2009 Fall – Personal & Institutional News

WESS Newsletter

Fall 2009, Vol. 33, No. 1

Column Editor: Richard Hacken

Two Members of the Program Committee?

At the WESS Program in Chicago, thanks to program chair Gordon Anderson of the University of Minnesota (along with his faithful crew of program committee members) and Moderator Steve Corrsin of the New York Public Library, more than a modicum of entertainment and wit mingled with full doses of enlightenment, current awareness and well-disciplined interdisciplinarity on the topic of: New Directions, New Collections. Professor Christopher Bush, Professor of French at Northwestern University, addressed us on “The Lost Samurai: Researching Across and Between.” Dr. Sabine Engel, Director of the Center for German & European Studies at the University of Minnesota, delivered the goods on “European Studies: Continuities and Change.” Christine Ingebritsen, Professor of Political Science & Scandinavian Studies at the University of Washington, donned a virtual Viking helmet to vividly verify “The Power of Scandinavia.” Anyone who knows Steve Corrsin or even knows of him, knows that he, Assistant Director for Acquisitions, NYPL, Ph.D., IMHO, can deliver words that are rightly rounded. Steve responded moderately and moderatingly to the three speakers with his “Transodran Perspective.” At last glance, I couldn’t find the word “Transodran” in Wikipedia or Google (there was only one hit — beyond “Did you mean ‘Transjordan’?” — and that one reference was referring to the very reference which we are here self-referentially referring to). But surmise the following: just as “Transylvania” means “beyond the woods” or “beyond the light bulb” (depending on who you ask), “Transodran” could quite easily refer to “beyond the Oder River.” Thus, in short, as ever, Steve is offering us the East European perspective, a POV worth entertaining. And this one was certainly entertaining. A good time of timely goodness was had by all.

Jeffry Larson (left) and John Cullars

The year 2009 has been remarkable for a number of milestones: the inauguration of America’s first African-American president (January), bushfires in Australia (February), a coup d’état in Madagascar (March), UNESCO’s launch of the World Digital Library (April), end of the Sri Lankan Civil War (May), election protests in Iran (June), Iceland’s parliament, the Althingi voting to pursue EU membership (July), release from Scottish gaol of the Lockerbie bomber on compassionate grounds (August), and for September…? It has to come down to either the appearance of Tom Delay on “Dancing with the Stars,” or else — the retirement of Jeffry Larson, now formerly of Yale. Jeffry has been a hard-working and long-lasting (long-suffering?) officer, whistle-blower, Newsletter editor, wit and meritorious member of WESS. Typical for his level of respected perspicacity, it was a signal honor — not to mention a CIFNAL honor — when Jeffry was chosen to be the final speaker, the summation master, the zenith of epiphany crafters, at last year’s first assemblage on earth of the Association internationale francophone des bibliothécaires et documentalistes (AIFBD) in Montreal. In honor of his long years of service, a double-sonnet has been donated in his name to the Internet. Its title is simply named: Committing Larsony. To Jeffry we wish a long life and much contentment out in the pasture of his own choosing.

Sparse Library of the Future?

In an article of Inside Higher Ed of September 29, 2009 entitled “Libraries of the Future,” Daniel Greenstein was quoted as saying that “…the university library of the future will be sparsely staffed, highly decentralized, and have a physical plant consisting of little more than special collections and study areas.” Within this article, words and phrases abounded along the ilk,1Isn’t there a River Ilk — or is it Ilz — that flows into the Danube at Passau? such ilk as: “outsourcing services,” “shared repositories” and “shrinking services and operating costs.” In the same article, our WESS colleague Shawn Martin of the University of Pennsylvania begged to differ with Greenstein’s 7-to-10-year time schedule, suggesting that one possible deceleration device on the alleged steep-sloped bibliothecal toboggan to oblivion is “the legacy of stuff that we have to do.” Deborah Jakubs of Duke University went even further to point out that “…the exact opposite happening, that libraries are taking on new roles” and serving up a “whole buffet of services.” Shawn, it appears, is a go-to-guy for quotable opinions of late, as evidenced in the Resource Shelf’s recent discussion of Open Access Encyclopedias.

May Boethius be with us…

In September last year, Margit Smith of the University of San Diego attended the annual meeting of the Arbeitskreis für die Erfassung, Erschlieβung, und Erhaltung mittelalterlicher Bucheinbände (AEB) held in Weimar. In addition to excellent wide-ranging presentations and discussions, the group also visited the renovated Herzogin Anna Amalia Bibliothek. The care and craftsmanship of the restoration are wonderful to see, says she, and the international community has been most generous in helping to fill in the immense losses the library sustained in the fire.2WESSies also note that Thea Lindquist of the University of Colorado has, through her Nijhoff-supported research into holdings of the Fruchtbringende Gesellschaft at the self-same HAAB in Weimar, helped to assess and address the losses. To explore the historic city of Weimar, of course, takes time – of which there is never enough on such trips. At the 44th International Congress on Medieval Studies in Kalamazoo this May, Margit presented a paper entitled “A very portable Boethius”, describing the girdle book at Yale’s Beinecke Library in detail. The session was sponsored by The International Boethius Society. It just so happens that the latest book by David Slavitt on Boethius shows this very book on the dust jacket – nice coincidence. She is reworking her Boethius presentation for inclusion as an article in the Society’s next journal. Also, her essay on the girdle book in Tallinn, “The City Law Book of King Magnus Eriksson,” will be published in 2010 in the next volume of books by The Society for Old Swedish Literature.

Speaking of literature attended to by old Swedes, Gordon Anderson of the University of Minnesota has spent a good deal of the early Fall being quite Nordic in his inclinations and in his geographically placed presence. As you may recall, Gordon received the Coutts-Nijhoff Award in order to put some finishing touches on the Swedish-American Bibliography. This project has taken him to Gothenburg (Göteborg to the Volvo-driving locals), a city with more than its own fair share of eponymous Goths. It was here, between bouts of bibliography building, that Gordon first espied the following name in very large letters on the first floor of a building near the train station: Skandinaviska Hårvårdsinstitutet AB. Gordon, whose local native equivalent handle of “Göran” is roughly pronounced “You’re on!”, was aware that this sign was not a signifier of Harvard University’s Study-Abroad Center, no, not of some Scandinavian Harvard Institute, Inc., but rather the result of a fortuitously false and funky cognate: in Swedish “hårvård” means “hair care.”

Scene from Mu’tah University
Photo: Mu’tah University website

Diane d’Almeida of Boston University spent the month of April 2009 in Jordan, housed at Mutah University3The proper name “Mutah” differs from “Utah” by the inclusion of an initial bilabial-sonorant-hum-worthy consonant… and in practice, no doubt, by the addition of a glottal stop and the removal of the first element of an initial diphthong. Or whatever. in Kerak. She was able to film nine (9) women writers while there, and include them on a website letting these women speak for themselves about why they write; who inspired them, etc. Diane plans to continue this project of “Contemporary Arab Women Writers” in Egypt, this time with videos of a more professional nature. The current webpage was done, written, woven by herself, alone. Essentially it is a research guide with videos. Diane intends to make available to the Institute for the Study of Muslim Societies and Civilization one long video of all the women she manages to film. She covers not only European languages and literatures for BU, you see, but basically lang-n-lit for the whole globe upon which we sit & spin: thus her interest in an area not very well covered.

Charlotte Droll has been at Colgate University in Hamilton, New York for the past two and a half years as Chair of Reference and Instruction. It’s not breaking news, but it’s been a busy two years so it may not be known to other WESS members. Urged to disclose more details (enquiring WESSies want to know), she modestly let the facts speak for themselves. And the column editor refrained from making any possible puns.

Todd Gilman of Yale University published two recent articles:

“Arne, Handel, The Beautiful, and The Sublime,” Eighteenth-Century Studies 42.4 (2009): 529-55.
Not Enough Time in the Library,” The Chronicle of Higher Education, May 14, 2009.

In addition he wrote a book review of:

Marlowe Up Close: An Unconventional Biography with a Scrapbook of his Ciphers, by Roberta Ballantine (Philadelphia: Roberta Ballantine, 2007). Theatre Research International 34.1 (2009): 98-99.

And he delivered an invited paper in Toronto in April 2009:

“Garrick’s Masque of King Arthur with Arne’s Score (1770): ‘Listen to the Music,’” at the Interrogating King Arthur conference, University of Toronto.

For the latter paper Todd produced the first-ever recording of eight of Thomas Augustine Arne’s accompanied recitatives and arias and his new overture for “The Masque of King Arthur,” based on an extremely rare printed score (c.1770) of Arne’s adaptation of Purcell’s King Arthur from the Beinecke Library at Yale.

“On August 26, 2009, George I. Paganelis of California State University, Sacramento was awarded tenure and promotion to Associate Librarian, an honor tempered 133% by the work furloughs implemented throughout the California State University system for the first time in its history. A reminder of the increasingly tenuous nature of tenure…”

Fred Jenkins of the University of Dayton Libraries contributed entries (text, translation, and commentary) to Brill’s New Jacoby for Artemon Klazomenaios (443), Hermogenes (795),Metrophanes (796), Timaios (848), and Hermogenes of Tarsus (851).

Medieval Fashions

Rutgers librarian Tom Izbicki’s latest article is “Failed Censures: Ecclesiastical Regulation of Women’s Clothing in Late Medieval Italy,” Medieval Clothing and Textiles 5 (2009): 37-53. Though your column editor admittedly hasn’t read the article in question, he has enough sartorial experience at guessing what might have appeared on the runways of Milan in the Late Middle Ages to tell him with incertitude that one of the ecclesiastical regulations might have involved a censure against mixing paisley components with broad horizontal stripes.

Your rarely humble column editor, Richard Hacken of the Brigham Young University libraries, published the following article this past summer in cooperation with mohamed ridda LAOUAR (sic), a computer scientist from Tébessa, Algeria, whom he met last year at the AIFBD meetings in Montreal, and with Mat Miles, Systems Librarian at sister-campus BYU-Idaho: “The Role of Web Services in Portal Design: Approaches for an Algerian University Library,Library Hi Tech, vol. 27, no. 3 (2009): 460-479.

In June, in Berlin, Hacken presented “Wozu Outreach in dürftiger Zeit? Fallstudie an einer UB in den westlichen USA” at Humboldt University’s Berliner Bibliothekswissenschaftliches Kolloquium.

In July, also in Berlin, he gave an illustrated lecture on “German Views of Amazonia through the Centuries” at the annual SALALM conference, gesturing towards such historical personalities as von Hutten (Philipp, not Ulrich), von Humboldt (Alexander, not Wilhelm), and Herzog (Werner, not the Saul Bellow protagonist).

German Naturalists in the Amazon

At the bilingual conference “L’histoire contemporaine à l’ère digitale / Contemporary History in the Digital Age” held October 15-16 in Luxembourg City, right in the chronological middle of what else could have been Frankfurt Book Fair visiting days, Hacken presented a paper regarding “Online Primary Documentation of Contemporary History: Trends, Changes and Consequences in the New Millennium.” Then he caught the TGV to the Archives départementales des Alpes-Maritimes in Nice to practice what he had preached: to digitize some primary historical documents.