by the Mortensen Library Board of VisitorsVol
5 No 1
from the Director
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
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,
H. Epp, Ph.D
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
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.
Humphrey Tonkin Endowment
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.
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
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.
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).