It is with great sadness that I tell you of the death of Russell Train, one of the Libraries’ major benefactors. Russell was a close friend of Joseph F. Cullman 3rd and it was Joe’s suggestion that brought Russell to us and ultimately resulted in his donation of the Russell E. Train Africana Collection, which resides in the Cullman Library. The donation was singular since it came with a full inventory of the collection, which he developed, including evaluations of individual items. Continue reading
I was saddened to learn that Russell Shank, 86, appointed by Smithsonian Secretary S. Dillon Ripley as the first director of the Smithsonian Libraries, died June 26 of complications from a fall. The 1978–1979 president of the American Library Association, he had been attending its 2012 Annual Conference in Anaheim at the time of his death, and was among the library leaders acknowledged at the June 21 Library Champions and Past Presidents Reception. Continue reading
There is probably no better place to be during the holidays than the White House. I was privileged to attend the ceremony for the 2010 Winners of the IMLS (Institute for Museum and Library Services) National Medal. First Lady Michelle Obama elegantly presented each award in the East Room.
Afterwards, attendees toured the Red, Blue and Green Rooms, each with individualized Christmas trees and decorations, on their way to the State Dining Room for a reception. It was a rare treat to see the sculpted white chocolate model of the White House, complete with First Dog Beau and interior rooms!
—Nancy E. Gwinn
I was privileged recently to represent the Smithsonian Institution at an organizational meeting of the new National Digital Stewardship Alliance, which is a follow-on group to the Library of Congress's NDIIP (National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program).
NDSA is envisioned as a collaborative effort among a diversity of organizations, including government, academic, educational, business and non-profit, who are collectively committed to finding the best ways of preserving digital information for the future. The forty or so people at this meeting reviewed drafts of the mission and values statements, membership criteria, principles and organizational structure with the help of consultant John Warren, who kept the group remarkably engaged and on task. Working Groups on Content, Standards and Practices, Infrastructure, Innovation and Outreach have been formed to carry on the work of the Alliance.
The Smithsonian is a new member and we are in a learning mode, but I hope to engage people across the Institution in this work for the benefit of people today and in the future.
—Nancy E. Gwinn
Mary Augusta Thomas and I, Nancy Gwinn, went to Panama this week to visit our library at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Center. We saw the renovated library reading space, where extra windows have been added to bring in the light and lushness of the green spaces outside. STRI Director Biff Bermingham has a new senior team in place with Deputy Director Ron Herzig and Owen McMillan in the newly created position of Academic Dean. Dr. McMillan will be in charge of the expanding fellowship program. The library will work with both of these administrators for their STRI-related needs. The two expressed great confidence in our librarian Vielka Chang-Yau and told us how important and well-run the libraries and its services are. We also met with Vielka's staff Angel Aguirre, Ricardo Beteta, Elizabeth Sanchez, Apolinar Guerrero, and Mr. Sanchez. (See photo) The hard work and dedication of the staff are one of the keys to the library's success. Library volunteers Diane and Abby presented their project of inventorying and digitizing the 750-item map collection in the library, which represents an extensive resource for understanding the physical history of the region. Vielka organized a coffee for us to meet with a group of scientists and other library users. When we questioned them about their library use and concerns, it was clear that like other Smithsonian scientists, they are receiving most of their materials digitally and would like more, more, more! But they are especially appreciative of what we are able to supply for this library, the best science library in the region. STRI's administrators wanted us to convey to "Washington" how important the library's proactive collaboration with the University of Panama and the Panamanian community is to cementing excellent relationships in the country. It was as good visit, and we are well prepared to accompany the SIL Board to STRI for a visit next spring.