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2008 Report of the Librarian

Submitted to the 2008 Council Meeting of the Friends of the Amherst College Library on April 26, 2008.


Head of Archives & Special Collections Search

Interviews for two candidates are next week. Members of the Friends Council are invited to attend presentations by the candidates on May 6 at 3:30 pm and May 9 at 3:00 pm, in the Archives and Special Collections Reading Room.

Among the recommendations of the September 2007 visiting team to Archives and Special Collections (Barbara Jones, University Librarian at Wesleyan University and Susan Allen, Chief Librarian of the Research Library at the Getty Research Institute in Los Angeles) was that the new head of the department have rare book and manuscript (rather than archival) expertise. The library leadership group supports this recommendation, as does the search committee for the position, and the candidates we have selected to interview reflect that decision.


Boston Library Consortium 

In the Fall we applied for membership in the Boston Library Consortium (BLC) (, an association of 19 academic and research libraries Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island, founded to support resource sharing and enhancement of services to library users through cooperative collecting, access to electronic resources and physical collections, and enhanced interlibrary loan/document delivery. Other BLC members include Boston College, Boston University, Brandeis, Brown, MIT, Northeastern, Tufts, University of Connecticut, University of Massachusetts Amherst, University of New Hampshire, Wellesley and Williams.

BLC membership will allow Amherst College faculty, staff and students to gain access to and borrow in person from member libraries of the consortium. In addition to expedited (2-day) shipping of interlibrary loan materials, BLC members agree to lend to one another videos, CDs, DVDs, microform, dissertations, theses, and other normally non-circulating material. BLC leverages the combined buying power of BLC libraries to realize cost savings and beneficial terms in the purchase of electronic resources. Member libraries may participate in ASK 24/7, a live chat academic research service for students, faculty and staff. And on Sep. 20, the BLC announced a partnership with the Open Content Alliance to build a freely accessible library of digital materials from all member institutions. This partnership would provide us with the infrastructure for undertaking high-resolution digitization of our unique and public domain materials far more cost-effectively than we could do it on our own and without the issues of partnering in for-profit mass digitization projects such as Google Book Search.

The reveiw team of Brinley Franklin, Vice Provost for University Libraries, University of Connecticut; Bob Hudson, University Librarian, Boston University; David Pilachowski, College Librarian, Williams College; and Susan Wawrzaszek, Chief University Librarian, Brandeis University will visit on April 29 and make a final recommendation on Amherst's application to the BLC shortly thereafter.


Jerry Cohen Papers 

Professor Ilan Stavans initiated a discussion with us about acquiring the papers of Jerome (Jerry Cohen) '63.& Cohen was chief counsel to Cesar Chavez and the United Farm Workers Union of America from 1967 to 1981 and represented Chavez and the union in its most important actions to gain rights for migrant farm workers. Librarians Susan Edwards and Peter Nelson, and project archivist Isadora Mota are working on the project to catalog and digitize the papers and there are plans for a related event in the fall.


NEASC & Information Literacy


CMS Transition



One of the goals the library staff articulated in 2005 was to make the Library more of a hub for intellectual activity. This year in particular we've worked to realize that goal, investing significant energy in sponsoring a variety of speakers, programs and exhibits as well as facilitating use of Library space by campus groups for non-library related events. Under the leadership of Tracy Sutherland, the Library’s Program Committee sponsored a variety of events throughout the year. The Library collaborated with others on campus to organize the College’s Constitution Day program and to host “Pictures Without Borders,” an exhibition of the photographs by Steve Horn '72. Other programs included:

  • Black History Month: National African American Read-In and Horace Porter '72 and Uthman Muhammad (formerly Calvin Ward '70) shared memories of undergraduate life at Amherst College during the Civil Rights Movement
  • In collaboration with the Spanish Department, in March we had a display of arpilleras (textile folk art) depicting repression and resistance in Chile and hosted a talk by the collection's owner, Marjorie Agosin, author of Scraps of Life: Chilean Arpilleras.
  • Women's History Month: we hosted a dynamic discussion with three extraordinary women of Amherst College, Professor Rose Olver, Professor Helen Von Schmidt '78e and Stephanie Gounder '08.
  • While Valentine was closed during spring break we hosted an event that invited students to make waffles in the staff lounge.
  • Planned for September 24, 2008: Robert Herbert, Orra White Hitchcock's Diaries