Personal & Institutional News

Richard Hacken, column editor

WESS Newsletter
Spring 2004

Vol. 27, no. 2

Editor: Sarah G. Wenzel

Association of College & Research Libraries
©American Library Association


Last October, with Russia as “guest country” at the Frankfurt Book Fair, the usual WESS suspects accustomed to hanging relatively close to the bibliographic left coast of Europe were augmented, complemented, enriched and enlightened by the company of a number of Slavic and East European Section (SEES) librarians. ACRL’s policy of “Two Section Memberships For One Low-Low Price!” resulted in at least four Eastern-European-oriented academic librarians becoming a part of our WESS Frankfurt team. (The German word for “team” is “Team.”) East and West, SEES and WESS, the twain did meet as a group of WEESEES. Guided by Gordon Anderson, himself a Colossus astride the closing chasm ‘twixt Orient and Occident, the gaggle of Book Fair weather WESSies was happy to make new friends of Janet Crayne (a Case-study of collegiality at Michigan), Marta Deyrup of Seton Hall (genetically and linguistically the most Croatian of us all), Steve Corrsin, head of acquisitions at Wayne State (master of wit and repartee), and Allan Urbanic of U.C. Berkeley (as urbane as his family name would suggest). Over, under, around, through and beyond Frankfurt we wandered, ending up one night in a Croatian restaurant named “Twelve Apostles” (though seven of the apostles were out lollygagging that night). But now… back to the details. Janet Crayne has guided a “Bosnian Manuscripts Ingathering Project” at Michigan that helped Bosnia's National and University Library to reconstruct a list of what had been lost at Sarajevo in the fires of war. Steve Corrsin speaks knowledgably about ways around “Data Asphyxiation” (“Information Explosion” or “Infobesity”) for Eurasian, Central European and Central Asian resources. He has authored at least two historical monographs and maintains an ongoing series of published bibliographies on new publications in Polish-Jewish history, the latest in Slavic & East European Information Resources IV, 2-3 (2003): pp. 151-167. Marta Deyrup is working towards a doctorate at Columbia while working full-time, being a webmaster, an Associate Editor for Library and Administration Management, having a life, and publishing more articles, almost, than Harold Bloom has forewords. Allan Urbanic is a master at compiling guides to Slavic resources, such as of Russian emigré literature, and is taking a next step to publish a Guide to Slavic Collections in the United States and Canada from Haworth Press this very year of 2004. These, my friends, are colleagues worth getting to know.

It is only Book Fair to report that of those WESS members who lodged in Gelnhausen and wandered through the local festival’s midway, Marcia Pankake of Minnesota was the ultimate champion at the shooting gallery, not only lining up all her ducks in a row, but also blowing them out of the water.

You may recall from WESS’s news column for Spring 2003 that Karen Green, Librarian for Ancient & Medieval History and Religion in the Butler Library at Columbia (the University), once worked for fifteen years as a bartender in New York (the City). This stint of practical service upgraded Karen’s empathy and skills for listening to frustrated library users and unreasonable administrators, but now she has begun to serve at a different watering hole to slake the needs of thirsty scholars: at the Dakhleh Oasis in Egypt. Together with Roger Bagnall, Columbian professor of Classics and History, she set up from scratch, or, more accurately from the sand up, a field library near the site of the Amheida dig at the oasis, oh so spacious, during late Egyptian summer (November). Ergo: housing needs now share space in a 16,000 square-foot dig house (not dug-out, but dig house) with the only scholarly research facilities in the Western Desert – centering around a thousand-volume collection on Ptolemaic, Graeco-Roman and Coptic Egypt – along with a supply of brushes to remove sand from betwixt toes. Excavation of Amheida (the erstwhile urban center abandoned to the burgeoning multitudinous silica crystals only fourteen centuries ago) began on February 8 of the current year-reckoning : the library materials will now help scholars, staff, and field-working undergraduate students to interpret what they happen to dig up. As the saying goes: “It takes data to make data.”

When WESS-turners – those of us who turn to WESS for professional schmoozing – think of the University of Maryland, our first thoughts are often directed to Heleni Pedersoli, she of the infectious good nature. Now is a good time to introduce (or for those who already know him: to retro-duce) one of Heleni’s colleagues at College Park, a humanities librarian by the name of Eric Lindquist. Holding and having a Ph.D. in early modern British history, he answers up to some collection responsibilities in classics and American Studies but also has superstantial instruction responsibilities in history. Active as a scholar in the field of book history, he will be giving a paper at the annually recurring conference of the Society for the History of Authorship, Reading, and Publishing to convene this summer in Lyon. (Apparently the WESS-Paris conference in March is not enough of a France travel fix for him this year.) He also teaches as an adjunct at the University of Maryland, this semester teaching a course on birth, marriage, and death in medieval and Renaissance Europe. Despite the title of the course, he is unable to name a single personality who was born in the Early Middle Ages, married in the Late Middle Ages, and died during the Renaissance. The last two summers (with designs for this summer as well) he has team-taught a course called "Shakespeare on His Own Ground," which involves taking students to England to see as many as nine plays in two weeks. (That’s long enough by at least two days to include the “Twelfth Night.”) One confused undergraduate, asked to name the three favorite plays she watched during the Shakespeare marathon, listed “The Merchant’s Hamlet of Verona,” “Romeo and the Shrew,” and “Some Like it Hot.”

Thanks to the Nedbook Northwest Europe award for 2004, Rob Kusmer of Notre Dame was able to attend the Leipziger Buchmesse held in March, while Sem Sutter of the University of Chicago will be flying to the Göteborg Book Fair to be held in Gothenburg this coming fall.

Sarah How has a new office at Cornell, an office space occasioned, brought about, and equipped with paper clips by way of her transfer to a new department. Still, she does frighten us somewhat with her evocation of administrator-speak when she reports that her responsibilities are unchanged in an “agile, responsive sort of way in keeping with the digital transformation/reinvention of the Cornell University Library.” Now Sarah will report through the Reference Services Department as a Reference & Collection Development Librarian. We have it on good (i.e., non-governmental) intelligence sources that this is a great place to be, that she has terrific colleagues, and that she’s very happy with this latest development.

Move over, Joyce Carol Oates: your reign as literary queen of Baltimore is coming to a screeching thud, halt, stop. Sue Waterman of Johns Hopkins has been awarded an artist's grant from the Maryland State Arts Council for fiction writing. It's a substantial sum, and she can use it any way she wants to further her “creative work.” Maybe she’ll just stay on in Paris for a few months after the WESS conference, listening to accordion music très legato et vivace at outdoor cafés, watching the human condition unfold, and sipping on whatever might invite the Muses onto her written page. In the equally Romantic regions of professional assignment, she has been appointed Lecturer in the Romance Languages Department and has been asked to teach a research methods seminar on an annual basis. The German Department signed on for the same treatment this year. So now she teaches all first year grad students (two-semester courses) in each of the departments. Sue would love to compare notes with other WESS members who teach symptomatically similar seminars.

John Dillon, European Humanities Bibliographer in the University of Wisconsin-Madison's General Library System, authored several entries in Christopher Kleinhenz, ed., Medieval Italy: An Encyclopedia (Routledge, 2003; 2 vols., released last December). His entries ranged alphabetically from "Aristippus, Henry" to "William III" with intermediate stops in such cities as Lucca, Matera, and Viterbo, in such towns as Spoleto, Venosa, and Rossano, in many a teeming metropolis such as Palermo and Milan, and even in such familiar sounding locales as Eboli (the Protagonist in a Mel Gibson film would have stopped there) and Cerami (possibly named after Keramikos, the Hellenistic home of crackpots), hobnobbing with literary authors and a few governmental bigwigs from the Italian Middle Ages. His favorite article, however, was on "Greek Language and Literature," an area of medieval Italian culture not often treated in English. Further WESS authors in this encyclopedia are Tom Izbicki of Johns Hopkins (see also: the following Izbickian blurb on the improprieties and improvised pieties of Pius II) and Richard Ring of Kansas. John, no relation to Matt Dillon, continues to serve on the Programming Committee of the annual International Medieval Congress at Leeds (West Yorkshire), where he coordinates the Latin Writing strand (which is a reinforced collection of Latin Writing threads). This is a smaller -- and in John's view in some respects more pleasant -- version of the similarly named congress held annually at Kalamazoo (Michigan). Plus it is a handier venue for Yorkshire Pudding. WESS members with scholarly interests in Europe from the fourth through the fifteenth centuries CE are encouraged to attend.

If you haven’t kept up with the burgeoning scholarship of our incoming – and often outgoing – WESS chair, Tom Izbicki, Collection Development Coordinator at Johns Hopkins, now is the time to tap into your local catalog and to consult your various medieval indexes and religious indices, where you will find the product list under his authorship to be professional and prolific and prodigious. While you’re at it, since we have your attention, you might check out his latest contribution: “’Reject Aeneas’: Pius II on the Errors of His Youth,” in Pius II ‘El più expeditivo pontefice’: Selected Studies on Aeneas Silvius Piccolomini (1405-1464), edited By Zweder von Martels and Arjo Vanderjagt (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 2003), pp. 187-203. Readers without much scholarly background might assume, as I do from the etymologically redundant etymology within the name Piccolomini – “piccolo” is the Italian word for “small” and “mini” is obviously a redundant to “small”– that Aeneas Silvius Piccolomini was a rambunctious and youthful alter ego to Pius II in the manner of Austin Power’s “Mini-Me.”

On September 12 of last year, Tom Kilton delivered a lecture, "Emblematica Online: The User's Perspective," at the Herzog August Bibliothek in Wolfenbüttel, Germany. The occasion was a working group conference: "Emblem Literature: Digital Modeling of the Interrelationships between Texts and Images" sponsored by the Herzog August Bibliothek and the University of Illinois. Tom's paper is to be published online (and in a patently progressive parallel paper format) by "DIGIcult," a European Web site that discusses the “digiculties” of technology in academia at http://www.digicult.info/pages/index.php. The University of Illinois Library and German Department's project Web site "Digital Emblematica" can be visited at: http://images.library.uiuc.edu/projects/emblems/. Up until now, the interrelationships between texts and images have been harmonious, and this conference was designed as a preemptive move to keep them that way. Tom's paper examines the navigational structure of emblem web sites world-wide (realizable even without the use of handheld GPS devices). He also recommends a set of standards for elucidating the nature of emblems to uninitiated users: this might be called “Emblems for Dummies.”

A final note of Illini interest: Lynne Thomas has left the wilds of Ivy Connecticut (Yale) to take a position as the Rare Books and Special Collections Librarian at Northern Illinois University, in DeKalb, Illinois (I hear the state is *not* pronounced “ill-uh-NWA” by locals). With her new job, she’ll be in a position to search through the NIU rare holdings to determine if the old legend is true: was the city of DeKalb really named by a German-American stockman searching for his “calf?”


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