Michaela Maxwell

In this issue of Keywords, we profile one of the many students who travel abroad each year and use the Middlebury Libraries for their research. This issue features Michaela Maxwell ‘17.5, an International and Global Studies major from Los Angeles, CA.

Where are you from and what’s your academic specialty?

I’m from Santa Monica, California, majoring in International and Global Studies with a focus in South Asia.  I’ve also taken a ton of English and Creative Writing courses.

What do you like about Middlebury?

The best part about Middlebury over the past 4 years has been the opportunities that I’ve had here, both academically and socially, to engage with people and ideas. I think this is something that we hope a college will facilitate, and Middlebury has done an excellent job of that for me. Taking courses across a wide variety of disciplines has enabled me to better appreciate the diverse lenses through which we can look at and connect with the world, which has in turn facilitated my conversations with people, including my friends from different backgrounds and disciplines. One of my best friends here, for example, is a double Physics and Math major, and although we see the world very differently in many ways, I have seen our ability to communicate our ideas to each other evolve over the past four years, and this improved communication alone has brought us closer together.

I have also taken advantage of Middlebury’s international focus in a variety of ways which have significantly marked my time here in ways I am extremely grateful for. I studied abroad at both Delhi and Oxford universities through the Middlebury programs, I’ve recently come back from a research trip to Kathmandu for which I received a Senior Research Project Supplement (SRPS), and this summer I will be working abroad in South Asia through the Ambassador Corps Program, a joint project between Middlebury and Monterey.

How do you use the library?

Although I do often take physical books out of the library both for classes and for pleasure, because I’ve spent a great deal of time abroad I have really taken advantage of the library’s online resources. While I was in Delhi and at Oxford, it was very complicated to take books out of the university libraries because as study abroad students we didn’t have the same student status as our peers. At Oxford, we could not even take books out at all (this has changed now).  I ended up using Middlebury’s online resources for most of my research, and although evidently the library cannot provide every article on every subject, I have always found enough relevant information to conduct decent research. I wish there was a way for a search engine to magically come up with every relevant book and article on a subject, especially because a lot of what I study is difficult to put into a keyword search, but this may be an unreasonable request!  I have also taken advantage of the library’s extensive film collection, which has enabled lovely movie nights with friends in the Axinn screening rooms.

How can we (in the library) better serve you?

In my experience those who work at the library have always been accommodating, so my suggestions are mostly logistical. I don’t know exactly what the library can do about this, because I’m not sure what the parameters are, but for one I think the school overall needs a better system for students on financial aid to get their textbooks. I have taken required books for class out of the library whenever possible, and I appreciate it when professors put books on reserve, but I know that personally it remains difficult to fund or acquire all of my books for class, and that I’m not the only person in this position. If this is something that could be delegated to the library, I think it would be helpful to have a system for students, for example, to be able to give their textbooks to the library at the end of the year instead of to the bookstore.  Another suggestion I have is that Middlebury try to acquire more books in eBook format, because although I personally prefer holding a book in my hand, eBooks allow multiple students to access the material at the same time, and the ability to print and take notes on paper is also valuable. I do not know how the library decides which books to purchase, but if there’s a way to know which books or kinds of books students are using the most and whether certain books are being searched for that are either unavailable or often checked out (whether this information can be gathered through the search engine or through a survey), this might allow the library to know which books could be more useful in eBook format.

What else would you like to say?

I think the library needs a copy of Elif Shafak’s The Forty Rules Of Love, which is currently unavailable [editor’s note: Thanks for the recommendation!  We purchased a copy…].