Personal & Institutional News

Column Editor: Richard Hacken

WESS Newsletter
Fall 2004
Vol. 28, no. 1

previous article next article

Those who attended the WESS International Conference on Migrations in Society, Culture, and the Library in Paris last March are aware to the very point of cognizance that said conference was a scholarly feast, an organizational success, a sure-fit surfeit of earthly delights in the City of Lights. Those who did not attend the conference, on the other hand, do not wish to hear yet more gushing stories of Parisian glories. They do not wish to hear, once again, about the highly informative sessions (which will be recapitulated to some faithfully elevated degree in an upcoming tome of proceedings). They do not wish to hear yet again about what was ingested in restaurants or digested in museums, about evenings of culture sponsored by local book dealers in cultural spaces or on famous iron towers, about post-conference jaunts to Versailles, Chartres, Avignon, Bilbao, Strasbourg or Oxford, about sheep grazing in the lobby of the Mercure Hotel, about WESSies standing on the terrace atop Les Galeries Lafayette at sunset, peering past the topmost pinnacle of the Opera House to the sinuous insinuations of the Seine and beyond… and so these things shall remain unmentioned, except to say: make yourself a mental note to attend the next such WESS happening.

To convey personal and institutional news within the spirit of alphabetical orderliness, this column shall now proceed from A to Z, with intermediate stops at such letters as J and S (just to mention two):

Diane d'Almeida was instigator, planner and executor of a Mugar Library Fair held at Boston University on September 14. As in past years, she has found this to be an extremely successful event that attracts approximately 1000 fairgoers. Not only do visitors enter the library premises voluntarily, but they also participate in demos of electronic sources. All librarians participate, and local merchants donate prizes (about 200 prizes this year – including a new computer).

Roberta Astroff of Penn State attended music camp for a week at a lake near Peterborough, Ontario. She played chamber music in a chamber, plus she played early music in an early music ensemble. She would love to go back to Paris and make beautiful music there. Since the cello is her instrument, however, that would make a hardship on those seated around her in economy class. She only takes the cello with her if she can drive. In other good news, a tenure and promotion process has recently promoted her to associate humanities librarian and adjunct associate professor of Spanish and Comparative Literature. By the way, Penn State – where Roberta does her day job thing – is not to be confused with the State Pen, which has somewhat different entrance requirements.

The new librarian for history and history of science at Princeton is Elizabeth Bennett. A medievalist by training (Ph.D. Yale, Medieval Studies '89), Elizabeth spent some years outside of academia, and then returned to receive an M.L.I.S. in 1998 from Drexel. She has been at Princeton since 1998, first as the manager of JSTOR's General Science digitization project; then briefly as acting librarian for classics, Hellenic studies, German & linguistics; and then as manager of CPANDA, a social science data archiving project ( CPANDA stands for “Cultural Policy and the Arts.” “See Panda” is also something you can do at the London Zoo, but that's a different story. Elizabeth was acting history librarian for the 2003-2004 academic year. Sometimes, now that she is not only acting librarian but also actual librarian for history and history of science, she has to explain to the curious how the science of history differs from the history of science. Elizabeth has been what we call in the trade an “intermittent WESSie,” yet we learned in seventh-grade social science class that intermittent reinforcement is the strongest of all inducements. Thus, Elizabeth is looking forward to meeting her colleagues (that’s us) and becoming more active in WESS-turned Europe.

Paula Carns, a new member of WESS, became the Librarian for Spanish, Italian and Portuguese at the University of Illinois Library at Urbana-Champaign in December 2003. She arrived at this position in a very roundabout way. Originally, Paula was a painter (of pictures, not houses) and a textile designer. Art not being a lucrative career unless one can live on air, Paula became an art historian. Unfortunately, she picked the field of medieval art history, her choice being unfortunate in its dearth of potential remuneration and employ. Adoring libraries – she studies manuscript illuminations, among other things – and not knowing what to do with her seemingly useless Ph.D., Paula became a… (pause for effect)… librarian. Her interest in literature, in languages, in books, in staying in Urbana-Champaign (hometown of her husband; Paula is from Maine), in earning enough rubles to eat, and in being a member of WESS make her job a true joy. When not engaged in librarianship and research, Paula sews, collects silver, and hangs out with her husband and brood of cats (covey of cats? gaggle of cats? purrsonage of cats?).

Charles Croissant, Catalog Librarian at Saint Louis University (St. Louis, Missouri) spent three weeks this past June and July in Germany, where he presented workshops on Anglo-American cataloging practice and the MARC 21 format to audiences of German librarians (in German, very well received). Charles had been, you see, a very active member of the German-American team that translated AACR2 into German, which led to close professional and personal connections with several German catalogers. Ergo, he has been invited to conduct workshops in Germany covering various aspects of AACR2 and MARC21 for those dabbling or mainstreaming their way into these heretofore Anglocentric protocols. On this trip, he presented workshops at the Bavarian State Library in Munich, next at the German Archaeological Institute in Berlin, and finally at the headquarters of the Berlin-Brandenburg Library Consortium, also in Berlin. Charles provided an historical context for current Anglo-American practice; he provided assistance on specific questions for those struggling to adapt, evolve, or migrate; and he paid special attention to the cataloging of multivolume works – an area in which Anglo-American and German practices have traditionally diverged. Earlier this spring, Charles published a lengthy article auf Deutsch in a major German library journal, Bibliothek – Forschung und Praxis 28 (2004), Nr. 1, pp. 11-36. The article paralleled the workshops, bearing, like them, the title: MARC21 und die anglo-amerikanische Katalogisierungspraxis (MARC21 and Anglo-American cataloging practice).

Jeff Gabel is a catalog librarian at Long Island University in Brooklyn. He has also been known to show up at WESS meetings. Furthermore, his art shows are reviewed from time to time: a New York Times review of July 2, 2004 – entitled “Power, Corruption and Lies” – came to the following three conclusions (among others) about Jeff's "scribbly, Roz Chast-meets-Giacometti-style portraits of people who may or may not be imaginary." (1) "He… adds extensive hand written prose telling about problems in the person's life… Mr. Gabel is a truly engaging writer." (2) "Mr. Gabel also does translations …[His Stefan Zweig comic-book-style novella] is like listening to a truck driver tell the story in a bar in Alabama." (3) "…[H]is drawing is weak, his writing is fragmentary; and his translations are ridiculous. His art as a whole is pathetic and absurd, and that is the beauty of it. By failing, he succeeds delightfully." – I wonder if Jeff’s supervisor at LIU makes a similar judgment about his cataloging? – Jeff's translation work developed out of his day job, and his latest work includes texts from German, Finnish and Veps (I wonder how you say "Schweppes" in Veps?). Not that he is well versed in these languages… he admits to being ill versed in English, too. The translations could be called "cultural excavations" that degenerate into expressions "on the periphery of the artist's [and the viewer/reader's] vision." In the Vepsian case, they also help preserve a small nugget from a dwindling culture. Before shows in Madrid and Basel, before an MFA at the Pratt Institute, Jeff's undergraduate BFA degree was at Kansas State University. So he knows well the kitsch and camp cultures of two cities that call themselves “Manhattan.” For more images and text, Google "Jeff Gabel."

WESSie Fred Jenkins now carries the following title around with him: “Interim Dean of Libraries, Head of Collection Management & Professor, University of Dayton Library.” Because of fluctuations inherent but unexplicated in those job titles, he has missed the last couple of ALA conferences. But we forgive him, don't we? Fred has been teaching courses in Ecclesiastical Latin and Mythology concomitant with beginning his temporary assignment as interim dean of libraries. As he enters the administrative wing of the library, his grasp of mythology should serve him well. He will be teaching Latin again this fall. And, in his infinite, copious and capacious leisure time, he will be trying to finish the second edition of Classical Studies: A Guide to the Reference Literature.

On July 12 Jim Niessen gave a presentation on his Coutts Nijhoff project at the 6th World Congress of Hungarian Librarians in Budapest, entitling his Hungarian-language talk "The Acquisition of German Books in Three Large Budapest Libraries 1900-1990: Cultural Relations and Library Division of Labor." There was particular interest in two issues: the French-inspired “boycott” of German scholarship after WWI, and the role of the Hungarian National Library in the distribution of books confiscated from church libraries by the Communist authorities after WWII. Jim would be interested to hear at from anyone who has encountered relevant information on either of these topics. One of the tours organized for participants was to the Andrássy University, Hungary’s German-language university ( Founded in 2001 with support from the German, Austrian, and Hungarian governments as well as from several foundations, the private university recently completed its second academic year with 150 students in political science and law and a library of 6,000 volumes. Jim’s summer vacation travels to some of the western republics of the Commonwealth of Independent States gave him confidence to reassure WESSies: the eastward expansion of Western Europe will slow down, if not stop altogether. He found that cultural and familial ties – as well as economic and political ones – between the emergent national states and Russia make it extremely likely that these countries will continue to have very close relations with each other for many years to come.

Michael Seadle has given up selecting the German books (at least officially) at Michigan State in order to take over the Systems Department. For some reason related to the metabolic limits of intelligent mammals, he simply could not do German, systems, digital projects, and copyright all at once. Nonetheless, his involvement with Germany has not declined. This past summer he flew to Berlin to serve on a commission at Humboldt University on librarian education. He also has staff working on an OAI (Open Archives Initiative) harvester for specific sets of German-related materials (among them a project for the ARL/CRL "German-North American Resources Partnership," which he hopes to show off at the Bostonian Midwinter conference). He also expects to go to the annual librarians' convention in Düsseldorf next March, offering him an excellent opportunity to interact with his German colleagues. The timing this year makes it possible for him to slip on over to the Leipzig Book Fair as well.

Alessia Zanin-Yost, Reference Librarian at Montana State University in Bozeman, holds an MLIS from San Jose State University and an MA in art history from UC Davis (other WESSies with Cal Aggie educations on their resumé and a “Bossie Cow-Cow” fight song in their hearts include Beau Case, Dick Hacken, and Kai Stoeckenius). Alessia has Yost been working in her current position for a year, but already has accomplished a lot. She has published four articles so far, has been involved in various committees on campus, and has presented at three conferences (MLA, LOEX, and at one organized by the Biblioteca Multimediale in Italy). At the latter, in Bari, she was invited to talk about digital reference. The conference gave an opportunity for librarians to talk about why we need libraries in the twenty-first century. (Excuse the editorial side note: isn’t that a bit like asking why we need water in the desert?) Alessia is interested in reference, virtual reference, library instruction, art librarianship and diversity. Most of all she is interested in Western European Studies and in the means of collaborating with our colleagues in Europe. This is the reason she has become a member of WESS. Having been an instructor for several years, she turned to librarianship because she found this profession very similar to teaching; but never in her wildest thoughts (dreams, hallucinations, mental tangents) did she imagine that it would be so rewarding. Finally, she would like to address the WESS membership (that’s you): First, she would like to thank you all for your involvement in the profession. Second, she really would like to become more active in WESS, so please take note of her willingness to be a colleague, to correspond by e-mail ( or other communicative possibilities. Alessia is interested in being more of a player than an observer, so please let her know how she can do that in the WESS way.

Editor: Sarah G. Wenzel

Association of College & Research Libraries
©American Library Association

Return to WESS Newsletter