Tag Archives: Marlena Evans

Blind Date With A Book 2018

two student pose on either side of a book cart

Senior Feb Austin Kahn (2017.5) and senior Prasanna Vankina (2018) pose at the Blind Date With A Book Display in the Davis Family Library atrium.

Name: Katrina Spencer

Hometown: Los Angeles

Role at Middlebury: Literatures & Cultures Librarian

Time at Middlebury: 1 year, 10 days

Katrina, are you prepping a display… again?

Yes, I have a problem.

What’s it about?

My problem or the display?

Both.

I have an obsessive streak that is manifesting itself in this way. The display is a small celebration of Valentine’s Day. It’s called “Blind Date With A Book.” My former supervisor, Jessica Newman, at Steenbock Library at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, hipped me to it.

Doesn’t that kind of crowd the atrium?

Yes, we have a lot of great collections we want to highlight. Currently we have at least three temporary displays there: the Black History Month Display, the New England Review’s display, and Blind Date With A Book. (On the Upper Level, a display called “Hair Me Out” is being prepped, too. See if you can find it.)

a picture of textual instructions for the display

The instructions for engaging with Blind Date With A Book read as follows: 1. Choose an item and unwrap it. 2. Take a selfie for Facebook, tagging
Middlebury College Libraries.” 3. Check out your selection at the Circulation Desk.

What’s special about Blind Date With A Book?

Well, with this one, it’s only there for a limited time: February 11th- 19th. Many of the items are wrapped up so you can’t see what the title is and by unwrapping it, you make a small commitment of getting to know the work without knowing much about its content, hence the concept of a blind date. ;)

Take a selfie with the book you unwrap so we can show the match made in heaven on Facebook. Tag “Middlebury College Libraries.”

Also, don’t miss out on Special Collections’ (SC) awesome event, “DIY Valentine Event,” Tuesday February 13th. SC always has cool stuff.

Cover art for the film Chico & Rita

The cover art for the film Chico & Rita, a Cuban love story..

As an aside, I noticed we didn’t have many love stories featuring people of color so that will launch some new acquisitions: Love and BasketballLove Jones and Poetic Justice. The form at go.middlebury.edu/requests will allow you to make requests, too. For now, minimally, we have Chico & Rita. ;)

Who helped you to shape this?

You want me to name my accomplices?

Yes.

Leanne Galletly did the wrapping. Marlena Evans supplied numerous items, the book cart and the heart-shaped decorations. Kat Cyr also added titles that would be thematically appropriate for the project. I. . . I am an endless source of ideas.

Is that why they hired you?

Maybe. That and the degree (MSLIS). And the willingness.

a book cart with books and DVDs

The Blind Date With A Book display in the Davis Family Library atrium

Can you give us a hint as to what lies beneath the wrapping?

  • There may or may not be a classic work by a world famous South American writer there.
  • There may or may not be a work dedicated to telling Muslim women’s stories of love.
  • There may or may not be the story of two men falling in love and having to hide their intimacy from the world.
  • Maybe.

So who’s your Valentine?

TBD.

On Very Short Introductions

woman hovering over a table of books

Literatures & Cultures Librarian Katrina Spencer poses with the Very Short Introductions display. With more than 500 titles, these works represent one of the libraries’ most diverse collections.

Hey, there’s a new display up of Very Short Introductions to usher in the New Year. Come check it out, January 3rd- 26th!

Katrina (Literatures & Cultures Librarian), what are these books?

Every title featured on the table belongs to the Very Short Introductions series. They attempt to treat big themes in relatively few pages. The topics covered are broad in range from anything as abstract as “love,” as concrete as “water,” as complex and involved as “American politics,” as controversial and problematic as “racism” and as esoteric as “Kant.”

How many do we own?

Between the print and digital volumes, our MIDCAT catalog shows records for over 500 items in the Very Short Introductions series.

multicolored cover art for a book

The cover art used for the Very Short Introduction on love by Ronald de Sousa.

Why are they on display?

Aside from having beautiful, eye-catching colors and covers, J-Term is dedicated to studying one particular theme intensely and for a brief period of time. These items are rather “meta” because they have the same objective. Do you see what we did there? ;)

How do I get access to more?

Visit go/midcat/ (or, from off campus, go.middlebury.edu/midcat) and type in “very short introductions” as a keyword search. The results will list what we own in our collection in both print and e-format.

Is there a place that I can see the whole listing in the series?

Yeah, if you check out the Wikipedia page, you’ll see every theme that’s covered, starting with “classics” and all the way through “the immune system,” as of January 3rd, 2018.

multicolored cover art for a book

The cover art used for the Very Short Introduction on hormones by Marin Luck.

How long will they be out in the lobby?

We’ve chosen a small collection of thirty items to represent the series and they will be in the lobby either from January 3rd- January 26th or until you, your buddies and colleagues pick them up and check them out. ;) You can always pick them up off the shelves to check them out and remember that Armstrong has various very short introductions in its holdings, too! For example, climate change, fungi, hormones, infectious disease, moons, nuclear physics and viruses, just to mention a few!

How many can I check out?

We haven’t got a limit.

multicolored cover art for a book

The cover art used for the Very Short Introduction on Islam by Malise Ruthven.

Is the writing accessible?

I say yes. However, reading them is not like reading a novel. The works are more academic in nature and reflect the words of experts and years of research. While made and written for the layperson, don’t expect character development– perhaps except in the cases of Jesus, Muhammad, Goethe and other historical figures– and plot. (Speaking of which, they could likely use some historical figures who are women in this series like the Queen of Sheba, Juana Inés de la Cruz, Marie Curie and Malala Yousafzai. Just sayin’.) They are written to be informative and, as with many other items in our collection that serves academic needs, you may find yourself drawn to certain chapters or sections and less inclined to read from the first word to the very last.

multicolored cover art for a book

The cover art used for the Very Short Introduction on African History by John Parker and Richard Rathbone.

Can I use these works for my research?

Yes, of course! Though tiny, these works are credible sources that can supplement broader research and be cited like any other. Here is a sample citation:

Parker, John, and Richard Rathbone. African History: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007. Print.

For more on citing, visit go/citations/ (or, from off campus, go.middlebury.edu/citations) or see a librarian at the Research Desk.

multicolored cover art for a book

The cover art used for the Very Short Introduction on colonial America by Alan Taylor.

Which is your favorite?

Me? I’m partial to the ones that feature religious themes, like the Koran and the Bible. Religion shapes so much of our lives and mores and having the opportunity to understand the contexts in which sacred texts were born is really enlightening. Since developing November’s display featuring Native American history and related content, I’ve also been eyeing the one on North American Indians. And there’s the one on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, something I’ve been trying to get a greater grasp on for nearly all my life.

Who’s behind this effort?

Every– EVERY– display is a group effort. Many invisible hands make these displays possible. While I’m a great source of ideas ;), Kat Cyr, Rachel Manning and their student workers help to pull items from the shelves, Marlena Evans consistently has excellent feedback (and leadership) on design and Kim Gurney and Dan Frostman exercise a lot of patience with me and my constant requests for reserving props and status changes. Come by and see the culmination of our work!

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!