Personal and Institutional News

Column Editor: Richard Hacken

WESS Newsletter

Fall 2001, Vol. 25, no. 1

Association of College & Research Libraries
© American Library Association

The lives of many of us in WESS were touched and made better by an all-too-short acquaintance with Christine Blucher Germino. Chris, a beautiful and gracious person who worked as a bibliographer and reference librarian at the Jean and Alexander Heard Library on the campus of Vanderbilt University, died on April 10, 2001. Though she had become ill in December, she worked up until a few weeks before her death. More than once, she expressed appreciation for the collegial WESS experience she had enjoyed at the Frankfurt Book Fair in 1998. A look at her enthusiasm for – and work with – the Waldinger literary collection at the Vanderbilt Library was reported in the Fall 1999 “Personal and Institutional News” column of the WESS Newsletter.

Please take the trouble (which is very little trouble at all) to meet Yvonne Boyer, also from Vanderbilt. She has been a librarian on that arboreal campus since 1988 with collection responsibilities in Art and Art History, French and Italian, and the “W.T. Bandy Center for Baudelaire and Modern French Studies.” Feel secure about surfing your way to the website for the Bandy Center at “,” knowing that Yvonne has safely Baudelairized the site. Originally from California, Yvonne is a UCLA graduate and holds an MLS from Peabody/Vanderbilt University. She enjoys 3-T: Tennis, Travel and Topiary. (The word “topiary” is a very interesting case, don’t you think? Linguists might tell you it is related to “topography,” hinting at a sense of “artificial landscape” by way of Greece.) Yvonne’s husband is an art historian, and together they travel to many interesting museums, archives, libraries, and gardens… categories for which even Europe is somewhat noted.

Roberta Astroff of the Pattee Library at Pennsylvania State recently published an article on “Revitalizing a Foreign Literature Collection” in Collection Building, vol. 20, no. 1 (2001), pp. 11-18. Emphasizing in the article her experience with Spanish-language collections, she puts in quite a solid word for the use of new electronic formats. With a little bit of simple searching, your very own digital Sancho Panza could probably plug you into her article via the e-journal version online, leaving you with no need to tilt at windmills or go on periodical expeditions. For more about Roberta and her odd-enough odyssey into librarianship, feel free to consult this column in the Fall 1999 issue of the WESS Newsletter.

No longer at that same Penn State in Happy Valley, PA, on the other hand, is Roger Brisson, now Head of the Germanic Division at Harvard. (Today, some dozen years after the two Germanies have joined together again, it is reassuring to see that at least Harvard still has its Germanic “Division.”) Roger will be overseeing cataloging and acquisition operations for the Germanic collections. Bruce Trumble, who had been acting Head of the Germanic Division until Roger’s arrival, remains as the Principal Cataloger. He is also a principled cataloger. Mike Olson will remain Librarian for Germanic Collections at Widener Library, seeing to and looking after Germanic collection development and related duties. In short, Mike will continue to select the Germanic materials for Widener and Harvard Depository (the storage library), while Roger and his staff will order, acquire and catalog the materials. Roger (e-reachable at has undergone the ultimate rural-to-urban shift: one year ago at this time he was shooing bears from his wooded acres in Central Pennsylvania, and now he is bearing his shoes betwixt condo and workplace. Utilizing the rarely invoked CCCP - FOIA (Cambridge Confiscatory Condominium Pricing Freedom of Information Act), I was able to learn that Roger’s new condo in Cambridge cost him approximately five times the annual operating budget of the Principality of Liechtenstein, “plus other valuable considerations.”

No longer at the halls of Eli Yale is Marianna McKim, who has joined colleague (and partner) Reinhart Sonnenburg in the hills of New Hampshire. Their favorite post-ALA jaunt this past summer involved moseying past Fort Ross, former Russian outpost in Northern California, to Mendocino (famous as the filming location for both Murder, She Wrote and The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming). Following a subsequent and pleasant summer of toe-dangling in streams, Marianna started work as Assistant Director for Research in Dartmouth’s Foundation and Corporate Relations. So now she will dangle her toes in what those in the annual-giving business call “pledge streams”. She does plan to remain active in WESS and will also continue to maintain the Scandinavian Studies Web. She is likewise the newest member of the RRE editorial team.

No longer at the library of Texas Tech is Jim Niessen, now the “World History Librarian” at Rutgers. Jim gets a particular rush when he is able to tell people that he is “the person officially in charge of world history.” We’d best humor him until this megalomania subsides. Unofficially, but more to the point, his job has him responsible for European and Asian History, Jewish Studies, and Slavic/East European Languages at the Alexander Library on the College Avenue Campus of Rutgers in New Brunswick. New Brunswick, with its Hungarian population, is a prime locale for chowing down on excellent Szekely goulash. Jim is also pleased to report that Rutgers has joined the AAU/ARL German Resources Project. As a side note, it is reported that the Texas Tech basketball program was finally able to afford a new coach by the name of Bobby Knight once Jim’s salary cap back in Lubbock had been sprung free.

No longer in the hills of North Carolina is Sebastian Hierl, now Bibliographer for English, French and Italian at the University of Chicago. Since his mini-bio was featured in Fall of 2000 in this very column, there is no need to retell the details of Sebastian’s decacultural background: born in the capital of Belgium (now the home base for Eurocrats) as a Brussels sproutling to a German father and a Dutch mother, raised in Paris, educated in French and German and Texan, employed in Canada and the U.S., with training and interests in Austrian literature, French Renaissance and Swiss fondue….

Sem Sutter, being Sebastian’s boss at the University of Chicago, has enough clout to retain the Germanic and Scandinavian collecting rights for himself. His Nijhoff research has paid off handsomely, partially for a book chapter, “Polish Books in Exile: Cultural Booty across Two Continents, through Two Wars,” appearing in Jonathan Rose, ed., The Holocaust and the Book: Destruction and Preservation (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 2001), pp. 143-161, and totally as the basis for a conference paper, “The Lost Jewish Libraries of Vilna and the Frankfurt Institut zur Erforschung der Judenfrage,” presented at Cambridge Project for the Book Trust’s Lost Libraries Conference at Magdalene College, Cambridge University, 17 September 2000. This fascinating conference dealt with libraries throughout history that have been lost or dispersed for a host of reasons. Speaking of reasonable hosts, the Cambridge people proved very good at pomp and circumstantial hosting, right down to candlelight dinners in Magdalene College. The papers themselves are being edited for publication and the more academic of the conference details are found at

Since Sarah Wenzel no longer works on that bank of the Charles River, Diane D’Almeida has become the new Foreign Language and Linguistics Bibliographer at Boston University’s Mugar Library. Diane is new to WESS, choosing to join our swank club on the recommendation of Sarah, who allegedly referred to WESS as “an interesting group of people/activities.” And it’s true: sometimes we don’t know if we are people or activities. Diane has been a formal librarian for only 5 years, but she has been known to wear informal and semi-formal wear during that time. Before that, she lived in Portugal for 12 years, where, married to a Portuguese, she started a small children’s library. She also started a translation company (French/Portuguese/English), taught French and Portuguese in The American School of Lisbon, and was a liaison for a business council of US companies headed by former ambassador Frank Carlucci. Going even further back (in a kind of bio-flashback), Diane majored in French and German at Wheaton College (Norton, MA) and then spent over a year in France. Since getting her library degree at Simmons 5 years ago, she’s worked at the Dewey Management Library at MIT, the Pardee Business Library at BU, the Boston Public Library as a generalist, and back again to her present post at BU. Diane was a week-long volunteer at the recent IFLA in Boston, when our colleagues from around the world came to Beantown. She has published an article in C&RL, and a Northern Light search also reveals one “Diane Almeida” as a lecturer in theater arts and a costume designer for various Boston productions.

Barbara Allen, Reference Librarian and Bibliographer for Education and German at the University of Northern Iowa, recently published an annotated bibliography of selected journals and magazines in the field of German studies in Collection Building, vol. 20, no. 2 (2001), pp. 54-73. Her interest in promoting German and European collections stems from the fact that she was born and raised in Germany and received her university education on a couple of continents both yon and hither with respect to the Atlantic pond. German collection development is now actually the smallest part of her job duties (“klein aber fein”). Her prior publications include a number of articles in Collection Management and Collection Building, a chapter in Magazines for Libraries, and several German-to-English translations in the set Crisis and the Arts: the History of Dada. (What is it about Iowa and Dada? Is there something in corn and soybeans that encourages people to programmatically challenge established canons of art and literature?) Barbara has also kept busy indexing for the MLA and abstracting for RRE: Reference Reviews Europe. She has indexed so much that her index finger has become a well-trained member of our digital society.

No longer on sabbatical is Ann Snoeyenbos, now resuming her duties in West European social science at NYU. She enjoyed reading as broadly as she could, thinking thoughts through to their (usually logical) conclusion for an entire year. The most thought-provoking book for her was The Victorian Internet, which compares the telegraph to whatever information system it is we’re using now. The most frustrating book for her was the Directory of European Union Political Parties by Alan J. Day (John Harper Publishing, 2000), because it is awfully close to the book she was working on for Lynne Reiner Publishers. Ann pronounces “excellent” her two-week trip to Alaska last February, as if she needed any more Anchoragement for her hardy lifestyle. We as a WESS group are grateful for the degree to which she and her NYU colleagues were spared from the worst devastation of September 11 and pray for the victims, for the mourners and for a return to what was once considered normal at the lower end of Manhattan. All free peoples, wherever they may live, are citizens of New York, and therefore, as a free man, I take pride in the words “Ich bin ein New Yorker.”

Even as there are times of tragedy that touch us all, there have also been times in life when all the elements for bliss came together in fluid harmony – when friends and colleagues, food and spirits, seagulls and the setting sun, all conjoined to produce memories that trail pink clouds of contentment past the cortex of the brain and into the vortex of the mind. One such Übermoment was the WESS Cruise of Saffron Cisco Bay on Sunday, June 17, 2001, and hopefully… You were there. It was the whipped cream and maraschino cherry on that particular Sunday, and indeed on the entire ALA conference (according to impartial observers – such as those present). Thanks and gratitude – along with appreciation and gratefulness – go out to all those who, be it via finances or sweat equity, made the cruise possible and more than passable. The most tralatitious trice (the most auspicious time to say Tra-La) came when the barque passed under the Golden Gate Bridge, for this moment anagogically portended the transitional passage of WESS from sometimes-choppy bureaucratic waters of the past to a Golden Age of smooth sailing upon the pacific waves of a New Millennium. That moment in time shall henceforth and forever be called the “Festival of the Passunder.” To have such a cruise in Atlanta would have to be literally groundbreaking.


Richard Hacken
Harold B. Lee Library
Brigham Young University


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