Welcome to the Library, Ellen!

Head shot of Ellen Huggins, JEC Archives Fellow. She is wearing a blue button up shirt and smiling at the camera.
Ellen Huggins

Ellen Huggins is the current Justice, Equality and Community Archives Fellow. She graduated from University of Iowa in 2021, majoring in Creative Writing with minors in American Studies and Gender, Women and Sexuality Studies. Ellen is originally from Colorado and still getting to know Davidson College!

You’re just beginning to get to know the E.H. Little Library—what’s your background and how has it contributed to your work at the library?

In terms of my background, I’ve always been interested in non-fiction creative writing, which is what I ended up majoring in in college. But over time I became more and more interested in history, which led to me working as a transcription editor at some different oral history projects. I think it’s contributed to my work at the library because I place a lot of value in storytelling and thinking of new ways to make archival material into something that an audience wants to engage with because they find it compelling or can relate it to their own experiences.  

What about the position of the JEC Archives Fellow position interested you?

What really stood out to me about the JEC Archives Fellow position was that there were so many sides to the job; not only would I get the chance to look at oral histories, but I’d also get the chance to learn more about Davidson history, work on the social media for the Archives and Special Collections and share my research with a cohort of other fellows working under the Duke Endowment. It’s a really unique opportunity that has so much possibility to it, and I’m excited to keep discovering what I can do in the position!  

Are there any projects that you’re particularly passionate about introducing to Davidson?

I’m interested in doing projects related to the 50th anniversary of coeducation and the less spoken about perspectives within the history of women at Davidson College. I’m currently working on an exhibit on the second floor all about Title IX (which also has its 50th anniversary this year!). It’s going to feature some oral histories collected from members of the women’s athletic program in 1999 that have been sealed and unavailable to listen to until now, so look out for that, and come check it out once it goes up!  

You haven’t been here long yet, but what has been your most memorable or surprising experience at Davidson thus far?

I have to agree with everyone that mentioned the great first day “Hello Dolly” serenade; I was especially honored that they took the time to rhyme my name in the lyrics! More generally, I’ve been surprised by just how welcoming everyone at the E.H. Little Library has been and how comfortable the campus feels to be on every day. The traffic in Davidson has also surprised me, without fail, every day that I drive to work.   

What are three things you want Davidson’s Community to know about you?

My favorite movie fluctuates between Pee Wee’s Big Adventure and Rosemary’s Baby.  

I have two brothers, one older and one younger! 

The best day for me weather wise is probably 50 degrees, foggy in the morning and drizzling in the afternoon, with not too much wind.   

My dog, Piper!

Welcome to the E.H. Little Library, Sydney!

Falls Park, Greenville, SC

You’re just beginning to get to know the E.H. Little Library –what’s your background and how has it contributed to your work in the library?

I am a native Carolinian–I say Carolinian and not North or South Carolinian because I’ve been traversing the two states my entire life. I received a Bachelor of Arts in English and Philosophy from Clemson University and a Master of Science in Library Science from UNC-Chapel Hill. I held roles in the libraries at both of these institutions, and I sought out internships at Duke University and NC State University while pursuing my MSLS. All of my roles in libraries have been slightly different. Still, I have always had a passion for outreach and community engagement, whether that has been tabling to meet students, hosting workshops and events, or developing my skills in graphic design and marketing. Having the opportunity to engage in meaningful ways with the campus community is what drew me to this work, and I hope to continue doing so with the Davidson community.

What about the position of Library Outreach Coordinator interested you?

Ultimately, what drew me to this position was that I knew I could develop lasting and meaningful relationships with folks across campus. Outreach is about supporting and engaging with your community, and I felt confident that I was joining an organization where I would be supported so that I could pursue new and exciting outreach opportunities.

Are there any projects you’re particularly passionate about introducing to Davidson?

I am looking forward to launching collaborative library programs with student organizations, on-campus partners, and community partners. I am likewise excited about working on our capsule collections, which are the themed collections we have displayed in the library lobby, and supporting folks across campus who are interested in curating these collections.

You haven’t been here long yet, but what has been your most memorable or surprising experience at Davidson thus far?

My most memorable experience so far has been tabling on the first day of classes. Students were so excited to see that we were out there tabling just to hand out snacks and talk with them, and it made me happy to have such a successful first event.

What are three things you want Davidson’s community to know about you?

I am a home chef who likes to craft new vegetarian dishes.

I like going on walks through the woods. Not hikes; just walks.

I’m always happy to exchange jigsaw puzzles!

Waldrop Stone Falls Central, SC

Welcome to the E.H. Little Library, Jacob!

Jacob and Avie age 1

You’re just beginning to get to know the E.H. Little Library – what’s your background and how has it contributed to your work in the library? 

My usual joke when I talk about my professional background is that I’ve managed to do things that interest me *and* stay employed, which may only be true because (a) I’m a lifelong learner and (b) have been fortunate to find a professional home in higher education. I grew up in Virginia and have a BA and MA from UVA; I taught in middle and high school in between the two. My PhD, from Texas A&M, on early modern English literature and drama, culminated with my dissertation on Shakespeare and friends. My subspecialty in the material book and book history, maybe surprisingly, led me into digital humanities and project management, which led me into liberal arts college libraries. After working on the Early Modern OCR Project, I was the Mellon Digital Scholar for the Five Colleges of Ohio, a position in which I was helping small cross-functional teams imagine and develop digital pedagogical projects. This led me into my work as Digital Scholarship Librarian and Director of the Collaborative Research Environment (CoRE) at the College of Wooster, where I was a liaison librarian, developed a program for digital media creation, and taught a digital humanities course each spring. I’m excited to weave all of these threads together in my new role!

Whitaker age 3

What about the position of Assistant Director of Digital Learning interested you?

If I’m honest, I was mostly interested in working with Davidson folks. I’d encounter a number of admirably smart and generous students, staff, and faculty in my time on the digital humanities/pedagogy/scholarship circuit, so I guessed that working with and learning from them could only be wonderful. So far I’m right. Tied up in that, too, is the opportunity to work among some impressive teams to shepherd the library toward “the library of the future.” It’s a unique opportunity to help shape a truly monumental enterprise.

Are there any projects you’re particularly passionate about introducing to Davidson?

I’m keenly interested in the intersections between “the material” and “the digital,” and collaborating with the Letterpress Lab and the Makerspace on workshops, for example, would be a great way to think with the community about those intersections. More generally, I’m excited to explore the ways in which we all are implicated in “the digital”: the overlapping frameworks for digital and information literacy, critical engagement with digital infrastructures via Davidson Domains, and digital humanities endeavors that live in and grow out of the library.

You haven’t been here long yet, but what has been your most memorable or surprising experience at Davidson thus far?

Both memorable and surprising: my new library colleagues composed and performed a song for Holly and me on our first day of work. It was a riff on “Hello, Dolly” and it was incredible.

What are three things you want Davidson’s community to know about you?

While I’m not myself musical, my Spotify history would betray a wide array of musical tastes: from “Karma Chameleon” to Kendrick Lamar, from EDM to EPMD, from Travis Tritt to A Tribe Called Quest. Although I’ve never done karaoke, I know the words to an embarrassing number of 80s and 90s pop, hip-hop, and (yes) country songs. (Oh! You asked for three things I *want* the Davidson community to know about me!)

I thrive when I’m expending creative energy. I’m a maker at heart. Often that’s expressed in my work designing workshops or building programs or just doing digital humanities. However, I also come from a family of (folk) artists and I am trying to earn the title “hobbyist woodworker,” though shop time is sparse these days, not least because…

… my two kids, Whitaker (3) and Avie (1) pretty much occupy all of my time. They’re hilarious and smart and they challenge me every day, and every second I get to spend with them and Catie, my wife, is a treasure.

Avie
Whitaker

Welcome to the E.H. Little Library, Holly!

These are two of Holly White’s four pets. Shown are Buster and Basil.

1. You’re just beginning to get to know the E.H. Little Library –what’s your
background and how has it contributed to your work in the library?


I’m originally from Ohio, where I received a BA in English from Ohio University and
MLIS (Master of Library and Information Science) from Kent State University. I have
spent my career working in small academic libraries at liberal arts institutions; I love
working on smaller campuses where I can build relationships with students and
faculty and get involved in campus life. In addition to providing instruction,
reference, and collection development services in libraries, my duties have also
included being the university webmaster and college Moodle administrator. I enjoy
learning new skills and learning about new systems and software, and each of my
previous positions has allowed me to learn about something new that can help me
support library users, whether that is coding or learning theory or social media
content curation. I enjoy being a generalist and working across the curriculum and
the campus to improve learning, services, or whatever else.


2. What about the position of Instructional Designer interested you?

I chose to work in small liberal arts colleges because I enjoy having the opportunity
to do lots of different things in my job. During the pandemic, I spent a lot of time
supporting faculty who were teaching with Moodle, and I was interested in moving
more fully into the instructional design space. This position is perfect for me; it
allows me to do that without losing my connection to librarianship.

3. Are there any projects you’re particularly passionate about introducing to
Davidson?

I’m excited to start working to support OER on campus. I was thrilled to find a
position that would allow me to help faculty build courses around content that is
free, whether open textbooks or library resources. I’m also really looking forward to
working the Research, Learning, and Outreach team on instruction design

4. You haven’t been here long yet, but what has been your most memorable or
surprising experience at Davidson thus far?

Definitely being serenaded by members of the library at the end of my first day (to
the tune of Hello, Dolly). It was so fun and welcoming and a great way to start my
career at E.H. Little Library.

5. What are three things you want Davidson’s community to know about you?

I’ve lived and worked in higher education in both Ohio and Iowa, and they are two
very different states!

Although I’ve never lived in North Carolina, I had ancestors who did, although most
of them moved to other states by 1800. I’m planning to visit some places to do
some more intensive genealogical work. If you have recommendations, I’d love to
hear them!

I’ve spent most of my weekends so far visiting dog parks or the lake. If you ever
want to set up a doggy play date or take a kayaking trip, feel free to reach out! I
haven’t been stand-up paddleboarding yet, but it’s one of my goals for the summer.

Holly’s camping spot on her last overnight kayaking trip in the Georgian Bay of Lake Huron.

Welcome to the E.H. Little Library, Ashley!

Ashley Mills and the Davidson Public Library sculpture

1. You’re just beginning to get to know the E.H. Little Library – what’s your background and how has it contributed to your work in the library?  Please tell us about your current educational endeavor as well.

My background is varied. I grew up on a barrier island in Florida, so I’ve worked in several areas of the hospitality industry. I was originally an Art major at the University of Florida, ultimately graduated with a degree in Sociology and Education, and took a lot of history classes on the side. I taught Middle School Social Studies (and substitute taught at all grade levels), spent several years focused on my children as a stay-at-home mom, passed my licenses to work in Financial Advising, and later moved into Underwriting Case Management. When I had the opportunity to change careers and go back to school, I put a lot of thought into the aspects that I’ve truly loved about jobs, and researched career paths that related to my personality types, and when it hit me – Library Science – it felt like one of those facepalm moments. “Of course! Why did it take me so long to get here?” I’ve always been an avid reader (picture the kid who walked the halls with a book held in front of her face), but apart from that, I love planning, organizing, research, learning new things, and helping people. I feel like all of these are supported and encouraged in libraries. I am currently in my second semester of a Master of Library Science degree, through East Carolina University’s remote program, and every class I take is further evidence that I love this field. 

2. What about the Acquisitions & Collections Specialist position interested you?

In general, this position interested me because it is both very detail orientated and involves a lot of searching and organization, which is right up my alley. I get to satisfy my curiosity by perusing the books that come across my desk on subjects I might not have sought out on my own. I was also interested in it for the opportunity it gave me to gain quality library experience – with the library systems integration, cataloging, inventory projects and hopefully eventually what will probably be a giant project of prepping and storing the collection during a massive library remodel – I look at it all as an opportunity to grow! My husband told me the other day, “I’ve never met anyone who was more perfectly matched to their job than you.” I look forward to professional development opportunities and learning more about the “real world aspects” of the different areas that librarians can specialize in, as I work towards my own degree.

3. Are there any projects you’re particularly passionate about introducing to Davidson? I would love to be involved in some type of diversity audit of our collection. I think we’ll need to get through a few other types of inventory and conversion projects first, so we have a better starting point, but something to consider down the road. Prior to my arrival the Collections Strategies team had already discussed identifying local and BIPOC owned bookstores we could divert some purchases to instead of our larger vendors, and I’m currently researching and compiling a list to move forward with that, in addition to playing with some ideas to get our Main Street Books Browsing collection rotating more regularly.  I also think it would be fun to work with other teams to cultivate, purchase and then highlight in the lobby “mini collections” for students that center around current news issues or social trends; “adulting,” mental health, developing study skills, or even around some of the most popular subjects of classes taught here at Davidson.

4. You haven’t been here long yet, but what has been your most memorable or surprising experience at Davidson thus far?

My most surprising experience has been how peaceful it is here – my days fly by, and I go home content and mentally ready to be knocked over by my (very large) puppy and cornered by my 3 chatterbox kids the second I walk in the door. Although Covid/Omicron meant my first few weeks were a little different than planned – with most of the faculty/staff unexpectedly working remotely – as I slowly meet everyone I am so pleased by the welcoming atmosphere and overall Library vibe.

5. What are three things you want Davidson’s community to know about you?

I’m going to answer this question with some ice-breaker game type facts:

  1. I love being involved in my “Women’s Adventure Club” – we’ve experienced yoga sessions with Llamas, navigating white water rapids after our guide was thrown out, hiking, archery, a “U-Pick” wildflower farm, game show nights, crafts, winery 5ks…anything that gets us out there and having fun together.
  2. I’m a huge believer that anyone can connect, and age is just a number – so it doesn’t matter if you are a student worker, or think you have totally different interests than me, or are soon to retire – I would love to meet you or lend a helping hand!
  3. Not only have my husband and I known each other our entire lives, but I can honestly say that I exist because of my Mother-in-law. You can ask me the story if we meet in person!
Mills Family

JEC Fellow in the Archives!

Hello, everyone! I’m Andrés Paz, Davidson College class of 2021 and current Justice, Equality, and Community (JEC) Fellow in the Archives, Special Collections and Community (ASCC) department. This year I will be working with the Archives team (and many others!) to explore and advance our understanding of the racial history of Davidson College and its surroundings. This is the first of what I hope will be many posts.

Part of a cohort of researchers also at Duke, Furman, and Johnson C. Smith, the JEC Archives Fellow position is funded partially by the Duke Endowment. At Davidson, I have and will collaborate with the ASCC team to identify and process relevant collections, research materials, and create digital scholarship and learning resources to promote dialogue across the community.  Working with cohort, campus, and community partners, including the Davidson College Commission on Race and Slavery, my efforts focus on researching and documenting Davidson’s complicated history with topics such as enslavement, race relations, and civil rights.

Andrés Paz

In the past two months, while acclimating to a new role, I’ve started to work on a few long term projects. Prioritizing accessibility and involvement with the community beyond college grounds, we have identified digital resources related to local history that could be improved. Currently, I am working on rebuilding ASCC’s Shared Stories site as an exhibit. This means going through many documents, photos, and oral histories, and even transcribing some. Another project which represents the bulk of my efforts is a genealogical and land ownership research project. looking at plantations that were located near campus in an attempt to uncover Davidson’s interactions with enslavers and enslavement. For this project, new and worthwhile research in the Local History and Archives of Mooresville Public Library is possible thanks to Andy Poore’s generosity and knowledge of local history. 

There is much else that happens in our department on a daily basis: reference requests, guest lectures, birthday cakes (had to mention it, thanks Sara!), and collaborations with other colleagues in the library (for example: take a look at our new International Student HIstory LibGuide), to mention a few things. As part of the Archives, Special Collections, and Community team, I am happy to connect with anyone interested in using or exploring our college’s archival resources! And more than anything, excited to work around kind and cool people!  

Andrés Paz

Email: anpazramirez@davison.edu

Office: E.H. Little Library, Room 235

The true art of memory is the art of attention*: Recognizing Sharon Byrd

Sharon joined the Davidson College Library as a Cataloger in 1979. Although she quickly realized that the job of cataloging wasn’t for her, she knew right away that Davidson was. Throughout her 42 years here, Sharon worked as a reference librarian, a special collections librarian, the head of public services, and interim library director.

Along the way, she’s seen many changes to the library (card catalogs, anyone?), but the passion for her work has remained constant. It’s rooted in her desire to support students, faculty, staff, and alumni in all their research endeavors. Generations of Davidsonians have been the beneficiaries of “Mrs. Byrd’s” warmth, curiosity, and professional knowledge. Countless research papers, articles, and books couldn’t have been written without her generous assistance!

Just as remarkable is Sharon’s memory for the students, faculty, and staff she worked with and the events she experienced throughout her career. When alumni return to campus, she recognizes them and remembers their major, the name of their roommate, and the sport they played. When a current student comes into the library, it’s not unusual for Sharon to recognize their connection to alums and regale them with stories from their parents’ time at Davidson.  This trait is especially appreciated by her colleagues in the archives who have given her the unofficial title of “Institutional Memory.” 

All of Sharon’s colleagues are so grateful for her enthusiasm, thoughtfulness, and positivity. Throughout the years, we have been the fortunate recipients of thoughtful gifts, kind words, and encouragement at just the right moment. Sharon, you are more than a colleague; you are a mentor and a friend. It’s hard to imagine Davidson without you, but we wish you the very best in a well-deserved retirement. You tell us you’ll be travelling, volunteering at your church, walking with your dog Pace, and indulging in your husband John’s cooking and baking. We will miss you, but we look forward to hearing about your adventures when we inevitably run into you in the post office!

*With thanks to Samuel Johnson

Guest Blogger: Cara Evanson, Research and First Year Experience Librarian, “History of Our Library Our Conference”

Cara Evanson is the Research and First Year Experience Librarian and has worked at Davidson since 2011.

From May 13th to 21st, library staff were searching the E.H. Little building. But not for lost books or items students left behind during finals. They were participating in a conference, of sorts, albeit one that had taken a unique form in this pandemic year.

The origins of Our Library Our Conference, an in-house conference for library staff at Davidson, date back to 2015. At the time, I had been having conversations with colleagues about wanting more opportunities to learn about and celebrate staff expertise and work happening across library departments. While catching up on an issue of College & Research Libraries News I came across an article titled A Conference of Our Own: Creating an In-House Professional Development Opportunity. Written by librarians Shellie Jeffries and Christina Radisauskas, the article describes how they planned a day for their colleagues at Aquinas College dedicated to “sharing, teaching, and exploring with each other.” After reading it, I was excited to try out their idea and create a conference by and for library staff at Davidson.

Our Library Our Conference was first held in 2016, and over the years this annual conference has shifted in response to circumstances and feedback from the library staff.

Our Library Our Conference First Year, 2016, Left to Right, Jon Hill, Jean Coates and Joe Gutekanst

It has taken on a more informal vibe, and conference “field trips” to spaces like the music library, rare book room, and mailroom have become an ongoing feature. In 2020 the conference was held on Zoom and included a Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me! style trivia contest spotlighting library staff stories and projects. This year, the conference planning committee created a scavenger hunt with each clue showcasing library staff collaborations and accomplishments from the year. The scavenger hunt could be completed individually and socially distanced at any time during the week.

Field Trip to the Music Library, 2019, Jon Hill sharing his expertise and enthusiasm

What hasn’t changed over the years is the purpose of the conference – for library staff to share with each other, learn from each other, and explore with each other. Regardless of the format, the conference is a chance to reflect on and celebrate our roles and the work we do. And it couldn’t happen without the hard work of the planning committee. Alexa Torchynowycz, Joe Gutekanst, and Sharon Byrd have stayed on through two years of pandemic-adapted conference planning. A big thanks to them, and to the whole library staff for making 6 years of this conference possible!

Justice, Equality, Community Project Archivist: A 3 Year Retrospective

I was hired as the Justice, Equality, Community (JEC) Project Archivist as part of the campus-wide Justice, Equality, Community (JEC) grant initiative at Davidson College in August 2017. The 3.5 year JEC grant aimed to “reimagine humanities curricula through the lens of three ideas that cut across cultures, time, and disciplines: justice, equality, and community…to demonstrate the critical role of humanistic inquiry in public discourse, global problem-solving, engaged citizenship, and democratic leadership.”

To accomplish these lofty goals, the initiative included funding for research partnerships between faculty and students, a series of practitioner-in-residences, community-minded experiential learning projects, and archival collecting and digitization efforts centered on questions about race and religion in the greater-Davidson area. As the JEC Project Archivist, I was responsible for the following tasks in support of the grant’s archival component:

  • Identifying and digitizing JEC collections.
  • Integrating JEC materials into at least 5 new courses.
  • Expanding archival collections related to JEC.
  • Leading public programming about JEC materials, both on campus and in the larger community.
cover the coeducation edition of the davidson journal
Recently digitized special edition of the Davidson Journal celebrating 25 years of coeducation.

Let’s take a look at how we faired with these four goals and the work that remains. In the last three years, we have digitized:

Davidson College Magazine October 1908 page 50 of Volume 25 1908-1909. Quotes include "a store building is being built on Main street, and there is also a new meat market with cold-storage facilities."
Davidson College Magazine October 1908, page 50.

We incorporated these digitized materials into at least two dozen course sessions, outreach programs like “An Evening with…” and multiple presentations to local historical societies. The collections were also used to support some of the research efforts of the Davidson College Commission on Race and Slavery. We then used the student work collections as examples when speaking to student activists and leaders about the importance of saving their records and establishing dialogues to help us learn how to more equitably and respectfully do that work through the JEC Student and Alumni Advisory Council.

Front page of the January 26, 1996 Black Student Coalition newsletter, "The Rainbow Revue."
Front page of the January 26, 1996 Black Student Coalition newsletter, “The Rainbow Revue.”

These class sessions and outreach initiatives led to several multi-year course collaborations that resulted in donations to the archives in some cases and high-profile projects in others. For example, the hard work of Dr. Jane Mangan’s HIS 259: Latinos in the United States course resulted in nearly two dozen oral history interviews documenting the Latinx experience of Davidson (now viewable, here). Another oft cited project is Disorienting Davidson, a multi-year student-led project that informed the senior thesis work of H.D. Mellin ’20.  Mellin utilized many of the collections later made digitally available by JEC grant funds over the course of several semesters for this groundbreaking student project. Their work also helped archivists identify highly sought-after collections that informed the digitization selection process.

While collaborations within the department and across teams have led to significant strides in terms of access to archival collections and course collaborations, much work remains in terms of community outreach and collections development around the issues of justice, equality, and community. In recognition of that need, the Justice, Equality, Community Archivist position was made permanent at Davidson College in March 2021.

To access the digitized collections mentioned in this blog post, please email archives@davidson.edu.

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