Women's Studies Section
Note: this is an archived HTML copy of the Spring 2003 WSS Newsletter.
Online resources listed may no longer be active.]
The winner of the 2003 ACRL WSS Award for Career Achievement in Women’s Studies Librarianship is Ruth H. Dickstein. Ruth has served as the Reference Librarian, Specialist in Women’s Studies and History at the University of Arizona since 1979. While all that is necessary for consideration for this award is sustained achievement in one of the four categories: service to the profession through ACRL/WSS, academic/research library service in women’s studies, research and publication in areas of academic/research library services in women’s studies, or planning and implementation of exemplary quality academic/research library programs in women’s studies, Ruth has made strong, sustained contributions in all four areas. She has made important, groundbreaking contributions to the field of women’s studies librarianship with her research and publications, her professional presentations, her mentoring of students and colleagues, and her service to the profession through the ACRL Women’s Studies Section, of which she is a founding member. Her work at the University of Arizona is a model for collaborative teaching.
Sherri Barnes is the winner of the 2003 ACRL WSS Award for Significant Achievement in Women’s Studies Librarianship. Sherri’s web site, Black American Feminism: A Multidisciplinary Bibliography (http://www.library.ucsb.edu/blackfeminism) that brings together, in one location, multidisciplinary subject coverage of Black American feminist writings. The website is a great contribution to women’s studies, not only for bringing the citations on this topic together in one location, but also for making the information freely available to all via the Web.
Getting Connected: Strategies for Making Contacts
This year’s Midwinter Discussion Group focused on outreach for those working in women’s studies. Section members talked about their efforts to make connections with women’s studies programs, departments and centers across campus and in their communities. Suggestions for ways to connect to existing groups on campus included weekly lunches of graduate students; relations with women’s centers on campus; a monthly speakers series; a reception for LGBT Center and collaboration with area studies faculty, students and staff.
It was also recommended to get involved with any women’s group there might be on campus and let them know about the library and its WS resources. Some shared ideas for reaching out to the larger community include developing library exhibits on women faculty on campus; providing mentoring for students (e.g. the “Community Connection” program at Texas Tech); getting involved with student groups and their programming (e.g. Swarthmore); advertising the library as a resource for women by providing information on grants, health, etc.; putting together a women’s events calendar on the library’s website; and developing an E-newsletter on new resources (e.g. University of Arizona).
Sometimes academic or bureaucratic divisions can become
a problem, especially when budget questions arise around interdisciplinary
initiatives. Here it is important to communicate well with colleagues
and others involved, and to work as a team across departmental or program
Several ways to connect to other WS librarians in one’s region were shared. Examples included the ACRL/New England network has an active WS group; the University of California system has a WS bibliographers group who make cooperative arrangements such as which library will house various resources and the Boston Libraries Consortium has a shared approval plan with Latin American bookstores (e.g. MIT collects women in the Caribbean).
Notes from the Chair
Spring into WSS!
Now that spring is quickly approaching (and for those of us in the Northeast it is none too soon!), it must mean that many of us are starting to make reservations for Annual in Toronto. This should be an exciting conference since we have the opportunity to meet with our colleagues from Canada. In addition, the Women’s Studies Section has a stimulating program lined up. Coming out of the interest in publishing and research that has continued to blossom under our new Research Committee, we have designed a program to help you learn all you can about the research and publishing process. We are privileged to have a panel of three important editors for the first part of our program. Dr. Gloriana St. Clair of portal, Dr. Sandra Harding of Signs and an editor from Resources For Feminist Research will discuss the writing and publishing process and current trends in research. The panel discussion will not only help us to understand more about the publishing process but will also give us an opportunity to learn about it from Sandra Harding and Gloriana St. Clair, foremothers in the world of women’s studies and librarianship.
The second part of the program will consist of breakout roundtables that will permit participants to discuss topics of interest in small group settings and to ask questions of librarians who have already published. Many of the roundtable presenters are section members who have agreed to share their expertise with us. Topics for the roundtables include: Getting Started in Publishing, An Editor’s Perspective on Publishing, Finding Opportunities to Publish and Collaborate, Revisions and Turndowns, Writing a Book, and Moving From Presentation to Article. This will be the chance you have been waiting for to get someone to answer all those questions you’ve had on the topic!
As if this weren’t enough, as always, we will be presenting our two Women’s Studies Section Awards at the program so it becomes a chance for us to celebrate our own. Consider this an official invitation to join me for a great program on Monday, June 23, 2003 from 8:30am-12:00 pm! Hope to see you there!!!!!
Esther Lanigan's Legacy to Women's Studies Librarianship
Esther Franco Lanigan passed away in Monument, Colorado on December 29, 2002. Her contributions to the early development of women's studies library re- sources and services were enormously influential. However, because she left librarianship to pursue a scholarly career in American Studies, many librarians today do not realize the debt we owe to Esther for shaping feminist library collections and helping to forge a bibliographic framework for women-centered scholarship.
In 1977 Esther Stineman, as she was known then, was hired as the first University of Wisconsin Women's Studies Librarian-at-Large. The "at-large" moniker signified her responsibility to support emerging women's studies programs and the libraries that served them on twenty-six campuses which had been subsumed into a single system of state-supported higher education. In less than two years, Esther laid the groundwork for the office's core services and set a course that has held for a quarter-century. She kept up a remarkable pace of travel and work.
In addition to nurturing relationships with librarians on the various campuses and advising them on collection development, Esther gave them tools to work with, such as the Women’s Studies Union List, a catalog of books held throughout the UW System. "Where Are the Women?," a four-part slide-tape series that she produced, articulated the principles of feminist scholarship and strategies for finding information. Esther’s broad knowledge of relevant sources in the disciplines, as well the burgeoning literature on feminist theory and the women’s movement, was captured in Women's Studies: A Recommended Core Bibliography (Libraries Unlimited, 1979, 670 pp.). The volume became an indispensable reference tool for librarians everywhere, who appreciated its critical and comparative annotations. Esther proved the value of a multi-campus specialist librarian position and helped to put UW on the map as a leader and innovator in women’s studies. Perhaps most important, she hired and mentored Cathy Loeb, who stayed on through two more librarians and left an indelible stamp of editorial excellence on the office's publications.
Esther understood the power of feminist networking, and for that I personally am extraordinarily grateful. When I first met Esther at the ALA conference in Washington, DC, in January 1977, I was a newly degreed librarian working in the reference department at Yale. I dreamed of using my professional skills to further women's liberation, but I questioned whether I could meld my politics with my work at an elite institution. My doubts vanished during a lively dinner with Esther, Kathleen Weibel, Jenrose Felmley, Gurley Turner, and others, whose innovative projects were already changing libraries, the academy, and the lives of women.
Esther left Wisconsin for a more settled life in Colorado with her husband, Charles Hinkle – but only for a while. In 1980, she published another path breaking reference work, American Political Women: Contemporary and Historical Profiles. Before long she enrolled as a doctoral student in Yale’s American Studies program, and so our paths crossed again. One afternoon, I attended an opening for an exhibit of Victorian art depicting women, where I spotted Esther pouring sherry. She mentioned that the librarian who succeeded her at Wisconsin, Linda Parker, would be leaving for a new position in Nebraska. Did I, she asked with a twinkle in her eye, know anyone who might be interested in the job? After I was hired at Wisconsin, I had numerous opportunities to silently thank both Esther and Linda for the solid, well-run program I inherited and the warm welcome I received from women around the state.
The story doesn't end there. In the mid-1980s, Esther, Cathy and I collaborated on a sequel to Women's Studies: A Recommended Core Bibliography. It was a difficult collaboration at times. Cathy and I were in Madison, while Esther commuted between New Haven and Monument, Colorado. As we were frantically writing annotations and mailing manuscripts back and forth, rushing to complete the work before the contract deadline and the end of our grant, Esther underwent surgery to remove a brain tumor. Despite these hurdles, the final product was a book that we were all proud to have co-authored.
Recovering from her surgery, Esther completed her PhD and took a faculty position at William and Mary. Her dissertation became a book, Mary Austen: Song of a Maverick, published by the Yale University Press in 1989 and reissued by the University of Arizona Press in 1997. Tragically, her cancer came back. She is remembered at William and Mary, where she was a faculty from 1988 to 1995, as a dedicated teacher who freely shared her expertise. She is remembered at Wisconsin as an indefatigable, highly creative librarian who built an internationally renowned program from the ground up. But I will always remember her as the first women's studies librarian I ever knew, a scholar and doer in whose footsteps I was privileged to follow.
-- Sue Searing
NOTE: A slightly different version of this essay will appear in Feminist Collections.
Update on the Core Lists of Books
For the 2002/2003 Core Lists we will have 41 lists going up on the web site (hosted by the Women's Studies Librarian's Office, University of Wisconsin System) and 37 contributors. Four lists are completely new: Education, Japanese Women, Labor and Transnational Feminism. Three lists not updated in 2001/02 have been updated this year: Sexual Abuse, Music, and International Politics. Joan Ariel and Bernice Redfern broke new ground by working with library school students with an interest in women’s studies to create and update core lists. We will be looking for more interactions like this in the future. Finally, we are changing some of the List’s titles to better reflect their content: Politics will become U.S. Politics and Information Technology will change to Technology.
In other exciting news, Carrie Kruse has been exploring with the Digital Content Group at the University of Wisconsin the idea of turning the Core Lists into a searchable database. The WSS Collection Development Committee will work with us to identify and standardize the information needed for each field. If all goes well, we will then do a pilot working with a small number of lists. This project will have a couple of different (and desirable) results: the ability to search across all lists; browsing capability by subject; and a form for contributors to input their information into, which will standardize the formatting (and lessen the work of the co-editors).
For 2002/2003 four lists were not updated: Anthropology, Ecofeminism, Mental Health, and Spirituality. We will be looking for new contributors for these titles. Kris Gerhard, who has edited the Spirituality list in the past, is interested in working with a library school student for next year. If you know of any library school students who might be interested in this opportunity, or if you might be interested in taking on one of these topics, please contact Cynthia Johnson (firstname.lastname@example.org). The group at ALA discussed what to do when contributors are unable to continue editing a particular list. It was generally agreed that contributors should understand that the editors must look for new contributors as soon as possible; once a contributor stops working on a list, she may not be able to return to it, since someone else will have taken it over. We also continue to be interested in new topics for lists, and during the meeting a variety of topics were suggested, many of which were snapped up by interested librarians: Comics and Zines, Girls and Girlhood, and Disabilities.
You can find the core lists at: http://www.library.wisc.edu/libraries/WomensStudies/core/coremain.htm
Women’s Studies Section
The Committee members discussed publicizing the section by using brochures,
handouts, and contacting new & dropped members via mail. The Chair
distributed brochures to all WSS committees at the All Committees Meeting
and asked members to distribute them widely. She discussed plans to
mail WSS brochures to library schools, WS programs and to leave some
at ACRL booth during conferences. The committee also discussed methods
of developing the mailing, A list of women's studies programs may be
found on Joan Korenman's list on WMST-L.
1) Include information in mailings to new members.
2003 Program Planning Committee
The Committee met with the Research Committee to finalize the outline of the program and to discuss presenters. Dr. Gloriana St. Clair, editor of portal has agreed to be part of a two-editor panel. The committee also has a tentative commitment from Dr. Sandra Harding, one of the co-editors of Signs to be the other editor. A third editor from Resources for Feminist Research, will be asked to be a respondent to the original panel. The panel discussion will be followed by break out sessions. The Committee is in the process of choosing presenters for the breakout sessions. The Committee asked a number of ACRL sections for co-sponsorship and is awaiting replies, but was pleased to hear that the Feminist Task Force is willing to co-sponsor and to contribute toward the cost of the program.
One of the charges of the Committee is to identify and recommend possible future section publications. This year the committee will be looking at the publications of other ACRL sections to gain possible ideas. We hope to have a few good ideas by Midwinter. Also the members of the committee would like to remind everyone that the Publications Manual for the Section is now available on the Section's website. Additionally, the Committee encourages new publications from the section.
The Committee discussed final stages for completion of the Database Instruction Guides, handouts which can be used by librarians when teaching databases in classes. Currently, there are eight guides. After final editing, the guides will be saved in PDF format, submitted to the Publications Committee for approval. Committee discussed how to update the guides, and decided that once each year, the Chair would look at the guides and then send out a notice to committee members to see who can do the updating. If a guide cannot be updated within six months, it will be taken off the web site. The Committee also discussed creating guides for several other databases. Finally, the Committee discussed future projects, relating to information literacy, distance learning and/or facilitating access to hidden collections such as primary resources or government documents.
Collection Development Committee
The Committee had a lively and productive meeting that focused primarily on the continued development of a website of collection development resources for women’s studies. The site features a variety of components, which we hope will be useful to librarians working on collection development in women’s studies. These include a checklist to evaluate women’s studies collections; women’s studies publishers; film and video resources; keeping current with women’s studies scholarship; award winning and notable titles; and a bibliography of articles on collection development in this dynamic field. In addition, we will be investigating other possible elements to add. The committee aims to complete the initial website development by spring 2003, then announce to WSS membership via WSS-L. We would like to obtain initial feedback and suggestions from WSS, before the site debuts to the wider world. In other business, the committee also reviewed the status of the 2003 Core Lists and the forthcoming publication of Women’s Studies: A Recommended Core Bibliography, 1986-1999, edited by Linda Krikos and Cindy Ingold. We welcome further suggestions of collection development and bibliography projects that would benefit the work of women’s studies.
Lastly, we briefly discussed future initiatives including identification and analysis of women’s studies journals available in electronic form. We will also be addressing current collection development issues such as the impact of increasing budgetary constraints and consortial/collaborative collection development.
The nominations committee chaired by Mila Su is pleased to announce a full slate of candidates for 2003-2004. Information about the candidates will be available when the ballots for ALA elections are sent out in late spring. Don’t forget to vote!
Electronic Resources Committee
Members unanimously agreed that our next project would be to identify and assess the women’s studies content in non-commercial Web-based digital archives. Based on a list of archives from the University of California, Santa Barbara Libraries Web site, members identified twenty-nine archives to begin examining. The Web sites were divided amongst the seven committee members based on interests. Members also discussed a preliminary methodology for retrieving and recording the necessary information. Primary information will include basic bibliographic information; web site description and arrangement; search methods; description and analysis of women’s studies content, how it was accessed, and most effective search techniques.
2004 Program Planning Committee
The Committee talked about the early reception to the idea of an archives-related
The committee’s current project to develop a bibliography of research in women’s studies librarianship was discussed and moved forward. The purpose of the bibliography is to pull together research done in this area and categorize it into subtopics so that the committee can identify areas of needed research for the future. After Annual 2002, Jennifer Gilley compiled a preliminary bibliography and distributed it to the members of the committee. This bibliography was then transferred to a spreadsheet which was presented to the committee members at Midwinter. The 17 designations were briefly discussed, and 2 were eliminated. Kris Gerhard suggested that there be three types of articles: enumerative, descriptive, and those that present research results. The committee decided to include all three types in this project but to assign a designation to each item and break them out. Finally, the committee agreed to divide up the 105 citations and each be responsible for officially categorizing about 12. The results of this effort will be shared at Annual 2003, hopefully leading to further clarification and refinement of the categories.
New Section Leadership Orientation!
This year’s Midwinter Meeting brought something new and exciting with it. After discussion among members at past meetings, it was agreed that having a Leadership Orientation for new committee chairs would be beneficial for both new chairs and committee members.
The orientation was moderated by Ruth Dickstein, Joan Ariel, Ellen Broidy and Sandy River. Joan began the discussion with a wonderful history of the WSS. She talked about the challenges that the Section faced in gaining recognition of the importance of women's studies in academic and research libraries. She spoke to the fact that the Section is unique in the amount of original research it produces, the mentoring of new librarians it does and the strong political stances that it takes (such as boycotting past ACRL Conferences because of state politics). Ruth then reviewed the Orientation Guide for new committee members which is available on the WSS homepage. She suggested that all new committee chairs read this guide and the Publications Manual since all new proposals for publications need to go through this Committee before being submitted to Executive for final approval. At the end of the meeting, Ruth provided a handout listing all of the forms that chairs need to keep track of. Sandy River then added to this by explaining the various meetings that the Section holds, the responsibilities of committee chairs, and reappointments. Finally, Ellen Broidy provided a very helpful handout - “Hints for Running Successful Meetings.” These tips will be added to the WSS Orientation Manual.
Everyone agreed that this will become an annual meeting. It was considered a great success. Thanks to all who organized and participated!
Women’s Studies Section Newsletter is published semi-annually by the Association of College and Research Libraries, Women’s Studies Section, a division of the American Library Association, 50 E. Huron St., Chicago, IL 60611. 1-800-545-2433, ext. 2519. The WSS Newsletter is available to all section members at no additional cost.
The WSS Newsletter welcomes contributions from readers. Send articles, items of interest, and news to the editors, preferably in electronic format.
© American Library Association, 2003
June 14, 2011