Thoughts of a Special Collections Intern

[As told by Amanda Wentworth]: As someone who relatively recently became interested in the wonderful world of librarianship, it was not too long ago that the term “Special Collections” would’ve passed through the air over my head with no recognition and no further consideration. Mentioning it to people around me now inspires a similar reaction.

In fact, my general notions about librarianship were relatively limited. When I thought of a librarian, I thought of someone sitting at the front desk of a library to scan books out, filling shelves, answering reference questions, and so on. What I didn’t know was that this is a rich and diverse field of work that manifests itself in a wide range of career environments. Librarians are the backbone to a professional society that demands amassing and retrieving information, and its storage, organization, and cataloging. Meaning, schools and universities are not the only places you will ever find a librarian. Any place that has records or data that need tending likely has a librarian to do so, from law firms to medical research facilities; everything in our present world revolves around information, to which librarians are the custodians.

While the image of a librarian might even seem “old-school” to our tech-generation that lives and works digitally, the librarian is arguably more essential to our academic and professional society than ever. Librarianship is moving seamlessly into the digital world, and, in fact, dominates it in many instances. Here at Geneseo, our librarians are cyber-wizards; masters of online research, data retrieval, digital guides, and more. Right before the semester began, I stumbled upon this article, which highlights the importance of librarians in avoiding the largely political and social issues revolving around fake news, and inspired my pursuit of this field even more.

A section of Milne’s Special Collections

In light of this, and given my own interests, further exploring the greater domain of library science seemed natural to me. There are a few areas of study that I could have based my internship in, specifically research and instruction, and Special Collections. When considering which path I’d take initially I thought, why not start with the aspect of academic librarianship that is most unknown to me? And thus my internship with Milne’s Special Collections began.

Although I didn’t have any personal experience with the Special Collections prior to my internship, it didn’t take long for me to find out just how valuable and useful they are on our campus. Geneseo’s Special Collections include several distinct collections, many concerning unique facets of the local and college community, as well as the rare books collection known as the “X” Special Collection. During my time at this internship, I’ve seen students, professors, and alumni utilize this resource for both research and nostalgia. Thanks to the organization and accessibility of the collections, as well as the knowledge and know-how of the librarians that oversee it, most inquirers easily find what they’re looking for. This is an example of reference, which is a large part of any librarian’s job, and has been a hands-on and interesting part of my own internship experience.

Photo by Daniel Fink

My other responsibilities involve collection management, and have included sorting and taking inventory of new collections as well as additions to existing collections, and selecting items to be considered for accession to a collection. As mentioned, modern librarianship is largely focused on the digital, and how the digital world can connect others through the sharing of information. So, naturally, my internship would have to reflect this growing aspect of a librarian’s skills. I’ve had the opportunity to work with New York Heritage, a digital repository created to give easy, free access to digital collections from various libraries and other cultural organizations in New York State, to digitize a portion of a collection found in Milne’s Genesee Valley Historical Collection: a series of photographs taken by Daniel Fink collectively titled The Architecture of Livingston County. I selected the images, scanned them, and input the metadata for each into a digital management system called CONTENTdm so that it could be uploaded into the New York Heritage site, to join other collections that have been contributed by Milne Library. I have also been collaborating on an existing project that requires extensive metadata work in a CSV file for thousands of photographs in the College Archives, for import into an Omeka website.

It’s clear that librarians with digital and technical skills are currently in high demand as our society dives further and further into cyber-world, in desperate need for skilled navigators of the information landscape.

Walter Harding’s Life of Scholarship on Exhibit in Milne’s Lobby

hardingcomm002Milne Library invites you to view an exhibit dedicated to one of SUNY Geneseo’s most distinguished and influential professors, Dr. Walter Harding.  Harding, one of the world’s leading Thoreau scholars, was a member of the English Dept. faculty from 1956 to 1983 and in that time served as chairman of both the English department and the Division of Humanities.

The impact of Harding’s world-class scholarship and passion for Henry David Thoreau reached far beyond Geneseo, from campuses and auditoriums across the nation to Asia and Europe, where the U.S. State Dept. sent him to deliver a series of lectures on Thoreau and American literature. And, of course, the hundreds of articles and books he wrote or edited continue to enlighten and influence the world of Thoreau studies.

hardingcomm017The exhibit, located in Milne’s lobby, coincides with the annual Walter Harding Lecture to be delivered on Tuesday, Nov. 8 at 7:30 p.m. in the Doty Recital Hall. This year’s speaker is Elizabeth Witherell, editor-in-chief of The Writings of Henry D. Thoreau (aka the Thoreau Edition).  Walter Harding himself was the first editor-in-chief, from 1966 to 1972, of this monumental scholarly project. The exhibit will be on view through the end of the semester.

Dr. Walter Harding to be Subject of Exhibit


Dr. Walter Harding (1917-1996)

Library Intern Demi Monachino and Milne Library’s Special Collections Librarian, Liz Argentieri, are currently hard at work creating an exhibit dedicated to one of the college’s most distinguished and influential professors, Dr. Walter Harding, who was on the Geneseo faculty from 1956 to 1983. Dr. Harding was one of the world’s leading Thoreau scholars, and we find ourselves up to our elbows in the many essays, articles, and tributes he wrote centering on Henry David Thoreau (an original Transcendentalist and the author of Walden). Among all of these scholarly documents on Thoreau, however, we are also finding some truly amazing information on Dr. Harding himself.

This man, who accomplished so much in a lifetime and amassed one of the world’s largest collection of Thoreauviana, was a large influence on not just the Geneseo community, but the world. It is somewhat hard to believe that a professor from our small college town in western New York was sent to Japan by the State Department to teach Thoreau there, and received letters from the likes of President Jimmy Carter, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Albert Einstein, just to name a few. For us, Dr. Harding is truly starting to come alive once again through these testimonials and remnants of his legacy, found in our own Milne Library and in the Thoreau Society’s Walter Harding Collection at Walden Woods, where we’ll be visiting later this spring.

Walter Harding wrote the definitive biography of Thoreau

Walter Harding wrote the definitive biography of Henry David Thoreau

Image courtesy of the Thoreau Society

Image courtesy of the Thoreau Society

The goal of the exhibit, which will be on display in Milne during the weeks surrounding the annual Walter Harding Lecture this fall, is to share with current Geneseo students and faculty the kind of awe and pride Dr. Harding’s life and work has inspired in us. We want to reintroduce to the community this remarkable man and scholar that many have never had the pleasure to meet (and some may have never heard of), and to open their eyes to a man who, despite having such a large global impact, always remained humble. In this presentation of Dr. Harding’s knowledge, wit, and accomplishment, we only hope that we do justice to his legacy.

~ Article written by Demi Monachino

Presenting … Allison Brown, Milne’s Digital Publishing Services Manager

BrownAIt’s official — Allison Brown is Milne library’s new Digital Publishing Services Manager.  Allison was the successful candidate in last summer’s nationwide search to fill the newly-created position, bringing with her a proven track record of working with authors, navigating the publishing landscape, and producing a variety of publications.

Before you scratch your head too vigorously, wondering “But hasn’t Allison been here, doing that, long before this past summer?” — yes, she had been functioning as the digital publishing coordinator here in a temporary capacity for several years, and was instrumental in helping Milne build its publishing services from the ground up. The early projects, going back to 2012, include the Genesee Valley Historical Reprints Series (33 titles); Stuart Symington’s memoir, Tagging Along; and the first Proceedings of GREAT Day.

OpenSUNYTextbooksSince then, Allison has continued to produce more from Milne’s “press,” working closely with student groups, faculty, and emeriti at Geneseo and throughout SUNY. Among the current and ongoing projects she’s involved in is Open SUNY Textbooks,  for which she is project manager — working closely with authors and coordinating peer review, editing, and GDProceedingspublishing. She also continues to assist with production of the Proceedings of GREAT Day as well as advise for and coordinate publication of Gandy Dancer, the Geneseo-based, SUNY-wide student literary magazine edited by SUNY Geneseo students. With Gandy Dancer, Allison works closely with English professor Rachel Hall’s Editing & Production Workshop classes, both in and out of the classroom.

As Digital Publishing Services Manager, Allison manages to offer both publication assistance (production, project management, software training, etc.) to authors and experiential learning to the interns with whom she regularly works. She expects both areas to grow as more authors explore alternative publishing options, including open access (OA) publications and digital projects, and more students seek help with producing and managing their publications.

Allison earned a B.A. in English from Houghton College and an M.F.A. in creative writing from Emerson College in Boston. Prior to coming to Milne Library, she worked at Boston College’s library as a circulation desk assistant. Allison is an avid consumer of audio books since, she says, she seems to spend a lot of time in her car (much of it driving between her home in Rochester and work in Geneseo), and listening is a good way to use that time.

You can find Allison in her office (Milne 108) on the Library’s lower level, or contact her at [email protected] or 585-245-6020.

“A Camera in 1888” Exhibit Opening Tuesday, Nov. 4, 6-7 p.m. in Milne Library

Please join us at the opening of an exhibit featuring the remarkable, often beautiful and historically important photographs of Martha Blow Wadsworth (1864-1934) from Milne Library’s Special Collections.  The event will take place in Milne Library on Tuesday, Nov. 4, from 6-7 p.m., and light refreshments will be served.

camera1888“A Camera in 1888: Martha Blow Wadsworth, Chronicler of American Moments” highlights photographs taken during her travels to Alaska with an Army surveying party, to Panama while the canal was being built, and to the American west and southwest (again with an Army surveying party ) — all in the early 20th-century. Through the talented eye of one local amateur, the exhibit illustrates what the consumer camera, introduced in 1888 by Kodak, made possible. It will be on view through December in the lobby of Milne Library.

Ms. Wadsworth was a native of St. Louis who lived  in Avon, N.Y. with her husband, Herbert Wadsworth (of the prominent Geneseo family).  An avid horsewoman and amateur photographer, she has been described as vivacious, energetic, and adventurous. Thirty-three of her albums, as well as hundreds of glass slides, from which the photographs have been selected were donated to Milne Library in 1976 by nephew-in-law Michael Moukhanoff and are housed with the larger Wadsworth Family Papers collection.

“A Camera in 1888” was curated by Special Collections Librarian Liz Argentieri and Regina Carra ’15, with assistance from Jack Scott ’06. It is part of the larger campus-wide program, 1888 in America: William Trost Richards’ Seascape Contextualized, which opened Oct. 24 and runs through the end of the semester.

“How Do I …” save time and frustration with research projects!

HowDoISo you’re new to campus and kinda new to the whole research paper thing.  Or you’re not new but just a bit rusty, and that library skills class you took seems so long ago.  Who can remember all that searching/citing/writing stuff anyway?

Just settle down, breathe deeply, turn on your computer, and bring up Milne Library’s homepage.  See that list over there on the right, called Quick Links?  About half way down is the one you want – “How do I …

HowDoI sm




Click on it and you’ll find all you need to help you through your research project, no matter which stage it’s at. Just about everything is covered, from “Begin My Research” to “Edit and Proofread My Writing.”   Need help distinguishing scholarly from popular (or primary from secondary) sources?  There’s a guide for that! Need some guidance on which databases to use, and how to do a really great search? Yep – there’s a guide for that, too.

When asking a librarian is just not an option – whether because it’s 2 a.m. and you need help NOW, or because you’re more of a DIYer – Milne’s “How do I …” guides will help see you through the research, citing, and writing of your paper or project.  (But do try to ask a librarian, too, OK?)Start

Library Publishes More Titles in its Genesee Valley Reprints Series

ReprintSeriesSept2013There are some items among Milne Library’s collections that just can’t be found in many book shops, or even in many libraries. Now, though, access to them is easy through the  Genesee Valley Historical Reprints Series, one of several publishing endeavors  Milne has undertaken in recent months, along with the Library Publishing ToolkitGREAT Day Proceedings, Tagging Along: Memories of My Grandfather, James Wolcott Wadsworth, Jr. (an original monograph), and the SUNY Open Textbooks initiative (the first two titles of which will be available in October).

The Library launched its reprints series last fall, and with it a publishing model that offers both for-profit sales and free downloads of scarce and unusual books selected from Milne’s special collections. To date, Milne has published eleven titles in the series and is adding more each week.  By the end of this fall, the series will be 30-40 titles strong. The range of subjects represented is broad and varied, and among the titles currently available through Amazon (for sale) and Open Monograph Press (free) are Recollections of Three Rebel Prisons, a memoir of local soldier G.G. Prey’s Civil War experience as a prisoner in the South; Rochester Through a Kodak, a “snapshot” of the Flower City in the late 1800s; and Recipes of Quality, one of several local early 20th century cookbooks offered in the series.

Besides breathing new life into older, hard to find, out of print titles – many of local interest — this new publishing venture aims to make some of Milne’s rarest and most interesting materials widely available, to preserve them in both electronic and print formats, and to develop efficient publishing services for the wider campus and community.

Milne Library Publishes Its First Original Monograph!

Tagging Along CoverMilne Library is pleased to announce the publication of Tagging Along: Memories of My Grandfather, James Wolcott Wadsworth, Jr., by Stuart Symington, Jr., the first of what Milne hopes will be a long run of original titles published by the library through the CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform. This handsome 131-page, illustrated book is now available from, on a print-on-demand basis, for under $10. It will also be freely accessible in Open Monographs Press beginning in July.

A small group of librarians-cum-editors began working last fall with the author, who is the son of  U.S. Senator Stuart Symington, Sr., and Evelyn Wadsworth Symington, daughter of U.S. Senator James W. Wadsworth, Jr., of Geneseo. With Symington, the editorial team worked out style issues, added photographs, and designed the cover and layout for the book–everything, in short, that publishing houses do to ready a book for publication. Milne Library then uploaded the electronic file of the book to CreateSpace, and descriptive and ordering information for the book appeared in When copies are ordered, CreateSpace will print them for Amazon to ship. It’s a publishing model that Milne has been using in conjunction with hosting the open access ebook versions on Open Monograph Press. The initiative began last fall, when Milne issued Recollections of 3 Rebel Prisons, by G. G. Prey, the first title in its Genesee Valley Historical Reprint series.

 Symington with his grandfather, James W. Wadsworth, Jr., in Paris during WW II

Symington with his grandfather, James W. Wadsworth, Jr., in Paris during WW II

Tagging Along recalls the time Symington spent with his “kind, wise, generous, and very patient grandfather.” The story of “Grampa” Wadsworth’s political career and private life, woven together with the author’s memories and impressions of long childhood visits to his grandparents’ home and farms in Geneseo, is set against the rich background of Wadsworth family history. As SUNY Geneseo President Christopher Dahl says in the book’s foreword, Tagging Along is “a lively, affectionate memoir of a politician and statesman who was present at some of the major events of the twentieth century, a man who represents a conservative tradition rooted in respect for the soil and responsibility to his community–a tradition, sadly, very little in evidence in today’s civic and political life.”

Stuart Symington, Jr., a retired member of the Missouri Bar and a fellow of the American Bar Foundation, was born in Rochester, N.Y., and spent much of his youth on the Niagara Frontier and in Washington, D.C. He served overseas in World War II and graduated from Yale University and Harvard Law School.


Go loco for local history!

Here’s a resource you probably didn’t know about, but really should — even if you’re just curious about Geneseo and its regional environs: the Local History Subject Guide.  It will lead you to all kinds of cool sources dealing with many aspects of the Genesee Valley region, including Livingston, Monroe, Wyoming, Genesee, Ontario, Orleans, Steuben and Allegany counties.

Geneseo Main St., looking toward Park St.

Geneseo Main St., looking toward Park St.

The Guide is a must-see first stop for students seeking a local take on their research topics, from American history to demographics, Native American studies, geology, business, education — you name it.  Milne Library’s own Genesee Valley Historical Collection, located on the lower level, is home to a wide variety of local historical materials, but the Guide also points to other collections, both online and physical, that are worth knowing about.  This is especially important since so much of the local history record is unique — i.e., original source materials held by single agencies.  Increased digitization of unique materials, however, is removing barriers to access, and libraries, historical societies, and museums are able to more easily share their treasures with everyone.  A great example, and one in which Milne Library has added some of its unique collections, is the New York Heritage digital repository.

So whether you’re a student on a research mission, a local history buff, genealogist, author, or simply someone a little interested in the area you’re calling home these days, check out Milne’s Local History guide and see where it leads you.

Geneseo Authors Honored at Recognition Event in Milne

Milne Library will host its annual Geneseo Authors Celebration on Thursday, Nov. 15, from 5-6 p.m., at which many faculty and staff will be recognized for the work they’ve published during the past year.  And what a busy year it was for our authors, who collectively produced dozens of journal articles, book chapters, encyclopedia entries, monographs and more.

The authors represent many departments on campus and a wide variety of fields, and the following list includes just a sampling. Distinguished Teaching Professor of English Gene Stelzig continues to work in the area of Romantic autobiography, with special interest in the manuscript journals and diaries of Henry Crabb Robinson at Dr. Williams’s Library in London. Professor and Director of Writing Rachel Hall, also in the English Dept., has written a short story set in 1972 that examines family relationships against the larger political landscape of the time.

Over in Geological Sciences, Distinguished Service Professor Richard Young has been continuing his work on the geologic history of the Southwest (maybe you’ve seen him on the History Channel’s Grand Canyon documentary!).  And recent research done by Distinguished Teaching Professor David Geiger (Chemistry Dept.) and colleagues involves the synthesis and structural studies of novel di-substituted benzimidazole derivatives bearing appendages that have the ability to interact with metal ions.  Benzimidazoles, he explains, are a class of compounds with many pharmacological uses, such as anti-psychotics, anti-ulcer, anthelmintic, and antifungal agents.  By varying the substitution pattern on the benzimidazole, the pharmacological activity can be modulated.


Patrick Rault, assistant professor of mathematics, has lately been doing research that gives new structural information about the number of points with integer coordinates lying inside of two hyperbolas, and for points with rational coordinates on plane curves. He collaborated on some aspects of this research with student Wilson Cheung, who won an award for his presentation of these findings at Mathfest, the annual meeting of the Mathematics Association of America, last August.


History Professor Emilye Crosby continues her research of the civil rights movement and race relations in Mississippi and has recently published an article exploring the history of school desegregation in Claiborne County, alongside analysis of oral histories, memory, and competing local and national narratives about school integration. Atsushi Tajima, assistant professor of communication, has published separate articles detailing his findings concerning celebrity mothers’ weight-loss narratives in People magazine, as well as Japanese imaginings of Blacks and race in popular media. And Distinguished Teaching Faculty Emerita Margaret Matlin has seen two of her textbooks,  Cognition and The Psychology of Women, published in new editions.



In the School of Education, Assistant Professor of Reading Maria “Perpie” Liwanag’s research has led her to collaborate with Milne’s Steve Dresbach on how preservice teachers use knowledge of eye movement miscue analysis to design book trailers, and with Steve and Librarian Michelle Costello on the effects of collaborating to provide preservice teachers ways to integrate technology in literacy instruction. Also this year, she co-authored an article with a student describing how foreign languages can be taught to elementary students using a comprehensible input framework.


Provost Carol Long is expected to be on hand at Thursday’s event to recognize these and all of this year’s faculty and staff authors. Please join us in the Special Collections area on the Lower Level of Milne to celebrate the excellent work being done here at Geneseo! And if you’d like, check out our Facebook Event and let us know you’re coming!