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News from 2002-2003

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News & Events | Library Services | New Resources

News & Events

Chemistry Goes Online

Current American Chemical Society journal subscriptions have changed from print to online access only. In addition to current issues, the online version also archives the ACS journals back to 1879. The change benefits library users by allowing access to these chemistry journal articles from anywhere on campus. It also saves valuable space in the Library and reduces costs for binding, processing, and storage. For more information, please contact Susan Kimball, Science Librarian.

The Library Builds a Latino Collection

Inspired by Professor Ilan Stavans, the Latino Collection is an exciting new venture by the Library that results from the paths taken by the curriculum at Amherst College in the last decade. Its mandate is to establish a leading archive of manuscripts and cultural artifacts by preeminent U.S.-Latino cultural figures and esthetic movements from the nineteenth to the twenty-first century. These figures and movements are of diverse national origins: Mexican Americans, Cuban Americans, Puerto Ricans in the mainland, Dominican Americans, etc., but all make their home in the United States. The objective is to highlight the richness and diverse intra-ethnic nature of the Hispanic community north of the Rio Grande and its multiple connections to Latin America, the Caribbean, and Spain. The College is committed to making the Latino Collection a major long-term resource center of scholarship in the world. Major intellectuals and artists have already given their papers to the archives. Negotiations for special collections are under way. The College hopes to establish fellowships to work in the Latino Collection soon.

The Five College Online Finding Aids Project

The Five College Online Finding Aids Project, funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, is a collaborative effort to improve access to the manuscript and archival collections of the Five Colleges by publishing finding aids for these collections online. Kelcy Shepherd, serves as Project Archivist. The project's goals include encoding 1200 finding aids according to the Encoded Archival Description (EAD) standard and creating MARC records for previously uncataloged collections. Finding aids are the richest source of information about unpublished primary sources and until recently have often existed only on paper within the institutions' reading room. The project will make these finding aids available to researchers worldwide through its web site - AMBER: Archives and Manuscripts dataBase of Electronic Resources. A beta version of the site will be made public for the first time in October, initially including 200 finding aids (40 from Amherst College Library Archives and Special Collections) that can be browsed by creator or by institution. As the project progresses, additional finding aids will be added and more advanced searching capabilities will be developed so that researchers can easily locate relevant collections from across the five institutions within a single interface.

Library Staff Changes

In July the Library welcomed Judith Nagata, new Reference/Instruction Librarian. A graduate of Douglass College and Rutgers University's School of Communication, Information, and Library Studies, Judith comes to Amherst from Hanover College in Hanover, Indiana. There she was a reference librarian and was also involved in Hanover's Archives and Special Collections.

Library History Notes:

Fifty Years of Fletchers in the Library

In the history of the Amherst College Library, the period from 1883 until 1934 is the era of the Fletchers. For more than 50 years first father and then son, William I. Fletcher and Robert S. Fletcher (AC 1897), faithfully administered the Library. At that time only four other College families - the Hitchcocks, the Tylers, the Dickinsons and the Estys, had similar records of long and devoted generational service.

William Fletcher
William Fletcher

As bibliographer, educator and professional, William I. Fletcher brought Amherst's Library into the 20th century. Fletcher was coeditor with William Poole of The Index to Periodicals (3rd edition) and was sole editor for various supplements after Poole's death. He also edited the ALA Index to General Literature, the (Bowker) Annual Literary Index and a range of other bibliographies and indexes. Fletcher wrote numerous articles (many for Library Journal) and frequently gave lectures on libraries and librarianship. His slim volume Public Libraries in America was a standard. For most of his career Fletcher was very active in the American Library Association, serving as president in 1891-92. Fletcher was a dynamic individual who stressed the educational and cultural mission of the Library. He changed the library from a small, little used collection into a collection integral to the teaching at the College.

During William Fletcher's 28 years of service (1883-1911) the collection more than doubled and selection was more balanced; book funds also doubled; student access to the stacks, previously prohibited, was not only allowed but encouraged; the library was open more hours; cataloguing was improved and subject access was added. Fletcher himself provided reference service and strongly advocated for increased and professionally competent staff for the Library. Fletcher demonstrated his commitment to the professionalism of librarians and his philosophy of librarianship by offering a pioneering Summer Library School in Amherst from 1891 until 1905.

College Historian William S. Tyler best summed up Fletcher's contribution to the development of the Library when he noted:

Perhaps there is no one thing in which the growth and progress of the college is more strikingly manifest than in the extent to which faculty and students…. use the college library, and make it useful in the work of education.

William I. Fletcher retired in 1911, turning over the reins to his son Robert, who had returned to the College as Assistant Librarian in 1909. His father served as Librarian Emeritus until his death in 1917.

Robert Fletcher
Robert Fletcher

Robert S. Fletcher served the College for 23 years. He quietly and efficiently followed the methods of library administration initiated by his father, adapting them to meet the new problems faced by the Library. This Fletcher worked with the Faculty to develop their department collections and constantly improved the study conditions and availability of the collections for the students.

During his tenure, the Library experienced many significant changes. In 1917 Converse Memorial Library, designed by architect William R. Mead (AC 1867), was built. Mead had sought the advice of the Librarian during the planning stages and the final building had seminar rooms with adjoining faculty offices, which was something new to the Library world. When it opened, Fletcher accomplished the transfer of the collection from Morgan Library with "dispatch and minimum interruption." Over the years Fletcher made sure the collection continued to grow; he expanded reserve book practices and he developed an efficient and devoted staff. Fletcher accepted numerous significant gifts to the Library including several Shakespeare folios from Henry Clay Folger (AC 1879) in 1914 (now in the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington); the book collection and reconstructed study of playwright Clyde Fitch (AC 1886); an extensive Wordsworth Collection; and the complete set of folio volumes and plates of Curtis' The North American Indian given by Mrs. D. Willis James. His work with donors even inspired Fletcher to suggest a Friends group for the Library, an idea not realized until 1968.

Robert Fletcher, as an alumnus, was devoted to the College. In his role as Librarian he served as senior editor of the Biographical Record of the Graduates and Non-Graduates of Amherst College which he revised and brought up to date as part of the College's Centennial Celebration in 1921.

But the best interests of the Library were Fletcher's daily concern. Ill health caused him to resign in 1934, bringing to an end a half century of Fletchers in the Library. When Robert S. Fletcher died in 1953, his colleagues at the Faculty Club paid tribute to him and his work as Librarian when they wrote that Fletcher "delighted in nothing so much as in his new opportunities to serve colleagues and students the better."

Five-College Depository Opens

bunker entrance
The "bunker" in hibernation.

The long-awaited Five-College Depository serving the libraries of the Five Colleges is open for business. The use of the depository, a space of more than 10,000 square feet in the underground bunker owned by Amherst College, frees up valuable shelf space in each of the libraries while providing access to seldom-used journals and books. The Mellon Foundation, the Arthur Vining Davis Foundations, and the Davis Educational Trust provided the initial funding for the. A depository planning team with representative members from the Five Colleges has labored for months to establish working policies and procedures to make the depository functional.

The facility uses electrically driven compact shelving most of which is fourteen feet tall. Individual volumes are placed in various size trays that are arranged on the shelves for maximum density storage. In this mode one typical journal run that took up 12 feet of regular library shelving, now takes only 5 feet.

At the end of 2002 the Depository had nearly 3000 volumes on its shelves. At first, the depository staff will fill the shelves with journal runs, initially those titles also available online through JSTOR. Later, other journals and monographs will be selected for depository storage. Patrons will see the Depository's tray number in place of a Library of Congress (or Dewey) call number in the catalog because the staff retrieves materials by using the call number created for the tray. The Depository staff is working hard to preserve and provide ready access to important journals for the Five Colleges.

The Library Joins SPARC

The Chronicle of Higher Education and the New York Times have recently reported the increasing problems in the academic research and publishing process. An institution or agency funds research. Authors pay per-page fees to journals for publication of an article in a journal. And libraries subscribe to give access to those journals. The end result is that an institution may potentially pay for research and its publication up to three times by the time it appears in a peer-reviewed journal. In addition, scholarly journals prices have increased exponentially, forcing libraries to make difficult subscription decisions. The seriousness of the situation this past year encouraged the Library to join with other academic institutions in voicing concerns and working toward solutions.

The Amherst College Library now is a member of SPARC, Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition, which includes 200 international research libraries, universities, and organizations. The goal of SPARC is to respond to market problems in scholarly communication and dissemination. The coalition has been successful in negotiating lower subscription prices, encouraging the development of new peer-reviewed journals in the not-for-profit sector, and relaying its concerns to the international scholarly community. The Library hopes that, in supporting initiatives such as these, the Library will help to create a more equitable and financially responsible scholarly communication system.

The Library's Look at Its Facilitites

Have you noticed? New area rugs, lamps and seating arrangements have been appearing throughout the library. The Reference Desk's computer monitor is mounted on an arm that swivels so that both the librarian and the patron can observe a search. Office space has been reconfigured for better working conditions. All of these improvements come as a direct result of the Library's facilities assessment self study. The Library used the ACRL (Association of College and Research Libraries) Standards for College Libraries, 2000 Edition, as a guide while holding focus groups of students, faculty, and staff to gather information about the Library's physical facilities. The resulting report on facilities assessment is one of the first completed in the nation that uses ACRL's 2000 guidelines. The full document is available on the Library's web page.

Library Staff Changes

Erin Loree has been appointed Technical Services Librarian. Erin earned her Masters of Library and Information Studies degree from the University of Rhode Island in May 2002. She is currently working in acquisitions and serials.

This Fall, the Library welcomed David Spoolstra as project manager for the Five-College Library Depository. David recently graduated from Simmons College with a Masters of Library and Information Science. He previously worked as an information specialist in a corporate library and as a purchasing director in the paper industry.

Republic of Georgia Librarians Visit

The Library welcomed Republic of Georgia librarians, Nana Khvedeliani and Nana Gegeshidze, for a two day shadowing internship on January 15-16. The internships were part of a three-week training program for a total group of 16 Georgian librarians. The program intends to expose the librarians to American libraries and library practices and to forge relationships between American and Georgian librarians.

Georgian librarians
Librarians from Georgia

Nana Khvedeliani works at the National Parliamentary Library of Georgia in Tbilisi and Nana Gegeshidze is a researcher at the Kutaisi Scientific Center, a regional branch of the Georgian Academy of Sciences. As part of their visit, they observed the reference desk, interlibrary loan, and the processes in the Keefe Science Library. They also toured the Amherst Center for Russian Culture, Archives and Special Collections, and the Pratt Museum. Professor Rabinowitz's introduction to the Russian Center's collection impressed themin particular, and they asked if they could bring the larger group of 16 librarians for a visit. Yulia Rog, '03, translated for the two librarians while they were on Amherst's campus. The library staff looks forward to staying in contact with both Georgian librarians via email to see how they are doing in their home country and to help with their reference and inter-library loan questions.

'Abyss Has No Biographer'

On December 10, 2002, the 172nd anniversary of the birth of poet Emily Dickinson, scholar and biographer Polly Longsworth spoke to an overflow audience in the Barnett Reading Room of Archives and Special Collections about her lifelong work "explaining Dickinson." Her talk, "'Abyss has no Biographer'-- Researching the Hidden Life of Emily Dickinson," was the fourth in an occasional series of talks by scholars who have used the resources of the Amherst College Library for their research. Related Dickinson manuscripts and memorabilia were on display, and cake in honor of Dickinson's birthday was served following the talk.

Ms. Longsworth spoke of her long relationship with the Amherst College Library, which began in the 1950s and continues with her extensive use of all our library resources for her biography, Emily Dickinson: A Hidden Life. She described her delight in "unexpected 'finds'" that provide new perspective on the background of Emily Dickinson's life and come when one least expects them - for instance, discovering that Mabel Loomis Todd, wife of Amherst Astronomy Professor David Peck Todd and paramour of College Treasurer Austin Dickinson, was transcribing minutes of the Trustee meetings during the 1890s.

Ms. Longsworth devoted much of her talk to discussing Emily Dickinson's grandfather, Samuel Fowler Dickinson and his relationship to the nascent Amherst College. She described the impact of Fowler Dickinson's financial losses on the family and College. The complex story of Hezekiah Wright Strong's bankruptcy was a significant factor in Fowler Dickinson's financial losses, as Dickinson had been a financial guarantor of his friend and associate Strong. This factor has been unrecognized by other Emily Dickinson biographers and she intends to discuss it in greater detail in her forthcoming biography.

Polly Longsworth's talk illustrated her very focused approach to biography: "Any true biographer keeps digging- there is always more to find."


Library Services

Photocopying and Computer Printing Alert

The Library has changed copy card vendors. Old Copico cards no longer work for copying or computer printing. Amherst College students, faculty and staff can be reimbursed for old cards until October 15th at the Circulation Desk.

Amherst College photocopy machines are now all new. The machines on the first and second floor of Frost Library and those in the Science and Music libraries accept change and $1 and $5 bills. All machines also accept copy cards. New copy cards can be purchased on the first floor of the Frost Library or Amherst College IDs can be encoded to work as a copy card. To use your ID as a copy card, go to the Circulation Desk to have it activated. You will then need to put money on your ID via the photocopier or copy card machine.

Copies and printing done using copy cards costs 10¢ per page. Amherst College students also have the option of printing to other networked printers on campus for 5¢ per page using their debit account.

Video and DVD Facts

As of July 1, 2002 the Media Center owns 6,658 videotape titles and 1,285 DVD titles. These include documentaries, foreign films, feature films, and anime (Japanese animated films) all related to the curriculum. Amherst community borrowing privileges include: students: 1 video/1 day; faculty and staff: 5 videos/7 days. Full circulation policies can be found on the Media Center's webpage [this page no longer active].

Laptop Computers

Laptop and notebook computers are welcome in the Library. Wireless connection, ethernet network hookups, and electrical outlets are available. Questions? Contact the Library.

Attention Faculty

Are your students having difficulty finding sources for their research? Too many unreliable websites in the bibliography? Are they having problems deciding which database to use? Do your thesis students need to find collections not available in the Valley? Schedule a class session for them with a reference librarian.

Attention Students

Looking for maps or tables of data? Having problems finding "scholarly" sources for your term paper? Can't remember if APA's citation style uses full author names? Ask for help at the Reference Desk, call (x2319), or fill in the request form for a Research Appointment.

Lost & Found

Have you recently lost something? Have you checked the Lost & Found at the Circulation Desk in the Library? Jewelry, textbooks, and even laptops have been left behind and not claimed. During this past Interterm someone left 9 brand-new books in the Frost Library. Are they your books? Please claim them before March 1st. After that time they will be processed as gift books and added to the collection.

Care and Preservation for Edward Curtis's The North American Indian

  Curtis photograph of Yoktus baskets
  Yoktus basketry designs. Courtesy of Northwestern University Library, Edward Curtis's 'The North American Indian:' the Photographic Images, vol.14, 2001.

In 2001, Friends of the Library Chairman Sam Ellenport '65 initiated the innovative library preservation program known as "Care and Preserve." This program has made possible item-level conservation work on some of the most requested items in the Library's collections, as well as some valuable materials most at immediate risk of deterioration.

One particularly important project is the construction of preservation mounts that individually encase the 723 plates from Edward Curtis's monumental work, The North American Indian. The Archives and Special Collections Department in conjunction with University Products designed the display enclosures from alkaline-buffered board and Mylar (a clear and stable polyester film). Since classes use the images heavily, the mounted displays will allow the students to handle the images without damaging them.

The Curtis project has spanned the "Care and Preserve" program's first two years and was made possible by support from that program, several very generous donations specifically for the Curtis project, and by funding from the Library.

New Resources

New Electronic Journal Locator

screenshot of Journal Locator
screenshot of Journal Locator

Take a look at the new Electronic Journal Locator under construction this Fall. The Locator will allow you to search for electronic journal and newspaper titles available from Amherst College and other Five Colleges. The database will tell you if a journal title is available in electronic format, what dates are covered, and will even provides a hyperlink to the journal for easy access to the article you want to retrieve. The Locator will also give you an option to look at Amherst's print holdings in the online catalog. This new database saves time since it searches across all full-text databases. Ask questions, report problems, or submit comments by clicking on AskUs or by calling Reference at x2319.

New Online

AccessScience: A full access database to The McGraw-Hill Encyclopedia of Science and Technology including encyclopedia articles, dictionary terms, and research updates.

Art Index Retrospective: Indexes articles in international arts publications, yearbooks, museum bulletins, exhibitions lists, interviews, film reviews, etc. from Nov. 1971- 1984.

EEBO: Early English Books Online: Full image database under construction which will contain titles published in England between 1475 and 1700.

HAPI Online: Hispanic American Periodicals Index: Contains citations to articles in American and European scholarly journals treating Latin American and U.S. Hispanic topics.

Hein Online: Provides full-text online access to legal journals, rare and out-of-print collections and all back issues of indexed legal journals.

Oxford Reference Online: Online versions of Oxford University Press multidisciplinary reference titles, dictionaries, and encyclopedias. This set does not include the Oxford English Dictionary which is available online separately.

PsycArticles: Provides full text access to articles from journals published by APA and allied organizations since 1988.

Reader's Guide Retrospective: Database of the most popular United States general-interest periodicals. Includes the years 1969 through 1982 (earlier material forthcoming).

Thesaurus Linguae Graecae: Searchable database of primary sources covering Greek literature (eighth century A.D. to sixth century B.C.).

WDI Online: Database to World Development Indicators providing international social and economic indicators and statistics (1960-2000) from the World Bank.

WorldCat: Comprehensive catalog of books and other media available in libraries worldwide. Formerly available to faculty; now open to the public.

Now available from the Massachusetts Library and Information Network
(MA Board of Library Commissioners)

General Reference Center: (Gale) General interest database to search magazines, reference books, and newspapers.

Biography Resource Center: (Gale) Database of Gale Group biographical sources with full-text articles from hundreds of periodicals.

The Institute of Physics (IoP) Journal Archive is a full-text database of 57 Institute of Physics journals. Coverage includes 1874 to 1992 for all titles (with an additional year being added every year) and from 1874 right up to current issues for journals to which Amherst College Library already subscribes.

student exam break

"I don't like studying, but I like food. Thanks!"

Student Exam Break 12/11/02

Sponsored by the Friends of the Library