Personal and Institutional News

Column Editor: Richard Hacken

WESS Newsletter

Spring 2001, Vol. 24, no. 2

Association of College & Research Libraries
© American Library Association


Welcome, Oh Readers of the WESS Newsletter, to a brief "Research & Development Hype" ("RDH," compiled by "RDH"). This column is presented as yet another in a continuing series of journalistic attempts to catch you up on what your fellow WESSies are doing and thinking -- and are therefore (in a Cartesian sense) "being." The following paragraphs represent only a portion of what WESS members research and develop, since only a small number of WESS members are represented here. Shyness prevents many others from granting us a glimpse of their greatness. (Technical note: in a world marked by chaos, look for some alphabetical order here.)

Barbara Allen (University of Northern Iowa), James Burgett (Kentucky) as well as Gail Hueting and Martha Zaraté (both of Illinois with Urbana Champaign) have been Field Bibliographers for the MLA Bibliography. Bedecked with pith helmets, they have -- by means of brave indexical machete strokes -- explored the steaming jungles of the Literary Transval(uation).

Nancy Boerner of Indiana, James Burgett (still Kentucky), Beau Case of Ohio State and Jeffry Larson of Yale serve as the editors of Reference Reviews Europe, the latter available both online and in print. Currently working on the sixth annual edition, they are eager to obtain the services of more abstractor/translators and original reviewers. So volunteer already! Reference Reviews Europe (RRE) offers assessments in English of European reference works. Many of the entries are abstracts of reviews that appeared in the German journal Informationsmittel für Bibliotheken (IFB), but a number of other entries are reviews -- especially of Romance-language works -- written in English by North American colleagues. An evaluation in the May 1997 issue of CHOICE noted that the reviews in RRE "are exceptional in the information about scope, organization, and quality of the reference works that they provide."

John Dillon, of the University of Wisconsin Libraries, has eight articles of varying length forthcoming in Christopher Kleinhenz, ed., Medieval Italy: An Encyclopedia (New York: Garland, 2001 [supposedly]), as follows: "Greek Language and Literature," "Henry of Settimello," "Humility of Faenza," "Latin Language," "Latin Literature," "Peter of Eboli," "Quilichino of Spoleto," and "Richard of Venosa". Most of these are pretty short, but "Latin Literature" and "Greek Language and Literature" are extensive surveys of the medieval Italian aspects of these topics, possibly the first of their kind in the English language. If you have focused research interests in the medieval time and in the Italian space, John asks you get in touch with him. (Those of us intrigued by the article on "Humility of Faenza" are undoubtedly reacting to the fact that we have too little Humility in our lives as it is.)

From the Ablah Library at Wichita State, David Duncan reports having just published a bibliography entitled "Henry of Monmouth and Parliament: A Bibliography Concerning their Political Relations" in the most recent issue of the Bulletin of Bibliography. This annotates secondary accounts related to the relations between Parliament and Henry V during his political career. Applying torque to a similar spin, David will be reading a paper on archival sources of English nobility for the "Society of the White Hart" at this year's International Congress on Medieval Studies. (Is that a society that serves pale venison at its banquets?)

Jane Faulkner, French Collection Manager at U.C. Santa Barbara's Davidson Library, has a passion for rare books, especially children's books. She has channeled that interest into time donated at various Santa Barbara school libraries and the local public library. By the way, let's introduce Jane for those who don't know her. During U.C. Irvine's Junior Year Abroad she met her husband Greg in Montpellier and has been returning to the almost-hexagonally-shaped province of Gaul ever since. Her rare book fever was stoked at the William Andrews Clark Memorial Library while she earned the MLS at UCLA in 1984. As a neophyte to WESS, Jane admits to having showed up at a Women's Studies discussion group by mistake at ALA last January, blithely assuming that "WSS" was the abbreviation for our group. She is a marathon runner and a quilter who explores the mountains with her black lab and helps her sons with Latin homework. Is she related to "that other Faulkner?" You'll have to ask her.

The current leader of the WESS-turned world, Jeff Garrett, recently offered a "German Linguistic Survival Skills" course for the benefit of Northwestern University library staff, an attempt to provide English-speaking frakturophobes and monosyllabophiles with an avenue of access into the bibliographic wilderness of a German-language title page. His philosophical motivation for the course had first arisen, perhaps, from two bibliosophical works, the blame for which must be laid at his feet: "Aufhebung im doppelten Wortsinn: The Fate of Monastic Libraries in Central Europe, 1780-1810," in Verbum Analecta Neolatina, no. 2 (1999), and "Redefining Order in the German Library, 1775-1825," in Eighteenth-Century Studies 33, no. 1 (1999). Did we mention that he contributed several articles to the Routledge Encyclopedia of Contemporary German Culture (1999)? As if that weren't enough, he's threatening to co-edit and co-publish source documents from 1740 to 1914 on German and Austrian library history.

From the BYU Library in far-off Utah, Dick Hacken reports that he has completed an article on "The Jewish Community Library in Vienna from Diaspora and Destruction to Partial Restoration," which is now being reviewed for publication. A 1999 Nijhoff Study Grant helped to fund this research into library history, research that necessitated detours from Viennese Jewish community history into bureaucratic Nazi confiscation practices. While waiting for word from a peer reviewer about the article, Dick is keeping busy with a number of websites in European literature and history. His most recent concern has been to complete the German (and French) digital transcriptions of the Austro-Hungarian Documents on the Outbreak of War (1 July 1914 ó 27 August 1914), now stuck in a trench around the end of July 1914. He remains convinced that completing the project at <> and removing any typographical (if not diplomatic) errors will lead to immediate Universal World Peace.

Barbara Halporn, Collection Development head at Harvard's Widener Library, has been busy reading galley proofs lately. "The Margarita Philosophica: a Case Study in Early Modern Book Design" was published in Journal of the Early Book Society 3 (2000). In the same year the University of Michigan Press released her book on The Correspondence of Johann Amerbach: Early Printing in Its Social Context to the scholarly world. The 1995 Nijhoff Study Grant supported her research on the book, and, as she is quick to point out, that was just what she needed to push the project through to completion.

Tom Izbicki of Johns Hopkins is co-editing with Christopher Bellitto, Institute of Religious Studies, St. Joseph's Seminary, New York, a collection of essays on the Renaissance polymath Nicholas of Cusa. This volume, to be submitted to E. J. Brill, will commemorate the 600th Anniversary of Nicholas' birth at Bernkastel-Kues on the Moselle. (Polymaths are persons of great learning; the column editor's third-grade teacher once called him a "monomath.")

In the year 2000, Jeffry Larson published a very hot-selling book entitled Should We Stay Together?: A Scientifically Proven Method for Evaluating Your Relationship and Improving Its Chances for Long-Term Success. The two LC subject headings for this book are "Mate selection" and "Marriage compatibility tests." It is held, according to a WorldCat search, in over 130 libraries, mostly public libraries. Let us hasten to add that said author is not the Jeffry Larson (exhibit A) of Yale libraries, but a certain Jeffry Larson (exhibit B) who is a marriage and family therapist at BYU. Having just avoided the Jubilee Year crush by amending his calendar, Jeffry (exhibit A) is on his way to Paris and Rome to do Nijhoff-sponsored research on "Documenting the Dissemination of the Gregorian Calendar Reform in France during the Wars of Religion."

Last spring, Marcia Pankake of Minnesota enjoyed a private tour of the Vatican by the Pope's Latin secretary, Father Reginald Foster, who talked wonderfully about Rafael's loggias and who showed her the world's only ATM machine with instructions in Latin. One other unusual highlight was picking up Roman pottery shards in the botanical garden on the Janiculum -- including a piece from a terracotta oil lamp bearing the potter's initials, C. O., for C. Oppius Restitutus, who flourished around 60-100 A.D. in central Italy. (That was way before most of us were even thinking about flourishing.) Marcia's trip to Italy was the by-product of her laboring nights and weekends to edit A Prairie Home Commonplace Book: Twenty-five Years on the Air with Garrison Keillor, published by HighBridge. This was something, she asserts with Humility of Mini-Apple and St. Paul, that any librarian could have done.

Tim Shipe (University of Iowa at Writers' Haven) continues his work on the bibliography of the Dada movement for the International Dada Archive. In recent years he's had bibliographies published in the 3rd edition of Complete Works of Marcel Duchamp (Delano Greenidge Editions, 1997), in Women in Dada (MIT Press, 1998), in the reprint of Hugo Ball's diary Flight out of Time (University of California Press, 1995), and in the exhibition catalog Dada global (Limmat Verlag, 1994), as well as articles on Dada and the German Dadaists in the new Encyclopedia of German Literature (Fitzroy Dearborn, 2000). The main fruit of his research remains the International Online Bibliography of Dada found at <>. This isn't your father's Dada anymore.

Ann Snoeyenbos is on sabbatical from NYU this year, working on a book for Lynne Rienner Publishers with the working title: "The Political Archives of Western Europe: A Guide to Party Documents." The manuscript is due December 2001, and the book will come out sometime in 2002 if all goes well. It is basically a directory -- telling where the archives of national level political parties are located, what's in them, who can use them, what's on the Web, etc. (It's unclear whether retired party leaders with access to slush funds will be separately indexed.)

Last year, in the year of three zeros, Julie Still of the Rutgers libraries edited -- and unleashed on the world -- a work about Creating Web-Accessible Databases: Case Studies for Libraries, Museums, and Other Nonprofits that was published by Information Today, Inc. Current market conditions created the ideal time to publish a book with such a subtitle: the precipitous tailspin of the NASDAQ index over the past annum has geometrically increased the number of high-tech "nonprofits."

Barbara Walden, next year's incoming WESS Chair with this year's outgoing personality, has, among other things, gotten an electronic text project underway for her library: "Historical Primary Sources: Texts from Collections of the University of Wisconsin-Madison." It has attained the rank of URL at: <>. So far there are only three books there and the interface looks plain, but the texts are SGML-encoded using the TEI Lite (we wouldn't want too much TEI served up at one time, would we?). This project is something Barbara has wanted to do for a long time, and two of these texts have European connections: Annals of the Famine in Ireland -- complete with a recounting of the temporary caloric advantages of turnips ("as safe a vegetable for the invalid as any in the vocabulary of esculents") -- but also Frederika Bremer's Homes of the New World, a very insightful view about the U. S. at the middle of the nineteenth century from a Swedish writer. Both make for fascinating reading.

Sue Waterman of Johns Hopkins is working on a research project that began when she was a junior fellow at LC (Elsie?) eight years ago, and which has grown into a kind of an obsession. She is investigating the lives and collecting activities of four members of a prominent Belgian family from the 19th century, partly to see how the scientific and learned collections of that century (including private libraries) mirror the intellectual history of the period. This interest has so far taken her to Edinburgh, Scotland, where she presented a paper last July, and will take her to Belgium this fall under the auspices of the 2001 Nijhoff Study Grant for a close inspection of archives and museums there. Sue also wrote an article for the forthcoming Fitzroy-Dearborn reference work, International Dictionary of Library Histories, on the history of the Sorbonne Library in Paris and is putting the final touches on an article for C&RL News on "Internet Resources for European Literature." Copies of the latter shall have wended their postal path to the lecterns of your scriptoria by Aprille of the present season.

Agnes Widder, Humanities Bibliographer at Michigan State, is perusing inventories of the possessions of a Great Lakes area fur trader, John Askin (ca. 1739-1815), including books that he owned. She is finding inter alia that this particular 18th-century swapper of pelts was not an anti-intellectual. Another research project that she's worked on for a number of years involves a bibliography on the history of childhood in English-speaking realms up to World War II. This information is found at the busy crossroads of women's history, juvenile justice history, history of education, psychology, labor history, art, family history, demography, biography/autobiography, and other intersecting avenues and boulevards.

Thus we reach the end of this column, this "2001 Specious Oddity."Perhaps by viewing the multifarious and sundry interests of our WESS colleagues and by appreciating the synapses of their many minds, paradoxically, we may obtain thereby unto a sort of Oneness so enigmatically expressed in hollow Occidental phrases (Now and Zen, unio mystica, gesta liberata, sens unique, sal si puedes, zwei geteilt durch zwei).

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