January 23, 2022

Rosemary Arneson: Natural Resource

When UMW Librarian Rosemary Arneson tapped into her field, it was a study of card catalogs, microfiche and encyclopedias. The library at Emory University, where she earned a master’s degree in librarianship, did house a pair of clunky computers but special permission was needed to use them.

Arneson is proud to keep the original Mary Washington College spinning wheel in her office in Simpson Library. “It’s a beautiful great wheel,” she said, “and to me, it’s a reminder of where we came from as an institution.”

Arneson is proud to keep the original Mary Washington College spinning wheel in her office in Simpson Library. “It’s a beautiful great wheel,” she said, “and to me, it’s a reminder of where we came from as an institution.”

Now, wi-fi transports a dizzying array of data to screens on our desktops and laptops, tablets and iPads, Smartphones and iPhones, Androids and more.

“I have never been bored,” said Arneson, who insists the core of her calling remains. “Library work is, and always has been, about connecting our users with content. We’re still here helping people find the information they need.”

At least for a couple more weeks. She’s retiring this month.

Her last day’s a Thursday, which could prove routine – catching up with library staff, a meeting or two, and maybe, just maybe, her favorite, working the Reference Desk and connecting with students.

Friday, all bets are off. After 10 years at the helm of UMW’s Simpson Library, Arneson will fly off to Paris! Bon voyage!

Q: What brought you to Mary Washington?
A: I knew UMW from working at James Madison University in the early ’80s, and I’d met [University Librarian Emeritus] Roy Strohl at meetings over the years. I was ready to move on from my last job at the University of Montevallo in Alabama when I saw the UMW post.

Q: How do you feel about the changing library landscape?
A: Moving from card catalogs to online systems, paper indexes to full text databases, and collections that are more electronic than physical kept me learning new things all the time.

Q: What’s the most rewarding part of your job?
A: The staff and students I get to work with – a wonderful, dedicated group of folks. I know they’ll keep working to improve the library and its services. Over the years, I’ve hired several librarians fresh out of school and worked with students who went on to careers in libraries and archives. They all make me proud.

A stint at the Talking Book Center – part of the National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled – in a regional public library in Georgia got Arneson hooked on the field. A member of the American Library Association, she also has held positions at Virginia State University, Fairfield University in Connecticut and Queens College in North Carolina.

A stint at the Talking Book Center – part of the National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled – in a regional public library in Georgia got Arneson hooked on the field. A member of the American Library Association, she also has held positions at Virginia State University, Fairfield University in Connecticut and Queens College in North Carolina.

Q: Most challenging?
A: Part of being the university librarian is that I manage the budget; there’s never enough money to do all the things we want to do.

Q: What would people be surprised to learn about you?
A: I didn’t set out to become a librarian. I had a brief career in commercial television as the first female camera operator in Columbus, Georgia. I’m the reason camera people no longer have to wear ties. 

Q: What’s your motto?
A: I can’t do everything, but I can do something, so what can I do to make things better?

Q: What are you reading?
A: The Rusalka Wheel in Brooks Mencher’s Yarn Woman series, centered on a textile forensic analyst. This book involves a spinning wheel from Eastern Europe that turns up in an antiques shop in San Francisco’s Chinatown. 

Q: What else do you do in your free time?
A: Anything with yarn. Mostly, I knit. I usually have two or three projects on the needles at a time. (Right now, the second of a pair of socks, the first of a pair of mittens, and a baby dress.)  I also love to travel. 

Celebrate Rosemary Arneson’s UMW career and say “au revoir” at a retirement gathering this afternoon at 4 in the HCC Convergence Gallery.

Banned Books Read-Out

Banned Books Week Read-OutIn recognition of the annual American Library Association’s Banned Books Week (September 26-October 2), a Read-out was held on Wednesday, Sept. 29, on Campus Walk, in front of Lee Hall, and on the University Center steps facing Ball Circle, from 11:00 a.m. to 1:15 p.m. President Paino and other administrators, faculty, and students read from selected banned and challenged books in a free, public event sponsored by the Department of English and Linguistics and Simpson LibraryA special exhibit of banned books will be on display in the lobby area of Simpson Library throughout the week and on the UMW Libraries Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram pages.

Contribute COVID-19 Stories to Special Collections and University Archives

Archival materials detailing the University of Mary Washington’s history are used in many research projects. Photo provided by Simpson Library.

Archival materials detailing the University of Mary Washington’s history are used in many research projects. Photo provided by Simpson Library.

Today, we are all finding our way through a crisis that future students and scholars will be studying in the years ahead. We know that it is important to preserve as much of the record as possible for future researchers. Staff in Special Collections and University Archives are archiving the University’s response to COVID-19. However, there are important materials that we cannot collect without your help: individual stories. If you’re a UMW community member and have been keeping a record of these events and how they’ve impacted your life, please consider donating them to University Archives in the future. If you haven’t, please consider this a call to write and help us document this unprecedented global crisis. Read more.

At 30, UMW’s Simpson Library is an Open Book

Throughout its 30-year history, the University of Mary Washington’s Simpson Library has kept up with changing times and evolving technology. Its current collection claims online journals, a greater collection of electronic books than those in print and modern entities like the ThinkLab and Digital Archiving Lab. Photo by Norm Shafer.

Throughout its 30-year history, the University of Mary Washington’s Simpson Library has kept up with changing times and evolving technology. Its current collection claims online journals, a greater collection of electronic books than those in print and modern entities like the ThinkLab and Digital Archiving Lab. Photo by Norm Shafer.

James Pape doesn’t think of Simpson Library as being the big brick building with all the books across from the Hurley Convergence Center.

“The library is the entire campus,” said Pape, Simpson’s access services and outreach librarian. “Students are still using the library when they’re reading books or other materials in their residence halls or apartments, or even when they’re using our databases to conduct research.”

A storehouse of sources, it has served since 1989 as the University’s knowledge center, supporting teaching, learning, research and service happenings on and off campus. In celebration of its 30th anniversary, Simpson Library will hold a reception today, Oct. 2, from 3 to 5 p.m., for the campus community.

“On the outside, it may look much as it did when it opened 30 years ago, but inside we are evolving into a 21st-century library,” said University Librarian Rosemary Arneson, who pointed to online journals, a greater collection of electronic books than those in print and modern entities like the ThinkLab and Digital Archiving Lab. “At our heart, however, we continue to be committed to providing excellent service to the UMW community.” Read more. 

Banned Books Read Out Sept. 26-27

In honor of this year’s Banned Books Week (September 23-29), a Read Out will be held on Wednesday, Sept. 26, and Thursday, Sept. 27, on Campus Walk, in front of Lee Hall, from 11:45 a.m. to 1:15 p.m.  Faculty, administrators, and students will read from selected banned books.  The event, which is sponsored by the Department of English, Linguistics and Communication, Simpson Library, and the University Bookstore, is free and open to the public.  Rain location is the University Center.  A special exhibition of banned books will be on display in the lobby area of Simpson Library throughout the week.

Bales Receives McFarland/SABR Baseball Research Award

Jack Bales, Humanities Reference Librarian, has been awarded the McFarland/SABR Baseball Research Award for his article, “The Show Girl and the Shortstop: The Strange Saga of Violet Popovich and Her Shooting of Cub Billy Jurges.”  Jack’s article appeared in the Fall 2016 issue of Baseball Research Journal.  This award is given by SABR, the Society for American Baseball Research, to recognize research projects that have advanced understanding of baseball.  The award, which includes a cash prize, will be presented at the SABR annual conference.

Maker Mondays

ThinkLab

ThinkLab

Beginning Monday, September 8, the ThinkLab in Simpson Library will be open from 5 to 9 p.m. for an Open Hack night.  Faculty, staff, and students are encouraged to stop by to explore 3-D design and printing, tinker with e-textiles, or use any of the tools available in the lab.  Bring your projects and your curiosity.  Share what you know and learn from each other.

Arneson Presents at Library Conference

University Librarian Rosemary Arneson and Central Rappahannock Regional Library Librarian Joy McIntire presented a session titled “Made in the Library” at the Virginia Library Association Annual Conference in Williamsburg.  Arneson described the UMW ThinkLab and the work that faculty and students are doing there, and McIntire discussed the collaborations the CRRL librarians are doing with George Meadows in the College of Education.  The program included demonstrations of e-textiles, Cubelits, wind tunnels, and firing the rocket launcher.