Author: Peter Gilbert

Alumni Librarians: Paul Jenkins ’83

Editor’s note: We invited Lawrence alumni who have gone into library work to share with us what they do and how they got there. Here’s the first in a series.

Paul Jenkins, '83My acquaintance with the Mudd library began during freshman orientation week. I thought I could just waltz in and get a work study job there. Little did I realize how fierce the competition was for these plum positions. It seemed like everyone wanted to work there. Long story short, I ended up pushing food tray carts in Downer for three years.

Having grown up a faculty brat (my father was a professor of English at Carleton College), I was already familiar with what a good academic library had to offer. I spent my teenage years educating myself about art history and folk songs in the Carleton stacks. After surviving the first few hectic weeks of Freshman year I began to spend lots of time, browsing the Ps and making mental notes to read all the classics that remained on my list.
Once I got the hang of student life and how to study efficiently I would spend a great deal of time during Finals Week in the stacks. This irked my classmates no end. While they crammed, I read Balzac. While they worked furiously to finish final papers, I learned more about Günter Grass.

Yes, this sounds pretty nerdy, I know, but rest assured that I was also on the soccer team and spent my fair share of time in the Viking Room.

As graduation neared my adviser urged me to consider graduate school in German literature. I’d majored in German and spent Fall term junior year in Munich. Part of me had never felt comfortable speaking German, however. Reading it and writing it were no problem, but my natural shyness grew even worse when I spoke “auf Deutsch.”

I considered graduate programs in German, English, and Journalism before finally settling on library science. To be honest, many of my friends seemed disappointed with my choice. My father, the professor, was delighted, though. He found librarianship very useful work and free from much of the nonsense then polluting literary analysis.

I entered “library school” at UW Madison never having worked a day in a library. I knew somehow that I wanted to be there, though. What a great place to earn a living, I remember thinking. I had no idea what librarians actually did all day, of course.

During my studies at UW I quickly realized I wanted to work in academic libraries. The notion of answering questions about snowmobile repair horrified me. I was too much of a snob to consider toiling in a public library. Academic libraries seemed vaguely nobler to me. If I am honest, I will admit that working for a college or university eased my worries about never having become a professor as my father, brother, and sister had. (Despite earning only a BA at Cornell, my mother is the smartest of us all.)

My first job was at the College of Mount St Joseph (Cincinnati OH) in 1988 as the Head of Collection Development. A noble title until I realized that I had no staff. I was a department unto myself. Working with the faculty to choose books, videos, and periodicals came naturally to me. Soon nearly everyone knew me. Within three years I had been elected President of the Faculty. I became director of the library seven years after arriving. My work with the Mount faculty inspired me to write a book for the English publisher Chandos: Faculty-Librarian Relationships. After publishing another book (Richard Dyer-Bennet: The Last Minstrel) through the University Press of Mississippi, I was chosen as Distinguished Scholar of the college in 2011. The faculty liked my work enough to nominate me for the New York Times Academic Librarian award (now called I Love My Librarian) in 2006. One day later that year I was on duty at the Reference Desk when the phone came informing me that I had won. I smiled broadly and then helped a student with yet another ERIC search.

If this reportage smacks of bragging, perhaps it’s because I still feel a bit inferior to my faculty colleagues with their Ph.D.’s. I teach classes here now (History of American Protest Music, and The Beatles: Voice of a Generation) but when my students address me as “Dr. Jenkins” I cringe. I ask them to call me “Mr. Jenkins” and feel better after a few moments.

Still, I find academic librarianship a great profession, and I am grateful to my first boss who took a chance on a newly minted MLS way back in the time when the Internet was still only an idea buzzing around the brain of Al Gore.

Talk Like a Pirate Day!

Muddwyn On September 19, the piratical crew of the good ship Seeley G. celebrated International Talk Like a Pirate Day. For the 10th year in a row, these hearty swabbies welcomed landlubbers aboard for a rollicking day of “Avast!” and “Ahoy” and “Scurvy Dogs!”

Even if you missed the day itself, you can see some photos of the decked-out Rrrrreference desk and some piratical magnetic poetry and you can still enjoy the piratized Library homepage.

For even more fun, you can get yourself a pirate name, translate into pirate, and even knit like a pirate!


Happy Pi Day!


It’s Pi Day! As everyone knows, the mathematical constant pi is (approximately) 3.14 — and today is 3/14.  A closer approximation of pi is 3.1415, but we’ll have to wait three years for 3/14/15. If you want an even closer approximation, visit and get a million digits of pi…  And who doesn’t want a million digits of pi?

To celebrate this auspicious (and delicious) day, you could look for some books and videos about the mathematical pi or you could read the award-winning novel, Life of Pi, or you could find a recipe for pie in one of the Mudd’s many cookbooks….

Or you could finish your finals, grade that last paper, and go outside to enjoy the 70-degree weather…


Change your clocks!

0 The magical, mystical change from Standard Time to Daylight Savings Time occurs on Sunday, March 11 at 2:00 a.m. local time. Turn your clocks FORWARD one hour.  If you even have a clock that requires you to change it….

Remember: it’s FALL back and SPRING forward.

And don’t forget to search LUCIA for clocks. You’ll find excellent stuff like the prize-winning The Invention of Hugo Cabret and It’s About Time: Understanding Einstein’s Relativity.


Charles Dickens turns 200!


February 7. 2012 is the 200th birthday of one of the English language’s great authors, Charles Dickens.  Born in Portsmouth, England, Dickens spent some of his early childhood in London. When he was 12, his father was imprisoned for debt and Charles had to go to work in a warehouse. He never forgot either part of his life. He became a court stenographer at age 17 and later became a reporter for the Morning Chronicle. His sketches of London life (signed Boz), began appearing in periodicals in 1833, and the collection Sketches by Boz was published in 1836.

Dickens’ work appeared first in monthly installments and then were made into books. Dickens wrote quickly, often working on more than one novel at a time, and usually finished an installment just when it was due (sound familiar?). However, speed did not keep his intricately plotted books from being the most popular novels of his day.

Dickens wrote more than a dozen major novels, a large number of short stories, several plays, several books of non-fiction, and many essays and articles. He died in 1870 at the age of 58. He’s buried in Westminster Abbey.
Some Dickens links

Frans de Waal convo!

Frans de WaalFrans de Waal, primatologist and Professor of Primate Behavior at Emory University, presents a University Convocation on Thursday 2 February 2012 at 11:10am in the Lawrence Memorial Chapel. Professor de Waal will speak on “Morality Before Religion: Empathy, Fairness and Prosocial Primates” (read more).



Some Frans de Waal resources from your friends at the Mudd:

Do Humans Alone ‘Feel Your Pain’? from the Chronicle of Higher Education, October 26, 2001

The Living Links Center at Emory University. The primary mission of the Living Links Center is to study human evolution by investigating our close genetic, anatomical, cognitive, and behavioral similarities with great apes.

Professor de Waal’s public Facebook page

Search LUCIA for books by Frans de Waal

Search Academic Search Premier for articles by and about Frans de Waal (on-campus only)


Martin Luther King, Jr. Day at Lawrence

MLKMonday, January 16, 2012 is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. Learn, volunteer, serve, and celebrate by participating in Day of Service events and the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day celebration, “Martin Luther King Jr.: This Life and Legacy” at 6:30 p.m. in the Lawrence Memorial Chapel. The keynote speaker will be Dorothy Cotton, the only female member of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s, executive staff and one of his closest confidants.


Learn about Martin Luther King, Jr.:

Attend the Convo!

Alex Ross Here at the Mudd we’re all about the learning, so when University Convocations come around, we make sure to attend. We even close the library so no one has an excuse for missing out on a chance to hear from someone with interesting things to say.

This week we encourage you to attend the Alex Ross convo on Thursday, November 3 at 11:10 in the Chapel. If you’ve read his writing, you know he has a way with words and will be well worth hearing. If you haven’t read his writing, your friends at the Mudd have created a webpage with links to some of Ross’ books and articles, his blog and Twitter feed, and more.

Attend the Convo. You’ll be glad you did….

Dance in Video

Dance in Video Dance as an art form is ephemeral, making a live performance vital for study and research. Dance in Video is an easy way to watch hundreds of hours of streaming video files of dance productions and documentaries by influential performers and companies of the 20th century.

Selections include video of Memoria, composed by Keith Jarrett and choreographed by Alvin Ailey, Dances of Bali, Maria Tallchief dancing Swan Lake as well as a wide variety of ballet, tap, jazz, contemporary, experimental, and improvisational dance.

Dance in Video can be searched or browsed by people, role, ensemble, genre, and venue. Creating a free account allows you to make your own custom playlists and video clips for presentations or just for convenience. If you want to watch on the go, all videos can now be viewed on iPhone or Android smartphones.

Check it out on the library’s electronic resources page and get your dance on!