University Librarian, Nancy Daveport
University Librarian, Nancy Daveport

Dear Library Supporters, Friends & Neighbors,

Welcome to the very first hybrid edition of our award-winning Annual Report. In support of American University’s goal of "acting on our values of social responsibility, service [and] an active pursuit of sustainability," the Library is reducing the carbon footprint of its Annual Report, by creating a digital version. This digital version is the more robust edition of the report, with a condensed paper version printed on 100% post-consumer recycled paper.

I begin by thanking all of our Library supporters for another excellent year. Your passion and engagement with the collection and vision of the Library makes a tremendous difference in the work that we do. This past year, our supporters came together for two successful fundraising events. The first of which, A Celebration of Preservation, raised money for the preservation of books from the Artemis Martin collection. Guests learned about caring for special collections from speaker Jeanne Drewes, the Chief of Binding and Collections Care at the Library of Congress. Guests were also able to see the books, and choose which ones to support with a gift designated for preservation. This event piqued the interest of many alumni who had not been to campus in some time, and allowed our supporters to experience being Library insider for an evening while helping to preserve these important materials.

Our second donor event, Research and Resistance: Building a Social Protest Collection at AU, showcased images from our Social Protest Collection, including newly acquired photographs of the Bonus March held in DC in the 1930s, and the recently donated Patrick Frazier Collection of posters and photographs of DC protests in the 1960s and 1970s. Our speakers shared the importance of protest ephemera and spoke to how scholars can use these items in their research. This event generated support for the acquisition of materials that reflect the history of Washington D.C. as a crucible of social protest.

This same collection is the visual theme for this Annual Report, which contains more detailed information about a number Library initiatives, such as the Library Residency Program, the newest collections—both electronic and paper, our enriching and entertaining events series and how the Library will continue to grow and change, thanks to your support.

Nancy Davenport
University Librarian, American University

Patrick Frazier Political & Social Movements Collection

Catherine Croy
Donor of the Patrick Frazier Political & Social Movements Collection, Catherine Croy, speaking at the Research and Resistance event.

This collection contains broadsides, flyers, handbills, photographs, and posters, covering all of the major political and social movements of the 1960s and 1970s including civil rights, gay and lesbian rights and feminism as well the anti-nuclear and the Vietnam War protests. The protests featured in this collection are mostly from the Washington, DC area including student protests at American University and the University of Maryland at College Park.

Catherine Croy donated this collection to the American University Library, in honor of her late husband Patrick Frazier. Patrick built this collection over his lifetime, collecting ephemera, taking photographs, and adding posters as they became available in the market. A lifetime DC resident, Patrick was born in the Capitol Hill neighborhood and went on to work at the Library of Congress for more than 35 years, where he and Catherine met. During this time, he did freelance work as a photographer and writer, along the way becoming interested in documenting demonstrations and activism in DC.

Catherine “hopes that students will be inspired by working with this collection. We’re slowly becoming a paperless society, and I don’t know if images like this are still being made. The importance of paper materials is often overlooked. To be able to look at and interact with a physical array of posters is a tremendous experience.”

"To be able to look at and interact with a physical array of posters is a tremendous experience."

The connection between American University and the District of Columbia extends well beyond location, from faculty who advise think tanks and advisory boards to students doing their internships on Capitol Hill. The Patrick Frazier Political and Social Movements Collection ties into the fabric of the university, our mission, and our obligation to document history and social change, particularly in Washington, DC. Students and faculty of American University will use this collection of posters and of photographs for many years to come to gain historical perspective, to learn more about Washington DC, and to understand protest movements.

New Acquisitions in Special Collections

Dorothy A. and Charles A. Moore Jr. Japanese Woodblock Print Collection

Along with her husband, Charles, Dorothy Moore spent a lifetime building a diverse collection of Japanese woodblock prints. This year, she donated forty-eight Ukiyoe and Shin-hanga prints by a variety of artists including Chikanobu, Konubu Hasegawa, Hiroshige, Kaoru Kawano, Kunichika, Kuniyoshi, Tomikichiro Tokuriki, Toyokuni, Utamaro, and Yoshitoshi. The prints feature bathing scenes, Kabuki performances, landscapes, the Meiji government, and samurai among other subjects. The addition of this collection to Special Collections will facilitate comparisons with works in the Spinks collection as well as comparisons between Ukiyoe, Shin-hanga, and modern Japanese wood block prints.

Patrick Frazier Political and Social Movements Collection

In addition to his day job as Reference Specialist at the Library of Congress, Patrick Frazier worked as a freelance writer and photographer, assembling this impressive collection. The collection contains broadsides, flyers, handbills, photographs and posters and covering all of the major political and social movements of the 1960s and 1970s including civil rights, gay and lesbian rights, and feminism, as well the anti-nuclear and the Vietnam War protests. This collection will facilitate in-depth research into the scope and nature of activism in the early 1970s. While the focus of the collection is the Washington, DC area, it provides a snapshot of social and political issues of the day, including both national and local protests.

Gregg Jones Papers

Based in the Philippines for five years, Gregg Jones did freelance work for major British and United States newspapers. He served as head of Dallas Morning News Asia Bureau in the late 1990s and early 2000s and worked for the Los Angeles Times and the Dallas Morning News. This collection contains Gregg Jones articles, interviews and notes as well as radio broadcasts and Mao Zedong and People Power Revolution memorabilia. The Jones papers build on our existing journalism collections and encourage new avenues of research including a study of how American journalists adapt to working overseas or a look at changes in methodology over time through comparisons with the Charles Corddry and Barlett & Steele collections.

C. Jean Weidemann Papers

This new collection focuses on Women in International Development, with an emphasis on Africa and South Asia. From agriculture and family planning to microenterprise, researchers can study the changing nature of international development strategies from the 1970s through the early 2000s. In conjunction with the Caroline Moser and Irene Tinker collections, researchers can look at gender policy and its impact on the developing world.

You Can't Convert A Man... Because You Have Silenced Him
Poster from "Freedom to All Political Prisoners," 1971

Q&A with Faculty Member, Rachel Watkins

Rachel Watkins, Associate Professor in the department of Anthropology, studies African American bio history and social history as a skeletal biologist. Watch the video to learn how the Library impacts her teaching and research.

VHS Preservation

The AU Library’s Media Services department was born out of the invention of the consumer-friendly videotape and the sudden availability of recordings for instruction. This filmmaker-friendly technology was revolutionary, as it triggered a boom in creative production worldwide and a new market for established television producers and film studios.

Between the 1980s and 2000s, AU Library’s Media Services department built a collection of 8,000 VHS titles with an emphasis on supporting classroom teaching. The collection includes documentaries, theatrical performances, C-SPAN coverage, feature films, television series, and other genres. The popularity of the VHS format declined with the invention of the DVD and by the early 2000s the format was completely antiquated. It is now facing a crisis: of the thousands of VHS tapes acquired at AU, about 30% of the collection has never been released on DVD or in streaming format. To make matters worse, industry experts estimate that the various forces converging against the VHS format (age of tapes, irreparable and irreplaceable equipment) will make it essentially inaccessible by 2025.

How the AU Library is addressing the VHS tape crisis

Following the guidelines described in Section 108 of the U.S. Copyright law, Media Librarian Chris Lewis, Visual Media Collections Coordinator Molly Hubbs, and Student Assistant Sophie Brichta have been poring through the VHS collection to identify the distribution status of each item and digitizing titles that are at highest risk of being lost in the near future. For VHS titles available on DVD, the tapes are sent to storage and the DVD is added to our queue of items to purchase. If a VHS recording continues to be requested for teaching or research and no DVD or streaming version is available, then the tape is digitized and made available for onsite use.

Molly has assembled a video digitization workstation to ensure that high production standards are met throughout the preservation workflow. She processes video recordings with quality control tools and saves files in a high resolution format. She also creates backups of all files in order to ameliorate the risk of digital rot and other potential disasters. For each digitized file, a DVD “access copy” is also created, cataloged, and made available for teaching and research needs. After digitization, VHS originals are sent to storage.

Campus VHS recordings are equally at risk

The abundance of on-campus recordings of commencements, guest lectures, sporting events, and other historical moments has not been overlooked. Molly has been working with the University Archives and various departments on campus to collect and digitize video materials unique to American University’s history. Over 200 items have been inventoried from the Audio Visual department’s collection of commencement and convocation ceremonies. The process to digitize and preserve these materials is now underway. Some of these vintage films have been added to an AU YouTube channel. Outreach has begun across campus to locate neglected and forgotten VHS recordings. If you have any video of your own or know any faculty, staff members, or fellow alumni with a collection of unique campus materials on VHS, ¾” tape, or even film, please contact Molly Hubbs or Chris Lewis. They will work with you to preserve that material.

More about the crisis of VHS and other magnetic tape formats

In addition to the aging VHS tapes, the playback equipment is less reliable, as the rubber and nylon parts are deteriorating and replacement parts are scarce. The retirement of VHS technicians and lack of a viable market and training opportunities for videotape technicians further exacerbates the problem. There are still a few manufacturers of VHS playback equipment, but those players are usually squeezed into VHS/DVD combo units, and the quality of the parts is generally of a home consumer grade suitable for a short operational life. The likelihood of an older tape getting stuck and damaged in a perfectly clean recently manufactured player is considerable. To put it succinctly, the VHS tape is all but obsolete.

The effort to collect and preserve unreleased content

You might be surprised by the myriad of reasons that recordings go out of release. Commercial profitability is the most obvious and that pertains primarily to feature films and other mass market releases where a studio or television network still owns the rights. More common are the problems endemic to educational distributors. Many educational distributors have gone out of business and their entire inventories have slipped into limbo. Other instances include distribution rights to a video that didn’t get renewed or issues such as music licensing or a legal dispute preventing a title from being re-released. In some cases, such as with major television networks, the distributor discontinued selling VHS or DVD copies of their content altogether

And yet the demand for some of this content for teaching needs remains high. Often, a given documentary has come to be regarded as a classic or provides such a powerful illustration of a concept or topic that nothing released since compares to the original. Here at AU, along with a growing number of institutions around the globe, we preserve these essential programs before our window of opportunity to save them closes.

Research and Resistance Event

eResource Acquisitions

American University Library continually acquires new electronic resources to support the research of scholars with the latest databases, e-books, and e-journals. This year’s acquisitions enhance AU’s commitment to interdisciplinary research and education, with resources that have utility across an increasingly wide range of subjects and fields. These highlighted titles reflect how evolving formats meet the current needs of our researchers, from online texts to streaming audio and video to downloadable sets of data.

Met Opera on Demand

Providing access to streaming video and audio from the famed Metropolitan Opera, this resource offers over 550 full-length operas available to stream, with new content being added regularly. Users can enjoy viewing classic performances dating back to 1936.

Gallup Analytics

Over 75 years of public opinion and analysis from Gallup polls are available in this fully searchable database. Gallup Analytics includes answers to over 125,000 questions from more than 3.5 million interviewees, representing both the United States as well as 160 countries worldwide. Users have the option to create customized tables and save visualizations as images or export data into spreadsheets.

Data on Terrorist Suspects (DoTS)

This downloadable data set contains biographies of leaders, perpetrators, financiers, defendants, detainees, persons of interest, conspirators, and others, including aliases and kunyas. Coverage for the data set encompasses international incidents occurring between 1960 and 2007.

Jane’s Terrorism and Insurgency Centre

This full-text database provides intelligence on threats posed to governments, national security organizations, and businesses by non-state armed groups. Included in the database are a chronology of terrorist, insurgent, and counter-terrorism events, profiles of active and dormant non-state armed groups, news and analysis, country briefings with threat assessment information, and case studies of landmark operations.

JoVE Science Education Collection

This database of instructional videos teaches laboratory fundamentals through clear and focused demonstrations. Videos are supplemented with additional visual resources allowing users to view practical applications of laboratory techniques and other complimentary skills. The video modules cover a range of scientific disciplines including cell biology, neuroscience, genetics, and behavioral science.

Loeb Classical Library

This collection presents users with an interconnected and fully searchable virtual library of Classical Greek and Latin literature. Works of epic poetry, theater, history, medicine, philosophy, and the sciences are represented with accurate English translations. The Library includes over 500 volumes presented with an elegant interface allowing users to browse, search, bookmark, annotate, and share content. This resource was made possible through the Lee Sommers Endowed Library Fund.

Oxford Handbooks Online

The Oxford Handbooks Online: Classics, History, Literature, Music, Philosophy, Religion, Psychology collect essays from the world’s leading scholars in cutting edge topics and with comprehensive coverage. The Online platform provides access to the digital content in the most current and convenient format for student use.


Available to current AU students, faculty, and staff, this language learning tool provides instruction for 80 different languages. With courses provided in 50 different languages, users can learn any language, in virtually any other language. Additionally, it offers ESL for speakers of 50 different non-English languages. This resource was acquired in part through the Class of ’32 Library Fund.

Journal of Comparative Neurology

In support of AU’s growing neuroscience program, the library has purchased this top-tier journal to ensure access to the latest research in this growing field. JCN publishes the highest quality of neuroscience research which explores the functional organization of the brain, neuronal plasticity, and the development of the nervous system.

Washington Evening Star

Regarded as the “paper of record” for the nation’s capital, The Evening Star was an influential and high profile publication known for its coverage of national politics and independent voice. This archive’s coverage dates back to the Star’s founding in 1852 through its demise in 1981, a significant span of American history from the Antebellum Period to World War I through the Post-Vietnam Era. History students and scholars will be able to research a multitude of events using an easily searchable and browseable interface. This resource was made possible through the Roger H. Brown Endowed Preservation Fund.

Films on Demand: World Cinema

A streaming video collection of international films dating back to the Silent Era. Nearly 400 films are featured that span the globe; included are works by acclaimed directors such as Akira Kurosawa, Jean Renoir, and Sergei Eisenstein.

Dictionary of American Regional English (DARE)

Representing the full panoply of American regional vocabulary, this resource focuses on localized aspects of our language, documenting words, phrases, and pronunciations that vary from one place to another. DARE highlights the local character and geographical distinctions of the English language across America. Users can browse regions using an interactive map, create their own maps using survey data, and even hear audio samples of different American dialects.

Merging the Library and the Classroom

The materials housed in Archives and Special Collections are only one facet of the resources offered by the Library, and bringing the Archives to the classroom is one way in which University Archivist Susan McElrath works to raise awareness of these resources. Since coming to AU, Susan has developed a number of ways to increase Library involvement in instruction. Primary Source Instruction and Consult & Create Services are two of the dynamic initiatives designed to connect students and professors with Library resources.

Primary Source Instruction

Primary sources can be eyewitness accounts of an event or data obtained through original research. Materials such as diaries, works of art, government records, and radio addresses are all types of primary sources. Primary sources provide students with an unfiltered look at a historical period or event. Secondary sources, such as journal articles and books, interpret and analyze primary sources. Both types of sources are important for student researchers to use, but primary sources are generally less well covered by secondary education institutions.

As a result, students arrive at American University with different levels of familiarity concerning primary sources. Some have never before encountered such materials, while others exclusively have experience with digitized versions of these sources. Primary source instruction provides students with the opportunity to develop research skills and create research projects using primary source material housed in the Archives. Primary source instruction gives students access to the tactile process of using and working with actual materials—an experience that cannot be duplicated by using digital resources alone.

University Archives maximizes accessibility to this instruction by offering courses taught in the classroom or in the Library to both undergraduates and graduate students. Available to classes in all disciplines, the method of primary source instruction is tailored for the specific field and subject of the students. These methods include hands-on demonstrations, allowing students to interface with pieces of history, digitization technique training for students who may preserve primary sources in their career work, and tutorials on search strategies, finding aids, and archival databases.

Primary source instruction provides students with the opportunity to develop research skills and create research projects using primary source material housed in the Archives.

In arranging for students to enjoy direct access to archived primary sources, this instruction delivers a new way of conceiving libraries. Rather than picturing a dusty repository, students see firsthand the variety and vibrancy of primary sources; resources that create a window into another time and place.

UHURU; People, Not Property!
UHURU; People, Not Property!, 1973

Consult & Create with the University Archives

University Archives personnel work with a number of AU faculty, across disciplines, to bring resources to their students in a variety of ways. This high-touch service begins with a one-on-one discussion between the teaching faculty member and Susan McElrath, Through the process of exploring the goals and syllabus for the course, faculty can develop active learning assignments that connect students with relevant resources available in Archives and Special Collections. From exposing students to the process of working with primary sources in an archival setting to bringing digitized resources directly into the classroom for group work, faculty can add another dimension to their curriculum with these materials.

Here are some examples of how this resource is being used in various academic departments at American University:

Math—As a part of this course, the professor brought her class into the Library for an introduction to milestone works in the history of mathematics. Students attended a short presentation on the Artemas Martin Collection, which features a rich variety of mathematical texts from the 15th to 20th centuries. After this presentation, students were encouraged to study the books and discuss them with each other.

Sociology—For a Qualitative Research Methods course, students worked with several collections, including Records of ‘Women Strike for Peace’ and the ‘Student Confederation.’ While at the Library, they participated in an instruction session providing an introduction to primary source research and then engaged in some hands-on document and photograph analysis exercises.

Art History—Students in a class focusing on Asian art history came to the Archives Reading Room for a class session that combined assigned readings with viewing rare Japanese woodblock prints of the Tokaido Road from the Charles Nelson Spinks Collection. During this session, each student studied a selected print and answered questions about the work or related to one of the readings.

History—Groups of students worked with selected images relating to campus protest and student activism. The class was asked to use the photos to tell a story about social protest and justice. Through this assignment, they learned how to interpret, evaluate, and use images; and prepared a joint narrative from the images.

Fine Arts—Members of a printmaking course visited Archives to examine printing techniques up close. These students enjoyed having hands-on access to Japanese woodblock prints, dating to the 17th through the 20th centuries, from the Spinks Collection.

Students in Archives reviewing primary source materials
Students in Archives reviewing primary source materials
Students in Archives reviewing primary source materials

Undergrad Research Awards

The Library is pleased to announce the winners of the 2015 University Library Prizes for Outstanding Undergraduate and College Writing Research Papers and Projects. A $1,000 prize was awarded in each of two categories: American University Library Prize for Best College Writing Research Paper and American University Library Prize for Best Undergraduate Research Paper. The purpose of the prizes is to recognize and award American University undergraduate students who make extensive use of the University Library’s collections and show evidence of critical analysis in their research skills, including locating, selecting, evaluating, and synthesizing information.

The 2015 winner of the American University Library Prize for Best College Writing Research Paper was Nicole Woolcock who was recognized for her paper, Gettin’ Hitched among the Hay Stacks: Barn Weddings as a Manifestation of American Attitudes toward Marriage and Tradition. In the essay describing her research and writing process that accompanied her research paper, Nicole singled out library faculty member Alex Hodges for his guidance and helpfulness in developing her information literacy skills. Honorable Mention in this category went to Ryan Gyukeri, for his paper, The Riddle of Rhodesia: Great Zimbabwe’s Troublesome Identity. Ryan now has the distinction of being the only two-time winner in the history of the competition. In 2014, his paper won first place in the College Writing category.

Alex Greco won the American University Library Prize for Best Undergraduate Research Paper. His paper, The Reflective Mirror: Memory and Identity in Documentaries of the Southern Cone, is a paper originally submitted in Spanish, which he subsequently translated for the competition. An Honorable Mention in this category went to Hanna Cody for her research paper, Goddesses, Mothers, and Comrades: The PKK and Women’s Rights Activism in Kurdish Turkey, which reflected Hanna’s study abroad experience and interests.

Nearly twenty students received recommendations from their faculty sponsors and submitted essays about their research process as well as their papers. A team of librarians and faculty reviewed the papers, assessing them against the following criteria:

  • Substantial use of library resources and collections in any format, including but not limited to printed resources, databases, primary resources, and materials in all media;
  • Ability to locate, select, evaluate, and synthesize library resources and to use them in the creation of a project that shows originality and/or has the potential to lead to original research in the future;
  • Evidence of significant personal learning and the development of a habit of research and inquiry that shows the likelihood of persisting in the future; and
  • Originality of thought, mastery of content appropriate to class level, clear writing, and a high quality of presentation.

Reviewers agreed that the caliber of the papers was very high and the selection process was a challenging one. Winners were honored at an awards ceremony and luncheon in the Library on April 28.

Bowles Award

The 2015 winner of the Vincenza and W. Donald Bowles Endowment Award for the Study of Productivity, Income and Poverty in the United States is Maria Rose Belding. Belding is a freshman majoring in Public Health, and is also a hunger advocate and social justice writer. She is the author of more than a dozen nationally published pieces on food security and poverty and has spoken on those issues in three states. Her work has earned her recognition from the Sodexo Foundation, Prudential Spirit of Community Awards and the White House with a President's Volunteer Service award in 2014. This is the first time an undergraduate student has won the Vincenza and W. Donald Bowles Endowment Award.

Belding is being recognized for her ambitious work as the founder and director of a communication network for food banks across the U.S. She is a part of the team that developed the Matching Needs and Access for Stability (MEANS) Database, “a program designed to connect those who have too much with those facing shortage.” The MEANS Database will be used by food banks to share information about scarcity and excesses of particular foods, in order to more efficiently feed people and reduce waste. The MEANS database recently won a significant business plan competition at George Washington University.

The Vincenza and W. Donald Bowles Endowment was established by Professor Emeritus Donald Bowles to support an undergraduate or graduate student conducting research or other scholarly or artistic efforts to understand the relationships between productivity, income, and poverty in the United States. In Dr. Bowles’ own words: “Widening income disparities and deep inequalities of wealth holdings highlight a classic source of friction in our democratic republic—namely, the need for continual reassessment of balancing collective government efforts to improve the human condition relative to private efforts toward the same end. How to achieve this appropriate balance is a question dating to our very founding as a nation.”

The importance of this program may be best summed up in the language used by Belding in her application for this award:

Hunger has immense sociopolitical implications and devastating individual consequences. Food insecurity is directly related to some of the most pressing public health issues of our time, including obesity, type two diabetes, and mental illness. As a pre-med student who spends much time working with vulnerable populations, I cannot stand by and watch a very solvable problem damage communities already marred by crises. The only way for these nonprofits to talk to each other is to either call each other individually or join a massive chain email. We can and should do better, especially when one in six Americans is food insecure. MEANS stands for Matching Excess And Need for Stability, and it is an online database system designed to bring interagency communication into the 21st century. We often explain MEANS as a program designed to connect those who have too much with those facing shortage. The “new and improved” MEANS, scheduled for a DC release in February/March of 2015, will also connect corporate donors to emergency feeding systems, map out all participating Emergency Food Services (EFSs) for public access and have the capacity to replace systems’ internal inventory computer programs.

As ever, the applications for the award were truly outstanding and represented a wide range of disciplines and research concepts. The panel of faculty judges was happy to witness firsthand the high level of scholarship, creativity, and interest in social justice exhibited by the participating American University students. Receiving so many excellent submissions each year for this award is a testament to the caliber of the student body. The American University Library was pleased to have such a strong pool of applicants and is delighted to recognize Maria Rose Belding as the 2014 recipient.

This year’s awards were coordinated by Media Librarian Chris Lewis and the judges were Nikhat Ghouse, Social Sciences Librarian, Olivia Ivey, Public Affairs Librarian, Thomas Husted, Professor in the Department of Economics, and Derek Hyra, Associate Professor in Department of Public Administration and Policy.

Nicole Woolcock, 2015 winner of the American University Library Prize for Best College Writing Research Paper
Nicole Woolcock, Ryan Gyukeri, Maria Rose Belding, and Alex Greco

Student Support Activities

55% of undergraduate students and 35% of graduate students use the Library building weekly or more. Each day, more than 3,000 users enter the building, seeking research materials, study space, and Library services. When surveyed, AU students report satisfaction with our customer service, collections, and research assistance. Every year, the Library adds more services and materials—and actively seeks opportunities to share information about these additions and changes with the student body.

General Education Textbooks on Reserves

Student usage of the General Education textbooks in our Reserves collection continues rise. This program offers AU students free access to expensive textbooks for nearly 2,000 courses, and the response is overwhelmingly positive. This year 10,981 items were borrowed and the five most borrowed books were all science textbooks costing $100–$200. Overall, this service saved the student body over $750,000 in book purchases.

Large Format Poster Printing

As students are now required to do more posters and presentations, and we provide the expertise and equipment to make them successful, we’ve seen an uptick in student use. Over the course of the spring 2015 semester, more than 500 large-format posters were printed by the Technology Services unit. This makes for a 71% increase in usage from last spring!

Golden Ticket

During Finals Week, Library personnel regularly walked through the building, handing out granola bars to students. The bars had been wrapped with labels highlighting specific services, functions, and resources that benefit students. There were also five “golden tickets” inserted in the labels that students could find to win a Library branded bag and t-shirt. The students responded with excitement about the prizes and snacks, and gave the Library an excellent opportunity to promote key services.

Final Perk

Each semester, the Library hosts the Final Perk, AU's largest all-campus study break. More than 700 students attended each of these hugely popular events.

Final Perk Fall 2014—Political Perk

Politics is part of everyday life in Washington, DC, and we celebrated the end of the semester with an election-themed Final Perk. Students waved miniature American flags, made “campaign” buttons, and savored coffee and cookies amidst the patriotic decorations.

Final Perk Spring 2015—Perk Premiere

This spring, we rolled out the red carpet for Perk Premiere, transforming the patio in front of the Library into a movie premiere-themed study break party. Students enjoyed walking the red carpet, posing for pictures in the photo booth with cardboard cut-outs of popular celebrities, answering movie trivia, and perking back up with refreshments.

Students lining up for the Library’s study break, the Final Perk.
Students lining up for the Library’s study break, the Final Perk.

Q&A with New Alumnae, Nicole Tanoue

Nicole Tanoue
Nicole Tanoue, Employee Engagement Intern at Edelman

This newly graduated AU alum made her way from Hawaii to DC in order to study Public Relations & Strategic Communications and Studio Art. Nicole applied her artistic talents to graphic design work as an undergrad and now works in the communications industry at a leading PR firm.

AU Connection:

Nicole has a BA in Public Communication and Studio Art and worked as a graphic design assistant at the Library while in school.

How did you use the Library in your role as a student?

The Library was the only spot on campus where I could get a lot of work done. To look around and see that everyone nearby was also studying hard—that was so motivating.

What resource was most critical to your success as a student?

At the beginning of each semester, the Library offers ‘how-to’ classes on research. After taking one of these courses, I knew how to use all of the different tools and resources on the website.

What are your proudest accomplishments?

Coming to AU is one of my proudest accomplishments. Growing up in Hawaii and then moving all the way to DC took me way out of my comfort zone, but it was an amazing experience to find my place in a new city and in college—and to connect with new people.

Describe your personal productivity formula for getting research done at the Library:

The key is finding an ideal spot: somewhere near a window and an outlet. I work better studying alongside classmates, because you’re all in it together!

How do you apply your research skills to the rest of your life?

I use them every day! The skills that I learned as a student have helped me to transition to a work environment and to acclimate to an office culture. Outside of work, research comes in handy all the time. Finding an affordable apartment in DC was a challenge and I put those skills to use.

Explain the importance of supporting our Library:

Library resources make a big difference for students, because they directly impact your ability to do well. Especially for college students with limited resources, being able to borrow laptops and textbooks helps to keep a university education within reach. Having that supportive environment is an important part of helping students be successful.

Exploring Social Justice

Screening of Red Lines
Andrea Kalin's screening of Red Lines
Reed Brody, Counsel and Spokesperson for Human Rights Watch
Reed Brody, Counsel and Spokesperson for Human Rights Watch

This year, for the first time ever, the American University Library received a grant for programming, which allowed us to introduce the Exploring Social Justice (ESJ) Series. The Fetzer Institute, whose mission is to “foster awareness of the power of love and forgiveness in the emerging global community,” supported the development of this series. Co-sponsored by the American University Library and the Kay Spiritual Life Center, the ESJ series brought exemplary leaders from diverse backgrounds to the AU campus, where they shared their stories of love and forgiveness in action around the world. Each of these speakers had personal, profound experiences with injustice and have demonstrated the capacity to forgive and to live the rest of their lives committed to advocate within their spheres of influence. In order to make these presentations as inclusive and available as possible, every one of the ESJ events was free and open to the public.

The first installation in this series was Images of Forgiveness, a thought-provoking collection of arresting pictures and personal narratives exploring forgiveness in the face of atrocity. This exhibit examined forgiveness as a healing process, a transition out of victimhood and, ultimately, a journey of hope by drawing together voices from around the globe. The Images of Forgiveness exhibit was in partnership with the Forgiveness Project, which uses real stories of victims and perpetrators to explore concepts of forgiveness, and to encourage people to consider alternatives to resentment, retaliation, and revenge.

That same month, the author of Dead Man Walking Sister Helen Prejean came to speak about her work as an activist in opposition to state executions. Sister Helen Prejean has been instrumental in sparking national dialogue on the death penalty and helping to shape the Catholic Church’s vigorous opposition to state executions. She travels around the world giving talks about her ministry.

Our next speaker was Reed Brody, Counsel and Spokesperson for Human Rights Watch. His work as lead counsel has been featured in four films, including The Dictator Hunter, and Brody is author of four Human Rights Watch reports on U.S. treatment of prisoners in the “war on terror” and a book Faut-il Juger George Bush? His work has been profiled in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, El País, and Le Monde.

AU alum Andrea Kalin spoke about her new film, Red Lines, for the ESJ series. An Emmy Award-Winning filmmaker and founder of Spark Media, she has worked in over 25 countries, from disaster zones to remote tropical rain forests, bringing gripping human stories to the screen. Kalin’s storytelling gifts have earned her more than 70 industry awards and accolades; including: a Prime Time Emmy, and Golden Globe and WGA nominations. One of the stars of Red Lines, Mouaz Moustafa, surprised the audience with a personal visit after the screening.

Deborah Drennan, Executive Director at Freedom House, visited AU to share her long history working for social justice. Freedom House was founded in Detroit in 1983 as a temporary shelter for those seeking legal asylum in the U.S. from political persecution in other countries. Freedom House is a micro-global community supporting each other’s journey through loss and tremendous personal challenge.

Father Narvaez was our final presenter for this year. A Consolata missionary priest, philosopher and sociologist graduate of Cambridge University in England and Harvard University, Narvaez worked for 10 years in the desert areas of East Africa (Kenya, Sudan, and Ethiopia) and 10 years in the Caguan and Putumayo (Colombian Amazonia). He is the Founder and current President of the Foundation for Reconciliation Institution.

Each event in this series was enthusiastically received by the AU students and faculty attending the ESJ series, and the success of this program set the groundwork for another year of inspiring speakers. For more information on upcoming ESJ programming, visit our website.

Food Day, April 17
Food Day, April 17 (1972)

Mission Statement

The University Library enables educational and research success by:

  • building collections and facilitating access to information across all formats;
  • teaching people how to locate, assess, and use information to meet their needs;
  • providing welcoming spaces that support a full range of intellectual endeavors.

Vision Statement

The American University Library will enable success for students and faculty in 3 key ways:

An academic and research destination that provides access to information and research tools, along with expert and personalized guidance through the entire research process, including complex, multi-disciplinary, and digital scholarship.

A community network connecting scholars regardless of location or program, and partnering with others on campus to provide the services and expertise needed by our students and faculty.

An inspiring place that provides inclusive, welcoming, and adaptable spaces, and is a center for innovative technology on campus. The facility is environmentally sustainable and is a beautiful and inspiring space within which the community is proud to study and work.

Support American University Library

Donations from Library supporters make it possible for us to provide crucial scholarly materials to the AU community. In our role as an academic and research destination and a center for innovation on campus, it is our responsibility to deliver access to cutting edge research, historical documents, classic works of philosophy and literature, and so much more. Your help makes that possible. Donor gifts also allow us to preserve and protect the history and legacy of AU, through the University Archives, as well as the rare books and manuscripts in our Special Collections. Our donors recognize the important role of the library in furthering the scholarship of American University and we are tremendously grateful to them for their support.

200th Anniversary of the Shot Heard Round the World
200th Anniversary of the Shot Heard Round the World

Dorothy A. and Charles A. Moore Jr. Japanese Woodblock Print Collection

Dorothy A. and Charles A. Moore Jr.
Dorothy and her late husband, Charles A. Moore Jr.

This collection contains Ukiyoe and Shin-hanga prints by a variety of artists including Chikanobu, Konubu Hasegawa, Utagawa Hiroshige, Kaoru Kawano, Kunichika, Kuniyoshi, Tomikichiro Tokuriki, Toyokuni, Utamaro, and Yoshitoshi. The prints feature bathing scenes, Kabuki performances, landscapes, the Meiji government, and samurai among other subjects.

Dorothy and Charles Moore began building their collection of Japanese prints when they moved to Tokyo upon graduating college. Charles served in the military and was stationed in Japan, initially in Tokyo, then in Fuji. During the 2 years that they spent in Japan, Dorothy taught at the school on the Air Force base and developed a cultural curriculum for the teachers there. As a part of this program, artists were invited to the base and the group of teachers took field trips to see local craftspeople. Dorothy and Charles were captivated by the art and process of woodblock prints and, over time, developed a remarkable collection.

“It is very important to develop an appreciation of other cultures, and I believe that this is the value of arts and libraries. Woodblock prints depict history, telling the viewer about the time in which they were created and the feelings and emotions of the artist.”

For Dorothy, “these prints bring back such strong memories—art is a truly universal language that withstands both war and peace.” When she and Charles attended an exhibition of woodblock prints from the University Archives, held at the Katzen Art Center, they knew that the AU Library would be the right home for their precious collection. “It is very important to develop an appreciation of other cultures, and I believe that this is the value of arts and libraries. Woodblock prints depict history, telling the viewer about the time in which they were created and the feelings and emotions of the artist.”

Cherry-blossom Viewing: Women of the Bunsei Era (1893) by Mizuno Toshikata from the Dorothy A. and Charles A. Moore Jr. Woodblock Print Collection
Cherry-blossom Viewing: Women of the Bunsei Era (1893) by Mizuno Toshikata from the Dorothy A. and Charles A. Moore Jr. Woodblock Print Collection

The Dorothy A. and Charles A. Moore Jr. Japanese Woodblock Print Collection strengthens and deepens the Library’s existing collection of Japanese art, building on our assemblage of works from the 17th through 20th centuries, including work of Japanese Ukiyo-e artists Hiroshige and Hokusai as well was examples of Sogoruku board games. This beautiful collection will be enjoyed by researchers and fine arts students alike.

University Library Council

Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter. —Thomas Jefferson
The Peoples Bicentennial Commission Poster

It is with deep gratitude and appreciation that we recognize the time, talent, and dedication of the University Library Council. This extraordinary group works closely with the University Librarian to advocate and promote a greater awareness of the Library’s mission to the American University community of alumni, parents, and friends. Through their commitment and support, council members help the Library achieve its three part vision of connecting scholars to a community network, to being an academic and research destination, and to being an inspiring place.

Council Members:

J. Clark Armitage ’87

William F. Causey ’71

Barbara Fahs Charles

Alison Dingwall ’00

Donald Hester ’64

Ann L. Kerwin ’71

Sherry L. Levitt ’71, MA ’74

Steve Livengood* ’68

Robert Newlen MA ’79

Priscilla I. Pagano ’65

Kate M. Perrin ’73, MA ’81

Arthur J. Rothkopf

Robin Berk Seitz MA ’95

Roberta Shaffer*

Ann Marie Sharratt ’99

Allan J. Stypeck ’72

Diana L. Vogelsong MA ’81

*American University Library would like to welcome new council members for academic year 2015–16.

Q&A with Library staff member, Donna Femenella

Donna Femenella
Donna Femenella, Reserves Coordinator

A member of the AU community for more than 15 years, Donna first started her career at the AU Library as an undergraduate student worker. Today, she manages the Course Reserves Desk, supervising a team of student personnel.

AU Connection:

Donna has a BA in International Development and an MA in Economics, both from AU, and has worked at the Library since 2000.

How did you use the Library in your role as a student?

In both my undergraduate and graduate programs, I relied heavily on the Library’s collection of databases. The electronic resources helped me to locate all of the sources I needed for research papers.

How do you use the Library today?

AU personnel and alumni are able to borrow books from the collection, which is a great perk. My book club recently selected The Art of the Personal Essay: An Anthology from the Classical Era to the Present by Phillip Lopate and I was able to find a copy at the Library.

What surprised you about working at the AU Library?

Working with students is a rewarding experience; I have the opportunity to see students develop and grow over the course of their college career and get to be a part of that growth, helping them transition from university to the professional world. Some of my former student workers stay in touch and I love hearing about their successes and milestones.

How do you apply your research skills to the rest of your life?

Anymore, the biggest challenge in research is narrowing down the vast amount of available information. Working at the Library taught me to consider sources with a critical eye and gave me a better understanding of how to effectively use search terms. These days, I use those skills anytime I want to learn more about a topic, from training for a triathlon to planning a vacation.

Explain the importance of supporting our Library:

When I first arrived on campus, the Library became my home away from home, providing me with a place to get away from distractions and study—and a sense of community and belonging here at AU. Supporting the Library is the best way to ensure that students have an open, welcoming space to study and research.

Fund Descriptions

University Librarian Visionary Fund

Gifts to the University Librarian Visionary Fund supports critical projects to address space needs and to leverage innovation opportunities. Donations to this fund may also be used to further enhance spaces like the Research Commons, and to create both quiet and collaborative study spaces.

Special Collections Fund

Gifts to the Special Collections Fund support the ongoing work of conservation and make it possible for our Archives and Special Collections department to continue to provide students, researchers, and the public with access to historical and significant works.

Technology Innovation Fund

Gifts to the Technology Innovation Fund support student-centered programming and library enhancements that incorporate the innovative use of technology.

Eagle Digitization Fund

Gifts to the Eagle Digitization Fund allow the library to digitize AU’s student newspaper, The Eagle, from its earliest issue in 1925 through 2009.

A Celebration of Preservation Event

Diversity Alliance Residency Program

This collaborative effort between the Libraries of American University, University of Iowa, Virginia Tech, and West Virginia University came about as a means of mentoring and establishing professional networks for early-career librarians. The purpose of the residency program at the American University Library is to bring diverse entry-level librarians into the profession, engaging them in professional learning and service and, ultimately, preparing them for a career in academic librarianship.

The Libraries Residency Program offers an early career librarian an intensive three-year exposure to the various aspects of professional work within an academic library and a broad-based opportunity to begin a career in academic librarianship. In supporting the Libraries’ and the University’s commitment to achieving a culturally diverse faculty, the Resident will, over a three-year period, experience a minimum of three areas of librarianship and develop a specialization in one area. Residents will work closely with mentors throughout the Library to develop skills and an understanding of academic librarianship as a whole through the introduction to the different functional areas of the Library. The Residency Program will be tailored to reflect the successful candidate’s personal interests and long-term career goals.

The resident will also begin actively participating in Library committees, councils, and task forces. Residents will be expected to attend national and regional professional conferences related to their area of interest and specialization. The resident will also participate in program related activities and communicate with peer cohorts.

The overarching goal is to provide a broad range of experiences working in an academic environment with exposure to research and scholarship. Together, the Alliance will help to build a foundation for successful career development opportunities as well as strongly support inclusion and diversity initiatives.

Diversity Alliance for Academic Librarianship

Looking Forward

The American University Library was very pleased to announce the appointment and arrival of Quetzalli Barrientos as Resident Librarian for American University Library, as of July 2015. Ms. Barrientos holds a B.A. in English-Publishing Sequence from Illinois State University and an MLIS from the University of Illinois. Since August, 2013, Ms. Barrientos has been a graduate assistant with the Undergraduate and International and Area Studies Libraries at the University of Illinois. Her background in the International and Area Studies Library will be beneficial in supporting international students as well as those students studying within the School of International Service.

Colloquium on Scholarly Communication

The American University Library’s Colloquium on Scholarly Communication (CSC) features experts from both American University and the larger academic community presenting on challenges for academia in the twenty-first century. The Colloquia encompass a variety of topics that present challenges and opportunities to scholars and scholarly institutions, from the complexities of open access publishing to methods of cultural preservation in a digital-first age. Small-group presentations allow faculty and administrators from all disciplines and levels to engage with speakers regarding these key issues shaping the University’s future.

The 2014-2015 events attracted experts in fields ranging from research in the digital age to improving accessibility of education for students from different economic backgrounds. The following summary of this season illustrates the diverse and intriguing range of topics.

Improving Openness and Reproducibility in Scientific Research

Andrew Sallans, lead on Partnerships, Collaborations, and Funding with the Center for Open Science

In an increasingly electronic-driven research environment, issues of open access and collaboration are more important than ever. Sallans led a discussion about the specific strategies that Center for Open Science employs to support open access research with greater transparency and integrity.

Persistent Identifiers for People, Places, and Things in Scholarly Communications

Laurel L. Haak, PhD, Executive Director of ORCID

Director of a community-based non-profit organization dedicated to connecting research and researchers by providing a registry of unique and persistent personal identifiers, Haak discussed how persistent identifiers are used in regards to research and scholars.

Beyond Bibliometrics: Libraries, Academia and the Future of Scholarly Impact

Rachel Borchardt, Science Librarian at American University
Robin Chin Roemer, Instructional Design & Outreach Services Librarian at the University of Washington

In this practical talk, Borchardt and Chin Roemer reviewed the history, trends, and controversies surrounding the use of research metrics for purposes of evaluation, promotion, and funding.

Big Data, Big Copyright

James Grimmelmann, Professor of Law, University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law

This talk covered recent and ongoing litigation involving changing uses of copyrighted work, offering some thoughts about the age of massive digital databases and the challenge that they pose to the basic precepts of the copyright system.

Open Textbooks: Improving Access, Affordability, and Academic Success

David Ernst, Chief Information Officer in the College of Education and Human Development at the University of Minnesota

Ernst described the efforts of the University of Minnesota’s Open Textbook Initiative to improve college access, affordability, and academic success by helping institutions and faculty overcome barriers to adoption of open textbooks, full, real textbooks that are licensed to be freely used, edited, and distributed.

This upcoming year will feature more experts from the national academic community presenting on challenges for academia in the twenty-first century. For more information on upcoming presentations, visit our website.

Q&A with Librarian, Nikhat Ghouse

Nikhat Ghouse
Nikhat Ghouse, Social Sciences Librarian

A librarian and part-time graduate student, with 15 years of experience in academic libraries, Nikhat’s passion for helping people attracted her to the field of librarianship.

AU Connection:

In addition to working as the Social Sciences Librarian for the College of Arts & Science, the School of Professional & Extended Studies, and the Department of Health Studies, Nikhat is an Organizational Development MS Candidate, in the School of Public Affairs.

What are your proudest accomplishments?

Earning my master’s degree in Library Science is at the top of the list. In 2011, I was one of eighteen fellows selected for the Association of Research Libraries’ Leadership & Career Development Program for mid-career librarians. This fellowship sparked my interest to return to graduate school.

Describe your personal productivity formula for getting research done at the Library:

I do most of my research from home, thanks to all of the great electronic resources available through the Library website, especially the subject specific databases. When I am getting ready to write research papers, I unplug the TV, go to my makeshift standing desk, and allow my books and articles to take over the dining room table. Late night studying and writing is no longer my speed, but I can be pretty effective writing in the early morning to meet paper deadlines.

How do you apply your research skills to the rest of your life?

Being a librarian has taught me how to really dig into an overload of information. Whether I am helping one of my classmates find material for a class paper or looking into credible reviews for my own purchases, I can’t say no to the challenge of research.

What surprised you about the AU Library?

I was surprised and impressed by the value placed on work-life balance at AU Library. This is by far one of the most collegial places I’ve worked and I am very grateful for that.

Explain the importance of supporting our Library:

The Library is the heart of campus. We aren’t just a study space, we’re a second home for students, a reflective space where students can internalize the knowledge that they are beginning to master in the classroom.

Programming Highlights

Books That Shaped America

Once again, this series brought together members of the AU and Washington, D.C. communities to discuss selected texts from the Library of Congress’s “Books That Shaped America” list, provoking illuminating conversation about the importance of books to individuals and society.

The BTSA series at American University helps to facilitate that conversation. Each text is selected by an AU faculty member who volunteers to lead a dialogue about that work. Because discussion leaders and audience members come from a wide variety of backgrounds, each event in the series is unique.

Last fall, Jonathan Tubman, Vice Provost for Research & Dean of Graduate Studies, discussed Sexual Behavior in the Human Male by Alfred Kinsey. Lewis Grossman, Professor at the Washington College of Law, Affiliate Professor of History, reprised a conversation about The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving, first given in October 2013. Timothy Staples, Assistant Director of Training and Leadership Development for Housing and Dining Programs, led a dialog about A Street In Bronzeville by Gwendolyn Brooks. Michael Manson, Director for the University Honors Program, conversed on New Hampshire by Robert Frost.

Over this past winter, Erik Dussere, Associate Professor in the Department of Literature, considered Red Harvest by Dashiell Hammett. Keith Leonard, Associate Professor in the Department of Literature, presented on Beloved by Toni Morrison. Richard Wilson, Professor and Director of the International Human Rights Law Clinic at the Washington College of Law, led a discussion of Common Sense by Thomas Paine.

During the spring, Marianne Noble, Associate Professor in the Department of Literature, led a discussion about Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman. Mary Clark, Interim Dean of Academic Affairs, Senior Vice Provost, and Professor at the Washington College of Law, discussed Family Limitation by Margaret Sanger. Karl Kippola, Assistant Professor in the Department of Performing Arts, conversed about The Iceman Cometh by Eugene O'Neill.

For this coming year, the theme of BTSA is ‘Revisiting Old Favorites’—From childhood classics, to books you may have studied in high school, and those you continue to reread in adulthood, we are exploring familiar works that resonate with everyone in this year's series. For more information about upcoming speakers, visit our website.

Larissa Gerstel Symposium on Critical Literacy

The Larissa Gerstel Symposium on Critical Literacy was held in conjunction with the School of Education, Teaching, and Health (SETH) in March 2015. This symposium was moderated by Dr. Anastasia Snelling, Dean of the School of Education and Department Chair for Health Studies. Panelists included Ellen Langhans of the US Department of Health and Human Services, Elizabeth Cotter a Professorial Lecturer in SETH, and LeJanika Green, a Health Educator with Wilson Senior High School.

The panel covered topics such as the definition of health literacy and health information, how health literacy relates broadly to human development, how communities access health information, and how health literacy connects to what is taught in schools.

Research in Progress

These events showcase research from across the American University community, with a special emphasis on innovative or multidisciplinary approaches, as well as initiatives from AU 2030.

AU 2030 identifies and promotes work in groundbreaking areas of scholarly exploration with a special emphasis on cross-disciplinary and emerging fields. Events hosted by the Library spotlight projects included in this initiative. Project leaders discuss the inspiration and vision for their projects.

In October, the Library and the Center for Health, Risk, and Society co-sponsored a panel presentation that discussed approaches to public health that AU researchers have taken. Moderated by Kim Blankenship, Chair of the Department of Sociology and Director of the Center on Health, Risk, and Society, the panel included perspectives from Daniel Esser, Assistant Professor in the School of International Service, Sonya Grier, Associate Professor in the Kogod School of Business, and Anastasia Snelling, Associate Dean, School of Education, Teaching and Health. Topics ranged from food marketing in “food deserts” to school lunch programs.

In April, a panel featuring Derek Hyra, Associate Professor in the Department of Public Administration and Policy and Director of the Metropolitan Policy Center, Michael Bader, Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology, Malini Ranganathan, Assistant Professor in the School of International Service, and Bradley Hardy, Assistant Professor of Public Administration and Policy, discussed the topic of “Advancing Urban Research at AU: The Metropolitan Policy Center.”

For more information on future programming, visit our website.

Lewis Grossman (WCL) presenting on The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving
Books that Shaped America: Lewis Grossman (WCL) presenting on The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving
Larissa Gerstel's family and Symposium panelests
Larissa Gerstel's family and Symposium panelests
Panel presentation discussing the approaches to public health that AU researchers have taken.
Research in Progress: Panel presentation discussing the approaches to public health that AU researchers have taken.
4th of July 1976
4th of July 1976

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