Personal & Institutional News

Column Editor: Richard D. Hacken

WESS Newsletter
Spring 2006
Vol. 29, no. 2

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Though the Big Easy is neither as Big nor as Easy as it was a year ago, the Mardi Gras must go on, and it did go on. In addition to the Krewe du Vieux float pleading "Buy us back, Chirac!" as reported by Rebecca Malek-Wiley elsewhere in this newsletter, another 2006 float was entitled: "The Corpse of Engineers presents 'A Day at the Breach'‚" [Journalistic disclaimer: the column editor's own father spent a career in the Dams & Levees Division of the Army Corps of Engineers, an assignment which covered only the West; one of his most notable accomplishments was saving Nevada's Mustang Ranch, a quasi-legal pleasure emporium, from the encroaching waters of the rampaging Truckee River.] In sum and in short, we do not live in a safe world. But mankind ˆ seeking to survive ˆ fights back against the dangers inherent in existing. Monthly cell phone bills have a "poison control surcharge;" the newest cars are equipped with GPS transponders for a worst case scenario; and I plan to be in New Orleans for the 2006 Annual ALA conference. Here, then, is Rebecca's verbatim report on Tulane library recovery efforts after the high water, efforts I like to call the "Tulane High Way:"

"Nearly six months after Hurricane Katrina struck, New Orleans libraries are still struggling to recover.  Even the institutions that were spared the worst damage have been seriously impacted.  Still, almost all of the academic libraries have re-opened and are making great efforts to provide services to students and faculty (as well as some area residents) under far from ideal conditions.

Tulane University's fortunes have been mixed.  While the front part of its main campus, closer to the Mississippi River, did not flood, water did cover the back part of the campus right after Katrina, flooding the basements of both the main library, Howard-Tilton Memorial, and the building housing the library's Special Collections, marinating the materials held in those basements in a murky soup.  A hired team salvaged, freeze-dried, and rushed many items off to a facility for experts to restore what they can. 

At this point, we know that most of the microforms and newspaper collections have been lost, including a number of research collections on fiche and film and some unique microfilm compilations, many used by Europeanists, although it appears that much of the rare microfilm of Latin American materials has been saved.  The Maxwell Music Library was also badly hit; the focus has been on trying to restore its print collection, especially scores, but most of the sound recordings and videorecordings will need to be replaced.  Only about 10% of the Government Documents collection was salvaged.  We still do not know the fates of the books and boxes of loose plates salvaged from our Œprotective storage‚ area of non-circulating materials, the contents of flooded Hollinger boxes of manuscripts, or a large part of our uncatalogued backlog.

After destroyed electrical equipment had been pulled out from the basement, dry air had been pumped into the rest of the main library building, mold remediation had been undertaken on all floors, and some -- not all -- cleaning had been done, Howard-Tilton finally re-opened for staff on 2 January 2006 and to the public on the 9th.  Life since then has been far from a bed of roses, as one whiff of the air leaking and reeking up the stairwells from the basement makes clear.  (The buildings where the ALA Annual Conference will take place did not flood and so are free of this unmistakable, lingering odor.)  It was two weeks after staff returned before power, running off generators, could be reliably restored to all offices and workstations.  In mid-February, the weekly recovery update easel posted at the entrance still read, "Elevators:  Off and on.  Use at your own risk."  Mail services still have not stabilized, although they are improving, and many of the phones still do not function.  Sharing and improvising are common, as they are throughout the city.

Since re-opening, after reconnecting and exchanging tales, we have been trying to cram five months worth of selecting, ordering, cataloguing, faculty liaison and in-house committee work, etc., etc., into one month, all with a staff depleted by a combination of layoffs and voluntary resignations.  The Reference Services Department has lost almost half of its members, including all support staff, while about a third of the Bibliographic Services Department is gone.  Many of those remaining are still coping with the losses of their homes and belongings, while all of us feel the stress of the city's uncertain future.

Nevertheless, whatever the inconveniences of life in the library, we are generally relieved to be back.  The great majority of faculty and staff continue at Tulane, the largest employer in New Orleans, while almost 90% of the students (outside of the still-closed Medical School) have returned.  The students, in particular, have brought in a new wave of youthful energy and stamina, as well as a welcome boost to area businesses.  Tulane‚s re-opening has made a definite contribution to the local population and economy."

Effective (or rather: ineffective) September 1, 2006, Tom Kilton will be retiring from his perch atop the Modern Languages and Linguistics Library at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. This is one gargoyle who will be missed. No longer to saunter within the walls of WESS, to traipse amongst the ivies of Illinois, nor to stand as a sentinel of CIFNAL, which he almost double-handedly called to life, Tom can now enjoy many hours and years of reflection and relaxation in his home in Urbana with his partner and ˆ as often as possible ˆ in his beloved Berlin. Above all, Tom reports that he will sorely miss the intellection, the wonderful wit, the humor of so many WESS colleagues.  One moment I will personally never forget: Tom at the top of Chartres Cathedral's north tower, pointing across to the stone jackass placed atop the south tower by mischievous medieval minds, as he cracked up and coated the stone cathedral with Kiltonian accretions of laughter.  

Charlene Kellsey, formerly Assistant Professor in the Cataloging Dept. at the University of Colorado, Boulder, working with European language books (mostly), is now ˆ after a radical sabbatical during which she spent two months in London and three weeks in France ˆ Associate Professor and Interim Head of Acquisitions and will be working more closely with European vendors (among other changes). "She saw London, she saw France / And was promoted ˆ not by chance."

Jeff Hancks joined the faculty at Western Illinois University in July 2005 as the inaugural Endowed Professor of Icarian and Regional Studies. (Disclosure: Icarian Studies have nothing to do with Icarus and his tragic FAA-defying flight too near the sun.) Previously Jeff was a reference librarian and bibliographer at Central Michigan University's Clarke Historical Library. He is in charge of WIU‚s Archives and Special Collections Unit, with special attention to the Center for Icarian Studies. WIU has the world‚s largest collection of materials documenting the Icarians, a 19th century Nauvoo, Illinois based French utopian colony. (They arrived in Nauvoo shortly after the Mormon exodus to Utah.) The Archives also house a number of materials documenting the Swedish utopian colony at Bishop Hill, Illinois. When you need info fast about French or Swedish utopias in the New World, Jeff‚s your man. [Suggestion: For more on  raisin-economy-based Armenian utopian colonies just north of Fresno, consult our California colleagues.] Jeff‚s first book, Scandinavians in Michigan (Michigan State University Press) is scheduled for a June 2006 release. A Scandinavianist by training, he works mostly with Illinois history at WIU. (Which suits him fine, as he hails from the hail-washed prairies of west central Illinois.)

Heather Moulaison of the The College of New Jersey attended a BOBCATSSS Symposium held January 30-February 1, 2006 in Tallinn, Estonia .  [Disclosure and disclaimer: the column editor's father-in-law, a WWII member of the Hungarian Army, survived on kasha for four years in Estonia at a Russian prisoner-of-war camp. His memories differed  significantly from those of Heather.] Perhaps inspired by the hunting behaviors of the eponymous Felis rufus, BOBCATSSS symposia began in 1993 as a way for students from Eastern and Western European library schools to prey upon information via collaborative projects. The official language of the group continues to be English. The symposium (whose acronym is built from initials of the original cities involved) takes place under the auspices of EUCLID (European Association for Library and Information Education and Research) and connects library students with academics and professionals. Only four of the 330 registered attendees in 2006 came from North America (three of them, including Heather, having traveled together). Heather was one of few actual practitioners in attendance, and she felt that her presence was genuinely appreciated. The first day of the conference convened at the National Library of Estonia. As a Cataloging Librarian, Heather was interested in seeing more than public spaces and made arrangements for a private tour of the Technical Services facilities later that day. She was graciously guided about the behind-the-scenes operations, and she met staff. The degree of hospitality was staggering. The next two days were at the University of Tallinn with conference sessions, poster sessions, keynotes, and incredible enthusiasm. Evening events spotlighted Estonia with a reception at the National Library one night and local musicians and traditional foods the next. BOBCATSSS 2007 will be in Prague, marketing the theme of Information Marketing. Heather, for one, has already started working on a proposal.

Graham Walden, Professor and Collection Manager for Communication, Germanic Languages and Literatures as well as Humanities and Social Sciences Reference Librarian at the Ohio State University Libraries, has been named the 2006 recipient of the ACRL Law and Political Science Section‚s (LPSS) Marta Lange/CQ Press Award. The award, established in 1996 by LPSS, honors an academic or law librarian who has made distinguished contributions to bibliography and information service in law or political science. "Graham has made distinguished contributions to the advancement of political science research and political science librarianship," said Binh Le, chair of the Marta Lange Award Committee. "In the past two decades, he has published numerous bibliographies, book chapters, book reviews and peer-review-articles in the area of polling and survey research. Graham has also served the Ohio State University and the library profession, especially the Law and Political Science Section, with great distinction. Simply put, Graham is an exceptional scholar-librarian." Graham received his B.A. in Political Science from Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania in 1976, and his M.S.L.S. from Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania in 1981. He earned his M.L.S. from The State University of New York at Albany in 1983. [Journalistic disclaimer: the column editor, having never been in Slippery Rock, will not touch that topic with a 10-foot traction-enabled pole.] CQ Press, sponsor of the award, will present the $1,000 award and plaque at the ALA Annual Conference in New Orleans during the LPSS Marta Lange/CQ Press Luncheon.

 Tim Shipe, our corn-fed colleague at the University of Iowa, recently published an article on Matthew Josephson for the tome France and the Americas: Culture, Politics, and History: A Multidisciplinary Encyclopedia, ed. Bill Marshall (Santa Barbara: ABC Clio, 2005).  Reflecting art interests on which he expostulated at the WESS Paris Conference [the Paris proceedings are now available in print ˆ buy the volume for the sake of your library and for posterity, if not for yourself], Tim penned, or word-processed, "Le Mouvement Dada: Bibliographie, 1983-2004," in Dada: Circuit total, ed. Henri Béhar and Catherine Dufour (Lausanne: L'Age d'homme, 2005). The bibliography is best appreciated by having readers from seven continents recite aloud seven different pages simultaneously. Tim has also been appointed Chair of the ARLIS/NA Public Policy Committee. (Art librarians don't deal with Western European public policy, but ARLIS folks are interested in Western European art, so Tim supposes that this bit of news borders on being relevant.)

Louis Reith, Humanities/Rare Book Cataloger at Georgetown University, also liaison for American and European history, German studies, and French studies -- plus member of WESS for ages, nigh unto eons ˆ received a vicennial gold medal for service to Georgetown University and its library on 21 March 2006 in an academic convocation. (Disclosure: despite shenanigans at a white house also found in the District of Columbia, "vicennial" is not the term for "vice" that calls for special prosecutors every other year.) The medal is awarded annually to faculty and staff who have completed 20 years of service at Georgetown University and is conferred by the president of the institution, at this point, Dr. John DiGioia, the first non-Jesuit lay president of the Jesuit university. Two papers which Louis delivered at scholarly conferences are being published this year - one on "Pavel Josef Vejvanovsky, Neglected Seventeenth Century Moravian Trumpeter and Baroque Composer" in SVU (a Czech and Slovak cultural society) collected papers from the world congress in Olomouc, Moravia, Czech Republic, in June 2004; the other article deals with "William Louis DuBourg - The First Bishop of Louisiana," from a French Dept. conference in November 2003 on the subject of "France et Louisiane." And that brings us back to Louisiana, the state named after Louis. Or was it before Louis?

Who is Ellen Brow? In researching this question, I first journeyed on a generous WESS Newsletter stipend to England's Lake District, where I learned that "Ellen Brow is a superb self-catering cottage accommodation in one of the most beautiful locations of Bowness-on-Windermere." Unsatisfied ˆ despite the excellent gingerbread available in the region ˆ I turned naturally towards a public library in Chester.  There, I came across a deathless passage from William Dean Howells‚ internationally acclaimed novel, The Kentons,  which read: "Ellen's brow darkened in silent denial" After spending the rest of my stipend in Hawaii, I stopped in at the Honolulu airport's bookshop, "Book ŒEm, Danno," where I saw that a certain Ellen Brow had authored The Complete Idiot's Guide to Smoothies. Then suddenly, once the money had been spent, I remembered: Ellen Brow is none of these things, none of these literary quirks, none of these persons. I have known Ellen, the Gypsy Librarian, for nearly thirty years. I first met her at the University of Kansas in the late 70s, where she directed the SPLAT program at Watson Library (SPLAT is an energetic acronym for Spain, Portugal and Latin American collections). Then she was off to Harvard as Latin American and Southern European Librarian. While there, she spoke at our 1986 WESS program. In the 1990s, my wife and I visited her at the best Basque collection on earth, that of the University of Reno at Nevada (or the other way around), where she proudly showed us some of the strangest collection items ever assembled: sections of tree trunk on which Basque sheepherders had carved graffiti (I wonder which vendor supplied those). While basking in that job, she gave a paper at SALALM in 1992, entitled: "Basque Violets for Basque Terrace-ists: Contemplating a Level Five Collection." Following a stint as the University Librarian at Fort Hays State (Kansas), Ellen is now Reference Director of the Davis Branch of the Yolo County Library System (California). And she fervently insists: "Yolo quiero." [Journalistic disclaimer: Ellen obviously loves puns as much as the column editor, who also spent too many years in Yolo County, home of UC Davis and 74% of our nation‚s ripening tomatoes.]  Ellen's wealth of accumulated academic experience serves her well in public library work. A recent reference question dealt with the Spanish equivalent for "duct tape." She efficiently replied: "cinta plateada," and now she is investigating non-preservation uses for duct tape in the public library, some of which require clearance from Homeland Security and the blessing of the SPCA. Don‚t you believe it when Ellen says: "I am terminally shy, so it is hard to break through the lovely veil of anonymity that librarians enjoy." For Martin Luther King Day, 2006, she co-organized the 5th local reading of "Letter from the Birmingham Jail." Her terminally shy pronouncement to the press was in a quakering voice: "The civil rights movement was effective without guns and bombs, and that is something we need to be reminded of."

Frances Allen of the University of Cincinnati draws our attention to the opening of the German Emigration Center, or Deutsches Auswanderer Haus,  in Bremerhaven, which held its grand opening on August 8 of last year. The Emigration Center presents a counterpoint to the Ellis Island historic site in New York: Ellis Island was a port of entry; Bremerhaven was a port of exit. It is estimated that about seven million passengers sailed to America from the port of Bremerhaven, most of them German emigrants. The building, located adjacent to the old harbor, resembles a ship, and this was the intent of the architect, Andreas Heller, and the conceptual designer, Sabine Süss. [Personal disclaimer: the column editor's wife emigrated from the harbor at Bremerhaven in the 1950s; as fate and the captain of the ship would have it, her ship landed at the Port of New Orleans.] One of the most exciting parts of the Center is the historic display area where one can step into ship travel as an emigrant might have experienced it. You arrive at the pier; it is still dark out, and there is a slight rain; water laps at the side of the ship. You walk through the crowd standing there, some with baggage waiting to board, some to see friends and family off, and you walk up the gang plank. Thus begins the voyage. Aboard ship, a peer through the porthole reveals, not the pier, but the ocean. The end of the voyage is arrival at Ellis Island, where you can view a short film with historic footage. In another display area you can see personal items that individual emigrants chose to bring along from home (donated by their descendants) and learn about emigrant life in the New World. A hands-on children‚s area contains a 19th century German kitchen, such as the emigrants might have left, and also an American frontier area such as the emigrants might have come to in the New World. This children's area is big enough for a whole class to use, and it offers child care while parents relax or research. The research area of the Emigration Center hopes to document all ships that sailed from Bremerhaven as well as their passengers ˆ an invaluable resource for genealogists.  Another part of the research area focuses on current global migration. Overlooking the old harbor is a pleasant café. The Center has taken membership in the Society for German-American Studies, and SGAS President, Don Heinrich Tolzmann, was on its planning board. It is hoped that SGAS will hold its 2009 Annual Symposium in Bremerhaven.

 Roger Brisson has announced his acceptance of a position as director of the Gloucester Lyceum and Sawyer Free Library on Cape Ann, Massachusetts.  He now oversees a "friendly, helpful staff" there, as reported on  the website at http://www.sawyerfreelibrary.org/. He assumed his responsibilities with the New Year and is now fully engaged in his new role as a city department head. Knowing Roger‚s enthusiasm and drive, an upcoming $15 million capital campaign and major building project should be a piece of cake ˆ whatever cake is most beloved on Cape Ann. Roger sends out an invitation to WESSies to consider a visit to his home on Cape Ann when you are in the Boston area; his personal email address is: roger@humanismus.com. For the curious, the Gloucester Lyceum's roots go back to the 1830s (Roger's office is actually in a house built in the 1750s), and it was part of the 19th century Massachusetts lecture circuit regularly frequented by Emerson, Thoreau, Hawthorne, et. al. Gloucester was settled in 1623, one of the earliest permanent European settlements in North America.


Editor: Paul Vermouth

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