At the American University Library, we are in the unique position of planning for the future, while preserving the history of our institution.
Part of looking forward involves keeping AU green with our hybrid Annual Report. As with last year, the digital version of this report is more extensive and the abridged paper component is printed on 100% post-consumer recycled paper. In addition to issues of sustainability, the Library is continuing to respond to shifting student interests and demographics by emphasizing social justice, diversity, and inclusion in our collection strategy, and in our programming.
The use of Library space continues to evolve in this digital age, as research materials are increasingly available online and the growing student body seeks new kinds of spaces for study and collaboration. We are addressing these developments by reconsidering our physical space and its arrangement and I look forward to embarking on this process and sharing these ideas with our supporters.
Regarding the preservation of history, we celebrated some marvelous new additions to our University Archives and Special Collections this past year.
Last fall, the Bill Gentile Photojournalism Collection was gifted to the Library. Professor Gentile, an independent journalist and documentary filmmaker, donated his remarkable photographic collection to the University Archives. Gentile introduced the term ‘backpack journalism’ to the School of Communication in 2007, as he trained future film and documentary makers on his methodology. His practice of ‘backpack journalism’ involves stuffing a backpack with as much photography equipment as you can carry (along with a very few clothes) and heading into danger—documenting as you go. The Library held a reception to honor this gift, at which Gentile spoke about the historical significance of these photographs and students’ use of this collection.
In the spring, we held a ‘Celebration of the Dorothy A. and Charles A. Moore Jr. Japanese Woodblock Print Collection.’ This was one of our most popular donor events. Dorothy Moore and her late husband, Charles, treasured this diverse collection of Japanese woodblock prints. The Moores generously donated forty-eight prints that depict Japanese history and culture. Artist and Professorial Lecturer Naoko Wowsugi chose a selection of woodblock prints from the collection and explained their historical context.
We could not accomplish so much without the tireless enthusiasm and encouragement received from you, our Library supporters. I extend a heartfelt thanks for all that you do and invite you to continue sharing in our achievements and growth.
University Librarian, American University
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.
These three archive sets significantly broaden AU’s online access to global business and economic data. With more than 1,000 students, our highly ranked Kogod School of Business emphasizes rigorous research, real-world experience, and a global perspective. This resource will be a tremendous asset for these programs, as well as for students studying a variety of other disciplines from International Economic Policy to Organizational Development.
Founded in 1892, the Afro-American is the oldest existing black owned and operated newspaper in the country. This database providing full-text coverage of this important regional resource from its first issue through 1988, was requested by members of the History faculty. This database was made possible by the Class of ’32 and Roger Brown gift funds.
This collection includes documentaries and feature films that may be useful for students and faculty of all disciplines. Offering recorded college-level lectures from Great Courses, educational social justice films and documentaries from California Newsreel, influential classic and contemporary films from the Criterion Collection, as well as the art house, world cinema, and often elusive films released by Kino Lorber, this rich film library is an important new resource.
Increased interest in local-level U.S. research led the AU Library to expand our regional statistical offerings. Local Stats adds comparable data across all 50 states from U.S. counties, cities, and metropolitan statistical areas across 3,500 data series topics relevant to the social sciences, and supporting a broad range of disciplines.
Six new collections from this vital primary source database consisting of declassified documents, including modules on CIA covert operations and Korea, were purchased this past academic year. This resource is a terrific asset for scholars in fields such as Anthropology, Political Science, Sociology, and Journalism.
Bill Gentile defines the term ‘backpack journalism.’ His approach: fill a backpack with as much equipment as you can carry, go into harm’s way and document what you observe, get out alive and tell the story. This past October, Gentile, an independent journalist and documentary filmmaker, donated his incredible photographic collection to the University Archives at American University Library.
The Bill Gentile Photojournalism Collection (1983–2002) is comprised of images from Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, and Peru. These photos document scenes of daily life, as well as moments of crisis, such as natural disasters and periods of political turmoil. This collection includes photographs from his book, Nicaragua, which won the Overseas Press Club Award for Excellence.
Gentile's career began in 1977. He worked as a reporter for the Mexico City News and for United Press International, before going on to a position as Newsweek Magazine's contract photographer for Latin America and the Caribbean. Over the course of this exciting career, he covered the 1979 Sandinista Revolution in Nicaragua, the United States-backed Contra War in Nicaragua, the Salvadoran Civil War in the 1980s, the United States invasion of Panama, the 1994 invasion of Haiti, the ongoing conflict with Cuba, the 1990–91 Persian Gulf War, and the subsequent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
In 2007, Gentile introduced the idea of ‘backpack journalism’ to American University. As an instructor in the School of Communication, Gentile trains future film and documentary makers in the methodology that is a hallmark of his career. His enthusiasm as a teacher and mentor resonates with his students. Gentile even accompanied AU Abroad students on a trip to Cuba, during which he produced a ‘backpack journalism’ video for Time Magazine.
This collection is a tremendous addition to the University Archives; a resource that will support the work of students, faculty, and researchers in a range of disciplines, from journalism to history to international relations.
A student can spend as much as $1,200 each year on textbooks, and the newest edition of Nicholson’s Intermediate Microeconomics alone costs over $300. The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Consumer Price Index data shows that the prices of a textbook are 82 percent higher than they were in 2002, while the overall consumer price inflation has increased by only 28 percent. Students are asked to spend more each year on their reading materials for school, putting college even further out of reach for some.
Traditionally, Course Reserves held a passive role in connecting students to their course materials by waiting for professors to submit requests. Realizing that more could be done, the American University Library Course Reserves unit responding proactively, reaching out to professors to ask for their syllabi and encouraging students to submit course material requests on behalf of their professor. In 2009, the Library took an even more active role in these efforts, pledging to aid students with the rising costs of obtaining a college education. By that fall, the Library started an initiative that placed on reserve at least one copy of all required books for the University’s ‘General Education (Gen Ed) Textbook Initiative,’ procuring 435 texts, which circulated 2,639 times. The following spring 2010 semester, an additional 449 texts were acquired and circulated 3,458 times. Overall, the introduction of the Gen Ed texts increased the reserves circulation by 54 percent. Due to the 2 hour loan period of the books and public scanners allowing for the free transfer of specific chapters to an individual’s email, we increased the availability of these materials to students and saw the circulation numbers continue to grow.
After 6 years of building on the success of the ‘Gen Ed Initiative’, the Library shifted its focus to ensuring that students had access to the most expensive books required for their coursework. In 2015, the Library introduced the ‘$150+ Textbook Initiative.’ Library personnel compiled a list of all required texts that cost $150 or more from the campus store and then assessed which items the Library already owned and which needed to be purchased. Acquiring these resources meant that graduate students and students taking 300 or 400 level courses now had the opportunity to freely use textbooks that may have otherwise been prohibitively expensive.
Through the efforts of the teaching faculty, the ‘General Education’ and ‘$150+ Textbook’ initiatives, the course reserves staff was able to make available 1,500 of the required textbooks for the fall 2015 and spring 2016 semesters—comprising more than 50 percent of the complete listing of required textbooks for those same semesters. Now, the Library is working toward making available the rest of these costly textbooks on reserve. The cost of acquiring the remaining required materials is $50,000. As we look to the future, the Library continues to assess the situation and respond to the economic needs of our student body, and we hope that our supporters will contribute to our efforts.
The Library is pleased to announce the winners of the 7th Annual University Library Prizes for Outstanding Undergraduate and College Writing Research Papers and Projects. A $1000 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.
This initiative supports the university’s strategic direction by enhancing the undergraduate education experience through an emphasis on integrated inquiry-based learning. The University Library recognizes and awards American University undergraduate students who make extensive use of the Library’s collections and show evidence of critical analysis in their research skills, including locating, selecting, evaluating, and synthesizing information. Each year in April, the winners are invited to an awards ceremony and luncheon in honor of their achievement.
The winner of the 2016 University Library Prize for Best Undergraduate Research Paper or Project this year was Matt Waskiewicz for his paper Youth Suffrage as a Catalyst for Civic Engagement. In this work, Waskiewicz employed information from neurobiology and adolescent psychology to argue that the national voting age should be lowered to 16. Honorable Mention in this category went to Kaitlyn Ross for her paper They Just Kept Rolling: A Study on the Media’s Effect on the Legacy of Newsreel Cameramen in the Silent Era, which offered a historical perspective on news media.
The winner of the 2016 University Library Prize for Best College Writing Paper or Project was Ruti Ejanque, for her paper Why Can’t She Also Wear Everything?: The Hijab as a Symbol of Female Empowerment. In addition to producing an impressive paper, Ejanque composed an 8-page annotated bibliography for this research project, a document she used to elaborate and complicate her argument about the hijab rather than merely catalogue sources. An Honorable Mention in this category went to Hannah Grace Arnpriester for her paper The Silver Linings of Social Capital, which analyzed the film Silver Linings Playbook through several theoretical lenses.
A team of librarians and faculty reviewed the papers, assessing them against the following criteria:
Quetzalli Barrientos, Resident Librarian
Melissa Becher, Associate Director, Research, Teaching, and Learning; Art Librarian
Chuck Cox, College Writing Program
Christine Dulaney, Associate Director, Information Services
John Hyman, Director, College Writing Program
Olivia Ivey, School of Public Affairs Librarian
Stacey Marien, Head of Acquisitions
Sarah Marsh, College Writing Program
Susan Neilson, Associate Librarian Emerita, University Library
Alayne Mundt, Head of Cataloging and Resource Description Librarian
Gwendolyn Reece, Associate University Librarian and Director of Research, Teaching and Learning
Melissa Scholes-Young, Writing Instructor, Department of Literature
Richard Sha, Chair, Department of Literature
Diana Vogelsong, founding librarian of competition
Due to a blizzard last winter, AU was closed for four days in January. With the exception of one day during the worst of the storm, 24 Library employees kept the building open for students, providing a number of services, such as Blackboard support, Borrowing and Account Services, Course Reserves, the Graduate Research Center, Information Desk, Media Services, New Media Center, Printing Services, Technology Services, and online research help.
4,525 people came to the Library
241 films loaned
1,322 books borrowed
45 research-related questions answered online
83 laptops checked out
The winner of the 2015–16 W. Donald Bowles Award for the Study of Productivity, Income, and Poverty in the United States is Rebecca Lassman, a senior majoring in Economics and currently interning at the U.S. Department of Treasury Office of Economic Policy. Ms. Lassman is being recognized for her project on gaming revenue as a poverty reduction driver for Native American and Alaskan Native Tribes, living well below the poverty line. Her research involves conducting “historical case studies and quantitative data analysis of gaming revenue distribution policies compared to alternative welfare policies for poverty reduction and economic growth.”
The 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 and Ms. Lassman’s research may be more deeply understood through this excerpt from her report:
Many tribes see gaming policies as a driver of poverty reduction and economic development. A significant and growing portion of their annual revenues are generated by gaming. According to the GAO [Government Accountability Office], in 2013 Indian gaming revenue totaled $28 billion. Gaming sector policies also have wide reaching affects across U.S. Indian country as nearly half of the 566 federally recognized tribes have gaming operations spanning 28 states. The Indian Gaming Regulatory Act set requirements for net gaming revenue use, however tribes can decide how to allocate the funds within the parameters which include: government operations/programs, improving welfare (per capita payments), promoting economic development, charity donations and funding local government agencies.
The applications for the award were exceptional, representing a wide range of disciplines and research concepts. As ever, the American University Library is proud of the high level of scholarship, creativity, and interest in social justice exhibited by the participating American University students. The Library was pleased to have such an extraordinary and scholarly pool of applicants and is pleased to recognize Ms. Lassman as the 2015–16 recipient.
This year’s awards were coordinated by Social Sciences Librarian, Nikhat Ghouse, judging the applicants with Olivia Ivey, SPA Librarian, Thomas Husted, Professor in the Department of Economics, and Taryn Morrissey, Assistant Professor of Public Administration and Policy.
The Exploring Social Justice Series, a program cosponsored by the American University Library, the Center for Diversity & Inclusion, and the Kay Spiritual Life Center, brings to campus exemplary leaders from diverse backgrounds who have advocated for various human rights and social justice issues. All events in the series are free and open to the public.
Early in the fall semester, Alexander Moore, DC Central Kitchen's Chief Development Officer and author of The Food Fighters, shared more about the practical and philosophical struggles faced by an iconic organization as it took on a series of generational challenges. His presentation “Fighting for Food Justice in a Recession” explained how DC Central Kitchen, a front-line charity in the basement of a homeless shelter, turned the economic crisis of 2008 into a chance to develop some of the country's most respected social enterprise solutions to food injustice.
Melvina Ford came to campus in October to present “Testing: An Evidentiary Approach to Advancing Modern Civil Rights.” Ford, the Executive Director of the Equal Rights Center in Washington, DC, discussed how her organization uses civil rights testing–where "real people" are trained as testers and placed in situations to see how they are treated in comparison to someone else–to identify and remediate discriminatory practices.
In March, Women's Prison Association's Executive Director, Georgia Lerner participated in this series, presenting “Justice without Jails: Building Community-Based Alternatives to Incarceration for Criminal Justice-Involved Women.” Lerner spoke about the organization’s unique, home-based alternative to incarceration (ATI) program, JusticeHome, and how it differs from other common ATI models. Lerner identified the components of the JusticeHome model that help women achieve sobriety, increase family stability, and reduce the risk of recidivism, while avoiding incarceration and remaining in the community.
During the spring semester, we were also joined by Paul Butler, Professor of Law at Georgetown University. His April presentation, “Race, Violence, and the Police” centered on race relations, cutting edge law, sociology, and legal theory on race and crime. This important and timely discussion about race and crime post-Ferguson attracted an audience of enthusiastic and engaged students. The response to this presentation illustrates the need students have to explore these complex and emotional issues.
Each event in this series was well-attended by AU students, faculty, and community members, and the feedback received was overwhelming and positive. The success of this program set the groundwork for another year of inspiring speakers. For more information on upcoming ESJ programming, visit our website.
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.
American 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.
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.
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.
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
Ann Marie Sharratt ’99
Allan J. Stypeck ’72
Gifts to the University Librarian Visionary Fund finance critical projects to leverage innovation opportunities and to address space needs. Donations to this fund may also be used for innovation opportunities, to further enhance spaces like the Research Commons, and to create both quiet and collaborative study spaces.
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.
Gifts to the Technology Innovation Fund support student-centered programming and Library enhancements that incorporate the innovative use of technology.
Gifts to the Eagle Digitization Fund have allowed the Library to digitize AU’s student newspaper, The Eagle, from its earliest issue in 1925 through 2009.
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 2015–2016 events attracted experts in fields ranging from academic authorship to the digital humanities. The following summary of this season illustrates the diverse and intriguing range of topics.
This Just Got Meta: Bibliographic Description, Data Visualization, and Digital Humanities in Libraries
Jean Bauer, Associate Director of the Center for Digital Humanities at Princeton University, discussed the relationship between library catalog data, archival metadata, and digital humanities projects.
Library Technology Innovation: Building a Start-up in a Library
Kim Dulin, Library Innovation Lab Director at the Harvard Library Innovation Lab, addressed the creation of the lab, its growth, and the lessons learned from adapting to a start-up process in a traditional library setting.
Does Copyright Still Matter for Academic Authors?
Kevin Smith, Dean of the University of Kansas libraries, spoke on the topic of copyright law and academic authorship.
When Authors Rule: The Shifting Balance of Power in Scholarly Publishing
Chris Kenneally, Director of Business Development at Copyright Clearance Center, identified what lies behind the remarkable changes in publishing of the past 15 years, and what authors can do to harness these forces to their advantage.
All past presentations may be viewed via AU Library’s You Tube channel.
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.
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.
Alan Kraut, University Professor of History, discussed A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith, an early socially conscious novel that examines poverty, alcoholism, gender roles, loss of innocence and the struggle to live the American Dream in an inner city neighborhood of Irish American immigrants.
Daniel Whitman, Assistant Professor of Foreign Policy at the Washington Semester Program, spoke about Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston, a masterwork considered to have paved the way for younger black writers such as Alice Walker and Toni Morrison.
Childhood favorite, Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown was addressed by Dr. Vivian Maria Vasquez, Professor of Education. Vasquez specifically looked at ways that the book has circulated across the globe, as well as how the text may be read from a critical literacy perspective.
In celebration of Black History Month, Theresa Runstedtler, Associate Professor, Department of History, discussed The Autobiography of Malcolm X, a classic American autobiography that expressed for many African-Americans what the mainstream civil rights movement did not: their anger and frustration with the intractability of racial injustice.
Despina Kakoudaki, Associate Professor and Director, Humanities Lab, presented on Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell. The most popular romance novel of all time was the basis for the most popular movie of all time (in today's dollars). Set in the South during the Civil War, the book won both the Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award.
Another classic children’s book, The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats, was the subject of Curriculum Materials & Education Librarian Alex Hodges’ discussion. This work is the first full-color picture book with an African-American as the main character.
Marianne Noble, Associate Professor, Department of Literature, spoke about The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Once ranked by AU's faculty, staff, and students as their favorite book, the novel explores the themes of class, wealth and social status, Fitzgerald took a cynical look at the pursuit of wealth among a group of people for whom pleasure is the chief goal.
Recorded Books That Shaped America presentations may be viewed via AU Library’s YouTube channel.
For more information about upcoming speakers and topics, visit our events website.
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 AU Sustainability Collaborative Colloquium co-sponsored a panel presentation on climate change. This panel was moderated by Larry Engel, Associate Professor, School of Communication and included perspectives from David Bartlett, Executive in Residence in the Department of Management and Director of Global and Strategic Projects at the Kogod School of Business, Kiho Kim, Professor of Environmental Science in the College of Arts and Sciences, and Paul Wapner, Professor at the School of International Service.
In March, the Library and the AU Sustainability Collaborative Colloquium co-sponsored a panel presentation entitled ‘What is Sustainability? A Cross-Disciplinary Discussion,’ featuring Rebecca Dell, Adjunct Assistant Professor of Environmental Science in the College of Arts and Sciences, Daniel Fiorino, Distinguished Executive in Residence in the Department of Public Administration and Policy at the School of Public Affairs, and Sikina Jinnah and Simon Nicholson, both Assistant Professors in the School of International Service.
Recorded sessions of Research in Progress are available on AU Library’s YouTube channel.
For more information on future programming, visit our website.