Personal & Institutional News

Column Editor: Richard D. Hacken

WESS Newsletter
Fall 2005
Vol. 29, no. 1

previous article next article

When catastrophic Katrina blew through the Gulf Coast region recently, Rebecca Malek-Wiley, our WESS colleague at Tulane University, was able to evacuate safely to Houston.  Our thoughts and hopes and, yes, even prayers, are with her and with the other people of New Orleans and surrounding areas, who have property and lives and careers to salvage.  More on this in the Spring Newsletter, no doubt. 

The “Hymn to Osiris” tells us that the Egyptian God-Mother Isis was skilled in the use of phrases that packed plentiful power.  But what has Isis done lately?  As a matter of WESS Newsletter record, ISiS was recently reborn.  In June 2004, during the XLIX SALALM Congress at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, a group of subject specialists for Iberia got together and expressed concern regarding the limited representation of the Iberian Peninsula within SALALM and WESS.  Since then, Anne Barnhart from the University of California at Santa Barbara and Patricia Figueroa of Brown University have joined efforts and coordinated a series of initiatives to promote peninsular studies in both groups.  During this year’s SALALM@50 Congress in Gainesville, Florida, Iberian Studies in SALALM (ISiS) held a pre-conference meeting.  In a fruitful gathering (no fertility-goddess pun intended), ISiS came to life, took on her name, and a mission statement and objectives were drafted.  The Executive Board of SALALM supported these initiatives.  With Osiris standing to one side of her, stylus and papyrus in hand as befits hymn, ISiS continues to forge ahead by contributing information to the WESS-Rom and LALA-L listservs, promoting the participation of SALALM members in the WESS Romance Languages Discussion Group, and creating a newly emergent website at .  ISiS members hope to establish their own listserv soon.

The above-mentioned Patricia Figueroa is a Scholarly Resources Librarian at Brown University Library.  She manages the Iberian, Latin American, Latino, Italian, and Gender Studies collections at both the Rockefeller Library for the Humanities and Social Sciences and the John Hay Library for Special Collections.  Raised in Madrid, Spain in a French and Peruvian household during the 1970s and 80s, she acquired early on a flair for multiculturalism in a society that had not yet experienced the cultural changes that the burgeoning immigration of the 1990s would later generate.  Eager to learn English, she moved to the United States in her early twenties.  Once she was able to overcome culture shock, mainly in terms of food and near total lack of public transportation (what-do-you-mean-you-don’t-drive?), she decided to stay in this country and attend college.  With a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Rhode Island School of Design, a Master of Science in Library and Information Sciences from Simmons College, and Master of Arts in International Relations from Boston University, she was hired by Brown University Library in 2001.  Patricia is very interested in Romance languages and literature, is still puzzled by peanut butter, could not care less about the Patriots or Red Sox, and hates New England winters.  She could also do without summers that produce humid beings.  She travels often to Madrid, mostly blaming it on her job. 

Anne Barnhart went from small town Wisconsin to Caracas, Venezuela at age 18 as an AFS student, and, says she, “así me nació la conciencia.” She returned to the U.S. with a passion for Hispanic cultures and a critical eye for U.S. foreign policy and interventionism.  During her sophomore year at Indiana University, she spent a semester abroad in Seville, Spain.  In an “aha!” moment during the processions of Holy Week, she got interested in the ethnographic approach to religious studies and ritual.  She finished her B.A. with a double major in Spanish Literature and Religious Studies and a certificate in Latin American & Caribbean Studies.  She continued at Indiana as a grad student,  completing M.A. degrees in Religious Studies and Latin American & Caribbean Studies and working for the librarian for Latin American Studies, Glenn Read.  Deservedly sick of school, she went to Chile for nine months, where she helped a friend with research,  traveled, read heaps of Chilean literature and learned to knit.  Returning from Chile, she was ready to tackle library school at the University of Illinois.  During her second year Anne was awarded a grant through FLAS to study Quechua.  She also got a labrador retriever puppy and discovered that books on puppy psychology were much more interesting than assigned articles on the info gathering habits of undergraduates.  Her first real life job was at Lafayette College in Easton, Pennsylvania as a reference/instruction librarian, where she took advantage of the relative proximity to NYC and discovered a passion for cycling.  In the fall of 2002 she hopped coasts and started as the Librarian for Latin American & Iberian Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara.  Soon afterwards the library administration noticed that other M.A. of Anne's and asked her to take on the responsibilities for Religious Studies as well.  She now also works with the Chicana/o Studies Department.  Anne enjoys taking her dog to the beaches of Santa Barbara.  She still likes to cycle but is currently training for a marathon to raise money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.  Anne regularly attends Latin American Studies Association conferences and is an active member of SALALM, where she currently serves as a member at large on the Executive Board.  She has developed upper-level library research methodology courses for both Latin American & Iberian Studies and Religious Studies at UCSB.  She indexes for HAPI (since 1999) and regularly publishes reviews in both Choice and Críticas.  She began discussing the possibilities of forming ISiS because she sensed that the Iberian Peninsula was not getting the attention it deserved and that she needed more professional support for this area of her work.  Her biggest vice continues to be the "passport + credit card = international travel" mentality.

From the “If the Hsu fits…” Department: Martha Hsu is in the process of retiring after almost 38 years as a librarian at Cornell.  How can somebody so young have already accumulated 38 years of library service?  In her early years at Olin Library’s Reference Department, there were no computers, but plenty of NUC volumes – so over the years, she developed a pretty sure sense of “we must have this,” vs.  “it’s possible we don’t have that.” In 1987, when Louis Pitschmann left Cornell, Martha became the Bibliographer for North European Studies.  At first, she recalls, there was only one computer terminal for eight bibliographers.  Through the years, she has been fortunate to have a variety of opportunities in the library.  Besides being responsible for North European Studies (literature and history), she has also selected for psychology, linguistics, general bibliography, and geography.  Martha’s final assignment was as Acting Music Librarian while a search was underway to replace Lenore Coral, who died last March.  Music has been Martha’s avocation for a lifetime; it was her minor both in undergraduate and graduate school.  Living with a musician for 37 years has helped, too!  The final year of her career has seen her, you might say, trading Area Studies for Aria Studies and rounding out her career on a “high note.” She and her husband plan to remain in Ithaca during the summer and fall, and spend winters in North Carolina.  Meanwhile, Martha’s job is being distributed among five other librarians at Cornell.  Her German literature, history and linguistics successor is Kizer Walker, who has a Ph.D.  from Cornell in German Studies.  Will Sayers will take on Scandinavian and Dutch in addition to his French and Italian responsibilities.  Other subjects have scattered to other selectors.  It isn’t easy to replace an institution within an institution.  Martha wants to let us know she has enjoyed the contact with and support from all her capable colleagues around the country over the years. 

Kizer Walker assumed selection responsibilities for German Studies at Cornell University Library (CUL) in April of this year.  In addition to his German area duties, Kizer (pronounced “Kaiser,” but with no connection to Empire building in the Empire State) is now in his third year as bibliographer for classics, archaeology, and ancient Near Eastern studies.  He also serves as Coordinator for Collection Development in a newly-merged Department of Collections, Reference, Instruction, and Outreach in Cornell’s humanities/social sciences cluster of libraries.  This is a rich mix, as evidenced by the potential acronym RICO: Reference, Instruction, Collections, Outreach.  Kizer completed the M.L.S. at Syracuse University in 2001 and was hired by CUL the same year.  He holds a Ph.D. in German Studies from Cornell, completed in 1999 under David Bathrick.  His dissertation, Weimar Wars of Position: The First World War and Discursive Mobilizations on the Left, addresses relations among warfare, memory, language, and political mobilization in a number of texts -- literary, theoretical, and polemical -- engaged with the First World War in the late Weimar period.  Scholarly interests include critical theory, Marxism, German-Jewish studies, history of technology, and media studies.  Kizer is particularly interested in the changing role of the research library and library collections in the transnational university and in issues surrounding scholarly communications in the electronic environment.  He served on CUL’s 2004 Task Force on Open Access Publishing.  In his previous position as Digital Projects Librarian for Cornell’s Engineering, Mathematics, and Physical Sciences Libraries, Kizer was project manager for two major international scholarly communications and digital preservation projects in mathematics for which CUL was a key collaborator, along with SUB Göttingen and Springer Verlag, among others.

Somewhat new to the ranks of WESS is another Cornell librarian, Virginia Cole.  Virginia holds an M.A.T. in teaching social studies and a Ph.D.  in medieval history from the State University of New York at Binghamton.  The course of her research into topics medieval has moved socioeconomically upward from “The Poor in Anglo-Saxon England” to "Ritual, Religion, and the Royal Teenager: The case of Edward II of England."  With regard to the latter, it occurs that teenagers are generally a Royal Pain regardless of social station.  Virginia’s official titles are Reference and Digital Services Librarian and Medieval Studies Bibliographer.  From her office at Cornell's humanities and social sciences library, Olin Library, she spends her time happily bouncing between the high tech and the traditional, between collection development, reference, and instruction.  Still fairly fresh in the profession of librarianship and the wacky wonders of WESS, she had a great time at ALA Chicago attending her first WESS meetings, sessions, and, of course, the cruise.  Virginia felt immediately welcome and comfortable and is looking forward to becoming more involved.  Point of semantic trivia:  the noun “cornelian” has nothing to do with “Cornell” per se, lacking the requisite second “l,” but is, rather, an element used in jewelry-making.  Virginia is just one of a fresh new batch of WESSies who will help to polish our profession into an even brighter jewel. 

Dale Askey made his Yale break on July 1.  His wife, Yennifer, or rather, Jennifer, had been offered a tenure-track position in the Modern Languages Department at Kansas State University (yes, she's a Germanist, and no, this Manhattan is not on an island).  Soon after, the library at KSU offered Dale the position of Web Development Librarian, which means that he is charged with maintaining and developing the library's entire Web presence.  In order not to forget his past librarian lives completely, he plans to adopt a faux German accent to give everything a German flavor.  He’ll also strive to design Web pages that exhibit stellar crypto-minimalist design while offering no obviously useful information.  (Warning: previous two sentences contain wit, satire, irony, and deeper significance.)  He did a comparative search in the catalogs of both KSU and Yale to get a sense of scale: the keywords mann and zauberberg net 130 hits in Yale's Orbis, and 28 at KSU.  Given the relative size of the collections, that's about right.  ILL is a beautiful thing, but he will sorely miss Yale's collection, no two ways about that.  Answering the inevitable question: yes, his position at Yale will be preserved, albeit with some changes.  In the future, the position will have broader responsibilities for the humanities beyond German languages and literatures – e.g., philosophy and comparative linguistics.  But at its core it is still very much a Germanist job, something actively defended by Dale and by some of his colleagues at Yale despite, shall we say, other voices.  If anyone has questions about the position or about working at Yale, Dale says he would be more than happy to answer them.  His new e-mail address is daskey @, but since we're all librarians we already knew that, right?  Despite the loss of a European collection portfolio, Dale plans to remain active in WESS, if only out of personal interest for the time being.  He will still read German-e and the WESS list and has no intention of letting that part of his brain atrophy. 

Frances Allen announces that a rare German book brought home after World War II by a G.I.  has made its way back to Germany.  The book’s most recent owner, a Kentucky man, contacted Don Heinrich Tolzmann, curator of the University of Cincinnati German-Americana Collection in University Libraries and director of UC’s German-American Studies Program, to effect the voluntary transfer.  The book, Die Andächtige Pilgerfahrt (The Devout Pilgrimage), by Vincentius Briemle, was published in Munich (1727-29), consisting of two volumes of travel descriptions of a pilgrimage to the Holy Land in the early 1700s.  The owner’s father, a World War II veteran, had left him the book in the family will.  Interested in tracing the book’s history, he learned that there had been two private owners of the book in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, but that it was impossible to establish ownership of the book in the war and postwar years.  Further research revealed that the Duchess Anna Amalia Library in Weimar had recently lost the same book after suffering a devastating fire.  With this generous donation – delivered this past summer – that German library now has a copy of both volumes back on its shelves again. 

Nancy Boerner retired at the end of August from her position as Bibliographer for Classical Studies, French and Italian Language and Literature, Germanic Studies, Comparative Literature, and West European Studies at Indiana University-Bloomington.  She had worked in the IU  Libraries since 1984, beginning as Library Associate for West European Studies.  Extremely active in WESS, Nancy has served terms on the Executive Committee as secretary and as member-at-large.  She is an active and ongoing co-editor of Reference Reviews Europe, which appears annually in print and online.  Residing on her German-to-English translation resumé are a number of journal articles and book reviews.  Also, she has just finished translating a biography of Goethe, which is scheduled for publication this fall by Haus Publishing of London (ISBN: 1904341640).  What she modestly fails to mention is that the German original of the biography is by her husband, Peter, longtime member of the Indiana University German Department, and that any questions regarding auctorial intent were able to be resolved over early-morning omelettes and pomegranate juice.  She hopes to keep up her translating activities in retirement and perhaps continue to help with RRE, with some travel to Europe next spring also on the agenda.  She leaves WESS even more reluctantly than her job.  “WESS colleagues are so knowledgeable and cordial,” says she, “and WESS activities substantive but also fun.”  Her first advice to her successor will be to join WESS!

Sue Waterman of the Johns Hopkins Library has written an article just published in Representations by the University of California (Berkeley) Press, volume 90, number 1 (Spring 2005), pp.  98-128.  The title is "Collecting the 19th Century.”  It's also available online at (Caliber).  The article is based on Sue’s Nijhoff Grant research of 2001, originally entitled “Collecting the Nineteenth Century: The Book, the Specimen, the Photograph as Archive.”  It involved research in Parisian and Belgian archives to study three generations of a prominent Belgian family of the 19th century, the Selys Longchamps, and their collecting activities in the fields of geology, natural science, photography and books.

Sebastian Hierl began working as Librarian for Western Europe (Germanic Emphasis) at Harvard University in September.  Previously he had been Bibliographer for English and Romance Literatures at the University of Chicago.  This did not necessarily involve the acquisition of English “romance novels,” but did include French, Italian, Spanish and Portuguese literatures.  As part of his responsibilities for English at the University of Chicago, he was responsible for the Harriet Monroe Modern Poetry Collection, where he worked closely with the Special Collections Research Center to acquire the papers of David Ray, Layle Silbert, Paul Carroll, David Shepherd, as well as the records of the poetry magazines VERSE and LVNG.  For further information on Sebastian’s highly interesting and multilingual background, training, and work experience in and out of academia, see the earlier WESS article in the "Personal & Institutional News" column of Fall, 2000.

Just as Sebastian rolled into Cambridge to set up bibliographic shop at Harvard,  Sarah Wenzel’s trusty Toyota was rolling out of town, so now MIT  will be OHNE  (Only Her Notability Endureth).  Sarah has accepted the position of Head of Reference Programs at Columbia University in New York (the Manhattan that is on an island). 

At Washington University (the one in St.  Louis that is so very well stocked with contemporary German literature holdings), Brian Vetruba has expanded his responsibilities.  In addition to foreign language (mostly German) cataloging, he has also taken over as subject librarian for Germanic Languages and Literatures, Comparative Literature, and European Studies.  Now when the German cataloger wonders why the subject specialist ordered that particular book, it will be a ripe occasion for personal introspection. 

On September the First, longtime WESSie Mike Olson began a job at Clark University (in Worcester, Massachusetts) as the library’s head of collections management.  “Both the campus and the library are beautiful,” says he, “and the people have already been incredibly kind and generous.  I’m really looking forward to this opportunity to make a difference in the Clark community.”  As an added bonus, given his geographic location, Mike should be able to help those of us who have trouble pronouncing “Worchestershire Sauce.”  Mike’s new e-mail contact is: molson @ .  Be certain to use the correct domain name, since “molson” is also the name of a Canadian beer.

Editors: Sarah G. Wenzel, Paul Vermouth

Association of College & Research Libraries
©American Library Association

Return to WESS Newsletter