Category Archives: Library Spotlight

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.

A Zine Called “Dresses”

Find student Andrew Pester’s zine Dresses cataloged in Special Collections & Archives by visiting archivesspace.middlebury.edu and searching the course name “Outlaw Women.” To see the print copy this summer, make an appointment  and drop by the garden level of the Davis Family Library

“The question of acceptance had a different weight for me.” ~Audre Lorde

Name: Andrew Pester

Year: 2017

Major: Dance

Hometown: Lawrence, Kansas

Collaborators: Dr. Catharine Wright’s Outlaw Women Course

Thanks Yous/Acknowledgements: Lexi Adams for helping to carry me through this.

You made a zine. What is that? And what was your motivation?

My zine is a collage of text, images, and color that express my life in a critical manner in relation to Audre Lorde’s biomythography, Zami: A New Spelling of My Name. I created this zine in Catharine Wright’s Outlaw Women course, and the idea struck me after a movement-writing exploration with Maree ReMalia. I was writing in my notebook, and my narrative made much more sense in my own handwriting. I wanted the physicality of writing to be present in the work, so I decided to stray away from the traditional essay and into something more visual, the zine.

I write about a difficult interaction with my family, and I have found that I can be more true to the experience with the combination of visuals, text, and color than I can be with text alone. In creating the zine, I have found that the images restore the gentleness of motherhood that for a moment is shattered. The zine has been restorative and empowering.

How do you want users to interact with it?

I want users to absorb the text like they might absorb a photograph. There is no order in which I want the user to read the text, although the user may find a certain linearity. When making the zine, I thought about highlighting the moments that are an expression of my queer identity, those that are timeless and still live inside my body. I like to think of this zine more as a self-portrait than anything else.

Where would you like it to now live and who can help you with that?

I would be honored for my zine to live in Special Collections & Archives. I believe Mikaela Taylor and Joseph Watson can help me.

How to use library databases from off campus

This summer, take the library with youGoing away this summer? Take the library with you! Yes, you can search library databases from off campus. Just start at the library site: go.middlebury.edu/lib.  From there, JSTOR, ebooks, audiobooks, Summon and all of our online journals, magazines and newspapers are available to you…no matter where you are!

When you’re off campus, links that are on library web pages (a few examples of library web pages include Research Guides, Summon and the Journals list) will ask you to log in with Midd credentials. It’s as easy as that!

Seniors: Here’s how to get alumni access to library databases!

Enjoy the summer!

New Library Water Fountain Helps the Environment and Those with Disabilities

In case you are wondering what that noise is on the main floor of the Davis Family Library today, it is the installation of a new ADA-compliant water fountain that is designed to fill water bottles too.  The Library Space Team successfully applied for an Environmental Council grant to cover the cost for one.  The fountain will count the number of times a water bottle / glass is filled.  Next time you are thinking of buying bottled water, think instead about using a refillable container (and thus avoid landfill waste or the energy and financial costs of recycling).  It will also be the only ADA-compliant fountain in the Library, so if someone in a wheelchair needs a water fountain, be sure to direct them to this one, which is just opposite the print copy room on the main level.

 

March Library Newsletter

Don’t miss the March issue of Keywords: The Middlebury College Library Newsletter!

Keywords: The Middlebury College Library Newsletter

Read about how the library is planning for College-wide budget reductions, how you can dig through Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA) materials online, our battle to acquire a 1521 edition of Ovid’s Metamorphoses, new colleagues at the library, and more.

Unplug and Recharge – All Year!

Unplug and Recharge sign

Unplug and Recharge

Good news! Thanks to lots of positive feedback, the “Unplug and Recharge Room” on the upper level of the Davis Family Library will be available at least until the end of this year. We’ve added a curtain and acquired a few other items to make it more permanent. We’ll add more as soon as possible. Many thanks to the Scott Center for Spiritual and Religious Life for allowing us to continue to borrow the meditation cushions.

Wish you could use the meditation cushions somewhere else in the library? That’s easy, borrow a set from us! Check them out at the Circulation Desks at the Davis Family Library or the Armstrong Library.

Where is the Unplug and Recharge Room? Follow the signs!

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!

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!

This way to the Unplug and Recharge Room

Follow the arrows, and find some time for yourself! Take a break from your studies for just one – quiet – moment. You’ll feel refreshed, we promise.

Photo of Unplug and Recharge Room

Just follow the arrow

The Unplug and Recharge Room will be available through November on the Upper Level of the Davis Family Library, but you may borrow meditation cushions all year long from the circulation desks at the Davis Family Library and the Armstrong Library.

Self-Service Reservations for Group Studies and Video Viewing Rooms

Yes, YOU can book this room

Now available at the Davis Family Library for Middlebury students, faculty and staff!  Make your own reservations for group studies and video viewing rooms. It’s easy to see pre-existing reservations, pick a time, and even cancel if necessary — all online.

View policies and make reservations at:

(The group studies on the upper level of the Davis Family Library remain available on a first-come, first-served basis.)

Self-service room scheduling is available as a pilot through January 2017. Please share your feedback: http://go.middlebury.edu/libsuggestions.