2007 Spring – Personal and Institutional News

WESS Newsletter

Spring 2007, Vol. 30, No. 2

Column Editor: Richard Hacken

The year 2006 was a memorable one from the WESS perspective. Among high profile events were a record number of WESSies, dozens if you will, attending the Bibliothekartag in Dresden last March, cruising the French Quarter last June, and gathering transatlantic wisdom and data at a scholarly symposium at the University of Frankfurt last October. The latter event, co-sponsored by GNARP, a parallel but connected universe to WESS, was the result of the labors of a number of your pianists, I mean, Europeanists. The organizing whammy was based on the energy of our own Jeff Garrett, North by Northwestern. His efforts were so manifestly appreciated that an encomium was written in his honor – you can find it online by googling “Encomium Garrettiae.” The year 2007 – now barely out of puberty, coinciding with early spring – has a tough act to follow.

Reinhart Sonnenburg and Marianna McKim of Dartmouth, the latter a fine, ivy-beleaguered college located in the recently re-discovered winter sports mecca of Hanover, New Hampshire, went on a Thanksgiving season family excursion to China. Leaving as two people, they subsequently returned as a family of three with the addition of Emma (the Southern Chinese belle. Before meeting Emma in Guangzhou (formerly known as Canton) on November 20, they spent a few educational, i.e., culturally eye-popping, days in Beijing. Blogophiles can find her “travelogue” (quel mot de jadis). Emma is blossoming, even in a cold clime; Marianna is Supermom; and Reinhart regrets having to be back at work full-time – but someone has to bring home the vegetarian bacon. The travelogue actually continues into the present tense as an Emmalogue, and is updated as strength and time (usually Marianna’s) permits.

Heidi Madden is the new Librarian for Western European Studies at Duke University. Heidi completed her undergraduate studies at the University of Stuttgart and the University of Tübingen. Following a year as an exchange scholar at Antioch College, Ohio, she completed an M.A. and Ph.D. in Comparative Literature at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she also gained several years of teaching experience. She interned at Duke’s Perkins Library in the International and Area Studies and Reference Departments while earning an M.L.S. degree at North Carolina Central University. After completing her training, she took a position as grants librarian at the Triangle Research Libraries Network. Heidi grew up in Gerolstein, a small town in the Eifel and the setting of Offenbach’s operetta “The Grand Duchess of Gerolstein.” It’s unclear whether Offenbach based his operetta on one of Heidi’s ancestors. She has fond childhood memories of collecting fossil crinoids and trilobites, glossy black fish eyes and reef organisms from the Devonian age; collecting local legends (why does the Auberg look like the petrified hand of a giant?); hiking trips to stone-age caves and ruins from Roman times; swimming in the volcanic lakes; and summers at a Mosel vineyard, where she walked the hills that produce the Wehlener Sonnenuhr. If you want to buy a little piece of the Eifel, go find a bottle of Gerolsteiner Sprudel in your grocery store! Heidi and her husband, a physician at Duke University Medical Center, have three teenage girls. Their oldest daughter is enjoying life as a freshman at Carnegie Mellon University. The other two teenagers promise not to cause problems during the first year of their mother’s new job.

As of this past December, Jeff Staiger holds the newly created position of Romance Languages Librarian at the University of Oregon. A former professor of English whose keen interest in contemporary literature survived the protocols of professional criticism, he finds being a romance language specialist a marvelous way to keep abreast of developments in literature and culture the world over. He loves having a job in which interests and duties coincide! Among the best educational experiences Jeff ever had were the years he lived abroad, in Germany and, more recently, in Italy. Between careers, he taught Latin at a private high school in Pittsburgh and tutored students in math for the SATs and GREs in Manhattan. He earned his M.L.I.S. at Rutgers in 2005 and worked for half a year at Seton Hall University developing the Valente Collection in Italian Literature and Culture. Currently, he is endeavoring, striving mightily, yea, behooving himself to learn as much as he can about Spanish and Latin American literature to go with his knowledge of their counterparts in French and Italian. In his research, he looks forward to finding creative ways to combine a humanistic background with issues in librarianship. Having already enlisted in the coalition of the willing to write original reviews of French reference sources for RRE, Jeff looks forward to being involved with other WESS activities in the coming year.

Michelle Emanuel, Catalog Librarian and Modern Languages Bibliographer at the University of Mississippi Libraries, read the proofs, corrected the goofs, and saw Rodopi publish the book-formerly-known-as-her-dissertation in their Faux Titre Series. Its true title is: From Surrealism to Less-Exquisite Cadavers: Léo Malet and the Evolution of the French Roman Noir ( Amsterdam : Rodopi, 2006). You will find a description of her work on the Rodopi website (contact your local librarian for keyword searching tips). Even those of us who have suffered from appendicitis are particularly taken with her “Appendix B,” a listing of frequently used Malet slang. And no, Michelle did not catalog the book herself.

As of this past March – the one that just marched past – Fred Jenkins became Associate Dean for Collections and Operations at the University of Dayton Libraries. He will, as his new title suggests, presumably be in charge not only of collectors, but also of operators. The second edition of his Classical Studies: A Guide to the Reference Literature has been published, and it enjoyed a very nice review in the December 2006 issue of Choice. Fred also contributed the sections of ancient history and classical languages and literature to Resources for College Libraries.

At the Seattle ALA meetings, Anna Bjartmarsdottir Sveinbjornsson was in her (new) element, as she has been quite recently appointed to be the Nordic Studies Librarian at the University of Washington Libraries. She enjoys the distinction of having the longest Icelandic middle name in the WESS Directory and quite possibly the only one. Before arriving in the state of Washington, where every Puget is Sound, Anna was at the University of Utah Libraries, where, among other things, she was the selector for linguistics. As recently as last year, she was chair of the Utah Library Association’s “New Perspectives Round Table.” This year she will truly gain new perspectives in her work with Nordic collections in Seattle.

In December George I. Paganelis presented a paper entitled “Index to Modern Greek Studies: A Vision and Approach” at the Modern Greek Resources Project Meeting in Athens. He also has a pair of articles appearing in the forthcoming issue of the Journal of Modern Greek Studies (available in Project Muse) entitled “Creating an Index to Modern Greek Studies” and “The Tsakopoulos Hellenic Collection at California State University, Sacramento: A Beacon of Hellenism in the Western United States.” Perhaps the most valuable thing George learned on his trip to Greece was the Greek word for the ‘@’ symbol: papaki (duckling).1 Note: other zoological interpretations of the ‘@’ sign include “monkey” or “monkey-tail” in a number of Germanic and Balkan languages; “cat’s tail” or “meow sign” in Finnish; “snail” in Italian, Ukrainian and Turkish (sometimes “escargot” in French); “elephant’s-trunk-a” in Danish and Swedish; “pig’s tail” in Norwegian; “dog” in Russian; “pickled herring” in Czech; and “worm” or “maggot” in Hungarian.

For six weeks, from late January to early March, Diane d’Almeida of Boston University Libraries served as a Fulbright Senior Specialist at the Mohammed VI Library at Al Akhawayn University in Ifrane, Morocco. She returns full of couscous and memorable experiences, about which you can read in her blog entries. While at AUI, she spent a lot of time interacting with library staff and faculty – advising, mentoring, auditing, suggesting, training, teaching, and helping to develop a library outreach program. The university in Ifrane is a small school with 1200 students, most of whom are Moroccan – there are probably 30 American students on exchange programs and a total of 70 international students. Classes are given in English. Diane immediately started taking three courses: one on the Berber Culture; one on the Classical Arabic Language; and one on the History of the Arab World. As time allowed, she traveled and lectured throughout the country. Among other things, she attended a Book Fair in Casablanca (presumably not far from Rick’s Café) and visited Rabat and its university. She just missed Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett, who had been in Morocco a few months earlier to “shoot” the Oscar-worthy film Babel.

Jack Hall, Manager of Cataloging Services at the University of Houston Libraries, has recently been charged with selecting German titles. This I learned during GNARP meetings in Seattle. (Disclosure: Gnarp, beside being a faction of the Global Resources Network, is also the name of a town in Sweden ). Through the course of years, Jack has assembled a list of L.C. subject headings and cross references that are authentic, genuine, and yet somehow most capriciously humoresque. Contact Jack for the full list, from which a short alphabetical sample of true Elsie subject headings follows: Beast marriage; Body snatching — Juvenile literature; Cheese antennas SEE Microwave pillboxes; Chicken scratch music; Church work with cowgirls; Corn — Effect of stress on; Edible dormouse; Fish watching; Millipedes as pets; Poultry — Dubbing; Society, High SEE Upper class; Toilet paraphernalia, Prehistoric.

A new tome with WESS connections and promoting WESS interests, Building Area Studies Collections, is set to appear in the next few days as vol. 52 of Beiträge zum Buch- und Bibliothekswesen (Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 2007). Jeffry Larson of Yale and Eva Sartori (WESSie retired from Nebraska) have contributed the article on “Building Romance Language Collections,” one of a number of chapters by respected specialists on various aspects of Area Studies collection development. Jim Spohrer, former WESS Chair still sitting at U.C. Berkeley, composed the Germanic, Nordic and Benelux article. The volume, also featuring contributions on collecting for Latin America, the Near East, Africa, Southeast Asia, and East Asia, is co-edited by Dan Hazen (Collections Guy at Harvard) and the aforementioned Jim Spohrer. For area studies folk, this is a must-have monograph (wait a minute; it’s composed of several chapters – does that make it a polygraph?).

I, Dick Hacken, editor of this column and European Studies Bibliographer at Brigham Young University Libraries, was defeated in 1993 by Jim Spohrer (see previous paragraph) for the post of WESS Chair by a margin heretofore only seen in Cuban elections and Harlem Globetrotter exhibition basketball games, and my gratitude knows no bounds. But that isn’t news, since it happened 14 years ago. More recently, e.g., last November, I and my wife, Marianne Siegmund, hosted the Mongolian shaman-poet Galsan Tschinag in Salt Lake City as a part of his first visit to North America. He is the only shaman I know who publishes in German. He is also the only shaman I know. The occasion was the first English-language translation of his novel, The Blue Sky. Fittingly, the sky was blue that day. Readings and happenings had occurred earlier in the Mini Apple and at Indiana University, and were to occur later in the Seattle area – not to mention Canada, home of the novel’s translator, Katharina Rout. Back in Utah, where the Bonneville Salt Flats resemble the Gobi Desert gone bad and the Wasatch Mountains rise like the High Altai Range, I served as translator for Galsan’s remarks and question-and-answer session during an evening reading at the King’s English Bookshop. Afterwards, the guest of honor did some Tuvan throat-singing, signed books, and asked a friend of ours if he’d like to go steal horses with him sometime. Tschinag’s shamanic – at times almost demonic – poetry can be found online in my English translations, including the latest, Beyond the Silence.

WESS members attending the ACRL Conference in Baltimore were inexorably drawn to each other by common interests, by the cords of collegiality, and by a gentle breeze wafting over Federal Hill and rippling the harbor. An invitation had been concocted by Sarah Wenzel that we should dine as a group on Saturday evening, March 31, in anticipation of April Fools’ Day and in celebration of each other. Local gourmet-meister Tom Izbicki guided our steps past the Peabody Institute to the culinary stylings of Helmand, an Afghan restaurant in the Mount Vernon District owned by Qayum Karzai, the brother of Afghanistan’s resident president. Thus, we did not have to ask for a “non-Taliban table:” that service was provided automatically. A sumptuous dinner was capped with sparkling wit and sparkling water, with good company and eggplant, with laughter and lamb, with old wine and a baby pumpkin dish which, we were assured, had been prepared with free-range pumpkins. Reluctantly, we parted ways to gather at the water, that is, at the National Aquarium for a reception in which terrapins and dolphins participated.

Please submit news for the upcoming issue of Personal and Institutional News to Dick Hacken (hacken@byu.edu).