Category Archives: Library News

Throwback Thursday: Kat Cyr

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: Kat Cyr

Former Role(s) on Campus: Midd Class of 2011, Japanese Major, Linguistics Minor

(also a Japanese Summer Language School Alumnus)

Current Role on Campus: Interlibrary Loan Associate

When was this photo taken?

When I was studying abroad in Kyoto in 2010. This was before we had established a Midd-specific school in Japan so I was there via the Associated Kyoto Program (AKP).

What were you doing in this photo?

I’d gone up to Kurama Hot Springs with a bunch of friends for a day of cultural enrichment (i.e. soaking in huge volcanic baths) and inter-college outreach (i.e. goofing about with fellow study abroad students from other schools). We had gathered a small group of Magic enthusiasts and were playing in between soaking sessions; we were using Japanese cards of course, so studying was still happening. We were just also in our fancy robes, sipping tea, occasionally amusing the other hot spring patrons. I seem to remember several little old ladies approaching us in the bath to chat. It was a delightful day.

How have things changed in your life since then?

I’m a couple years older, a couple degrees further in debt, now thoroughly obsessed with fiber arts, and very much turning into a crazy cat lady librarian. Also my Japanese is much, much better than it was then.

What hasn’t?

I still love hot springs, though my access to them is now non-existent. I also drink entirely too much tea, study Japanese whenever possible, and play geeky games on a regular basis.

What’s your favorite thing about your job?

I love seeing all the interesting books that people request through ILL. We see some really cool things requested for research purposes, from microfilm of obscure government documents to foreign language comics to massive road maps. As schools borrow things from our library we also get to see some of the coolest books from the stacks that I would never have thought we’d have. And then there are just the awesome book recs we get from people ILLing fiction of various kinds. ILL is a spectacular place to work if you love books.

What is on the horizon?

I’m currently working my way out of debt and trying to establish a home that is a little less temporary than my string of dorm rooms and office-provided apartments. Other than that, I haven’t thought that far into the future. Right I’m just taking things one day at a time.

For more posts like these, like our Facebook page.

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.

Celebrating Hispanic American/Latinx Heritage Month

From September 15th thru October 15th, the United States celebrates Hispanic American / Latinx Heritage Month. Read below to find out how some of the people at Midd engage with these identities. Also come by the Davis Family Library September 18th-29th to see the display. Many sincere thanks to Marlena Evans :) for her committed work in developing banner designs.

Names of Respondents; Hometowns; Roles on Campus:

Zarai Zaragoza, a Mexican American Middlebury College senior and studio art major sits in front of colorful art pieces.

Zarai Zaragoza, a Mexican American Middlebury College senior and studio art major sits in front of colorful art pieces.

ZZ: Zarai Zaragoza; Chicago, Illinois; Studio Art Major with Education Studies Minor – Part of Alianza, WOC [Women of Color], DMC [Distinguished Men of Color], Anderson Freeman Center Fellow, and so much more.

MRM: Marcos Rohena-Madrazo; San Juan, Puerto Rico; Assistant Professor of Spanish / Linguistics.

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

XM: Ximena Mejía; Salisbury, Vermont; Middlebury College Counseling Director.

Time at Midd:

Middlebury College Assistant Professor of Spanish and Linguistics Marcos Rohena-Madrazo, born and raised in Puerto Rico, poses for a photo at the Davis Family Library Research Desk.

Middlebury College Assistant Professor of Spanish and Linguistics Marcos Rohena-Madrazo, born and raised in Puerto Rico, poses for a photo at the Davis Family Library Research Desk.

ZZ: 3 years, going on the 4th.

MRM: 6 years.

KS: 7.5 months.

XM: 9 years.

What do you know about Hispanic American/Latinx Heritage Month?

ZZ: Hispanic Heritage month celebrates the histories, cultures and contributions of American citizens whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America. It is a time to show the love one has for their culture, traditions, and the many identities that make up the Hispanic community.

MRM: I don’t know a lot about the month, per se, but I know that it’s important in the United States context and I’ve been learning more about it since I’ve lived “here” [on the mainland and not the island of Puerto Rico]. When I was living in Puerto Rico, there wasn’t a need to actively identify with either of those labels. Only recently have I started to engage with them.

Literatures and Cultures Librarian Katrina Spencer, whose father is Afro-Costa Rican, poses in her office while preparing books for the Hispanic American/Latinx Heritage Month display.

Literatures and Cultures Librarian Katrina Spencer, whose father is Afro-Costa Rican, poses in her office while preparing books for the Hispanic American/Latinx Heritage Month display.

KS: Unlike many other commemorative months, this one starts in the middle of September and ends in the middle of October. These dates were chosen in remembrance of a variety of Latin American countries winning their independence from colonial powers.

XM: It commemorates the diversity of the identities that encompass “Hispanic” and Latinx.

How do you pronounce “Latinx” and what does it mean?

MRM: In English, [lə.ˈthi.ˌnɛks]. In Spanish, I’m not sure because grammatical gender is much more complex. I’m still figuring it out. For me, it means a person of Latin American descent in/from a U.S. context.

KS: La-teen-x. Three syllables. You pronounce the “x” just like the letter “x.” To my understanding, the “x” is meant to draw attention away from gender specificity. In Spanish, grammatically speaking, the default term is “Latino,” an adjective that inherently prioritizes the masculine and invisibilizes the feminine. The “x” is an attempt to acknowledge the ways in which language, depending upon how we use it, can be inclusive or exclusive.

XM: Well said Katrina! Breaking down the gender binary.

Middlebury College Counseling Director Ximena Mejía, of Ecuadoran and European ancestry, poses for a photo.

ZZ: Laa-Tee-Nex. I love the way Katrina describes it. It is meant to be more inclusive since the Spanish language is structured to be more gendered.

How do you identify ethnically?

ZZ: Both of my parents are from Guerrero, Mexico. I was born in the U.S, but am very connected to the traditions of my cultural. I am Mexican-American → Latina.

MRM: Puerto Rican. If there is one identity that I can unproblematically claim, it is Puerto Rican. Where were my ancestors “from”? On my mom’s side from Cantabria and Mallorca and on my dad’s side general Caribbean Afro-Euro combo.

KS: My mother is African American and Creole; my father is Afro-Costa Rican. So. . . I’m black. ;) With some cultural, historical and social connections to both Central America and the Caribbean, broadly defined. Not one of these, however, for me, is an “ethnicity.” (Or are they?)

A map depicting the many departures from the African continent and arrivals to the "New World." The image is taken from David Eltis' Atlas of the Transatlantic Slave Trade, on display now in the Davis Family Library. See the circular information desk.

A map depicting the many departures from the African continent and arrivals to the “New World.” The image is taken from David Eltis’ Atlas of the Transatlantic Slave Trade, on display now in the Davis Family Library. See the circular information desk.

XM: Multiethnic / Mestiza a combination of North Ecuadorean indigenous people and European (German and French from maternal side and Spanish from paternal side).

Why is it important to have a display to commemorate this month?

ZZ: It’s a beautiful thing to take pride in your culture, your family’s culture, and how these traditions, stories, and art impact your interests and your sense of self. It’s very important to give identities that are sometimes overlooked, ignored, or marginalized, some space of confidence, openness, and growth. Speaking from experience, it is not always easy to take pride in one’s apparent (sometimes not apparent) identity, and it can often be thrown in your face that you’re different. I am hoping that this display will show differences but will shine it in a positive, wholesome light.

The cover of Pulitzer Prize winning author Junot Díaz's 2012 book This Is How You Lose Her is depicted here. His work regularly engages what it means to be both Dominican and American.

The cover of Pulitzer Prize winning author Junot Díaz’s 2012 book This Is How You Lose Her is depicted here. His work regularly engages what it means to be both Dominican and American.

MRM: It’s important in order to counter hegemonic discourses of who the people living in the United States are.

KS: I want more students of diverse and non-dominant/non-hegemonic backgrounds to know what materials we have in our collections that mirror their experiences, lives, and struggles. If we don’t highlight them, they may never know that they’re there. The library is theirs, too.

XM: Make visible to our larger community that there are students, faculty and staff who identify with this heritage.

What are some of the challenges in preparing a display such as this?

ZZ: Often times there can be an misrepresentation of a group of people. What I hope this display will do is bring together a true, multifaceted array of stories, backgrounds, and talents that make up the Hispanic community at Midd.

MRM: Choosing who and what to represent. It’s by no means a unified and easily portrayable group.

KS: “Who is Hispanic?” “Who is Latinx?” “Who is not?” For example, do we include Brazil and Brazilians? And how? How do we include works that represent all of them? Are all my choices generational and based on what I liked growing up? Will students even recognize these items I’ve chosen?

The cover art for 2013 Venezuelan feature-length film Pelo Malo (Bad Hair) is pictured here.

The cover art for 2013 Venezuelan feature-length film Pelo Malo (Bad Hair) is pictured here.

What readings/music CDs/DVDs might you recommend that your peers check out to commemorate this month?

ZZ: Recently… Latinoamerica by Calle 13 has been my jam, my motivator, my sense of pride. Give it a listen, look at the music video if you can. Internacionales by Bomba Estereo is also a great tune!

MRM: Junot Díaz. Rita Indiana ‘cause she’s got diaspora all over the place. Daddy Yankee. That’s very Caribbean, but that’s my experience. Ooh, ooh, also Brujos — queer-of-color geekstravaganza!

KS: All things Junot Díaz. Contemporarily, he’s likely the most famous writer who represents the Hispanophone world transnationally. Also Achy Obejas, writes on themes touching the queer Latina world. I’ve been wanting to see Pelo Malo (Bad Hair) for quite some time. We have it in the library on Bluray. I believe it studies hair straightening, a practice that often favors western European features, a discourse that continues to be relevant in the Afro-Latinx world today.

XM: Music: Bomba Estereo, Los Cojolites, Gina Chavez, Perota Chingo, Calle 13, Manu Chao, Cultura Profetica, Onda Vaga.

Books: Umami by Laia Jufresa; Juliet Takes a Breath by Gabby Rivera; Multiple Choice by Alejandro Zambra; Bruja by Wendy C. Ortiz; Transmigration of Bodies by Yuri Herrera; Among Strange Victims by Daniel Saldaña Paris, and more.

Anything else?

MRM: The more we talk about what “Latinx” is and what it isn’t, the more we understand ourselves and each other.

A screenshot taken from a Pero Like video of producer Julissa Calderón who often discusses her Dominican heritage in her work.

A screenshot taken from a Pero Like video of producer Julissa Calderón who often discusses her Dominican heritage in her work.

KS: There’s an Afro-Dominican actress and filmmaker, Julissa Calderón, regularly featured on Pero Like and a comedian and filmmaker who’s black and Honduran who produces content on “Callme Choko.” Aside from being hilarious dramatists, they both give greater representation to minority populations that too often go unseen.

ZZ: Thank you for providing the space… <3

If there’s a work you’re interested in seeing and feel the library should own, visit go.middlebury.edu/requests to let us know!

100 Years And Counting!

The Spanish School, one of Middlebury’s 11 Language Schools, celebrates its 100th year. Here are a few words from current affiliated staff who have witnessed some of its evolutions.

Professor Joseph Casillas of the Spanish School (MA, Class of 2010) poses for a photo.

Names:      

JC: Joseph Casillas

LC: Laura Cabrera

KS: Katrina Spencer

Bilingual Assistant Laura Cabrera of the Spanish School is pictured here, in Middlebury gear.

Hometowns:

JC: Phoenix, Arizona

LC: Salamanca, Spain

KS: Los Angeles, California

Roles:

Middlebury’s Literatures & Cultures Librarian Katrina Spencer poses at the Research Desk in the Davis Family Library. Having obtained a master degree from the Spanish School in 2010, she now serves the school as the Language Schools’ library liaison.

JC: Professor.

LC: I’m a bilingual assistant in the Spanish School.

KS: Library liaison.

When did you first encounter the Spanish School?

JC: My first experience in Middlebury was in 2007 as an MA student in the Spanish school.

LC: I arrived to Middlebury in 1998 when I was a little girl because my dad [Carlos Cabrera] was a teacher in the Spanish School.

KS: I arrived to Middlebury in 2009 and graduated from the master program in 2010. I’d been looking for a school that would allow me to complete my degree overseas and this was one of the two I found.

Has your role always been the same?

JC: No. I spent two summers in the Spanish school finishing my MA. Afterwards I spent two consecutive summers in the French school, as a pure beginner in level 1 and the following summer in level 4. The following two years I returned to the Spanish school to work as a bilingual assistant, and the past 3 years I have worked as a professor in the undergraduate 7-week program.

LC: First I came as a dependent with my parents but since 2007 I’ve been working as a bilingual assistant at the Spanish School.

KS: No. At first I was a master student, then a non-degree seeking student in the Portuguese program and now I’m a librarian.

Over the summer, the Spanish School placed several banners in the atrium of the Davis Family Library to commemorate its centennial. This one documents its beginnings in 1917.

Tell us about the diversity of the program.

JC: The Spanish school program is rather diverse. In any given summer there are professors and students from most of the Spanish speaking countries in the world. The students are particularly diverse in many different ways. In terms of age, in my classes I have had students that just finished high school, all the way up to retirees that decided to learn Spanish for fun. But the student body at Middlebury is diverse in other ways as well. For example, I have had students that work as government agents, and other military special forces, as well as high school teachers of other languages.

LC: Faculty and staff come from different places around the world: Spain, Mexico, Cuba, United States, Argentina, Colombia, Venezuela, Puerto Rico, etc. And we have some students that are from different parts of the United States and other countries like India and China, so the Spanish School is culturally diverse.

KS: In terms of the faculty, without having to do much mental exercise at all, I know that Cuba, Mexico, Peru, Spain, and the United States are all represented. In terms of the student body, you find students aged 19-50+. That’s always something that has quite impressed me. During my first summer, we had a nun in our program and at least one student completing the doctorate of modern languages. People come to Middlebury for a wide array of reasons and from a variety of backgrounds. This year they have a lawyer who’s engaged in immigration law.

This banner reflects some of the most recent developments and cultural celebrations led by the Spanish School.

Over the years, what changes within the school and what remains the same?

JC: There are many things that stay the same. Middlebury, itself doesn’t change much. In the ten years that I have been around, the faculty hasn’t changed too much. Certain aspects of the program that we do every year typically stay the same, but every summer is unique in its own way because of the students. Sometimes there are students who repeat, and the graduate students typically spend multiple summers in the program, but the majority of the undergraduate students are new. It is always fun to see how diverse and talented they are. I’ve also seen many of the professors children grow up over the course of several summers. It truly is a unique experience.

LC: In my opinion, almost everything is the same as my first time here. Some people come back and some people don’t, but the main spirit of the “Spanish school family” is the same, summer after summer. Middlebury is like a bubble, no matter how you spent the whole year, if you go back for another summer, you’ll feel the last summer was yesterday instead of a year ago.

KS: Much of the professoriate remains the same! The Spanish School attracts and retains excellent instructors. Some have been teaching in the program more than 15 years. Mariluz Gutiérrez Araus and Mercedes Fernández-Isla are two of them. One change that I’ve noted is that program now has a website where students can follow its activities. It’s very colorful and up-to-date, reflecting the technology use of our time. Also, I believe we have a school site in Argentina now. Formerly students were able to complete a summer of study in Mexico, which I did, and now you can do it in South America. Oh, and the Literary Analysis students join together and receive a library orientation session in Spanish!

Literatures & Cultures Librarian Katrina Spencer poses with an “abanico,” a fan, designed for the centennial. Other accouterments for the 100th year celebration included buttons and “pañuelos,” scarves or handkerchiefs, all marked with the letter “ñ“.

How do you and your community within the Language Schools use the libraries and our resources?

JC: I used the library much more for research as an MA student. Since then, I mainly use the library for preparing classes and meeting with students.

LC: As an office manager at the Spanish School, I don’t use the library so often. We usually borrow some films to show and some tech devices we need for the events. I think the students use the library more often, like a studying place and using the resources: books, movies, etc.

KS: When I was a student, we graduate students used JSTOR quite heavily to find academic articles of literary criticism. This database is still popular among Language School students in general. The Spanish-language browsing collection that includes readings like Manolito Gafotas and music by flamenco-style singer Buika is also popular. In the instruction sessions I give, I really try to plug Lexis Nexis for finding news articles,  Kanopy for online film streaming and our Alexander Street vendor for listening to music online. There are also special carrels/study spaces in the library assigned to each language school.

What do you envision for the Spanish School’s future?

The Spanish School hosted a special dance party with live music to which all the Language Schools on the Vermont campus were invited to fete the centennial occasion.

JC: I think one of the big changes facing the program in the upcoming years is related to heritage speakers. Every summer we get more and more students with this profile, which makes sense because of the changing demographics in the US, and I hope to see explicit attention given to these students in the program’s curriculum moving forward.

LC: I don’t know what will will be the future of the Spanish School, but I’m sure it depends on the students because they are a different group every summer. So, like Joseph said, I think the heritage speakers will be a very important part of the program in the next years.

KS: Changes in the school will likely mirror changes in society, ¿no es cierto? Perhaps there will be more demand for courses representing Central America and indigenous populations as we have more people within the United States that represent that region. I imagine the school will become even more diverse as more people realize the importance of speaking Spanish merely as residents in the Western hemisphere. And I hope that more classes will request library instruction sessions so students can navigate our spaces with even greater confidence. 

 

100 Years And Counting!

The Spanish School, one of Middlebury’s 11 Language Schools, celebrates its 100th year. Here are a few words from current affiliated staff who have witnessed some of its evolutions.

Professor Joseph Casillas of the Spanish School (MA, Class of 2010) poses for a photo.

Names:      

JC: Joseph Casillas

LC: Laura Cabrera

KS: Katrina Spencer

Bilingual Assistant Laura Cabrera of the Spanish School is pictured here, in Middlebury gear.

Hometowns:

JC: Phoenix, Arizona

LC: Salamanca, Spain

KS: Los Angeles, California

Roles:

Middlebury’s Literatures & Cultures Librarian Katrina Spencer poses at the Research Desk in the Davis Family Library. Having obtained a master degree from the Spanish School in 2010, she now serves the school as the Language Schools’ library liaison.

JC: Professor.

LC: I’m a bilingual assistant in the Spanish School.

KS: Library liaison.

When did you first encounter the Spanish School?

JC: My first experience in Middlebury was in 2007 as an MA student in the Spanish school.

LC: I arrived to Middlebury in 1998 when I was a little girl because my dad [Carlos Cabrera] was a teacher in the Spanish School.

KS: I arrived to Middlebury in 2009 and graduated from the master program in 2010. I’d been looking for a school that would allow me to complete my degree overseas and this was one of the two I found.

Has your role always been the same?

JC: No. I spent two summers in the Spanish school finishing my MA. Afterwards I spent two consecutive summers in the French school, as a pure beginner in level 1 and the following summer in level 4. The following two years I returned to the Spanish school to work as a bilingual assistant, and the past 3 years I have worked as a professor in the undergraduate 7-week program.

LC: First I came as a dependent with my parents but since 2007 I’ve been working as a bilingual assistant at the Spanish School.

KS: No. At first I was a master student, then a non-degree seeking student in the Portuguese program and now I’m a librarian.

Over the summer, the Spanish School placed several banners in the atrium of the Davis Family Library to commemorate its centennial. This one documents its beginnings in 1917.

Tell us about the diversity of the program.

JC: The Spanish school program is rather diverse. In any given summer there are professors and students from most of the Spanish speaking countries in the world. The students are particularly diverse in many different ways. In terms of age, in my classes I have had students that just finished high school, all the way up to retirees that decided to learn Spanish for fun. But the student body at Middlebury is diverse in other ways as well. For example, I have had students that work as government agents, and other military special forces, as well as high school teachers of other languages.

LC: Faculty and staff come from different places around the world: Spain, Mexico, Cuba, United States, Argentina, Colombia, Venezuela, Puerto Rico, etc. And we have some students that are from different parts of the United States and other countries like India and China, so the Spanish School is culturally diverse.

KS: In terms of the faculty, without having to do much mental exercise at all, I know that Cuba, Mexico, Peru, Spain, and the United States are all represented. In terms of the student body, you find students aged 19-50+. That’s always something that has quite impressed me. During my first summer, we had a nun in our program and at least one student completing the doctorate of modern languages. People come to Middlebury for a wide array of reasons and from a variety of backgrounds. This year they have a lawyer who’s engaged in immigration law.

This banner reflects some of the most recent developments and cultural celebrations led by the Spanish School.

Over the years, what changes within the school and what remains the same?

JC: There are many things that stay the same. Middlebury, itself doesn’t change much. In the ten years that I have been around, the faculty hasn’t changed too much. Certain aspects of the program that we do every year typically stay the same, but every summer is unique in its own way because of the students. Sometimes there are students who repeat, and the graduate students typically spend multiple summers in the program, but the majority of the undergraduate students are new. It is always fun to see how diverse and talented they are. I’ve also seen many of the professors children grow up over the course of several summers. It truly is a unique experience.

LC: In my opinion, almost everything is the same as my first time here. Some people come back and some people don’t, but the main spirit of the “Spanish school family” is the same, summer after summer. Middlebury is like a bubble, no matter how you spent the whole year, if you go back for another summer, you’ll feel the last summer was yesterday instead of a year ago.

KS: Much of the professoriate remains the same! The Spanish School attracts and retains excellent instructors. Some have been teaching in the program more than 15 years. Mariluz Gutiérrez Araus and Mercedes Fernández-Isla are two of them. One change that I’ve noted is that program now has a website where students can follow its activities. It’s very colorful and up-to-date, reflecting the technology use of our time. Also, I believe we have a school site in Argentina now. Formerly students were able to complete a summer of study in Mexico, which I did, and now you can do it in South America. Oh, and the Literary Analysis students join together and receive a library orientation session in Spanish!

Literatures & Cultures Librarian Katrina Spencer poses with an “abanico,” a fan, designed for the centennial. Other accouterments for the 100th year celebration included buttons and “pañuelos,” scarves or handkerchiefs, all marked with the letter “ñ“.

How do you and your community within the Language Schools use the libraries and our resources?

JC: I used the library much more for research as an MA student. Since then, I mainly use the library for preparing classes and meeting with students.

LC: As an office manager at the Spanish School, I don’t use the library so often. We usually borrow some films to show and some tech devices we need for the events. I think the students use the library more often, like a studying place and using the resources: books, movies, etc.

KS: When I was a student, we graduate students used JSTOR quite heavily to find academic articles of literary criticism. This database is still popular among Language School students in general. The Spanish-language browsing collection that includes readings like Manolito Gafotas and music by flamenco-style singer Buika is also popular. In the instruction sessions I give, I really try to plug Lexis Nexis for finding news articles,  Kanopy for online film streaming and our Alexander Street vendor for listening to music online. There are also special carrels/study spaces in the library assigned to each language school.

What do you envision for the Spanish School’s future?

The Spanish School hosted a special dance party with live music to which all the Language Schools on the Vermont campus were invited to fete the centennial occasion.

JC: I think one of the big changes facing the program in the upcoming years is related to heritage speakers. Every summer we get more and more students with this profile, which makes sense because of the changing demographics in the US, and I hope to see explicit attention given to these students in the program’s curriculum moving forward.

LC: I don’t know what will will be the future of the Spanish School, but I’m sure it depends on the students because they are a different group every summer. So, like Joseph said, I think the heritage speakers will be a very important part of the program in the next years.

KS: Changes in the school will likely mirror changes in society, ¿no es cierto? Perhaps there will be more demand for courses representing Central America and indigenous populations as we have more people within the United States that represent that region. I imagine the school will become even more diverse as more people realize the importance of speaking Spanish merely as residents in the Western hemisphere. And I hope that more classes will request library instruction sessions so students can navigate our spaces with even greater confidence. 

 

Katrina, Atlanta, and NCAAL

 

Katrina poses in front of the National Conference of African American Librarians’ banner.

Middlebury’s Literatures & Cultures Librarian Katrina Spencer attended the National Conference of African American Librarians (NCAAL) in Atlanta, Georgia. See a brief video from the opening session shared on Twitter and read more coverage of the event in American Libraries’ Magazine.

 

How was your conference?

OMG, great! I feel like this conference was Middlebury’s personal gift to me. It fed my soul, which was hungrier than I expected.

What made it great?

For the first time ever, I actually got to stay on site where the conference I was attending was being held. That makes a huge difference– to not have to catch a taxi, bus or train to the conference site and navigate inclement weather/downpours of rain, and also to be able to retire to one’s room to take breaks between sessions was a blessing!

There were beautiful people in the city. Beautiful black people. With braids, twist-outs, locks… And it was the first time that I’d seen black and white people voluntarily spending time together on such a scale. When I’ve seen this in the past, it has been rather exceptional and episodic. There I saw people from both groups treating each other fraternally. I can’t say I was expecting that and I can’t say, after 30 years, that I’d seen it before as such a normalized part of a landscape. But, to see that and to juxtapose it with the news from Charlottesville, Virginia is mind-boggling. Progress in terms of racial politics in this country, to say the very least, is spotty.

With much help from Davis Family Library’s Marlena Evans, the banners to be used during the February 2018 Black History Month display have been designed. Katrina’s presentation posed the question, “What do I put on display?” and encouraged librarians to think critically about their choices.

What was your presentation on?

The title of my proposal was “What I Wish I Would Have Known” and referred to my education on black history and blackness as a child growing up in Los Angeles in the 1990s. Succinctly, the Transatlantic Slave Trade impacted almost the entire Western hemisphere, not just the United States; the struggle for civil rights and social justice did not end in the 1960s; and black peoples are not defined by the violent scenarios and oppressive societies we encounter, yesterday, today, or tomorrow.

Katrina (far left) poses with librarians and archivists who all graduated from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, with library and information science degrees.

A screenshot from the Atlanta University Center’s Robert W. Woodruff Library website.

What did you do?

I visited historic and cultural sites, for example, the Auburn Avenue Research Library on African American Culture and History and the Atlanta University Center’s (AUC) Robert W. Woodruff Library that serves Clark Atlanta University, Morehouse College, and Spelman College. I also spent time with several alums from my library and information science alma mater, the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.

What did you learn?

  • Clark Atlanta University, Spelman College, and Morehouse College are all served by the same library.
  • The AUC’s archives currently hold Dr. Martin Luther King’s briefcase.
  • Malcolm X wrote postcards home from Lebanon and signed them “El Hajj Malik El Shabazz,” also held in the AUC archives.
  • Despite the fact that many HBCUs are suffering in terms of securing funds to properly maintain their grounds and facilities, the AUC is tremendous, popular, and well maintained.
  • There’s a published book of photos on Muhammad Ali’s life and fights that weighs over 70 pounds! A copy is held in the Auburn Avenue Research Library’s archives.
  • The library and information science field is more intimate than you might think!
  • Black librarians are interested in revamping the ways in which we teach about black history.
  • Tom Joyner is famous and funny. And he says he met his wife in a library.
  • BCALA is interested in recruiting new members to its body.

Were you inspired to pursue new projects? Come up with any news ideas?

Screenshot of an image published on the 3rd National Joint Conference of Librarians of Color (JCLC) website

Absolutely!

  • First, diversity recruiters Leo Agnew from the University of Iowa and Kathryn Kjaer from the University of California, Irvine, were essentially looking for ways to recruit and retain people of color within their libraries at their respective institutions. As someone from that target demographic, I have thoughts, strategies and insight I want to share with them.
  • Second, I learned that BCALA publishes its own seasonal newsletter, BCALA News, in which, among other pieces, literary works are reviewed. I’ll pitch an idea to the editor.
  • Third, in every conference bag, there was a save-the-date type of invitation to 2018’s Joint Conference of Librarians of Color. I wasn’t aware of the meeting but now I want to attend.

Anything you might do differently next time?

It would be great to have my presentation entirely prepped before departing for the conference site so that when I’m there, all I have to be concerned about is showing up.

Katrina, Atlanta, and NCAAL

 

Katrina poses in front of the National Conference of African American Librarians’ banner.

Middlebury’s Literatures & Cultures Librarian Katrina Spencer attended the National Conference of African American Librarians (NCAAL) in Atlanta, Georgia. See a brief video from the opening session shared on Twitter and read more coverage of the event in American Libraries’ Magazine.

 

How was your conference?

OMG, great! I feel like this conference was Middlebury’s personal gift to me. It fed my soul, which was hungrier than I expected.

What made it great?

For the first time ever, I actually got to stay on site where the conference I was attending was being held. That makes a huge difference– to not have to catch a taxi, bus or train to the conference site and navigate inclement weather/downpours of rain, and also to be able to retire to one’s room to take breaks between sessions was a blessing!

There were beautiful people in the city. Beautiful black people. With braids, twist-outs, locks… And it was the first time that I’d seen black and white people voluntarily spending time together on such a scale. When I’ve seen this in the past, it has been rather exceptional and episodic. There I saw people from both groups treating each other fraternally. I can’t say I was expecting that and I can’t say, after 30 years, that I’d seen it before as such a normalized part of a landscape. But, to see that and to juxtapose it with the news from Charlottesville, Virginia is mind-boggling. Progress in terms of racial politics in this country, to say the very least, is spotty.

With much help from Davis Family Library’s Marlena Evans, the banners to be used during the February 2018 Black History Month display have been designed. Katrina’s presentation posed the question, “What do I put on display?” and encouraged librarians to think critically about their choices.

What was your presentation on?

The title of my proposal was “What I Wish I Would Have Known” and referred to my education on black history and blackness as a child growing up in Los Angeles in the 1990s. Succinctly, the Transatlantic Slave Trade impacted almost the entire Western hemisphere, not just the United States; the struggle for civil rights and social justice did not end in the 1960s; and black peoples are not defined by the violent scenarios and oppressive societies we encounter, yesterday, today, or tomorrow.

Katrina (far left) poses with librarians and archivists who all graduated from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, with library and information science degrees.

A screenshot from the Atlanta University Center’s Robert W. Woodruff Library website.

What did you do?

I visited historic and cultural sites, for example, the Auburn Avenue Research Library on African American Culture and History and the Atlanta University Center’s (AUC) Robert W. Woodruff Library that serves Clark Atlanta University, Morehouse College, and Spelman College. I also spent time with several alums from my library and information science alma mater, the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.

What did you learn?

  • Clark Atlanta University, Spelman College, and Morehouse College are all served by the same library.
  • The AUC’s archives currently hold Dr. Martin Luther King’s briefcase.
  • Malcolm X wrote postcards home from Lebanon and signed them “El Hajj Malik El Shabazz,” also held in the AUC archives.
  • Despite the fact that many HBCUs are suffering in terms of securing funds to properly maintain their grounds and facilities, the AUC is tremendous, popular, and well maintained.
  • There’s a published book of photos on Muhammad Ali’s life and fights that weighs over 70 pounds! A copy is held in the Auburn Avenue Research Library’s archives.
  • The library and information science field is more intimate than you might think!
  • Black librarians are interested in revamping the ways in which we teach about black history.
  • Tom Joyner is famous and funny. And he says he met his wife in a library.
  • BCALA is interested in recruiting new members to its body.

Were you inspired to pursue new projects? Come up with any news ideas?

Screenshot of an image published on the 3rd National Joint Conference of Librarians of Color (JCLC) website

Absolutely!

  • First, diversity recruiters Leo Agnew from the University of Iowa and Kathryn Kjaer from the University of California, Irvine, were essentially looking for ways to recruit and retain people of color within their libraries at their respective institutions. As someone from that target demographic, I have thoughts, strategies and insight I want to share with them.
  • Second, I learned that BCALA publishes its own seasonal newsletter, BCALA News, in which, among other pieces, literary works are reviewed. I’ll pitch an idea to the editor.
  • Third, in every conference bag, there was a save-the-date type of invitation to 2018’s Joint Conference of Librarians of Color. I wasn’t aware of the meeting but now I want to attend.

Anything you might do differently next time?

It would be great to have my presentation entirely prepped before departing for the conference site so that when I’m there, all I have to be concerned about is showing up.

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.

Exam hours for the Libraries

The Davis Family Library will offer extended hours starting Sunday, December 4th. We will open at 9 am that day and be open 24 hours through Friday, December 9th, when we will close at the regular 11 pm. Saturday, December 10th will be regular hours, 9 am – 11 pm. 24/7 will resume on Sunday starting at 9 am and the library will close at 10 pm on Sunday, December 18th. A Middlebury College ID will be required to enter the library after 11 pm during this period.

Armstrong Library will maintain regular hours, with extended hours on Friday and Saturday, December 16th and 17th.

Full hours can be found at go/hours.