Personal and Institutional News

Column Editor: Richard Hacken

WESS Newsletter

Fall 2000, Vol. 24, no. 1

Association of College & Research Libraries
© American Library Association

The WESS Endnote Experiment (WESSENEX):  In an ongoing effort to meet the needs of an increasingly erudite readership within WESS, the editor of this column has decided to illustrate the scholarly nature of the "Personal and Institutional News" by the gratuitous use of irrelevant endnotes.  You will find these endnotes at the end of the column (13 for good luck).  Maybe these scholarly notes are enough to earn academic promotion for everyone involved?

David J. Duncan is Reference Librarian for Humanities at Wichita State University, where he has served since June 1999.  Before that, he was at Western New Mexico University and the University of Central Arkansas.(1)  In addition to David's current reference duties, he also serves as the liaison for History, Philosophy and Religion.(2)  In terms of historical research, his interests include the History of the Book, cross-Mediterranean ties (commercial, intellectual, etc.) bridging the gaps between civilizations (especially Christianity and Islam)(3) and the Crusades. Despite David's European emphasis for the MA in History (Virginia 1995), he has studied the Middle East and Asia as well.  He recently published a piece entitled "Scholarly Aspects of Shajarat al-Durr: A Need for Consensus" in Arab Studies Quarterly and has a few other bibliographic manuscripts currently in the pipeline.(4)  He has read three papers on the History of the Book and has proposed another presentation for next spring.  At next spring's International Congress for Medieval Studies (ICMS)(5) he will be co-presiding over a panel on "Topics in Medieval Librarianship: Libraries and Their Materials."(6)   David's present aim is to create a great history webpage with a balance of cultural materials.

In the wake of Eva Sartori's departure,(7) the University of Nebraska-Lincoln hired Andrew Wertheimer as the Development & Public Relations Librarian, a hat-of-many-colors that pleasantly includes duties as the liaison librarian for Modern Languages & Literatures, Judaic and Asian Studies.  He is honored to be at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, which has produced many fine European Studies bibliographers.(8)  Andrew comes to Nebraska from Madison, where he is pursuing a Ph.D. in library studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. His dissertation is on libraries in the Japanese-American concentration camps of World War II.  His interests, however, span the range of ethnic print cultures and the history of libraries and publishing.  The title "Library History Research in America: Essays Commemorating the Fiftieth Anniversary of the Library History Round Table," which he edited with Donald G. Davis, Jr., will be published this fall by the Center for the Book at the Library of Congress and the UT-Austin Graduate School of Library & Information Science.  After receiving his MLS from Indiana University in 1995, Andrew was the public services librarian at the Spertus Institute of Jewish Studies, Chicago.(9)  Andrew welcomes any lost bibliographers traveling through Nebraska to drop him a line at or a voice at (402) 472-6987.

Speaking of travel, Sarah Wenzel has moved across The River from Boston University to accept the position of Reference Coordinator in the Humanities Library at M.I.T.(10)   Sarah spent the first few minutes at her new job figuring out whether a "Reference Coordinator" should be more involved with referring or coordinating.  Since resolving that issue, she has moved smoothly into the task.  Sarah's job does not include any collecting in literature (Lisa Horowitz, another WESSie does all of the foreign language collecting and Sarah shares an office with Paul Vermouth, yet another WESSie).  A neophyte on the dream campus of every technoguru, she had been learning how to navigate around by building number with abacus in hand -- until finally... finally when the rains were pouring down... someone took pity and showed her the tunnels that connect everything!

Sebastian Hierl, Collection Manager for the Humanities and Social Sciences at a university in North Carolina (N.C. State University),(11)  is a welcome new addition to WESS.  At the University of Texas, where he earned his MLIS in 1999, he interned approximately the way that bumblebees do in a field of clover, gaining practical library experience in catalog maintenance, the Electronic Information Center (EIC), government documents and at the reference desk.(12)  Sebastian's background in the nuances of the European book is quite diverse and almost scary: within the past decade he has performed accounting duties for the magazine Femme Actuelle in Paris, has completed market research and done public relations for the Doubleday Book Club in Toronto, has used Lotus Un-Deux-Trois to help organize the 4.5 million members of France's leading book club, France-Loisirs (back in Paris again, the village where he had grown up with his joint German-Dutch nationalities), has marketed for Elsner-Druck in Berlin, and has done editorial work for Prisma-Verlag in Munich.   As you might guess, his Bachelor of Arts degree -- another joint venture (Reutlingen and Reims) -- was in International Business.  So what was it that made him turn from the dark side?  We must attribute the humanizing effects of a humanities education: Sebastian earned a doctorate in Comparative Literature in 1997 from the University of South Carolina with a dissertation entitled: "The End of the Road: Nihilism, Pleasure in the Text, Postmodernism, and Tradition in Thomas Bernhard and John Barth."  His areas of interest are the 20th-century novel and literary theory with particular focus on Austrian and U.S. literature, but he has presented papers on Rilke, Thomas Mann and Baudelaire as well.(13)

1.  If you plot David's trajectory from library school in Tucson to the Western Part of New Mexico to the Central Region of Arkansas to his present coordinates at the Southeast Central Reaches of Kansas, it is a simple geographic extrapolation to note that someday he will -- at a 97% statistical confidence level -- retire to a ranch 23 miles north of Merkel, Texas.  He remains blithely unaware of the fact, or cunningly denies it, but... look what historical inevitability did to the Berlin Wall!

2.  Not necessarily "Dangerous Liaisons" per se.

3.  Some of his other favorite cross-Mediterranean ties are the Mediterranean crossties on the Ferrovie dello Stato railway trestle that bridges the gap between Venezia-Mestre and Venezia-Santa Lucia.

4.  "Pipeline" is a loan word from Arabic, meaning "oil tube."

5.  ICMS should not be pronounced as: "I see a mess."

6.  You might want to ask your library directors to attend this session if some of their recent management decisions seem medieval.

7.  And it was a "wake," though Eva happily lives on in acute retirement amidst the gabled homes of Amherst -- see Spring 2000 column.

8.  Not to mention Jeffrey Larson, Stephen Lehman and Jim Spohrer.

9.  An institute whose name is readily recognizable to those of us who have, in our lifetimes, wandered a half-block north of the Hilton & Towers Hotel along Michigan Avenue.

10.  Though the superlative linguist (as opposed to the comparative "linguer") Noam Chomsky is M.I.T.-glad to see her in the Humanities Library, it is still uncertain whether a letter of recommendation from him was the deciding factor for the search committee.

11.  Not at the Chapel Hill library, but at the "D.H. Hill Library" in Raleigh. Sebastian began as an NCSU Fellow, and quite a fellow at that.

12.  The phrase "on the reference desk" is often heard -- but it is only accurate when you need to stand on the desk to change a light bulb.

13.  Very few critics have yet to see the literary output of Rilke, Mann and Baudelaire, respectively, as an answer to the nagging question: "Duino if Dr. Faustus has been bowdlerized?")

Richard Hacken
European Studies Bibliographer
Brigham Young University

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