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News & Events

New Librarian

Sherre Harrington

The College welcomed Sherre L. Harrington as the new Librarian of the College on September 1, 2004. Sherre comes from Vanderbilt University, where she was director of the Stevenson Science and Engineering Library. She attended the University of South Carolina for undergraduate studies and also for a master of librarianship. She began her career as director of library services at the Salkehatchie campus of the University of South Carolina. Sherre has a strong interest in women’s studies and the social responsibilities of the library as evidenced in her work in the Feminist Task Force and the Social Responsibilities Round Table in the American Library Association.

Robert Frost Library Fellow

The Library welcomes the 2004 Robert Frost Library Fellow, Michael Mazur, ‘57.

From October 18 to October 22, Mazur will work with students both in classes and individually. He will also give a talk, “A Funny Thing Happened on My Way to the College Last Year,” on Friday, October 22 at 4:00 pm in the Pruyne Lecture Hall (115 Fayerweather), followed by a reception in Archives & Special Collections.

Michael Mazur is an internationally known printmaker and painter, currently living in Cambridge, MA. After graduating from Amherst, he received his M.F.A. from Yale and over the years he has taught at RISD, Brown, U.C. Santa Barbara, Harvard, and Brandeis. His work is in the collections of many museums, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Among his many awards is a 1964 Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship.

The fellowship and lecture are sponsored by the Friends of the Amherst College Library.

Amherst Supporting Open Access

One of the most promising developments in scholarly publishing is the emergence of Open Access (OA) journals. Open access reverses the current publishing model by freely distributing journals online while charging authors a publication fee to cover costs.

To support this alternative publishing option, the Library has joined two open access publishers as an institutional member. The Library has become a member of BioMed Central (BMC), an independent open access publisher based in London. Now, Amherst’s faculty can publish free in any of over 110 BMC journals. The Library also joined the Public Library of Science (PLoS) in March. The Public Library of Science publishes two open access journals, PLoS Biology, first published in October 2003, and PLoS Medicine, whose inaugural issue is due this fall. Because the Library belongs to PLoS, Amherst faculty receive a significant discount on the submission fee for publishing there.

Following a recommendation by the U.S. House Appropriations Committee, the National Institutes of Health has proposed that all articles reporting NIH-funded research be made publicly available after 6 months. Material would be deposited in PubMed Central, the National Library of Medicine’s open access digital library. Such a mandate would have a significant impact on the availability of publicly-funded research results in the U.S. For more information, please contact Susan Kimball at x8112.

Serials Review

Have you noticed how many electronic journals the Library delivers to your desktop? Back issues from JSTOR, current issues from Project Muse and ScienceDirect, and much more. Although electronic access was initially included at no additional charge with a print subscription, most academic publishers now charge a premium for electronic access.

While other academic libraries have been forced to cut periodical subscriptions, our strong funding has allowed us to maintain current print and online subscriptions, often even adding new titles at faculty request.

We think a prudent response to increasing costs, developments in scholarly publishing, and looming space constraints is to take time now for a careful review of subscriptions, forestalling the need later for hasty decisions in response to some crisis. Should we fund both print and electronic subscriptions to some titles? What resources for the maintenance of electronic backfiles do we require? In what circumstances is it essential to maintain print subscriptions? Are there subscriptions that are no longer needed? What new areas of research and teaching need additional support?

Scientists have already reviewed journal subscriptions and made choices that fit their teaching and research needs. Library liaisons will contact other departments soon to begin their review.

Special Supplement: Millionth Volume Celebration

staff and millionth volume banner

This edition of the Amherst College Library Newsletter includes a report on the Millionth Volume Celebration that took place on April 23-24, 2004.


Census Workshops for Grant Writers and Non-Profits

Census 2000 provides a wealth of data, but extracting specific variables (like poverty by race or Hispanic status) is difficult. During Interterm the Library offered two census workshops for non-profit agencies as part of our outreach to the community. Eighteen people attended from fifteen agencies including United Way, Western Mass Legal Services, The Literacy Project, Community Coalition for Teens, and Hampshire Community Action Coalition. They all need statistics to support their grant writing, and had been unsuccessful in their attempts to access the data on their own.

The workshops went very well, and there are more than enough people on the wait list for another session during spring vacation. For more information about this project, please contact Susan Edwards (seedwards; x2676).

Student Research at Amherst: A Faculty-Librarian Dialogue

Join librarians and faculty for lunch and a lively discussion regarding student research on Friday, March 4, at 12:00 noon at Lewis-Sebring.

What kind of research do you want your students to be able to do? How do you get your students to go beyond Google? What is the role of the Library in making competent student researchers? Are you worried about plagiarism? Does it constrain you in giving research assignments?

Sherre Harrington, Librarian of the College, will introduce the lunch. Margaret Adams Groesbeck (Head of Reference and Online Services), Rick López (History), Amy Demorest (Psychology), and Ethan Temeles (Biology) will begin the discussion. Jane Beebe (Music Librarian) will moderate.

Proposal for Change in Print Government Documents

At the recent American Library Association Midwinter Meeting in Boston, Superintendent of Documents Judith C. Russell announced that the Government Printing Office (GPO) has asked for level funding in their fiscal year 2006 appropriations for the Federal Depository Library Program.

As a result GPO will only print and distribute 50 government document titles to libraries in the Federal Depository library program. These titles do not include important documents such as geological maps, administrative decisions, legal materials, as well as Senate and House reports, documents, and hearings. GPO will initiate a Print on Demand Allowance Program giving depository libraries a discrete amount to purchase titles not on the original list.

Depository library concerns regarding this proposed plan include the current inability of GPO to provide permanent and no-fee public access to electronic government information. In addition, the Print on Demand program does not provide archival copies, but only print copies of documents.

If this plan goes into effect, the Amherst College Library will need to consider options for maintaining the titles and documents considered essential to the library’s collection. For more information, contact Susan Edwards (x2676; seedwards).

Five Colleges Selects Next Library Catalog System

The Five Colleges libraries announced the purchase of a new integrated library system in January 2005. ALEPH is a library catalog system provided by Ex Libris, a company with offices in Boston and Chicago. Among other benefits, the new system will unite the four colleges holdings with that of the university providing enhanced access to materials in the valley. Some other libraries that use the ALEPH system are MIT University, Duke University, University of Maryland, College Park and Harvard University. The Five Colleges ALEPH Implementation Committee includes two Amherst librarians, Jan Jourdain, Systems/Media Librarian, and Jane Beebe, Head of Cataloging. Current plans are to have the new catalog available to the public in mid-2006. The existing system from Innovative Interfaces was installed in 1994.

"In Equal Measure": The Frost-Lankes Connection
An Exhibition and Talk

J. J. Lankes, who died 45 years ago on April 22, 1960, has been described as one of America’s foremost graphic artists. He was also a friend of Robert Frost for forty years (since illustrating Frost’s “The Star Splitter” for The Century Magazine in 1923 and then his Pulitzer-Prize-winning book New Hampshire in the same year), and his woodcuts decorated several of Frost’s books. (Frost didn’t much like the idea that his poems could be illustrated, and preferred to call the visual accompaniments “decorations.”)

  Woodcut by J.J. Lankes of Frost's house, used in Collected Poems, 1939.

The Archives and Special Collections has mounted a special exhibition that explores the collaborative works of the poet and artist. It features Frost and Lankes books, manuscripts, prints, paintings, and tools lent by collectors Welford D. Taylor and Pat Alger, and by Lankes’ son J. B. Lankes and granddaughter Elizabeth Lankes, as well as items from the Amherst College Library extensive Frost holdings.

The featured event for this exhibition will be a talk by Professor Taylor on Friday, April 15, 2005, in conjunction with the spring meeting of the Council of the Friends of the Amherst College Library.

Welford Dunaway Taylor is the author of The Woodcut Art of J. J. Lankes. He is professor emeritus of English at the University of Richmond, retiring as holder of the James A. Bostwick Chair of English. He has edited the works of Sherwood Anderson, another author whose work was “decorated” by Lankes. The title of the exhibition and Professor Taylor’s talk is taken from a letter to Lankes in which Frost suggests that the accolades won by New Hampshire shall be shared by them “in equal measure.”

Library Services

  classroom in Chapin Hall
  Newly renovated Chapin Hall 101

Classroom Directory

The Media Center has created a new directory of classrooms at Amherst. In cooperation with Irene Berwick in Summer Programs and Lillian Mosgofian in the Registrar’s Office, the Media Center’s directory shows photographs of each classroom as well as the media and computer equipment available in that classroom. Classrooms are grouped by building name with a link to each classroom. The classroom directory is available only with an Amherst College username and password.


Help Your Students Become Better Researchers

Librarians notice that students are now less at home in libraries, that they are sometimes at a loss when professors ask them to do library research for papers and projects. Help your students become more sophisticated researchers. Invite a librarian to your class – or, better yet, bring your class to the Library. Introduce them to all the services in an academic library. Let a librarian explain the full range of what the Library offers: books, journals, films, music, databases, archives, and, yes, the worthwhile Web. Have your students learn techniques and tricks of serious research.

Do you want to give your students the essential preparation a librarian or archivist can provide? Contact the librarian or archivist who will best address materials for your course: Frost Library Reference Librarians: x2319; Susan Kimball, Science Librarian : x8112; Jane Beebe, Music Librarian: x2667; Daria D’Arienzo, Head of Archives & Special Collections: x2299.

Video Lending: Pilot Policy

The libraries of the four colleges and the university have agreed to a pilot video/DVD lending policy for Spring term. Faculty and staff may borrow videos in person at the Five Colleges libraries with a limit of 3 videos. Students can check out videos for short periods of time (eg. 3 hours) for in-house or nearby use with a limit of 3 videos. Students, faculty and staff can continue to request videos from other libraries through their home library to be shipped to their home library with a limit of 3 videos. For additional information, please contact Alexa Jaffurs (amjaffurs; x2663).

Amherst College Image Database

Look at images from Goya to Hokusai online on the Amherst College Image Database. The database consists of digital copies of just some of the art slides in the Visual Resources Collection, Fayerweather Hall. The Core Western Art and Architecture Images collection contains images by country of origin such as the Netherlands, Italy, and the U.S.A. Collections are also put together in support of specific courses. Students have the option of viewing images in a single image mode or a compare/contrast mode that allows them to view two images side by side. The image database is open to anyone with an Amherst College network account including Five Colleges students taking classes at Amherst. For questions or more information, contact Don Milliken, Curator, Visual Resources (dpmilliken; x2263).

New Resources

New Online

Journal Locator:   A service (part of ACLinks) that will search for electronic editions of a journal or article in the online resources owned by Amherst. It will also allow you to search the 4 College Catalog or the UMass Catalog for the same title.

Index Islamicus:   A bibliography of books and index of articles in periodicals on Islam and the Muslim world. Also includes reviews.

AMICO and ArtStor:   Full-image collections from art and architectural museums and other collections.

Ancestry Plus:   Access to primary source documents and images and a variety of genealogical and historical research features.

Naxos Musical Library and Classical Music Library:   Databases of classical, world/folk and jazz music recordings from various labels. Not available for electronic music reserve; please contact Jane Beebe for more information at x2667.

Nation Digital Archive:   Full-image database of The Nation from 1865 to present.

U.S. Congressional Serial Set:   Full image database of the U.S. Serial Set currently covering from 15th Congress, 1817, through 35th Congress, 1859. When complete, will cover materials from 1789 through 1900.

Xreferplus:   Full text collection of dictionaries and encyclopedias from publishers such as HarperCollins, Penguin, Routledge and Cambridge University Press. Includes titles from the arts and humanities, social sciences, and sciences.


Staff, students, and faculty now have access to more than 1.2 billion names, more than 3,000 databases, and primary source documents and images in an online product, AncestryPlus. It provides a variety of genealogical and historical research features including helpful articles on how to begin genealogical research and how to use the US Census records. Full digital images of the census records from the U.S. Federal Census between the years 1790 and 1930 and Gale’s Passenger & Immigration Lists Index are also linked to the indexes.

Praise from Martha Sandweiss, American Studies —

Ancestry Plus has completely transformed the way I do historical research. The ability to search manuscript census records by name, address, age, race or birthplace makes it possible to locate elusive historical figures, recreate their families and reconstruct their neighborhoods. The database also includes digitized military records, social security death records, city directories, and slave memoirs — all easily searched by name and some also searchable by keywords such as the names of towns or streets. Work that used to require travel to distant archives or extensive use of interlibrary loan (to say nothing of many, many hours of reading microfilm) can now be done in minutes or hours. The payoff is two-fold: I can find more historical information in absolute terms and I gain more time to think about the larger theoretical problems of my research project.

Digital Congressional Serial Set


The Library has just purchased an online, fully digitized version of the U. S. Congressional Serial Set that will cover the 15th Congress (1817) through the 56th Congress (1900). The Serial Set includes copies of all reports, documents, and journals of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. During the 19th century additional documents were also included such as Executive department publications, annual reports, and even some monographs and hearings. The online edition provides searching across all documents and direct access to the documents themselves including illustrations, maps and tables. It includes key documents from the 19th century events such as the Lewis and Clark expedition, the removal of Native Americans, and the Civil War. All Serial Set documents from the 15th Congress (1817) to the 35th Congress (1879) are now available online and additional documents will be added over the next couple of years.

Map: Granting unsold land to purchase Sandy and Beaver Canal, Ohio. December 29, 1834, Serial Set 272, Vol. 2, H.Doc. 50.


Journal Locator

The Journal Locator finds available journals, magazines, and newspapers as provided through a variety of library subscriptions. A Journal Locator search for a journal title will provide a list of electronic versions with the start and/or end date of available issues (in small print). A search also gives the option of searching the Four College catalog. A click on the catalog link starts a catalog search for that journal’s International Standard Serial Number or title. This service is available from the Library’s home page. Please contact the Reference Desk (x2319) with any questions.

Gift from the Anime Club

The Anime Club of Amherst College has generously donated 12 anime titles to the Library. Anime is a name used for Japanese animation or animation made in that same style. Since this type of animation has grown in popularity in the United States, the anime titles will help support popular culture and film studies research at Amherst. Some of the titles that are now available are: Samurai X, Crest of the Stars, Blood: The Last Vampire, and Jin-Roh (Wolf Brigade). In addition, the Anime Club will be suggesting additional titles for the Library to purchase throughout the year. Check the online catalog for titles by searching for “animated films – Japan” as a subject.

Reference Sources Online

Why use a reference title online? Search across academic areas, get the complete electronic entry or article on your desktop. Follow hyperlinks from one topic to another. Or put a link to a specific title (eg. Collins Spanish Dictionary from Xreferplus) on your Blackboard site.

xrefer screenshot

The Library already has online subscriptions to the Oxford English Dictionary, the American National Biography, Oxford Reference Plus, Access Science, the Grove Dictionary of Art, the New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, Britannica Online, Enciclopedia Universal, the Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy and more. We can tell from statistics that many of these titles are already popular with faculty and students.

The Library has just subscribed to Xreferplus. This electronic reference collection contains encyclopedias and dictionaries across all of the arts, humanities, social sciences and sciences. It includes titles from publishers such as HarperCollins, Cambridge, Routledge and Penguin. The titles in Xreferplus complement and add to Oxford Reference Online. For more information, please contact the Reference Department (x2319) or click on Ask Us on the Library’s website.

Google Scholar: A New Tool on the Web

Since its inception in 1998, Google has dominated web searching. Students, faculty, and even librarians have happily used Google to locate hard-to-find local statistics, conference proceedings, and basic reference answers. With a great amount of fanfare, the beta version of Google Scholar was announced in November.

Google Scholar offers searches on the free web for “scholarly” information. Although Google has not defined “scholarly,” the searches do yield research reports, citations to journal articles, and links to books in online catalogs. As with all database and indexing products, Google Scholar is not comprehensive. For example, Google Scholar will “crawl” web pages for scholarly sources, but only those sites that give them permission. But many publishers of academic journals charge to view an article that meets the search criteria. It is also worth noting that the Library now cooperates in a program puts references to its holdings right out on the Web. And don’t forget what may not be free on the web may be free in the Amherst College Library.

One thing is for sure. Students will find Google Scholar and they will use it. But this specialized search tool will be especially useful for those without ready access to an academic library and its subscription databases. 

"Make Noise in the Library" Party!

On Sunday, September 12, 2004 the Library welcomed back students to Amherst College.

students getting mugs

 crowd scene