Category Archives: LIS Staff Interest

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.

Puzzles in the Davis Family Library

We now have some puzzles for use in the Library.  Currently there’s a spot set up behind the Research Desk on the main floor. Take a study or office break and put together a few pieces or a whole puzzle.  We will leave out several options at a time and rotate what we have.  If you want to take one elsewhere in the Library, just stop by the Research desk and ask to see the selection.

We will gladly take more puzzle donations (it would be nice to get some featuring foreign places for summer) and we are still looking for donations of GAMES (rubics cubes, monopoly, etc).  Just drop your donation at the front Circulation desk.  Anything we don’t use will be given away.

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.

VT Historic Sites Pass now available at the Circulation Desk

Now available for checkout from the Davis Family Library Circulation desk: a family pass (up to 8 people in one vehicle) for free entry into a Vermont Historic Site. This means you can go see and of these historic sites – the Bennington Battle Monument, President Calvin Coolidge, Chimney Point, Hubbardton Battlefield, Senator Justin S. Morrill, Mount Independence, Old Constitution House, President Chester A. Arthur, and Eureka Schoolhouse and Baltimore Covered Bridge – for the bottom line price of zero dollars! At that price, you can’t afford to NOT go learn some history!

New in the Library: Mobile Standing Desks!

The Davis Family Library now has 3 mobile standing desks.

“The Nomad Stand”

Students can use these anywhere in the library.  If one is not in use, just take it to a spot that is the right height for your comfort level.

They were designed by Franklin Dean-Farrar in Athletics and made here in Middlebury by Maple Landmark Woodcraft.

If these are popular we’ll order more.

Students have asked for standing desks, and we listened!

— The Library Space Team

24/7 period for Davis Family Library

The Davis Family Library will be open 24 hours a day starting Sunday morning, May 7th. Regular hours resume for Friday and Saturday, May 12th and 13th, then 24/7 resumes until 8 pm on Tuesday, May 23rd. After 11 pm, you will need your ID to access the building.

Armstrong Library will have regular hours, with extended hours Friday and Saturday, May 19th and 20th (closing at 10 pm).

A full calendar of the hours can be found at go/hours

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.