Vol. 25, No. 2 (Spring, 2002)
Column Editor: Richard Hacken
Please pardon the surfeit of ink spilled into words upon this column. The only excuse I shall render (like unto tallow) is that this is the Olympic Edition of the WESS Personal & Institutional News column, and a certain panel of judges intimidated me, pressured me, yes, even bribed me into writing what follows.
As of June, Dale Askey will be vacating his old haven at the University of Utah’s Marriott Library for a position in New Haven. Thrown into Yale, he will be Librarian for Germanic Languages and Literatures. At Utah, his bibliographic assignments – from which his new ones will be a radical departure – were narrowly defined as German, Russian and Asian Studies, which cut a biblio-swath through forty percent of earth’s landmass. Dale volunteered his services for the 2002 Olympic Winter Games and received a dream assignment: German interpreter at the Utah Olympic Oval, site of all long track speed-skating events. As a speed skater and German speaker himself, he couldn’t have done any better. As we all know, Germans now speak English, so his services were not used all that frequently. But when more than one athlete realized that limited English skills wilt under the stress of a press conference, they did avail themselves of his services. Dale highly recommends simultaneous, consecutive and retrospective interpretation in front of 100 members of a rabid press corps as a way to test how much adrenaline your body can produce. It was great fun when it wasn’t mortally frightening. The highlight was Dale’s chance to snap a shot of world-record-setting double gold medalist Claudia Pechstein of Germany holding his baby daughter Greta. Papa secretly (or not so secretly) hopes that Greta will show an interest in speed skating and that Claudia’s “blessing” will help the cause. For a follow-up on this story, tune your holovisions into the 2022 Winter Games.
The international media, to its everlasting shame, did not cover certain WESS-related scenes from the Salt Lake Games. For instance: as the Norwegian announcer at the 4 x 5 km women’s cross-country venue switched seamlessly forth and back from English to French to German to Swedish to Finnish to Russian, sounding for all the world – so to speak – like an auctioneer at the United Nations, your column editor – strictly out of a sense of duty to this column – marked the colorful parade of nations slip-sliding away on skis by shaking cowbells and shouting nonsense syllables into the winter air. After Evi Sachenbacher of Germany slipped past her Norwegian rival to win gold in the final twenty meters of the last lap, the gentleman who had planted the gigantic Bavarian flag and the city colors of Ramsau in the snow clapped me on the shoulder and announced: “Meine Tochter.” Other scenes: avoiding the Latvian lunacy of hockey fans with nothing to lose but the game itself; sitting in the Swiss House after the fondue had run out just as Suisse II hurtled down the bobsled track – as seen on live television – to the thundering sounds of… silence (when you get Mormons and Swiss together, apparently, all inclinations to party wither); and finally being radicalized into a sense of Marxist indignation when the security guard at the Austria House turned us away for lack of a “VIP-Pass” (which in Austrian German sounds more like “Feep-Boss”).
Another friend of WESS, who shall remain unnamed, served as a volunteer chauffeur and translator to the San Marino national (!) team, the latter consisting of one grand-slalom racer and three junketeering, leering, fellow-traveling officials.
he most tranquil and peaceful Olympic experience of all, however, was enjoyed by Ceres Birkhead, who headed south of the equator just as the Utah campus was going bonkers with athletes, pin traders, military helicopters and snowboard groupies. Flying home to Brazil, she watched the proceedings by satellite from a hemisphere away and allowed herself to be mothered by her mother.
The Olympics involved not only sports on ice and snow, of course, but cultural, environmental and synchronized vote-swapping events as well. WESS, for instance, could claim to have been represented by a number of talented teams in the serial name-change grand slalom, Alpine budgetary downhill, Nordic bound-with combined, fee-jumping, go-figure triple-toe-loop inflation (at the same venue as invoice skating), approval plan short track, library liaison luge, free-smile reference aerials, bibliographic instruction showboring, middle management bobsled, cross-country postal rate relay, friends-of-the-library biathlon (with raffles instead of rifles), and mutilated page curling. None of this was shown on NBC because of (you guessed it) viewer ratings.
Change is inevitable, except from a certain vending machine in the New Orleans Conference Center. One glorious change is retirement, the blissful state to which Mariann Tiblin has now emigrated. Mariann has been, in the minds of many of us, the quintessential Scandinavian bibliographer at the quintessential Scandinavian collection of the Americas at the University of Minnesota. (quintessential + quintessential = deca-essential?) Were you aware that Mariann studied art history, ethnology and archaeology at the University of Stockholm, that she mastered bibliotekshemligheter at the Swedish School of Librarianship, that she has been co-editor of the Swedish-American bibliography (Octoberly in the Swedish-American Historical Quarterly for the past quarter century), or that she has an award from the King of Sweden for furthering Swedish-American relations? It’s not the sort of thing she shouts from the rooftops (especially in winter). But she has been a mainstay and an inspiration to the rising generation of Scandinavian info-seekers and tweakers. Good luck, Mariann; may your ultimate sabbatical find Swede fulfillment.
Nobody can fill the shoes of Mariann Tiblin at Minnesota, but Julianne Haahr has been given a new set of sandals with which to lope or gallop through part of the Wilson Library’s Scandinavian biblioscape. After freshly graduating from library school at the University of Wisconsin last August (preceded by an M.A. in Scandinavian Studies ibidem and a B.A. in German and History from Luther College in decorous Decorah, Iowa), Julianne first filled in as interim German, Dutch and Such Librarian for Laura Dale Bischof, (who gave birth to a baby girl in July 2001). Now that Laura is back at work and assisting with some of the Tiblinae calceando (very late Latin for “filling the shoes of Mariann”), Julianne has taken on Western European Social Sciences and Government Publications in addition to Scandinavian Area Studies. Since December she has also been part-time departmental librarian for the German, Scandinavian and Dutch department on campus. It is in this capacity that she has been identifying basic reference works for the Gerhard Weiss Library to be located in historic Folwell Hall, a collection she will come to know full well.
Appalled. Simply appalled. That’s what we of WESS have been, lately, at the sight of more and more of our number crossing over to the dark side (becoming front-office-head types managing collection development fund squeezing and bibliographer baiting, often with the feinted proviso of “interim” or “temporary” in the transient sense once used to connote the Pyramids of Giza). Izbicki of Hopkins, Halporn of Harvard, Sutter of Chicago, Jeff of Northwestern (yes, the Garrettmeister is now “Acting Up AUL for Collection Management”)… where will the madness end? Not at Minnesota, where Charles Spetland became Head of both Collection Development and also Collection Management (“temporarily”) on April Fools Day.
We shall maintain the Minnesota theme for just a bit longer (as Jesse Ventura strongly advises under threat of gubernatorial headlock). Thea Lindquist, the new (and bolder) History and German Language and Literature Bibliographer at the University of Colorado (at Boulder) – as yet unhackneyed by the vicissitudes of bibliocracy – originally hails from the oft-frozen shores of Bunyanesque Lake Bemidji (Paul Bunyan, not John Bunyan). Thea’s sensibilities were shaped by an average annual temperature of 34.7 degrees Farfromheight (we’re talking less than 2 degrees Celsius once the 4th of July thaw has been averaged in), by outdoor hockey from October to April (the word “ice” in front of “hockey” would be redundant), and by a lifestyle only recently documented in the movie “Fargo.” Thea was never a serial lutefisk abuser but is sadly acquainted with lutefisk and its associated byproducts. Yes, of course, her undergraduate daze/days was/were at North Dakota State. At the University of Wisconsin, where she was indoctrinated with a doctorate in European History and labeled a master of Library Science, far-famed footsteps within the stomping grounds of John Dillon and later Barbara Walden drew her moccasins inexorably down the pathway to librarianship. She was also a “Research Library Resident” at the University of Michigan, where Bryan Skib still resides, Ann Arborially. Now having moved to the Mountain Zone, Thea ventures outdoors into the Colorado winter often to ice skate, cross-country ski, snowshoe and soak in a hot spring (I wonder if the hot spring she frequents is as raiment-optional as the one I found in Utah). With a number of funded search and research trips, Thea can be taken for well-granted. This summer she will be at the Bayerisches Hauptstaatsarchiv to study “Bavaria and the Palatinate Question in the Thirty Years War,” which sounds like a palatable topic.
Beau Case, in case you haven’t heard, is no longer at Ohio State. He has taken a position at the University of Michigan, where he is now the “Field Librarian for Classical Studies.” The first word in that title, “Field,” is apparently not the name of anybody really important and thus does not designate the benefactor of some endowed chair of librarianship (an economic oxymoron), but rather means “field,” as in Field & Stream. While the details have not crystallized yet, he will apparently be sent out into and onto the “field” to build the classical collection in a neo-classical manner yet to be designated. Maybe he’ll know more by next summer’s ALA conference, at which point classical antiquity will be even more historic than it is right now.
In the final Collection Building issue of 2001, Martha Zarate published “Trends and Issues of Italian Cinema: A Mini-History and Bibliography.” Topically you might find a touch of the Felliniesque in this article, but bibliographically it is absolutely straightforward: Collection Building; issue four of volume twenty (2001); pages 176-203.
Bente Polites has been a WESS member for 14 years, mere eller mindre. A graduate of the Royal Danish School of Librarianship in Copenhagen, he has worked in libraries in Denmark and in Luxembourg (where he was a reference librarian in the European Parliament for ten years). In the mid-eighties he moved to the U.S. and has been a reference/special collections librarian at Villanova University since 1987. For the last five years he has also been the librarian liaison to the philosophy department (with an emphasis on continental philosophy, which, like the continental shelf, gets awfully deep at the edges). His knowledge of several languages is a big help in his work in philosophy and the special collections area. Bente has not been able to attend many ALA conferences, but does hope to be able to participate in some WESS meetings, particularly in the Scandinavian discussion group, in the future.
Late last summer your column editor received a letter from the American Red Cross informing him/me that I was no longer eligible to donate my blood to them. (Growing up in Sacramento, I saw the blood bank located at the base of a water tower and assumed that the tower was full of blood, but I digress. The blood bank was located next to the “Alhambra Theater” with Moorish gardens and Thousand-and-One-Nights architecture; a Safeway store now occupies that cultural space, but I digress even further.) The reason I am forbidden from donating blood is that I have spent a cumulative total of over one year in Europe since 1986, and the American Red Cross wonders if my corpuscles might be harboring the human version of Mad Cow Disease. Those of you who read this column may wonder the same thing. But you may also be on the rejection list kept by the Red Cross. It doesn’t take much to have spent a cumulative year in Europe over the past fifteen years: if my math is correct, that averages out to slightly over three weeks a year. So if you haven’t gotten that letter yet, keep an eye out for it. Or do the post 9-11 realities trump the luxury of lesser worries? By the way, the acronym for Mad Cow Disease (MCD) also forms the first three letters of McDonalds. Coincidence? I think not.