Author Archives: cboyce

Unidos: Inclusivity for a Stronger Nation

Last week, we shared some resources, databases, and collections Ames has that highlights Hispanic, Latinx, and Chicano/a/x communities. This week we’d like to share projects hosted by other universities, archives, and cultural heritage organizations related to Hispanic heritage, as the more we’re able to connect with resources the more open our minds become. Unidos: Inclusivity for a Stronger Nation is the 2022 Hispanic Heritage Month Theme.

The National Museum of Mexican Art’s mission is “to stimulate knowledge and appreciation of Mexican art and culture from both sides of the border through a significant permanent collection of Mexican art, rich visual and performing arts programs, high quality arts education programs and resources and professional development of Mexican artists. The Museum welcomes all people and strives to foster a world where all are included.” Located in Chicago, the museum showcases 3,600 years of creativity from across Mexican, Mexican-American, and Mexican-Indigenous creative works. Nuestras Historias showcases pieces from their permanent collection, to emphasize the dynamic and diverse stories of Mexican identity in the US.

Also in Chicago, the National Puerto Rican Museum is “devoted to the promotion, integration and advancement of Puerto Rican arts and culture, presenting exhibitions and programming created to enhance the visibility and importance of the rich Puerto Rican arts tradition.” Coming soon, the museum will host a Walter Mercado pop up exhibit. Mercado was “Latin America’s beloved spiritual advisor, best known for his astrology television shows. His daily horoscope readings and flamboyant persona captivated the attention of millions of Spanish-speaking people worldwide. Mercado’s fluid blend of beliefs and gender presented an expansive alternative to the traditional Catholic practices of many Latin American cultures.”

Chicago is also home to several Latino neighborhoods with colorful and innovative street art. The Pilsen Murals were originally started by street artists in the ’60s to oppose the Vietnam War and express pride in Mexican-American identities. Later generations of artists are leaving their marks, starting new conversations through their art. Humboldt Park is also home to fantastic murals, with a preservation program to help restore older murals, along with working with the community to create new pieces.

The Latinx Diaspora in the Americas Project is an oral history project at the University of Florida. It is dedicated to creating space for Latina/os to share their historical experiences related to identity, immigration reform, labor conditions, education, and civil rights.

The National Park Service cares for special places in the United States like parks, monuments, historical areas, lake- and seashores, rivers, and trails. Places like the Cabrillo National Monument preserves the history of Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo’s voyage of exploration. It was the first contact between the coastal California Indigenous tribes, like the Kumeyaay, and men from Europe. Though the San Salvador stayed only six days in San Diego harbor, this journey and future Spanish journeys to the area would shape southern California’s complex history.

Along the El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro National Historic Trail (which extends between El Paso, Texas and Santa Fe, New Mexico in the United States) you’ll find churches, battle sites, art museums, cultural properties, and Indigenous heritage sites. The sites along the trail reflect 300 years of conflict, cooperation, and cultural exchange between a variety of empires.

Visit the NPS American Latino Heritage website to learn more about these and other sites.

We’re Celebrating Banned Books Week

Record numbers of challenges to books in schools, libraries, and book stores across the country were tracked by the American Library Association (ALA) in 2021. Over 729 challenges to materials and services were made, accounting for more than 1,597 individual book challenges or removals.

It’s hard to think of celebrating Banned Books Week when staff in Montana are resigning after bullet-ridden books were returned to the library. Or when a library director in Idaho resigned over the extremism she faced in her community. Libraries are being defunded in Michigan and teachers dismissed in Oklahoma, while fallout from the Don’t Say Gay bill racks Florida and challenged materials are separated from general collections in Texas.

It’s recent cases like those in Virginia, though, and the reality that most challenges don’t result in a ban that give us reason to celebrate Banned Books Week. This week celebrates the freedom to read and shines a spotlight on current and historical attempts to censor books in libraries and schools. By focusing on efforts across the country to remove or restrict access to books, Banned Books Week draws national attention to the harms of censorship.

For over 40 years, the ALA and libraries have celebrated Banned Books week with displays, read ins, collection highlights, and, more recently, social media campaigns. Follow #BannedBooksWeek on your platform of choice and see what people are saying. Have you read any of the books that have been challenged? Why do you think someone would challenge it? What does it mean to you to hear that someone challenged something you read?

The theme for Banned Books Week 2022 is “Books Unite Us. Censorship Divides Us.” Sharing stories important to us means sharing a part of ourselves. Books reach across boundaries and build connections between readers. Censorship, on the other hand, creates barriers. Banned Books Week is both a reminder of the unifying power of stories and the divisiveness of censorship, and a call to action for readers across the country to push back against censorship attempts in their communities.

The conversation around intellectual freedom, the right to read freely, and censorship is, of course, not limited to this week or to just libraries. Our freedom to read means little without a culture of conversation that allows us to discuss our freedoms openly, work through issues that books raise for our readers, and wrestle with the challenging balance between freedom and responsibility.

Read more about the history of Banned Books Week here and this year’s honorary Banned Books Week Chair here.

Hispanic Heritage Month!

The Ames Library is celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month by highlighting history, people, and digital collections that include and represent Hispanic, Latinx, and Chicano/a/x communities.

Celebrated from 15 September until 15 October, Hispanic Heritage Month celebrates the contributions and importance of persons whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean, Central America, and South America. The day of September 15 is significant because it is the anniversary of independence for Latin American countries Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. In addition, Mexico and Chile celebrate their independence days on September 16 and September18, respectively. 

For this first week, check out some of the databases available through Ames.

ArtStor is a repository of thousands of collections of digital images. Topics include but are not limited to foreign languages, decorative design, African/American studies, classical studies, history, Medieval studies, photography, and women’s studies. This year, ArtStor highlights 28 open collections for Hispanic Heritage Month. Those collections include maps, art, scholarly works, and oral history projects, to name a few.

Contemporary Women’s Issues is a multidisciplinary, full-text database that brings together relevant content from mainstream periodicals, “gray” literature, and the alternative press with a focus on the critical issues and events that influence women’s lives in more than 190 countries. Contemporary Women’s Issues includes English-language titles from East and West Africa, Asia, and South and Central America, the Caribbean, North America and Europe.

The Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Collection contains thousands of selected titles covering Asian Studies, Women’s Studies, Black Studies, Hispanic/Latino Studies, and much more. It is a comprehensive and curated subscription developed to represent all voices – regardless of gender, race, sexual orientation, physical ability and religious belief.

Independent Voices is a digital collection of alternative press newspapers, magazines and journals, drawn from the special collections of participating libraries. These periodicals were produced by feminists, dissident GIs, campus radicals, Native Americans, anti-war activists, Black Power advocates, Hispanics, LGBT activists, the extreme right-wing press and alternative literary magazines during the latter half of the 20th century.

Informe Academico provides access to Spanish- and Portuguese-language scholarly journals and magazines. The database offers a wide range of content both from and about Latin America.

World Scholar: Latin America and the Caribbean Regional Portal covers Latin America culture and society from the 15th century to the present day. The collection consists of a Portal and Archive component. Launching with 293 portals based on Person, Topic, Event, Named Work and Country types users can delve into over 1.3M pages of archival material (Archive) and hundreds of periodicals, newspapers, magazines, reports, and data feeds (Portal).

Let the World See

Content Warning: Racial injustice and violence

Emmett Till’s funeral was 67 years ago Tuesday. He would have been 81 this year.

Only 14 at the time, his death* in 1955 was a flash point in the Civil Rights Movement. His mother, Mamie Till-Mobley, insisted on an open casket, to “let the world see” what had been done to her son. From his death until hers in 2003, she was an activist for racial justice, with a special interest in education. She died shortly before her memoir, Death of Innocence: The Story of the Hate Crime that Changed America, was published.

Till, directed by Chinonye Chukwu, releases this fall (at the New York Film Festival and then widely on October 28th) and tells the story of Mamie Till-Mobley’s relentless pursuit of justice for her son. Centered on her, the film broadens the focus of depictions to-date to include her story, to hold space for some of the effects of racialized violence on Black women.

Theatrical depictions of historical events draw attention to those events and are sometimes the first time someone learns of it. Feature films are dramatizations of events and, as such, are an opportunity for learning. Read on for ways you can learn more about Emmett Till and his family’s fight for justice.

The DuSable Black History Museum and Education Center (a Smithsonian Affiliate) in Chicago is a train ride away and will soon host the traveling exhibit “Emmett Till & Mamie Till-Mobley: Let the World See.” Premiering at the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis on September 17th, the exhibit will travel across the country. While at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Library in Washington, DC, it will be less than a mile from the National Museum of African American History & Culture, where Emmett Till’s casket is on display as part of the “Defending Freedom, Defining Freedom: Era of Segregation 1876-1968” exhibit. The Emmett Till Interpretive Center in Mississippi is another opportunity for interactive learning.

Cowritten by Keith Beauchamp of The Untold Story of Emmett Louis Till and Michael Reilly, this new film joins the ranks of videos and audio recordings drawing attention to Till’s murder and pursuits of justice for him. American Experience: The Murder of Emmett Till includes 36 interviews with Mississippi residents, Till family members, journalists covering the trial, and Till’s classmates. The interviews were recorded and transcribed in 2003 by Firelight Media. These videos and others are accessible through Academic Video Online (AVON).

For a more private opportunity to learn about the case, browse some of the books available through Ames Library.

Disturbing and challenging content is hard to face. Movies like Till help to keep stories of injustice in our collective memory. If this movie, or any move with a “based on real events” description piques your interest, Ames librarians and the research tools and collections available through Ames are here to support your pursuit of knowledge.

*Emmett Till’s death was incredibly violent. The Ames Library will not contribute to Black trauma by describing it.

Land Acknowledgements & the Power of Place

We acknowledge that Illinois Wesleyan University rests on land once cared for by native nations including the Kiikaapoi/Kickapoo, Peoria, Očhthi akwiŋ/Sioux, and Myaamia/Miami.

A land acknowledgement, such as the one above, begins with reflection (individual or institutional), is informed by research, and is a recognition of the power place has for Indigenous communities.

The 2022 IWU Annual Intellectual Theme, Power of Place, invites us to reflect on how our thoughts, values, perceptions, and actions are influenced by how we conceptualize a place and our place in the world. How do you conceptualize a place like Illinois Wesleyan while acknowledging the people and nations that were ousted as colonists pushed west?

One way you might start is by researching the Indigenous nations that once cared for this land. Indigenous Peoples: North America is one database you might use. It provides a robust, diverse, informative source that will enhance research and increase understanding of the historical experiences, cultural traditions and innovations, and political status of Indigenous Peoples in the United States and Canada. The Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Collection from ProQuest Books is another. It includes thousands of selected titles covering Asian Studies, Women’s Studies, Black Studies, Hispanic/Latino Studies, and much more. One such title specific to our area is The Nature of Empires and the Empires of Nature : Indigenous Peoples and the Great Lakes Environment.

You might visit museums or archives dedicated to Indigenous peoples. The American Indian Center is located in Chicago. Their primary mission is to promote fellowship among Chicagoland Native Americans. Their art gallery is open for tours Monday-Friday. While you’re in Chicago, you might also visit the Mitchell Museum of the American Indian. It’s “one of only a handful of museums across the country that focuses exclusively on the art, history, and culture of Native American and First Nation peoples from throughout the United States and Canada. It promotes public understanding of cultural diversity through first voice perspectives.”

Research that you do on your own will only take you so far though. Listening to the stories and voices of Indigenous people is an important next step. Follow activists and Indigenous creators on social media. Watch videos of talks given by elders and leaders.

And attend events held locally, like Dr. Davidson’s presentation on 6 September – the Office of Diversity and Inclusion’s 3D series begins with “Of Place: Viewing Land Acknowledgements through a Diné Matrifocal Lens.” From 4-5:30pm (at Hansen Center Court), Dr. Davidson will discuss how her lived experiences as a Diné woman shaper her views and how place-consciousness serves as a higher education leadership skill.

For more information on why and how to craft a land acknowledgement, check out the Native Governance Center’s website.

Readings for Labor Day

It’s been 140 years since the first Labor Day holiday was planned and celebrated in New York City. Labor organizers, municipalities, and states adopted the holiday over the next several years, until it became a federal holiday in 1894.

The late 1800s were a chaotic time in the US, as everyone was in some way effected by the huge transition from a largely agricultural society to an industrial society. The 1880s saw an influx of labor strikes, with workers challenging poor or dangerous working conditions and long hours. In the May of 1894, thousands of workers at Pullman Palace Car Company went on strike. Later that summer, a federal judge issued an injunction against a sympathy boycott and President Cleveland sent troops in to enforce the boycott. With the arrival of federal troops, the Pullman strike ended violently. Congress had just passed legislation in June, making the first Monday in September a holiday to recognize and celebrate the contributions of laborers, which Cleveland signed into only a few days before sending troops to Illinois.

That sympathy boycott might not have been necessary. The local and national organizations behind the strike and boycott had refused membership to Pullman’s two thousand African-American porters. Marginalized and minoritized persons were typically barred from joining labor organizations at the time, and thus had a completely different experience in their fair labor battles.

Legislation since then has continued to intentionally exclude women and People of Color and conversations around labor often erase the roles non-white men played in securing labor protections.

This Labor Day, in addition to enjoying the time with friends and family, check out some of the resources Ames Library has that shine a light on the pivotal contributions of BIPOC men and women in the labor movement.

Covering the last four hundred years since Africans were first brought to Virginia in 1619, Trotter traces black workers’ complicated journey from the transatlantic slave trade through the American Century to the demise of the industrial order in the 21st century. At the center of this compelling, fast-paced narrative are the actual experiences of these African American men and women. 

Filipino farmworkers sat down in the grape fields of Delano, California, in 1965 and began the strike that brought about a dramatic turn in the long history of farm labor struggles in California. Their efforts led to the creation of the United Farm Workers union under Cesar Chavez, with Philip Vera Cruz as its vice-president and highest-ranking Filipino officer.

Since the 1950s, Latina activist Dolores Huerta has been a fervent leader and organizer in the struggle for farmworkers’ rights within the Latina/o community. A cofounder of the United Farm Workers union in the 1960s alongside César Chávez, Huerta was a union vice president for nearly four decades before starting her own foundation in the early 2000s. 

Self Care in the Library

The fall semester is underway. For many of us, it’s the first time since 2020 that we’re sitting in full, in-person classrooms. The past several years have been challenging and we are not the same.

Open, honest conversations about mental health have helped reduce stigma – sometimes we need help from others, and we always need to take care of ourselves and our communities. Self care is something most of us could practice more often and The Ames Library is committed to creating a community of care at Illinois Wesleyan. One such way is through our new Self Care Station.

Visit our Self Care Station on the entry level (vending machine room) to grab a snack, play a board game, read tips from Ames, find some fun or self-care reading, and learn about some resources available on campus. Or take a look at our Self Care LibGuide where you can learn about resources in Ames, tips for evaluating mental health information online, and find links to campus partners.

For the first half of September, we are highlighting BIPOC authors from our Popular Reading Collection in the Self Care Station. September is National Literacy Month and reading for fun is an excellent way to practice self care. Reading has been shown to improve memory, reduce stress, build self-esteem, and allow an individual to develop or improve skills.

BIPOC authored books available to borrow in the Self Care Station

The following Community of Care statement was suggested by the the Mental Health Policy Task Force, which was convened in the summer of 2022 to respond to the Student Senate Mental Health resolution. While student attendance in class isn’t our top concern, The Ames Library is committed to connecting to and sharing campus and local resources that promote mental and physical health. Through the Self Care Station, we will connect the library and information literacy to campus conversations related to mental and physical health.

“Mental health and physical health are key components of student wellness, and IWU faculty and staff recognize our role in providing an academically rigorous environment that supports wellness while also providing resources. As a campus community it is important for us to establish mental and physical health promotion practices, destigmatize mental health challenges, normalize care seeking, and provide access to qualified, licensed practitioners that can assist in early identification of and assistance with mental health challenges, whether acute or chronic. We recognize that we live in an ever changing world that has caused more stress on college students than ever before. Information on Arnold Health Services and Counseling & Consultation Services can be found at”

Welcome Class of 2026!

Welcome to our new students, Class of 2026 and transfers, and welcome back to our returning Titans! We have news to share!

Our most exciting news is that we have two new library faculty colleagues, Professors Laura Spradlin and Crystal Boyce-Gudat. Laura serves as our Electronic Resources & Systems Librarian. Crystal serves as liaison to students and faculty in Accounting & Finance, Business Administration & Marketing, Environmental Studies, History, Kinesiology, Sports & Wellness, Political Science, and Sociology & Anthropology.

We’re also excited to welcome Professor Billie Jarvis-Freeman, Interim Director of the Writing Center. In addition to working with Writing and Student Success Tutors, she’s teaching a Gateway course this fall: Vampires, Ghosts, and Others.

If you’ve been in the library recently, you’ve seen some of the paintings exhibited on the entry level. They’re part of a larger exhibit “Resistance and Resilience: 21st Century Burmese artists envision Myanmar’s future,” co-exhibited in the Wakeley Gallery at the School of Art. Read more about the works and the public talk related to them here.

We’ve enjoyed two events welcoming faculty back to campus – the Scholarship & Creative Work Celebration, and the New Faculty Orientation. The Center for Engaged Learning can be reserved and the finishing touches are being put on the new Thorpe Center for Curricular and Faculty Development, located on the third floor. Thorpe Center programs will encourage reflective discourse and the sharing of views and experiences among faculty, as they relate to issues involving the theory and practice of teaching, course development, academic program design, and scholarly inquiry.

Our services have returned to pre-COVID operations – white board markers are freely available and typically live near a white board. If you can’t find any, check with the Library Services Desk on the entry level. All our seats have returned as well.

Myanmar in Transition Art Displayed in Ames

The IWU Annual Theme, “Power of Place,” invites the IWU community to reflect on how our thoughts, values, perceptions, and actions are influenced by how we conceptualize place and our place in the world.

If you’ve been in Ames Library recently, you may have noticed a number of new art pieces on the walls of our entry level. Displayed here and in the Wakeley Gallery in the Ames School of Art is “Resistance and Resilience: 21st Century Burmese artists envision Myanmar’s future.”

This powerful, 36 piece exhibit features paintings from Thukhuma. Thukhuma is a collection exploring art, culture, education, and politics in Myanmar, with a focus on transition in the 2010s. Thukhuma means art or culture in Pali, the liturgical language of Myanmar’s dominant Theravada Buddhist tradition. It also connotes uniqueness.

Paintings from Thukuma will be on display until 13 October 2022. Additionally, Dr. Catherine Raymond, Director, Center for Burma Studies and Professor of Art History, at Northern Illinois University will speak in The Ames Library’s Beckman Auditorium on September 13th at 4pm. Following her talk, “Art and Politics in Contemporary Myanmar,” at approximately 4:20 she will lead a gallery walk through the works exhibited on the Entry Level and then in the School of Art’s Wakeley Gallery. There will be a reception in the School of Art’s foyer afterwards. There will also be a Reception at the School of Art for Homecoming, September 24, 2-4PM. 

Consider the place in time that these works were created: artists such as Aung Htet Lwin and Shine Lu painted what they saw and how they felt as their country, Myanmar – previously known as Burma – began transitioning from military rule to a military-backed civilian government in the 2010s – the military retook control in 2021. The paintings in this collection, all produced between 2012 and 2015, touch on the diverse dimensions of contemporary society, reflecting rural and urban life, religious beliefs and practices, disparate ethnic groups and identities, and openly political stands. The artists draw inspiration both from traditional motifs and modern artistic styles, demonstrating the power of place and how it evolves over time.

With a history stretching back some 8,500 years, the nation began to emerge in the 9th century when the Kingdom of Pagan unified the regions which would become modern day Myanmar. Borders expanded and contracted over the centuries; the third Anglo-Burmese War saw the total annexation of Burma to British rule, where it was made a province of India in 1886. Burma achieved independence on 4 January 1948 at 4:20am (chosen for its auspiciousness), opting not to join the British Commonwealth. The name was performatively changed to Myanmar in 1989.

Names of places are as much a reflection of place as physical elements of a place. While you enjoy the paintings in Ames Library and in the Wakeley Gallery, consider how traumatizing the changing of a country’s name might be to its people. Learn more about the history of Myanmar, its politics and culture, and look anew at the paintings. Do you see them differently?

Digital Humanities Fellows Share Interdisciplinary Research

The front doors may have been closed this summer, but that didn’t stop students in the inaugural Digital Humanities Fellows program. Over the past several weeks, twelve students with diverse backgrounds came together to learn about the digital humanities and apply a suite of new skills and tools to research projects with the guidance of faculty mentors.

The fellows developed their own research questions around data sets provided by faculty mentors, analyzed data relevant to those questions, and created digital stories to accompany their work.

Faculty mentors Michelle Gibbs (School of Theatre Arts) and Joshua Lowe (School of Art) led a team working on Zora Neale Hurston’s intellectual circles and networks. Mishwa Bhavsar (Computer Science), Leah Rosen (Greek & Roman Studies; Creating Writing minor), Julia McMahon (Political Science and English Literature), and Ellie Kurtz (History and Sociology) explored the question “how did Zora Neale Hurston’s anthropological and ethnographic research impact her play writing?” They sought to connect Hurston’s research to her plays and present it in ways inviting to all, from high schoolers encountering her work for the first time to dramaturges producing one of her works. Explore their website here.

Digital Humanities Fellows Mishwa Bhavsar, Leah Rosen, Julia McMahon and Ellie Kurtz stand in front of a screen with their project's website projected on it.

Greg Shaw (Political Science) and Allison Serraes (English) led a team looking at health policy in Bloomington-Normal. Leah Matlin (Psychology and English – Writing), Alex Dawson (Psychology; Anthropology minor), Amanda Balaba (Accounting; Political Science and Data Science minors), and Amber Anderson (Political Science) had the broad goal of implementing digital tools to convey information that will aid organizations focused on community health in the Bloomington-Normal area. They used textual analysis to generate keywords to identify possible health initiatives for the community based on needs expressed by the community itself. Read more about their project here.

Leah Matlin, Alex Dawson, Amanda Balaba, and Amber Anderson stand in front of a screen with the project's website projected behind them.

Leah Nillas (Education) led a team looking at international educational attainment measures. Kacie Moore (Sociology; Hispanic Studies minor), Zoe Hodve (Political Science; Hispanic Studies minor), and Josh Reed (Computer Science and History; Greek & Roman Studies minor) challenged their own assumptions about the relationship between international educational outcomes and national spending on education. They sorted through multiple factors and data sets seeking correlations between socio-cultural-environmental factors and educational attainment scores. See their results and infographics here.

Kacie Moore, Zoe Hodve, and Josh Reed stand in front of a screen with their project's website showing behind them.

Reflecting on the Digital Humanities Fellowship, Kacie Moore noted that she felt a lot of academic scholarship is gatekept and that digital humanities are a great tool for making that information more available to broader audiences. In speaking about the digital humanities, Online Learning Librarian Abby Mann – who led the program – said, “It’s a great way for our students to think about how they can bring the strengths of their liberal arts education to their future careers with an emphasis on effective and ethical communication in all sorts of professional settings, from academia to business to public service.” Explore other IWU digital humanities and digital scholarship projects here.

The Ames Library was very fortunate to receive seed money for this program through the American Rescue Plan: Humanities Grants for Libraries, an initiative of the American Library Association (ALA) made possible with funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) through the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. The Provost’s Office, The Ames Library, The Cargill Foundation, and the Faculty Development Committee provided additional funding for the inaugural program.