A Look Back at a Busy Summer at W&M Libraries

by Jenna Massey '24

Welcome back to W&M! Although campus can get quiet during the summer months, the library community remains active. From building-wide renovations to collaborations with the Williamsburg Regional Library, W&M Libraries has kept busy since May. Read ahead for an inside scoop into the Libraries’ summer activities.

Building Renovations

Prayer and meditation room with sunny windows, soft furniture, mats, and more
The Prayer and Meditation room in Swem Library, room 240

The most visible undertaking has actually occurred outside of Swem Library. The building is undergoing a full window replacement, as the panes installed in the 1987 renovation have experienced continual leaking issues. The project is expected to be completed in late September.

If you’ve visited the Botetourt Gallery to take a look at “Clandestinas: Una Colección de Ghost Posters,” you’ve likely noticed that the ground floor is also being renovated! Content Services will be getting new department space, and we’ll be making room for our new partners – the Global Research Institute, Institute for Integrative Conservation, and Whole of Government Center for Excellence.

One smaller-scale update has taken place in the prayer and meditation room of Swem Library. We collaborated with the Center for Student Diversity to make improvements to the room, and have purchased new furniture to update the space.

Summer Events and Workshops

In June, Special Collections hosted a physics display for visiting high school student group BLAST. The display featured a variety of science-related books, with topics ranging from scientific pop culture to astronomy. Meghan Bryant, the Frances Lightfoot Robb Head of Special Collections Public Services & Instruction, said students were especially interested in the first edition copy of Isaac Newton’s Principia. “Giving young folks the opportunity to touch and observe and ask questions and share ideas about rare materials is truly an exceptional experience that we want to make accessible to all people of all ages and backgrounds,” Bryant wrote of the display. “Exposure is everything, and welcoming students of all ages to Swem Library is one impactful way of engaging them in our community of learning.”

In July, we partnered with the Williamsburg Regional Library to host a book talk with Katharine Schellman ‘09. Schellman discussed and signed copies of her latest novel, The Last Drop of Hemlock, with moderator and fellow author Ellen Butler. You can view a recording of the talk here. The Last Drop of Hemlock, a jazz age mystery, is available for check-out at Swem.

If you’ve resided on campus this summer, you may have taken part in one of our Undergraduate Research Mini-Courses. In June and July, W&M Libraries and the Writing Resources Center held workshops to provide training to students participating in summer research. Sessions, which were offered in both live and pre-recorded settings, included topics like inclusive citation practices and the pros and cons of using AI in student research. Over one hundred and fifty students attended the sessions this summer.

Another repeated event we enjoyed was the “Oral History How-To” Summer Series, hosted by W&M oral historian Andre Taylor. The series workshops, which were held at the Williamsburg Regional Library, taught participants how to plan and conduct oral histories for family and community settings. On August 11, W&M Chief Facilities Officer Sam Hayes hosted a talk on a similar subject, sharing his passion for genealogy and his personal experience with using genealogical research in “My 46-Year Family Search in the Age of DNA.” 

Finally, in preparation for the 2023-2024 school year, we were delighted to host new faculty for an orientation, open house, and lunch. It was wonderful to familiarize everyone with our resources while learning about their scholarly interests. We’re sure our collections will expand as the new faculty members contribute their knowledge to the campus community.

We're here for you!

Although we’ve had a lot of fun this summer, we’re beyond excited to welcome students back into our spaces. Remember that library resources remain ready and available for you, no matter the time of year. If you’re interested in becoming more involved in the W&M Libraries community this semester, consider attending our first Library Ambassadors meeting on Wednesday, September 13 at 5:00 pm. We’ll meet in the Ford Classroom to discuss upcoming events and student initiatives. We hope to see you there!