Library collections (books, databases, special collections, archives, and more) must be meaningful to and reflective of the diverse voices of our communities. To fulfill the UConn Library’s mission to steward the world of information, our collections must be inclusive, diverse, equitable, and accessible.
As a direct response to the socio-political climate in the United States, UConn Library staff have formed a working group to investigate how their work in collections could better reflect and realize the values of inclusion, diversity, equity, and accessibility (IDEA). Under the aegis of the UConn Library’s values and strategic framework, the working group is collaborating to ensure that the Library’s policies and practices foster IDEA in the collections we build and steward. With representation across campuses and library units, the IDEA in Collections Working Group will craft guiding principles to help shape future collecting activities, access to and discovery of library collections, collections-related policies and practices, and engagement with Library collections stakeholders, including faculty, students, researchers, and donors.
On Friday, March 13, 2020, Jason started his first day, attending the required Human Resources orientation. At the same time, the staff were preparing for what we thought would be a two-week timeframe to work from home. He never had a chance to log on to his computer or even sit at his new desk. Edward, recently hired as our Business & Entrepreneurial Librarian, was set to move in March from his home in Singapore, only to “commute” for ten months until he could move to the United States.
Throughout the roughly 15 months of working from home, the Library has had the fortunate opportunity to hire ten new full-time staff members and we wondered, what was it like to start a new job in the middle of a pandemic? Even though their individual experiences are as unique as the two examples above, they collectively share an experience like no other. We sat down with several of them to talk about their challenges, successes, and hopes for joining the Library in person soon.
Geographically Distant – Together on Screen! Staff came from far and wide, and close by too. Some have relocated, and some are still waiting to move. Where are they from? We have representation from almost all of New England – Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Vermont, as well as New York, California, Georgia, and the prize for farthest – Singapore. And yes, that means that in some cases, time zones have to be considered when scheduling a meeting!
What is it About the UConn Library? Without the ability to experience the environment and have only online interactions, what was it about the UConn Library that helped them decide to make the move? Even in a challenging online environment, they felt connected with the organization on collective goals and aspirations, and with individuals in the meetings. We also have a secret weapon for our search committees – Ellen Silbermann. A Georgia native and full of Southern charm, Ellen is a one-woman welcoming committee, putting applicants at ease from start to finish.
Space, the Final Frontier… Roughly half of our newly hired staff have never stepped foot into the building they will be working in or seen their work space. Some have never been on campus. So what are they wondering about? Do I have a nice chair? Should I bring my space heater? Is there a dress code? How far exactly is the Dairy Bar? What does the campus environment at a land grant institution feel like? How remote and bucolic is remote and bucolic?
Take Me Home, Country Road. What will they miss from home? Coffee within arms reach. Lunchtime walks with four-legged and furry co-workers. Impromptu playing of the mandolin during a quick meeting break. The warm snuggie and a wood stove. A new, special order, purple home office chair.
We Can’t Wait For…. Did we mention the Dairy Bar already? New and exciting lunch options. New office mates (more than the four-legged furry ones and family members we have now). A welcome party!!
Not All Bad. Online orientation does have some advantages. For example, having an online meeting for the first time instead of in person removes a lot of the stress. Decreased anxiety means increased number of connections which means a win for us all. A new initiative this past semester, Coffee Connections, also helped break the ice. It was designed for in-person meet-and-greets over coffee, but translated well via video. Online orientation also erased the physical divide, breaking down the barriers that we often face with staff in multiple campus locations. Online, we are all in the same space.
The UConn Library is looking forward to reopening this fall and with that the return of our staff. It seems like after working at home for so long, we are all going to feel first day jitters!
Thanks to the staff who chatted with us – from top left to bottom right:
Merlita Taitague is the Acquisitions & Electronic Resources Support Assistant for the Acquisitions & Discovery unit. She is at work behind the scenes coordinating the purchase of materials and managing our streaming video collection. Merlita is a UConn alumna (B.A., College of Liberal Arts and Sciences), recently celebrating 25 years of service during which she has been a member of our IT team, responsible for supporting donor development and stewardship, and as executive assistant for our former Vice Provost Brinley Franklin. If you ask any staff member they would tell you that no matter the work role, Merlita is most respected for her willingness to step into any project and do whatever it takes to make it successful. Take a minute to get to know Merlita.
What do you love most about working in a library? I’ve had the privilege of assisting many interesting library users over the years. One of my favorites was an artist who named a shade of colored pencil after me. Another was a world-renowned geographer and former world chess champion. After a long discourse about the virtues of fountain pens (he had one for every year from 1892 to 1959, including his favorite, made from the underbelly of a crocodile that lived in an African lake the name of which I can’t remember), he proceeded to treat me to a lecture on the history of chess-playing computers. Then there was the grad student who was so grateful for my help that he brought me and a colleague beef patties from my favorite Jamaican bakery.
In the midst of the pandemic, what do you do to take your mind off the crazy things happening in the world right now? I do yoga, or I walk my dog on the beach.
What is a positive that has come from this pandemic? Michael Bevacqua, a Chamorro Studies scholar, has volunteered countless hours of his free time teaching Chamorro language classes to people on Guam. For years, he held these informal sessions in person, meeting on Saturdays in a coffee shop. Because of the pandemic, he was obliged to move his classes online. There are so many mainland Chamorros—including myself—who don’t know the language. (And very few on Guam know it well; I read somewhere that at the current rate of decline, the Chamorro language will be extinct in 50 years.) So of course, once word got out about his online classes, interest spread literally worldwide. His current beginner class has several hundred people in it!
What’s your go-to productivity trick? Talking to myself. It helps me focus.
What’s one professional skill you’re currently working on? Trying to figure out how to increase the digital accessibility of our collections.
Tell us a fun fact about you. My first job was as a carnival barker.
What is on your reading list? “Language Matters” by Sharon Clampitt-Dunlap (shoutout to my former colleague Marisol Ramos for purchasing this book for our collection), “Where Are All the Librarians of Color?” and whatever leisure reading books friends exchange with me. Right now, I have a James Patterson, a Vince Flynn, and two Steve Berrys sitting on my shelf.
Everyone loves UConn for their own reasons. What is yours? The breadth of expertise available to me in the form of colleagues and students across the University. No matter my question, I have an expert whose brain I can pick.
If you could only have three apps on your smartphone, which would you pick? Google Maps, a calendar app, and Weather Channel.
What’s your most hated household chore? Dusting . . . or laundry . . . or mopping . . . or maybe vacuuming.
What’s your most used emoji? The heart emoji for my kids, the smiley face for everyone else.
Groundbreaking in 1970, the “Black Experience in the Arts” course is part of UConn’s history of employing education as a tool in understanding and eliminating racism. The materials from the class, which represent a broad range of scholarship in fine arts, education, and the humanities, will be preserved by Archives & Special Collections through a grant from the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR).
The “Turbulent Sixties” were felt at campuses across the country including here at home. On the night of October 9, 1969, tensions between Black and white1 students resulted in damage to the resident halls of Delta Chi fraternity house and Lancaster House. Shortly after, the Board of Trustees endorsed President Homer Babbidge’s statement that UConn would not condone violence or racism of any kind, and called on him to prioritize the work of addressing pervasive racial inequalities and better meet the needs of an increasingly diverse student body through curricular and campus environment reform.2
Among the efforts to foster racial awareness, representation, and cultural exchange was the development of the course “Black Experience in the Arts” in 1970. Created by Floyd Bass, Director of the Center for Black Studies and faculty in the School of Fine Arts, including Edward O’Connor, Associate Dean of Fine Arts, and professors of music Hale Smith and James Eversole, the course brought Black artists, musicians, actors, writers, and others to UConn to discuss and demonstrate their work, and to participate in dialogue with students. The unique format of the course, with sessions delivered by a series of guest lecturers rather than a single instructor, was designed to draw greater awareness to the creativity and contributions of Black artists in all art forms and provide students with greater exposure to the racial and social dynamics in American culture.
More than 120 lectures and performances by Black artists were recorded as a part of the course, providing a cross-section of artistic practices and personal histories. Important voices can be found in areas such as the Black Arts cultural movement (poet and activist Jayne Cortez, playwright Ed Bullins, and Harlem Writers Guild figures Rosa Guy and Louise Meriwether), insights from artists who sought to use their art and creative expression to drive political and social change (African drummer Babatunde Olatunji, playwright Loften Mitchell, and writer and editor Orde Coombs), and insight into the creative process from MacArthur fellows (culture critic Stanley Crouch and author Paule Marshall) and recipients of national grants and prizes for literature, poetry, theater, and art (storyteller Brother Blue, actor Rawn Spearman, and composer Hakim Talib Rasul). For some speakers, these recordings offer the only known recorded representation of their perspectives and insights.
The recordings have broad appeal for scholars and curious listeners alike, providing insight into speakers’ influences, creative processes, and artistic development. It is also an opportunity to understand the shifting racial, social, and political dynamics of the 1970s and 1980s on college campuses and in American culture, and how the classroom was used to foster cultural exchange through engagement and dialogue.
Part of a large archive transferred by Dean O’Connor to the Archives from the School of Fine Arts in 2015, the year-long project will digitize, preserve, and improve access to 243 sound recordings. This project is supported by a Recordings at Risk grant from the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR). The grant program is made possible by funding from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
1 Capitalization of Black and white follows Associated Press guidance.
2 Stave, B. M., & Burmeister, L. (2006). Red brick in the land of steady habits: creating the University of Connecticut, 1881-2006. University of Connecticut.
Refinitiv’s Thomson ONE Banker database is being retired and replaced with Workspace for Students. Workspace for Students offers the same global market data, historical and current company financials and filings, earnings estimates, equity, loan deals and more as Thomson ONE Banker.
Access to Workspace requires advanced registration. For current UConn faculty, staff, and students, please register for an individual account with your UConn email address. After registration, you can access via the web at workspace.refinitiv.com/web or install the desktop application. This includes the Workspace add-in for Excel. UConn will lose access to Thomson ONE Banker on July 31, 2021.
Support and training information for Workspace is available, with live and on-demand training videos. If you and others in your team would like a custom demonstration or have any questions about this transition, please contact the Business & Entrepreneurship Librarian at email@example.com.
For more information, contact our Library’s Acquisitions and Discovery team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Homer’s Homies is a student-led organization that doesn’t hide their love for the Homer Babbidge Library! And even though they weren’t on their home turf in HBL this year, they found ways to connect with each other on and off campus, keeping their love for the library strong. The Executive Board took some time out of their schedules to dish all things Homies. Austin Mott – President Griffin Love – Vice President Thomas Reese Jr. – Treasurer
For our readers who don’t know, who or what, are the Homies? The Homies, originally formed in 2016, is a student-led advocacy group named after the flagship location at the UConn Library – Homer Babbidge Library. The Homies: Friends of the Homer Babbidge Library work to put on events to allow students to de-stress, have fun in the Library, and provide student advocacy and input on library issues. Much like the library itself, we are a resource open for anyone who enjoys interacting with other library lovers.
Why did you join the Homies? We all came to Homer Babbiddge early on as freshman because it was a great dedicated space to study. One day Griffin was walking out of the building and former Homies President Nick Helber was sitting at the student activities tables. For anyone that knows Nick, his laid back style, Magic School Bus t-shirt, and vintage snap-back hat made it easy to stop and chat and Griffin did just that. Nick shared his enthusiasm for the Homies and Griffin and Austin went to the next meeting. The group was small and offered endless opportunities to be a part of the group in meaningful and fun ways and they were hooked.
What do you love most about HBL? Homer Babbidge is in the central part of campus so it’s a great place to connect in the middle of the day between classes or at night to study. Frankly, if we aren’t eating, it’s the place to be. Our freshman year we spent a lot of time on Level 1 because it was a great place to talk but when we needed more studying and less talking, we moved up to the second floor which is now our favorite place. The best place on the second floor is a table with a view if you can get it.
How are the Homies connecting during the Pandemic? Not being able to be in the space that defines us has been challenging, but we have found ways to stay connected and our meetings are more fun and productive than ever! We meet weekly for about an hour and have study sessions on Wednesday nights where some have classes together or have taken the class before and can help each other, and sometimes it’s a chance to just sit in the room together and listen to the Homies’ playlist on Spotify.
Our biggest fundraisers each year are selling grilled cheese to hungry students so we have had to find new ways to fundraise and just held a successful trivia night. And a special shout out to Valerie Lee, our new secretary. She has really stepped up and created fun things to do to keep everyone connected.
What are you working on that you want us to know about? Our goal was to start an annual gift back to the Library but it’s been difficult without the ability to fundraise. We may not get that done this year, but will at least plan for that legacy. We are also hoping to continue the interest of past Homies to raise funding for nap pods or a relaxation zone to give students a place to go and decompress.
What are three songs you would find on the Homies Playlist? Tom created the playlist and now it has a lot of great music. It leans towards the classic rock feel and includes The Boys are Back in Town by Thin Lizzy, Africa by Toto, and Superstition by Stevie Wonder.
You are all graduating seniors, what are your majors? Austin – Biomedical Engineering Griffin – Communications and Psychology, with a minor in Ecology Thomas – Civil Engineering
Tell us a fun fact about yourself. Austin – I hit a half-court shot at an exhibition game at Gampel as a freshman and won a $100 gift certificate to PC Richards and Sons. Griffin – My minor in ecology is purely for interest and I hope to pull it together with communications and psychology some day. Thomas – My dad was in the Navy and I have moved 13 times, living in nine states. Maryland and Connecticut are my favorites.
What is on your reading list? Griffin – The Secret Life of Cows by Rosamund Young Austin – Catch 22 by Joseph Heller Thomas – at my grandmother’s suggestion it’s a book that will help me understand the stock market
The Homies encourage you to tell them what you are reading! Submit your latest book to the Babbidge Bookworms!
If you could only have two apps on your smartphone, which would you pick? If you can reach your Homies, you have everything you need so we would need three – Spotify for our playlist, GroupMe to send Homies messages, and Zoom for Homies meetings.
If you could choose a superpower, what would it be? Austin – Flying. I could go anywhere and see anything. Griffin – Time travelling. Even just to go back and see what we looked like and the shenanigans from freshman year. Thomas – I spend a lot of time working with 3D maps for class and it would be great to be able to fly through them or see everything from a birds-eye view.
What’s your most used emoji? In our Zoom meetings it is most certainly the clap. Thomas – laughing, followed with the thumbs up Griffin – muscle emoji because it’s great for almost every message Austin – tongue sticking out with tear (used ironically of course)
Follow along with the Homies Instagram: @uconnhomies Website: https://sites.google.com/view/uconn-homies
In both bitter and sweet news, Associate Dean Lauren Slingluff announced the retirement of two members of the Financial Services unit – Hilda Drabek and Ed Chang.
Hilda has been with the UConn Library for more than 36 years working in many different capacities. She started in what was then known as technical services at a time without computers but with typewriters, and worked throughout her career on implementing critical resources including the first automated integrated library system, NOTIS and its replacement Voyager. Hilda often used her skills in speaking and writing Spanish to help colleagues translate materials, and spent a week at the University of Puerto Rico teaching Voyager in Spanish.
Hilda’s dedication to her work was apparent in everything she did. Her attention to detail and her goal to always strive for perfection will surely be missed, but mostly we will miss how she quietly provides support, kindness, and friendship throughout the library.
Ed started his UConn career in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources where he worked for 11 years. Folklore says that former Vice Provost Brinley Franklin worked with Ed on a project and wooed him into joining the Library in 1997. Ed took his responsibilities as Director of Finance seriously, but was also known to bring a little humor unexpectedly into the conversation. Best described by his supervisor Lauren Slingluff, Ed is a “little country and a little rock & roll”. Ed’s pure grit and a desire to ensure that we were using our funding with the utmost of care defined Ed’s professionalism. “I have come to rely on his knowledge, experience, and commitment to helping the Library manage our resources efficiently and effectively,” said Lauren.
Ed and Hilda made an amazing team that accounts for a collective 70+ years of service. The pair were often asked to come up with solutions and continually find efficiencies in some very tight budget years. They were also a resource for UConn, and often invited to review university-wide procedures and systems like their role in evaluating the Kuali Financial System (KFS) currently in use to manage the University of Connecticut’s finances.
Professionally and personally, the retirement of both Ed and Hilda will be a challenge for the Library to move forward from, but we have truly enjoyed the opportunity to work with them for as long as we have. We ask you to join us in wishing them nothing but happiness and health in retirement.
John Cropp is one of the newest members of the UConn Library staff and having been hired in the middle of a pandemic, many of us only know John from his face on the screen. John was hired in Access Service to provide support at the iDesk among other tasks, and has also become the advisor to the Homies Student Advisory Board.
How did you get into libraries? In short, the wonderful people in charge of the University of Georgia Libraries’ Access Services department let me in. After countless applications and several interviews for library positions, they opened the door for me and it changed my life.
What do you love most about working in a library? I love the eclectic community. And my role as the Homies’ advisor has given me a chance to become involved with that eclectic community as well, which has been really fun and rewarding.
Do you have a good library story to share? One of my first responsibilities was managing private study carrels at the UGA Main Library. They had been neglected so there were many carrels that were still assigned to students who had graduated and faculty members who had passed away. One faculty member that was marked as deceased had a carrel that was packed full of incredibly amazing books and artifacts from the university and surrounding communities. While searching for information about him so the items could be returned to his family, I found all kinds of interviews and news stories about him as well as books and websites that he had contributed to. He was obviously an incredibly interesting guy and it broke my heart that I was learning about him after he had passed away. Eventually, I came across a website that said he was teaching a course to a local community group that semester. Like Mark Twain before him, news of his demise had been grossly exaggerated. A few months later, I got to speak with him on the phone and found that he was indeed incredibly interesting and, thankfully, not at all deceased.
In the midst of the pandemic, what do you do to take your mind off the crazy things happening in the world right now? Dream League soccer on my phone. When the world is spinning out of control, it is nice to have this little world inside my phone where I am in charge of a world-beating soccer team!
What is a positive that has come from this pandemic? I have been able to spend much more time at home with my wife and daughter than I would have in normal times.
What was your first job? I worked in the kitchen of a retirement facility. I made dozens of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, helped deliver dinners to the dining rooms, and washed dishes.
What’s your go-to productivity trick? Listening to Paul Simon’s “Graceland.”
How do you prefer to start your day? As slowly as possible.
How do you prefer to end your day? As peacefully as possible.
What’s one professional skill you’re currently working on? Time management. The pandemic has wrecked the routines and tricks that I relied on.
Tell us a fun fact about you. I was once a character performer at Walt Disney World.
What is on your reading list? Whatever my library school professors have assigned this week and a bunch of articles saved on my phone that I hope to read after the semester.
Do you have a favorite hobby? Researching concert venues and old ballparks.
Everyone loves UConn for their own reasons. What is yours? On my first day in the building as a UConn staff member, Joseph from security gave me a UConn paperweight and said, “welcome home.” As a nutmegger adrift for many years, I always thought of Connecticut as home, but everyone at UConn has made me feel like I really am home.
Are you an early bird or a night owl? Coffee assisted early bird.
What energizes you at work? Solving problems and answering questions.
If you could snap your fingers and become an expert in something, what would it be? Playing stringed instruments.
Do you have a hidden talent? Mechanical puppetry.
If you could choose a superpower, what would it be? Time travel. There are a lot of old concerts that I would like to attend and demolished ballparks that I would like to visit.
What’s your most hated household chore? Unloading the dishwasher.
What’s your most used emoji? Probably the heart-eyes emoji thanks to the petpics channel on the UConn Library Slack!
The world-wide COVID-19 pandemic has affected every person across the globe and while we are all going through this collectively, we are also each living our own unique experiences. Archives & Special Collections is asking you to take a moment to share your thoughts to provide future scholars with the personal side of the pandemic.
Pandemics are not new to the history books. We hear news outlets, scientists, and historians recall past pandemics and see pictures like the lines for polio vaccines and hospital rooms full of cots and sick patients, and we look to learn from each of those dark times. Archived news and internet sites will be well documented and become primary sources for future historians studying COVID-19, but what about the day-to-day activities and social and emotional experiences of people? It is essential that we collect and preserve these memories while our experiences and reactions are fresh. If not, they may be lost.
What can you do? Archives & Special Collections is asking for your help in continuing to build the UConn COVID-19 Collection with your personal pandemic experiences. Students, staff, faculty, and alumni are encouraged to share stories, in whatever form, to be collected, preserved for posterity, and made accessible for research and study. Examples can include audio files, social media posts, emails, screenshots, photographs, blog posts, journaling, zines, interviews, and more. You can also answer a few survey questions online.
For those who have previously contributed, thank you! Ongoing contributions are encouraged as experiences, reactions and coping mechanisms have changed as the emergency of last spring became the “new normal” of the past year.
For more information on how to submit , visit our website or contact Betsy Pittman, University Archivist at email@example.com
On January 1, 2021, copyright expired for all works published in the United States in 1925. These works entered the public domain. Anyone is now free to share, use, and build on them in the US without permission or payment. Public Domain Day celebrates this trove of books, serials, music, and art that become public property on January 1.
Each January 1st, a new year’s worth of publications will enter the public domain. In 2022, copyright will expire for works published in 1926, and so on. Non-US works may enter the public domain later; this varies by creation date and country of origin. Sheet music from 1925 is entering the public domain this year, but sound recordings do not start entering the public domain till December 1, per the Music Modernization Act.
Some 1925 works were already in the public domain before January 1. This is because the copyright was not registered or renewed in time, under the US laws of the era. Works published after January 1, 1964 had their copyright automatically renewed by statute. But for works published between 1923 and 1964, works automatically entered the public domain if the copyright holder didn’t include a copyright statement at the time of publication or renew their copyright after 28 years.
Unfortunately, searching for the status of these works can be tricky. While copyright records from 1978 to today can be searched online, registrations and renewals for all works prior to 1978 can only be searched onsite in the US Copyright Office’s copyright card catalog. To help the public navigate the status of books published between 1923 and 1963, Stanford University Libraries developed a database of copyright renewals – but note that this only includes renewals for books, and not other copyrighted material like art, sound recordings, film, and so on.
In 1925, Ernest Hemingway published his first novel, F. Scott Fitzgerald penned The Great Gatsby, and Virginia Woolf wrote Mrs. Dalloway. Alain Locke published The New Negro, a defining work of the Harlem Renaissance that featured essays from Black luminaries such as W.E.B. Du Bois, Langston Hughes, and Zora Neale Hurston.
F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby
Virginia Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway
Alain Locke, The New Negro
Ernest Hemingway, In Our Time
Theodore Dreiser, An American Tragedy
Sinclair Lewis, Arrowsmith
Franz Kafka, The Trial (in German)
Gertrude Stein, The Making of Americans
John Dos Passos, Manhattan Transfer
Agatha Christie, The Secret of Chimneys
James Weldon Johnson, Book of Negro Spirituals
Aldous Huxley, Those Barren Leaves
W. Somerset Maugham, The Painted Veil
Edith Wharton, The Writing of Fiction
Etsu Inagaki Sugimoto, A Daughter of the Samurai
Other Works Entering the Public Domain
The first issues of the New Yorker magazine
Poems by Countee Cullen, Robinson Jeffers, Ezra Pound, Edwin Arlington Robinson, Hilda Doolittle, and many other poets
“Sweet Georgia Brown” and songs by Duke Ellington, Irving Berlin, George and Ira Gershwin, Gertrude “Ma” Rainey, and many other artists
Silent movies, including Rudolph Valentino’s starring role in The Eagle
Connecticut-Themed Works Entering the Public Domain
HathiTrust has created a digital collection with 37,530 resources–books, journal issues, research reports, and other items–that entered the public domain on New Year’s Day. Here are Connecticut-themed 1925 works that HathiTrust now makes free for all.