Moving Over and Switching Up This Blog

The College website’s redesign and move to WordPress over the Winter Break meant BIG CHANGES for the Library’s website. One of the biggest and best changes was the integration of a new blog with the library’s web presence. As a result of this new development, we will no longer be updating Beyond the Bookshelves, this blog. Instead, you can follow the library’s NEW BLOG. There you’ll find the same news, announcements, and opinions from your favorite librarians you’ve come to enjoy here. Take a look and go ahead and follow us!


Books for Sale!

IMG_1083The annual library book sale is next week, October 7-8. We will be selling books on Tuesday and Wednesday from 9-4, rain or shine outside the entrance to the library. We have books in a range of subjects and movies on DVD. (Sorry, we have no VHS tapes.) This year’s featured collections include mid-20th century popular fiction and cookbooks.

Book Prices are $0.50 for paperbacks and $1.00 for hardcovers.

What We Read this Summer

quickThe Interestings Dark Places  sag-harbor





Library Summer Reading 2014 was a huge success. Not only were there seventy-eight reviews  submitted and  five readers winning the bag of swag for submitting 10 or more reviews; the mix of books reviewed were the most diverse since library summer reading began. There is something for everyone from beach reads to bestsellers, mysteries, non-fiction, comics & graphic novels and all the dystopias you could want.

wholeenchilada ice master everyone-hanging-out x-men






And then there are the movies. We have our share of books-to-film including Dark Places, Divergent, The Fault in Our Stars and Beautiful Ruins. Read a review of California, the book  Stephan Colbert made famous or Margaret Atwood’s classic, The Handmaid’s Tale (do yourself a favor and skip the film.) Looking for a laugh? Try Hyperbole and a Half or The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy.

murder vicaragesilkwormAirtatto

The Eleasticity of Memory

Guest Blog Post (2 of 3) written by 
Taylor Schafer, SMCM ‘2015, Sullivan Scholar, Summer 2014

This summer, aside from my internship in the Archives, I have been conducting interviews with alumni for my St. Mary’s Project–some of which I have chosen to transcribe and donate to the SlackWater collection. My SMP interviews have proven to be a great training ground for my oral history interviews, especially when it comes to understanding exactly what it is that oral history interviews do: they gauge people’s memory about a certain time, place, or event. This concept seems simple and straightforward, however, the hidden complexity of memory becomes more apparent when you ask 40 people the relatively same set of questions. My SMP interviews have all focused on the same thing: the 7 Wonders of St. Mary’s. (Church Point, the Hidden Grave, the Garden of Remembrance, Freedom of Conscience Statue, St. John’s Pond, the Bell Tower, and the Shoe Tree.)

St. John's Pond. Which may, or may not, have been dyed green in the 1970s

St. John’s Pond. Which may, or may not, have been dyed green in the 1970s

One particular example from my interviews got me thinking about how people recall their memories. I was interviewing a 1974 graduate of the College who had mentioned that one year for St. Patrick’s Day, he and some friends had dyed St. John’s Pond bright green using the same environmentally-friendly dye that is often used to track currents in bodies of water. Several other alumni from that same era vividly recalled the same incident happening as well. There were a few alumni, however, who not only could not recall such a prank occurring but they also assured me that something like that would not have happened back then. Whether it was because of the newer surge of environmental awareness of the 1970s or the fact that they claimed they would have remembered such a visible prank, the strongly opposing answers surprised me.

But this instance made me realize that the information I’ve received about the various landmarks and traditions of campus has heavily relied on how people remember their time at St. Mary’s. While some people had vivid memories of this certain specific occurrence, others relied on their characterizations of their St. Mary’s experience to explain their absence of memory.  In other words, it seems like the attitudes and values of the interviewees shape their concrete memories. For example, one alum characterized St. Mary’s students in the 1970s as environmentally conscious, meaning they would not have engaged in such behavior as to dye the pond green for a laugh or to celebrate a holiday. Other alums recall them being very connected to the campus and student life, therefore they would not have missed such an occurrence. This phenomenon occurred several times throughout my interviews, which was an important lesson for me to have learned while learning to conduct oral histories. This is not just specific to St. Mary’s either; it can be applied to any oral history project.

Next week, for the last of three Blog posts, I will write about interviewing former college presidents Joe Urgo and J. Margaret “Maggie” O’Brien.  This post will also have a link to the interview transcripts.

Sullivan Scholar works in the St. Mary’s Archive over the summer

Guest Blog Post (1 of 3) written by 
Taylor Schafer, SMCM ‘2015, Sullivan Scholar, Summer 2014

Hello archive followers! My name is Taylor Schafer. I am a rising senior and I have been interning in the SMCM Archives all summer. This is the first of three Blog posts.

The Archives is located in the basement of Calvert Hall and houses collections of artifacts, newspapers, photographs, letters, and publications relating to both St. Mary’s College and St. Mary’s County history. One of the main areas where College and County history interact is the SlackWater Oral History Collection. My task this summer was to add to this resource by conducting and transcribing interviews of local residents and community leaders, alumni, and longstanding faculty or staff who all have had an impact or were a witness to certain time in local history. In addition, I have been working on my St. Mary’s Senior Project (SMP) this summer, which involves conducting interviews with alumni, faculty, and staff. My project topic focuses around students traditions through the years and the 7 Wonders of St. Mary’s. The interviews I have been doing are helping to piece together the social history of St. Mary’s, which I hope to help publish with my completed SMP.Oral History Transcription

My main responsibilities this summer have included brainstorming and reaching out to potential interviewees, preparing for interviews, conducting interviews, transcribing interviews, following up with interviewees if needed, and organizing transcribed interviews for the SlackWater website and preserving the audio files. I have conducted some interviews on campus and have also travelled as far as Prince George County for others. Over the past nine weeks, I have transcribed over 220 pages of interviews, conducted ten interviews, some of which include with former College president Joe Urgo, Jayson Williams ‘03, Trinity Episcopal Church Rector John Ball, and Executive Director of Three Oaks Center Lanny Lancaster. I have had several learning opportunities this summer in the Archives besides learning how to conduct oral history interviews.

Of course, working in the archives, I’ve learned a large amount of content about St. Mary’s history as well. There’s so much history housed in the Archives that most community members do not realize. For instance, did you know that a 1900 graduate, Emily Louise Clayton Bishop, studied sculpture with Auguste Rodin and has artwork in several museums? How about that famous sculptor Hans Schuler designed and sculpted the Freedom of Conscience statue in 1935, and his son, Hans Schuler Jr., carved the College seal in 1970? There is so much fascinating St. Mary’s history to be uncovered in regards to the College and region. My work in the archives this summer has helped me not only realize that but also contribute to that material.

Next week I will write a Blog Post about memory and oral history interviews.  The following week I will touch upon the interviews with former presidents Joe Urgo and Jane Marget (Maggie) O’Brien, and transcripts of these interviews will be made available to the public.

A photo tribute to Celia on her last day at work

Today, Friday the 27th of June, is Celia Rabinowitz’s last day at the SMCM library. In the five years I have worked with her I have seen many sides of Celia, only some of which you may have seen . . .

Celia checking out books
Celia checks out a book for Dove

feeding students in the library
Snacks for students

finals snacks

making speeches
Joe's retirment party

Holiday Party

Celia introducing Ben Click at Hushing Huck

admiring cakeadmiring cake

John Waters Cake

and opening presents.
Holiday party, white elephant gift exchangeGift photo

All this happened in the library at one time or another and so we wish her goodbye, from the library.mimosas

Transition, Transformation, Tradition

This is my last post to Beyond the Bookshelves as Director of the Library and Media Center at SMCM.  At the end of the month I begin a journey north to New Hampshire where I will start work as Dean of Mason Library at Keene State College.  After 22 years here in Maryland I have been asked many times why I am making the change.

This morning my view of the St. Mary’s River is obscured by the lush green of the trees outside my window.  I won’t be here in the fall when the leaves fall and the vista changes.  Or to see the next step in slowly reducing our shelving so we can create more flexible spaces for our students.  Or to look up from my desk to see a student coming through to ask for help with a project, to ask if we can let her display artwork, or want to know why it’s so cold/hot/noisy in the library.

So I am packing up, doing my own version of deaccessioning, and feeling the same mixture of excitement and terror as the other graduates of the class of 2014.  Why move to a new position now at this stage in my career with retirement still double digits away, but within sight?  Why leave an amazing library, even more amazing colleagues, and this beautiful place?

Well, I’ll admit that there are some parts of my job I wouldn’t mind doing a bit less of.  I still have a heavy teaching load and don’t think I am devoting enough time to being a really good teacher.  I don’t want to give it up altogether, but doing less might help me teach better and give me time for other things like that research project which I have been trying to work on for the last couple of years.  And I’ll admit I am a bit relieved that I won’t have to upgrade all of my LibGuides to the new version.

New leadership in the St. Mary’s Library will build on the strong foundation we have, on the traditions and culture of the campus and the library.  And a new leader will participate in advocating for the continued transformation of the library.  And I am guessing that she/he will help move the library forward in ways that I might not even think of.

I will have the opportunity to learn the traditions of a new library and campus, and to participate in building on them and envisioning transformation for the future.  New challenges will push me to change, to think in new ways about what we do and why it is so important.

Even as I write this and look around at the boxes in my office I realize how much I will miss this place where I really became a librarian.  I hope I will make the SMCM library faculty and staff proud.  I will be watching to see what happens next.  I’ll be reading the blog.  And I will be getting to know and love a new place which will help me become an even better librarian.