Wednesday, November 27, 2013

LITS Complex Thanksgiving Hours

The LITS complex will close at noon today, November 27, and reopen on Sunday, December 1 at 6:00 pm.  We want to wish you all a restful holiday weekend... Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Something Old, Something New

Here at the Mount Holyoke College Library, we realize that with all of the business of life, especially at this time of year, students often do not have the time they might like to browse through our large collection of books. Due to the absence of time, many parts of the library remain undiscovered, such as the shelves on the 4th floor specifically for new books, or floor 2 1/2- home to the microfilm machines and our large collection of periodicals. Hopefully some of the wonderful items of the Mount Holyoke Library displayed below can persuade you to wander through the bookshelves between studying for final tests and composing term papers. Often many of the gems of the library are among the oldest and the newest of what we possess.

This first selection, a headline from the Mount Holyoke newspaper, is among the artifacts that can be easily found on floor 2 1/2. In order to access floor 2 1/2, all one must do is walk through the main library doors and go in between the two stairwells which lead up to the 4th floor reference room. Upon entering floor 2 1/2 you will be greeted by 2 microfilm machines, numerous microfilms, and to the left and right, thousands of academic journals which today are often only seen in digital form on your computers. You can also find old copies of newspapers, including Mount Holyoke's own newspaper, which has run for over a century.

In what must have been a terrifying chapter for Mount Holyoke college, the headline "Safford Hall Burns" is seen running across the top of the page. A reminder of the importance of fire safety even today, it is difficult to understand what heavy emotion this article would have been written with.

Meanwhile, far away from floor 2 1/2, one can find Platform 9 3/4, where new books of all kinds can be found. Among these books, a short and interesting read called "Harry Potter and the Millennials" has been available for check out all semester. Just the title alone promises to let many of the students on campus heavily identify with the series. Many other germs can be found in the new book section, again, located next to Platform 9 3/4 (on the 4th floor to the right when coming up the main stairs.)

Everybody is encouraged to explore the holdings of the Mount Holyoke library in upcoming weeks. Give yourself a break from the stresses of writing final papers, and find a book to dive into!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Haiku Contest!

Get your brain working for finals! Write a haiku about this photo from the Mount Holyoke College Archives for a chance to win a $10 Rao's gift card. We'll supply you with coffee and tea to get you through finals; you supply us with entertaining poetry. To enter, comment on this post and email your haiku to (please include your name, class year, MHC PO Box#) by Friday, December 6th. We can't wait to read your submissions!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Exhibition: E.LIT / NET.ART at MHC

LITS is delighted to be co-sponsoring E.LIT / NET.ART, a pop-up gallery of electronic literature and computer-based art, on Thursday, November 21, 12-6pm in the Media Lab (Art 211).

Curated by Five College Post-Baccalaureate Resident in Digital Humanities, Jeffrey Moro, the Mount Holyoke College installation of this digital gallery is presented by LITS and Five College Digital Humanities and hosted in the Media Lab of the Art History, Art Studio, and Architectural Studies Departments. Featuring works by Olia Lialina, Barbara Lattanzi, and Nick Montfort, this one-day-only gallery show is an exciting introduction in the world of hypertext stories, video game satires, and digital video mash-ups.

Come find it in the Media Lab (Art 211) between noon and 6pm tomorrow. There will be free food at 4pm and button-making throughout!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Bertha Mellish Disappeared on November 18th, 1897: 116 Years Ago Today

The disappearance of Bertha Mellish is the greatest unsolved mystery of Mount Holyoke.
Bertha Lane Mellish of Killingly, CT, was the daughter of an Episcopal clergyman. She received excellent grades in school and was a scholar of ancient languages, rhetoric, classics, and science as well as a respected member of the debate team. The description of her given by newspapers is as follows:
"She is 20 years old, about 5 feet 5 inches in height, medium build, dark auburn hair, fair complexion, brown eyes, round face, full lips. Sometimes wore her hair parted and sometime combed straight back. very small faint scare [sic] in the center of forehead. When last seen wore a black dress, shaggy black jacket, black cloth tam ‘o shanter."
    She was also very reclusive, and some of the other students found her to be a rather peculiar figure. Helen Calder, also of Porter Hall, sat alongside Miss Mellish at mealtimes. She wrote to her mother that Miss Mellish was not noticed to be absent from campus until Friday night (she was last seen the Thursday afternoon prior). She was in the habit of placing a large signed saying “Engaged” on her door so that she might study in peace. She was frequently absent from the dining table for days at a time, and it was not until the house mother knocked on the door and opened it that she found the girl missing. Miss Mellish is described by Helen Calder as being “the most peculiar, quiet, reserved girl in college.”
    On November 18th, Founder’s Day activities were in progress. At the midday meal, she was reported to be “bright and cheerful”. Miss Mellish was last seen walking towards the South Hadley post office, dressed as normal and carrying a book under her arm. Her closest friend, Miss M.L. Eaton, reported that Miss Mellish frequently took walks in the woods and was very “venturesome.” Just before her disappearance, she had written a brief composition about a young girl who met an untimely end by leaping into a river. This raised a great deal of suspicion after she could not be found, and led to the Connecticut River being dragged thoroughly in several accessible locations. Another clue that suggested drowning was the discovery of footprints near the riverbed that matched her shoe style and size.
     The sensation caused by her disappearance caused no end of interest in the press, and led to her being identified in several different locations. One article reported that she had been identified in a New York mental hospital, although this rumour was disproved. Many reports speculated that known mental illness in family may have been passed down. Newspapers popularized the idea that she had been possessed by a fit of temporary insanity or was overcome by stress from her strenuous coursework. She was also seen at the train station in Hartford. These leads were followed although inconclusive.
     One particularly sordid account from a contemporary newspaper recounted this gruesome version of the story: a young farmhand allegedly identified the mutilated body of a young woman that was discovered in Yellow Mill Creek as that of Bertha Mellish. She had arrived at his workplace shortly after her disappearance from Mount Holyoke, and although she gave a different name the farmhand thought he recognized her from her image in the papers. Her father was informed and came to meet her there, but she refused to return with him and he did not notify the press. She lived on the farm for a brief period of time while receiving steady visits from a gentleman caller until one day he came to pick her up and it was surmised that they went to New York City together. Law enforcement authorities posited that the body found in the creek was dismembered by the practiced hand of a surgeon after a failed abortion. The search commenced for “Old Nance”, a known abortion provider in the area. As staggering as this version of the story is, it was never confirmed. Although a reward was offered and her story was circulated widely throughout New England, she was never found. Her older sister Florence wrote to Mount Holyoke in 1915 and asked that her sister be removed from the general catalogue, listed as deceased in the year of 1897.
    Several authors have attempted to capture the tale of this enigmatic young woman through works of historical fiction. Available in our archives only is the entire manuscript of Titan’s Pier by Gail Husch, a novel told through the eyes of another student to illuminate the event of Miss Mellish’s disappearance. Another author, Katharine Beutner, has shared an excerpt of her forthcoming novel Killingly, which tackles this intriguing riddle yet again. It can be read here: .
The disappearance of Bertha Lane Mellish has captured the imaginations of many. Perhaps there are clues yet to be discovered in the Archives and Special Collections? If you are interested in this case or any other mystery that strikes your fancy, visit us from 9:30-12:00, 1:00-4:30 Monday through Friday in the basement of Dwight Hall.


Snacks+Citations=exCITING Snacks!

Are your papers coming together but the bibliographies are in a tangle? SAW mentors and RIS staff are offering drop-in help formatting citations and bibliographies... with exciting and well-cited snacks! Bring your questions, in-process bibliographies, and an appetite for sampling some edible examples.

Join LITS and the SAW Center in the library atrium from 4-5pm on Wednesday, November 20, 2013 for exCITING Snacks! 

Menu: Atkins Farms Cider, Mary Lyon's Gingerbread, Cookies, Popcorn

Student buses her dishes, ca. 1980. Image courtesy of MHC Archives and Special Collections

Friday, November 15, 2013

Tell It Forward: LITS Staff 'Zine Profiles

During a recent LITS all-staff meeting, Leslie Fields (Head of Archives & Special Collections), and Caro Pinto (Library & Instructional Technology Liaison), gave us all a quick intro to 'zine making. They came prepared with crayons, glue, scanned images to cut out, and even glitter pens (!)...then we were all instructed to make a personal 'zine to tell our LITS staff story.  What followed was a batch of wonderful handmade narratives, and we wanted to share some of them as part of these staff profiles.  Introducing: Jason Proctor, LITS Senior Web Applications Developer.

What is your job in LITS?

"I help keep the website running. I don't really do much writing for it, and I'm not a designer. I'm a programmer and I make sure others can do cool things on the web."

How long have you been here?

"Forever? Really, it's only 6 1/2 years, but I used to drive by every day when I worked at UMass 15 years ago, and the campus just called to me even then."

What is your favorite physical space in LITS?

"The Whiting Alcove. The North Mezzanine. The "Ask LITS" wall. The Stimson Room. My office. The bridge. The little part of 2 1/2 underneath the Reading Room. The balcony in the Reading Room...The old elevator with the lightswitch...The court before the new sculpture...The court after the new sculpture..."

When you're not spending time on campus, what do you like to do in your spare time?

The hobby that consumes most of my spare time and money is being a roller derby official. Yes, there are rules; the modern revival is very different from the campy staged fights of the 70's. I started about 7 years ago, which makes me the longest serving official in New England. I am currently the head of officiating for the CT RollerGirls, but I work with teams all over, including two in the Valley.

If you weren't at MHC doing web applications development, what would you be doing?

I love my job; it is exactly the kind of work I want to be doing. It took me many years to figure that out. Before I came to MHC, I thought for a while that I might want to be faculty instead of staff. After an expensive detour to work on a PhD, I got over that feeling. I'm happy being staff, and I love the commitment to the common cause that I see everywhere at Mount Holyoke.

Subject: Important Documents **Click Here**

It's an Email scam! No IMPORTANT DOCUMENTS 

Don't always trust links sent to you in email.

Beware! 'Phishing' attacks are on the rise and scammers are sending emails that appear to be from MHC in order to fool you into sending them your account password. LITS will NEVER email you asking for your password. If you need to click on a link in an email, hover your mouse over it first and check the status bar at the bottom of your browser to be sure you are not being diverted to a malicious website with a different address. If you have any doubt or suspicion, always check with LITS first and NEVER send anyone your password! 

There are always HINTS in fraudulent email to look for:  
  • spelling errors are common
  • formatting of email is crazy
  • no familiar MHC tone, nor author
  • rollover a link and it has a different destination. 
But the key thing to remember is that LITS will NEVER ask for usernames, passwords, social security numbers, credit card numbers in an email and neither will your bank, nor your airline, nor your friends or family -- don't be fooled!

Billions of dollars have been exchanged in these attempts; people like your neighbor, your mother, your co-worker or friend have fallen for such attempts.  As always please come by the LITS Tech Help Desk, email or call x2600, if you have any questions, concerns or ideas on this, or any other IT topic.

Not familiar with the term "phishing"?      Google:  phishing

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Did you find the Queen?

If anybody took the trouble to search for the lovely Queen last week, you may have found her posted on the outside of Dwight. As was highlighted by the picture of the bird displayed recently, Mount Holyoke College was designed to imitate gothic architecture which often carried heavy reference to God, spirituality, and royalty. This was not out of character for Mount Holyoke in the 19th and early 20th centuries. In the book 100 Years of Mount Holyoke College is is stated that Mary Lyon used to declare an annual school wide fast for a day, in order to do penance and hope for the future Christianization of the world. This tradition obviously did not have as much continuity as Mountain Day did.

While Dwight today is the well known location of the Weissman Center for Leadership, the Miller Worley Center for the Environment, and the McCulloch Center for global initiatives, in the past it has been used as classroom space, a dorm building, and most recently an art building until our current art building was built in 1971. Its imitation of a gothic castle makes it one of the most recognizable buildings on campus from afar, but zoomed in it has been demonstrated that there are still many details which students may neglect to notice as they rush from one class to the next.

One major detail that no student should neglect is the "million dollar tree" in between Dwight and the Library. In recent years, the school planned to create an addition which connected the two buildings. Originally it was proposed that the addition would require knocking down this massive tree which greets the north end of campus and has no doubt silently witnessed the entire history of the college. Students and alumni were enraged at the idea of knocking it down, and raised enough money to save the tree by diverting the connecting alcove.

As one last scavenger hunt exercise before it gets too chilly, try and see if you can find the location of these crests, which give tribute to our sister schools.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

It's the season to be a writer!

Mount Holyoke is filled with writers, be they accomplished professors, secret journalers or *ahem* awkward LITS bloggers. One such writer from our community, Jacqueline Abelson (’16) had her first novel, Hear, published last year. Inspired by the real story of a woman with tumors on her auditory nerves, Abelson began writing her fiction novel as a high school student. After three years of editing and re-writing, her book was published with CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform. You can find her book at the Odyssey Bookshop, and it's coming soon to the Staff Picks table in the Reading Room.
If you, like Abelson, are a writer and would like to get your work published, November might just be the perfect month for you. While the days might be getting unbearably short and the weather bitterly unproductive, November actually has a literary perk. It's NaNoWriMo a.k.a. National Novel Writing Month.

Ever thought you have an inner Stephen King? A bestseller in the left corner of your brain? But you just don't have the time or the inspirational climate to actually write? Well, NaNoWriMo feels you. "A fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to creative writing," NaNoWriMo encourages people to make their imaginary novels real books. Participants work through November to write a 50,000-word novel by 11:59 p.m. on November 30.

The NaNoWriMo logo

So, just seize the month and get writing! What's more, you'll have a support group of writers from around the world who, like you, will be breaking their temples on their keyboards, pausing for far too many coffee breaks, and spending three hours debating which character to kill off.

To register for NaNoWriMo, go to and join thousands in going writing-crazy. And if you need help finding your first sentence, check out the nifty Creative Writing Research Guide, put together by the LITS staff.

***Words of encouragement, frequently confused for a "Fun Fact":  The Night Circus, a NY Times bestseller by Erin Morgenstern, was once a NaNoWriMo baby.

Photo credits:
NaNoWrimo Shield:

Friday, November 8, 2013

Video Game Night on Tuesday!

On Tuesday, November 12, 6-9pm join us for our first ever video game themed Game Night! 

What: LITS game night with both video and board games!
Where: LITS Info Commons, 4th floor of the library
When: Tuesday, November 12, 6 to 9pm
Who: Everyone!

When was the last time you battled Ganon to return order to Hyrule? Donned a Raccoon Suit and Warped to Level 8? Here’s your chance to play NES on the big screen! Join us for a video game-themed Game Night featuring some Nintendo classics! 

We're breaking out the popcorn maker. It's serious. Serious fun, that is.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

For Men Lonely

A few weeks ago I was presented with this collection of booklets introducing students of the opposite sex to women’s or men’s colleges where they might be spending their weekends.  These are publications I thought only existed in movies, but, alas, they are real.  I’m constantly pinning pictures of Mohos from the 1950s and 60s (see the ASC Pinterest for details), fanaticizing about wearing their pretty dresses and going to dances with men in dapper suits.  I look around campus seeing everyone wearing leggings as pants and wish for a different era.  Reading these booklets promptly snapped me out of that.  These are truly a reflection of their times.  I must admit that I got a bit sassy while writing this—there’s nothing to get a girl fired up like Mount Holyoke bashing.

For Men Lonely
A Complete Guide to Twelve Women’s Colleges
William B. Jones and Richard H. O’Riley

This booklet includes tailored guides for college men traveling to Mount Holyoke, among eleven other schools.  It was apparently written because the author and his friends spent a night in the Northampton jail, and decided visiting the girls should be a little easier than that.  The Mount Holyoke section includes a map of the campus, as well as advice on college rules and local businesses.  One would find that Mohos in the late 1940s were allowed to stay out until 11pm Monday-Thursday, midnight on Friday, and 1am on Saturday (scandal!).  Evidently it was difficult to acquire alcohol as “the Drys got control of the town.”  Fret not—provided are the addresses of three local liquor stores, two florists, and a hotel (for $1.50 a night).

A Girl’s Guide to the College Weekend
William B. Jones and Richard H. O’Riley

From the authors of For Men Lonely comes the much-needed guide for college girls planning to visit a men’s school for the weekend.  The introduction includes a review of common courtesy.  A girl is expected to pay for her own travel, as the escort “has plenty to finance in paying for your room, your food, dance tickets” etc. and she is cautioned to remain in the ‘party spirit.’  However, “No man likes a prude, but it’s far worse to have a girl who laps up everything in sight.”  Be careful, ladies—there are a lot of rules to follow.  Similar to the guide for men, each chapter includes information on a different school and their specific expectations.

Where the Girls Are
A Social Guide to Women’s Colleges in the East
Peter Sandman

Written over fifteen years after the previous booklets, Where the Girls Are claims to be a man’s ‘seeing-eye dog’ for women’s colleges.  Again, it includes information on travel, an event calendar, and—“if she’s any good” and you’re planning on staying the night—a section on rules and hours.  Flip to the Mount Holyoke section to find plenty of bashing.  A paraphrase couldn’t do it justice: 
A car is essential so that you can get to . . . Northampton and pretend that you’re out with a Smithie.  That’s the great hang-up for Holyoke girls: they all want to be Smithies.  The Holyoke inferiority complex is difficult to comprehend . . . the neurosis is there.

Naturally, I flipped to the Smith section to see what kind of horrid review was there.  Apparently Smithies in the 60s made nice dates, however they were really into getting married (oh, how things change).
The seniors, however, are easily recognized as belonging to one of two categories: the smug, overly happy ones who are going to be married shortly after graduation; and the worried, nervous ones who haven’t even been pinned.  Always keep in mind that a Smithie is looking at you not only as her date, but also as the man who may some day be footing the bills to send her daughter to Smith.

So much for “Smith to bed, Mount Holyoke to wed.”

Where the Boys Are
Compiled by the Editors of the SMITH COLLEGE SOPHIAN and the MOUNT HOLYOKE NEWS
J. A. Latham and T. G. Plate

This is actually a hilarious book.  The chapter on Harvard talks about LSD the entire time and presents an intricate system for giving your date a ‘number’ based on where he lives and which lit mag he writes for (if his number is lower than 15 he’s likely to be doing LSD).  Princeton men are obsessed with their looks and like to talk about sex.  Yalies are ambitious and suave—they want a wife.  Wesleyan men are sloppy like Amherst men (but less pompous) and Williams men (but less lumberjack).  Williams men have pet dogs, but are gentlemen—who didn’t get into Princeton.  What Colombia men lack in character, they make up for in New York City.  Johns Hopkins: where boys are attentive listeners.  

Who the Girls Are
Peter Brown
As well as information about each of the women’s colleges, this magazine includes 1,488 photos of members classes of 1972 that come with instructions, “Browse, if you like.  Ogle, if you will.  Drool, if you must.”  In an article titled ‘feminine dissent’ the female assistant editor of The Daily Princetonian writes an open letter to the men portraying her disgust of this book.  But right along side that is her letter to the girls claiming “as long as we girls hang on to our trusty old feminine wiles, no harm can really come of this—though those boys do know our names, faces, telephone number, home addresses and curfew hours.”  Progress in the form of baby steps?  The chapter on Mount Holyoke speaks hopefully of a progressive future for MHC that no one there in 1972 would be there to see.  I think we’ve conquered this one.

These booklets reside in the Mount Holyoke College Archives and Special Collections.  We’re located in the basement of Dwight; come visit us to see the items in person or discover something interesting for yourself!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Google Update: Black Nav Bar is replaced by App Grid

As we all know Google is in constant motion.  The most recent change is the replacement of the Black Google Nav Bar with what Google calls the App Grid.

Details are here,