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Friends of the Amherst College Library

Submitted by Bryn I. Geffert

Report of the Librarian
October 27, 2007


Academic Internships

You know that one of our goals is to make research instruction an integral part of a student's Amherst experience. We do an extremely good job of working with faculty to provide course-based instruction, and this year it seems that there are more individual consultations with students writing theses than ever. But the nature of the Amherst curriculum makes systematic research instruction more difficult than it is at institutions where there are one or two courses that all students take. Just this week we received approval for a proposal that I think is exactly the kind of program that will help us reach our goal.

This fall the College initiated the Academic Internship Program to enable Faculty across the ranks and disciplines to hire current Amherst students to help with projects relating to their pedagogy or research. The purpose of this program is to give faculty assistance for academic tasks that are substantive but time-consuming, and to give students the opportunity to work closely with faculty. Examples of projects for Academic Interns include helping with literature searches or archival work, pulling together information or materials needed to develop a new course, or recording and analyzing data from experiments or surveys. The Academic Internship Program is supported by the Mellon Foundation and the Office of the Dean of the Faculty. Academic internships are awarded four times per year -- currently there are 23 interns working with 23 faculty members.

Susan Edwards, who in addition to being the Library's Web Manager, is the liaison to Sociology, Economics and LJST, developed a proposal to create a component of comprehensive research instruction for the Academic Interns, and with support from Prof. Austin Sarat our proposal to Dean Call was approved this month. Librarians will meet with the faculty to discuss the kinds of things that the interns should know, and then tailor research instruction to their needs.

New Librarians

National searches brought two new librarians to the staff in July to fill the vacancies left by Judith Nagata and Alexa Jaffurs. Before filling the positions, we took the opportunity to make significant changes in the Library's organizational structure, including Margaret Groesbeck's appointment as Head of Public Services. Both of these positions report to Margaret.

The Access Services Librarian supervises circulation and reserves, as well as having reference and collection development responsibilities. Odelia Levanovsky comes to Amherst from Beit Ariela Library in Tel Aviv, Israel, where she was Reference and Access Services Librarian. Her MLS is from Long Island University and she has a B.A. in English Literature from Adelphi University. Before moving to Tel Aviv she worked for nine years as the Administrative Librarian for Public Services at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America in New York City.

Reference/ILL Librarian Douglas M. Black comes to Amherst from Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, where he was Humanities Bibliographer and Reference Librarian. He has an M.S. in Library and Information Science from Simmons College and an M.A. in English from the University of New Hampshire. Before pursuing a career in librarianship, Douglas was a lecturer in English at the University of Wyoming and a writer/editor at Colorado State University and the Boston University School of Law.

Mission Statement

Once the process of developing a new mission statement for the College was completed in May, we began work on revising the 1999 Library Mission Statement. Copies of the draft revision are in your packet, and I would welcome your comments. The Faculty Library Committee will be reviewing the draft this fall.

Digital Collections

In 2005, we began discussions about managing the Library’s digital holdings and moving the Visual Resources collection of over 300,000 images from 35mm slides to digital format. It quickly became clear that , while the Visual Resources materials must receive highest priority in this transition, we required a more comprehensive approach to providing organization and access to all of the Library's digital assets -- images, text, audio and video. The Friends pledged financial support, focused on providing electronic access to our collection of historic College images. With the support of Information Technology, and after considering collaboration among the Five College libraries and with the Mead Museum and Public Affairs, we decided in 2006 to license DigiTool for use with the Library’s collections. Head of Library Information Technology Jan Jourdain, Visual Resources Curator Don Milliken, Visual Resources Assistant Jo-Anne Chapin, and Project Specialist Catherine Winston have worked to implement DigiTool and the project is expected to go live to the campus with over 40,000 images next week. Catherine will join the Library staff full time for two years, beginning in January, to support the project. In addition to the direct Friends contribution for this project, which will total $200,000 over the four-year period (FY 2007-2010), funding sources include the Polly Longsworth Library Resources Fund, the Michael J. Israels 1971 Library Fund, the Willis E. Bridegam Fund for the Amherst College Library -- all made possible by the Friends.

An example of what this project will eventually look like can be seen at the University of Maryland Libraries Digital Collections.



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