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Fall1998Published by the Mortensen Library Board of VisitorsVol 5 No 1

Notes from the Director

Strengthening Teaching and Learning
In recent months the University libraries made significant strides toward improving both the quantity and quality of scholarship available to the campus community. We are delighted to report that the Libraries Networking Enhancement Plan (LNEP) goals have been accomplished. Begun in early 1997, LNEP objectives included upgrading network capacity, installing 33 Pentium-class computers, creating an electronic classroom, and developing a process for accessing electronic course reserve materials.

Improving access to teaching and learning resources also required redesign of the library Web pages. The structure is more user friendly, the appearance is enhanced, and the links to academically relevant content have been expanded, now including links that are more curriculum-centered. For those of you with Internet access, please check out our new look. (no longer available).

More than one hundred thousand volumes in the William H. Mortensen collections were relocated this summer. The "Integration of the Collections Project" was undertaken to encourage faculty and student integration of print and electronic resources into learning and research processes. The rearrangement concentrates journals on the lower level and centralizes book and reference resources on the main and upper levels.

The libraries also improved resource access to intellectual content through subscription to two new Web-based databases. The Lexis-Nexis database provides full-text coverage of business, political, and legal information drawn from more than 1.4 billion documents in more than 8,000 source files. Undergraduates seem partial to the continuously updated Britannica Online -- providing 66,000 full-text articles and 4,200 images -- over the more familiar 30 volumes of the Encyclopaedia Britannica. Graduate students will be better served through Web access to the indexing and abstracting of the complete Dissertations Abstracts database.

Through purchases and gifts, the libraries added 4,505 items to the combined collections of 565,000 books, theses, scores, videocassettes, and other media. Collections were bolstered through the generosity of the Mortensen Board and the Alice and William Mortensen Foundation. The Humphrey Tonkin Fund was established to provide access to a wide array of resources supportive of 16th- and 17th-century studies. The Humanities Center generously allocated $10,000 to be used toward library acquisitions, and the Follette College Stores renewed their annual support for the improvement of our reference collections.

Librarians are caught between the rising demand from faculty and students for information and the increasing cost for that published content. They do not easily redirect funds away from traditional collection building to the support of technology-based collections and services. As libraries migrate from paper-based media to more powerful electronic versions, there are predictable campus qualms about the wisdom of modifying traditional collection building. In such a fluid milieu, University of Hartford librarians remain optimistic that they can combine the strengths of their traditional professional responsibilities with their new roles in teaching, learning, and research.

Ronald H. Epp, Ph.D

Profiting Through Partnerships
Library directors representing both public and private institutions of higher education in the state of Connecticut met in 1993 and founded the Council of Connecticut Academic Library Directors (CCALD). It is a nonprofit cooperative of the chief library administrative officers at virtually every Connecticut academic institution. In five years, this regional consortium of 32 members has secured a national identity and developed in directions unforeseen by its founders. The University of Hartford has been an active participant in the CCALD. It is hoped that some exposure to this organization may increase your understanding of the challenges facing our libraries today.

While there are several state-defined academic library directors groups, the CCALD is unique in partnering both state and private academic library administrators -- from the community college to the research library level -- in monthly discussions that result in strategic and tactical solutions of benefit to individual academic libraries.

Thematic monthly presentations and roundtable discussions have focused on traditional issues such as budget allocations, accreditation, strategic planning, and outcome measures. However, it is the expanding electronic environment that has attracted the keenest interest among library administrators. Recently, UCONN showcased the rededicated Homer Babbidge Library, and its director of libraries discussed a most promising national strategy for controlling the soaring costs of journal subscriptions. Harvard University librarians spoke at an earlier meeting on creating digital collections as a solution to conserving fragile paper collections.

Cooperation among the directors resulted in reciprocal borrowing agreements enabling faculty and staff to use an institutional ID to borrow academic resources from nearly every academic library in the state. Similarly, members have reduced their operating costs through publisher and vendor discounts that are only available to consortia. Collaboration on grant applications, developing statewide comparative data analysis, progress toward creation of a statewide special collections database, and similar initiatives have repeatedly challenged our members to reconsider their professional identity and evolving responsibilities.
One proposition is abundantly clear. No librarian can afford to be institutionally myopic when such diverse rewards increasingly accrue from collaboration.

The Humphrey Tonkin Endowment
During the final months of the presidency of Humphrey Tonkin, an endowment was established in his name to support the acquisition of academic resources in areas closely connected with Humphrey's scholarly interests. Many of you contributed to that endowment, which now stands at more than $60,000. The University libraries are most thankful to contributors for their generosity.

The income generated by this fund will enable the libraries to access scholarly materials across all formats in 16th- and 17th-century studies, encompassing literary, religious, philosophic, aesthetic, and scientific endeavors of those rich two centuries in human history.

In addition, we are delighted to report that the campus office of President Emeritus Tonkin is now located in the W. H. Mortensen Library where the new titles purchased from this endowment are already displayed.

There are many other disciplines for which an established endowment would strengthen our collections. Readers who are interested in possibly establishing a discipline-specific endowment should contact the Director of Libraries or Ronald Fleury (860.768.4619) for additional information. We would be pleased to provide, upon request, a list of library needs with a wide range of giving levels.

Preserving Judaica
The Maurice Greenberg Center for Judaic Studies and the University libraries recently collaborated on a project to catalog hundreds of Yiddish and Hebrew books that were previously unavailable to the campus community. For many years the libraries lacked staff with the language skills to catalog nearly a thousand non-English titles, some dating back more than two hundred years.

Randi Lynn Ashton-Pritting (LLR Assistant Director for Collections and Public Services) initiated an arrangement with Greenberg Center Director Jonathan Rosenbaum to support the services of Dora Rytman, Ph.D., an adjunct faculty member who is facile with the literature and the curriculum it is intended to support. Some of you might be familiar with Dr. Rytman's efforts to put the Holocaust in context as a result of a Larry Bloom essay on her in the September 20 issue of The Hartford Courant Sunday magazine, Northeast.

Over several months, Dr. Rytman selected material worthy of being permanently added to The Millie and Irving Bercowetz Family Judaica Collection housed in Mortensen Library. Baruch Sachs, a student library employee, catalogued the titles from information provided by Dr. Rytman and bibliographic resources available through the Online Computer Library Center.

Most of the Yiddish and Hebrew primary resources that were previously inaccessible are now available to the campus community. Those resources that were not appropriate for our collections have been given to the National Yiddish Book Center in Amherst, Mass. The Center strengthens Yiddish collections in more than 400 major libraries with such donations.

Alice DeLana, past-chairperson of the Mortensen Board of Visitors, drafted the following bibliophilic travel report before her retirement from Miss Porter's School and her relocation to Cambridge, Mass.

As head teacher for a group of 34 students, five parents, and seven faculty members from Miss Porter's School who spent spring vacation on both sides of the Chunnel, I was astonished to discover that I had purchased 22 books in seven days! If someone had stopped me on that whirlwind trip to Paris and London and asked how many books I had bought, I would have said eight or nine -- not the nearly two dozen that surround me now.

Such, I suppose, is the nature of addiction. Bookstores, for those of us who love books, are irresistible. Their siren song seduces us into forgetting such practical matters as airline weight restrictions, confined bookshelf space, and limited time to actually read what we purchase. But never mind. The song entrances even when it is filtered through the circumambient noise of TV voice-overs, Muzak, and taxicab reminders to "buckle up for safety."

All things considered, books are not bad tokens of remembrance. Visible and tangible reminders of time well spent, they send our memories back and our imaginations forward. Can we imagine a time when CD-ROMs or brain-implanted computer chips will provide a comparable pleasure? I think not. But if that time does come, the libraries of the University of Hartford stand ready to support that form of addiction, just as Mortensen, Allen, and Butterworth libraries have provided easy access to printed materials for generations of University of Hartford students, faculty, staff, and friends.

A Distinguished Spring Lecture

Francine du Plessix Gray, a Mortensen Library Board of Visitors life member, delivered the spring 1998 board lecture to the campus community. The lecture offered a preview of her highly regarded study, At Home With The Marquis De Sade: A Life, published this November by Simon & Schuster.

Emily Eakin's critique of Gray's biography in The New York Time Book Review celebrates Gray's intelligence and insight in re-creating the extravagancies of late 18th-century French art, religion, politics, and sexuality -- the consensus of those present for Gray's lecture.

Gray is the author of Soviet Women, Lovers and Tyrants, and Rage and Fire. She is well known for her provocative essays in The New Yorker and The New York Review of Books. She received an honorary doctorate from the University of Hartford in 1991.

is published twice a year to inform the Mortensen Board of Visitors, faculty, staff and others interested in the Libraries and Learning Resources of the University of Hartford. Please direct comments to Ronald Epp at (860) 768-4268. (no longer available).

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