but don’t pay anything for the ebook unless and until it’s actually used. Then, we pay a fraction of the list price for each of the first four uses, and on the fifth request, the title is automatically purchased. We have set up seamless access so there’s no delay when you want to use a title, but the library is billed for all uses longer than five minutes, downloads, copies, or printing. There’s a lot more to how the program works, but that’s the broad outline.

Unfortunately, the library has reached the end of its funding for this fiscal year, so we have had to suspend access to the resource until July 1. This is definitely a temporary suspension, and EBL will be back on July 1, along with any titles you may have used but can no longer reach. We’re very sorry for the inconvenience and hope it doesn’t put a serious crimp in your work. Please feel free to contact Douglas Black, Head of Collections Management, for more information.

Looking for an Ebook You Once Saw Here?

Has an ebook you’ve previously used disappeared from our catalog? Never fear! We’ve had to make some cutbacks at the end of the fiscal year (lots and lots of requests for new material this year), but if you need to regain access to something that no longer appears, we may be able to get you back in. Just email us the title at researchdesk@middlebury.edu, and if it’s still available to us, we’ll get you back up and running with it.