INSIST! Juneteenth edition, 2024

Recently, while reading the fascinating oral history of ‘60s girl groups, ‘But Will You Love Me Tomorrow?’, I was quite taken by a brief chapter on The Shirelles concerning a monumental concert fundraiser in Alabama that has largely been forgotten. As the Summer heat bears down this Juneteenth, let’s take a look back at Salute to Freedom ’63 for this installment of Insist!Black and white advertisement for the Salute to Freedom event

Birmingham, Alabama, August 5th, 1963. In a city and time rife with tension and conflict, only two weeks from city segregation ordinances being repealed, and only months since the Birmingham Campaign for civil rights, the Salute to Freedom event was a major happening and endeavor. One of many events put on by national civil rights organizations as fundraisers for the upcoming March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, the Birmingham event was absurdly laden with talent and prominence. Martin Luther King, Jr (then head of SCLC) and James Baldwin were there, along with Joe Louis and Dick Gregory. And included on the musical slate, none other than Ray Charles, Nina Simone, Johnny Mathis, Clyde McPhatter, the Shirelles and Ella Fitzgerald (though it isn’t clear if she actually performed).

With an event of this stature, and with divisions in the area so stark, attendance and interest and scrutiny were sure to be high. Local press and authorities effectively ignored and stonewalled the event, while volunteers drummed up promotion and ticket sales. Initially planned for the large auditorium downtown, permission was denied at the last minute, forcing the event to be held five miles out of town on the football field at Miles College, on a makeshift stage. Only one major hotel would allow attendees as guests. Cab drivers refused service. Birmingham police wouldn’t work the show. Even still, the event was able to occur, on a 98 degree day, with upwards of 16,000 attending, many even walking miles with their own chairs.

Image from "March on Washington: Rare Photos of a Star-Studded Fundraiser, 1963" from life.comMartin Luther King Jr. (seated, at right) watched the Shirelles perform during the Salute to Freedom benefit concert in Birmingham, Ala., August 5, 1963. Credit: Grey Villet/Life Pictures/Shutterstock
Image from “March on Washington: Rare Photos of a Star-Studded Fundraiser, 1963” from

Salute to Freedom ‘63 ran late into the evening, and at one point during Johnny Mathis’s performance, the rickety stage partially gave way, injuring several people onstage. The show carried on but the difficulties were far from over. The performers, who were traveling together on a chartered plan from New York, were delayed several hours returning due to a bomb threat at the airport. National press barely covered the event, with the old gray lady only running four lines about it, primarily concerning the stage collapse. Though never published, there are thankfully a few terrific photos courtesy of LIFE magazine: March on Washington: Rare Photos of a Star-Studded Fundraiser, 1963.

Just over three weeks later, on August 28th, was the March on Washington. Then only a couple of weeks later, on September 15th, Ku Klux Klan members bombed the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, killing four young girls. John Coltrane composed his stunning ‘Alabama’ in response to the bombing. We’ll conclude this Insist post with a live clip of the tune:

Our New Collections Services Documentation Portal

Depending on how much you use the DUL Collections Services Documentation Portal (CSDP), you may or may not have been surprised to see this alarmingly yellow banner at the top of the page when recently visiting the space:

Yellow banner text from the header of the Duke Wiki that says: "DukeWiki spaces have migrated to Please login with your"

Our old space migrated to a cloud environment in a (mostly) seamless transition to a space that looks and feels very much like the old pages. The layouts of both the “Open to All” and “Staff Only” pages should be familiar to users of the previous documentation portal, and hopefully users find the new spaces easy to navigate. The new public page can be found here, and the staff-only page is here. While the old wiki has a link directing visitors to the new space, it is a good idea to update any bookmarks as soon as possible in case the re-directing link disappears at some point.

The CSDP continues to be a valuable resource for Collections Services staff as well as external users, housing over 300 pages of documentation. The pages are regularly reviewed and updated, which means fewer errors due to outdated information, faster updates on improved processes, and easier training for new employees. Upkeep of the CSDP will be critical in the coming months as we transition from Aleph to Alma and update our documentation accordingly.

If you have not yet visited the new documentation portal, we encourage you to browse the pages. If you are Collections Services staff and encounter any issues, please use the online ticketing system to let us know. For users in CS logging into the DUL staff-only site, you will need to use the netID version of your email address to trigger the Shibboleth log in, not the alias version. It should be formatted as

Overall, the transition has been successful, and we appreciate the contributions of CS staff as we look forward to this year of big changes in Collections Services.

MonoACQ Mix-Tape

Like everyone reading this post (we assume), the Monograph Acquisitions staff returned from the holiday break ready to start the new year with a renewed sense of purpose, energy, and enthusiasm.

That said, it can be difficult to jump right back into the production line tasks that comprise a significant portion of the work we do in our department. To get back up to speed and keep ourselves churning away at these core workflows, most of us employ a reliable performance-enhancing substance. No, it’s not coffee. (Though that too, certainly – always and frequently.) It’s not drugs. (As we understand it, officially frowned upon by LHR.) No, it’s music that keeps us focused and on task.

MonoACQ contains a number of “heads” who pair distinct music with each workflow to motivate themselves day in and out. Below are some of our go-to soundtracks. We’ve included links to DUL’s holdings wherever possible:

Bill Verner:

Much of my work involves working with order and fund data pulled from Aleph. (And soon, ALMA!) Internally we report on orders and expenditures by category, invoicing and processing metrics, and copy cataloging productivity.

As anyone knows, staring at an Excel sheet can be dizzying at best, and soul deadening in moments of stark, macro-driven desperation. To stay engaged on these tasks, I like to blast Mariachi music straight into my ear holes. Aside from being music that I find lovely and for which I have nostalgic associations, it adds dramatic flair to running a comparison between column “B” in one report and column “S” in another. It’s like bringing a pivot table to a knife fight:

Valses Mexicanos by Mariachi Nuevo TecalitlanValses Mexicanos “Sobre las Olas”

Now, when I’m faced with a writing task (say, scrambling to get a blog post in by the promised deadline), nothing else will do but the propulsive groove of Booker T & the MGs. Funk and forward motion will get you there every time:

Stax Profiles: Booker T. and the MGsStax Profiles: Booker T. & The MGs “Chinese Checkers”

Imari Morehead: 

While I’m opening boxes I prefer to listen to music that will allow me to work at a certain speed to ensure maximum efficiency. In my experience, I am most efficient while listening to house music. House music is rooted in a variety of music including disco, funk, and European synth, thus I am constantly bopping as I work. House music utilizes strong bass lines, repetitive vocals, and elements of synth pop to ensure you have to fight the urge to dance while you work. 

House by Ron Hardy, Lisa Millett, Frankie Knuckles, Ralphi Rosario, Jonathan Key, Jungle Wonz, Farley Jackmaster Funk, DJ Source, The People, Farley Funkin' Keith, Robert Owen and Screamin' RachaelHouse “Liquid Love”

Daniel Maxwell: 

I have been working on reducing in size the large queue of Library of Congress shipments containing books from India which need copy-cataloging . While I am busy cataloging, I love to listen to an on-line streaming service from the Darbar Arts Culture Heritage Trust, which offers a large catalog of Classical Indian Music artists that have played at the yearly festival in London England that Darbar puts on every year.  The music is fantastic!  We have many of the artists that play at the Darbar festival in our music collection on cd or dvd, as well as streaming via Alexander Street Press: 

Eesha by Pandit Mukul Shivputra, Aneesha Pradhan, Mahesh Babu and Traditional Eesha “Raag Todi” – Teental Madhyalaya

Stephen Conrad: 

While there is a strong chance that on any given workday I’ve listened to at least 5 hours of Dub music, there is one task that all but demands the instrumental groove sublimity of Dub and that is paying invoices. The tediousness and precision of invoice payment requires nothing less than music full of echo, bass, space, effects, repetition and rhythm. YouTube is a great resource for endless Dub mixes but fortunately DUL holds some great examples too, including a top-notch compilation of Studio One dubs from the 70s courtesy of Dub Specialist. And perhaps my all-time #1 selection is Dub Landing Vol. 2, by the Roots Radics and mixed by Scientist and Prince Jammy, originally released in 1982, presented here in a 2-disc reissue complete with original tracks.

DUL offers a shockingly healthy amount of Dub to stream, including this release by the aforementioned Prince Jammy: 

Destroys The Invaders performed by Prince JammyDestroys The Invaders “Conspiracy On Neptune” 

Joanna Welborn: 

I find that I reach for different music based on of course, my mood, time of day, the weather, the state of the world as a whole… But also, that a lot depends on the task at hand. For instance, when I’m copy cataloging shipments of books coming from anywhere from Montevideo to Cape Town to Milan, I find I can really get into a flow state conducive to matching bibliographic records while listening to great ‘80s/90s hip hop like Eric B. & Rakim or KRS-One. Whereas when I’m say, really in my head processing invoices for the diverse materials coming into the Rubenstein Library collections, I may reach for something more ambient like the noisiness of The Dream Syndicate or the dreaminess of Alice Coltrane. And luckily the Music Library carries most of these artists if you want to see how they line up with your work day. 

(Sadly we cannot locate the Dream Syndicate’s blissful wall of feedback in DUL’s streaming databases, but below are cuts from Joanna’s other two picks. -BV) 

Paid In Full by Eric B. & RakimPaid In Full “I Ain’t No Joke”

A Monastic Trio performed by Alice ColtraneA Monastic Trio “Lord Help Me To Be”

Bronwyn Cox: 

I listen to a wide variety of musical genres, but when I need an extra boost of energy to crank out a cart full of copy cataloging, my go-to playlist is R.E.M., with particular favorites from Lifes Rich Pageant and Out of Time on repeat. A bulk of vexing e-book orders requires the somewhat disturbing and inappropriately funny tunes of The Smiths with Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now first up.  

(No streaming of these gems that we could find in DUL holdings, but we can’t deny everyone this hymn to directionless discontent! -BV) 

 Sara Biondi:

When I’m receiving boxes on boxes of Japanese-language materials, I sometimes find it helpful to remember that the books I handle today might become something else entirely tomorrow – it’s just a matter of putting them in the right hands at the right time. 

Take the story “Hashire, Meros” (“Run, Melos”) by Osamu Dazai from 1940 – it’s based on a German ballad (Friedrich Schiller’s Die Bürgschaft), which was based on a Greek legend (that of Damon and Pythias). And then a Japanese band called Wednesday Campanella grabbed it and made an amazing song with a video set in Mongolia. Friendship, and trust, and also traveling long distances are all things that we can understand across time and geography. Wednesday Campanella keeps me company while I cut open yet another shipment of books that has come a long way to be here. 

(We did not locate the track “Melos” in our streaming databases, but Wednesday Campanella is represented! Below, the cut in question. -BV)

Commercial Binding for Duke University Libraries

Stacks of commercially-bound books for the libraries with different cover colors.1.  How long has DUL been sending materials out to the Commercial Bindery (CB)?  Since everyone who knew the history of binding at Duke University Libraries (DUL) has retired, we had to do a little research to find this answer.  (Thanks to Rebecca Pattillo for finding this information in the University Archives files!)  According to the DUL Newsletter, v.5 no.2, published January 1958, DUL allotted a budget for binding as early as 1953.  The first mention of sending periodicals to the bindery was in 1957.  The Newsletter does not specify a binding company name but I have seen the stamp “Southern Bound” inside the back cover of books from the 1960s.  Evidently DUL sent some books to the Southern Library Bindery in Nashville, TN.  Some other materials were sent to Marking & Repair for in-house binding.  The Newsletter also cited sending monographs to the Joseph Ruzicka Bookbinding Company in 1985.  My former supervisor told me DUL sent books to Heckman in 1986 for a short period of time.  They returned to Ruzicka in 1987.  The company has changed names three times since then, with the current name being The HF Group.  We have trusted our books and other materials in their care since 1987.

2. Is the Bindery and Monograph Maintenance (BAMM) Section on a timeline for preparing materials for bindery?  The Commercial Binding Unit, now called Bindery & Monograph Maintenance (BAMM), is no stranger to meeting strict deadlines.  We used to send out materials every two weeks.  Since binding has decreased significantly in the last fifteen years, the CB set up a four-week turnaround time.  One student worker will be reviewing the returned shipment while the other two students are preparing materials for the next shipment.

3. How can you tell if a DUL resource needs to go to the bindery?  When covers are torn or pages are falling out, materials need to be commercially bound.  Occasionally materials are water damaged or new materials are accidentally sliced during the box opening process.  Sometimes accompanying materials such as posters or maps that are the same size or larger than the book, need a pocket.  These are all examples but not an exhaustive list of items that need to go to the CB.

4. What’s the size of an average bindery shipment, and what kinds of DUL materials are in each shipment? The size of a bindery shipment varies from 200 to 400 items. It depends on several factors: backlogs in Collections Services, special projects like renovations where materials are moving and being reviewed, how many physical books are being used by patrons and being returned, water damaged materials, and new materials that meet certain size criteria set up as guidelines within the Resource Description Department.

5. What happens to a book to get it ready for the bindery? What happens to that book at the bindery? Conservation Services staff pick up materials from Access & Delivery Services and refer them to BAMM at Smith Warehouse.  They get separated onto trucks according to types of material—paperbacks, hardbacks, sets, and serials, which are processed on different lots in ABLE.  Students or staff print new labels, assign new barcodes if needed, and add internal notes in Aleph, if needed. We also bind some new materials—monographs, periodicals, and music scores that are going to the stacks.

When our materials are received at the Commercial Bindery, they go to the check in department first where they create the shop work order according to our shipping record paper work.  They run duplicate code stickers which go on the binding tickets and in the back of the books to match the covers to the books.  They unpack and separate the books, periodicals, digicovers, music scores, etc.  They adhere the stickers and send the books down the assembly line.

A volume is being pressed.
The pressing process at the commercial bindery.

Then the collator checks for trim margins and decides if they should be adhesive bound or sewn. The books get measured and that information is sent to the lettering department.  They pull in our lots from ABLE, stamp the covers, and send them to page attachment.  After that the books are trimmed and the boards are cut.  The covers are matched with the books and they travel to the “casing in” department where the covers are glued to the boards.  The books are placed in the covers and sent to the press.  The final stop is inspection.  The shipping department counts the books and adds any extra charges as needed.  Then the books are boxed and returned to DUL.

6. How long does it take an item to go through the bindery process, from beginning to end? Depending on when we receive books and periodicals, some materials will be added to ABLE within one week, while others will be added up to 4 weeks ahead of time. Usually we unpack, review, and send the returned books out within a week

7. DUL materials come back from the bindery in different solid-colored covers. Is there a reason for each color? Do the cover colors ever change? Periodicals are assigned a cover color when they are set up in ABLE. Ideally that cover color will always be the same so they will match in the stacks.  Formerly we chose from a list of 24 colors.  Since library binding cover materials are in short supply, we now have 8 colors to choose from—black, brown, dark green, maroon, navy, red, royal blue, and tan.  Monograph cover colors are pulled randomly at the CB.  We only assign a cover color for sets—navy blue—so we don’t have to check the stacks for the previous color.  The Music Library also requested blue covers for the Miniature Scores collection and the pocketbooks which house scores and parts.

Cover image of a monograph sent through the bindery process
This monograph was sent through commercial bindery to protect the cover.

8. What’s the most interesting DUL resource that you’ve sent to the bindery? I have seen many interesting books come through for rebinding. Atlases amaze me just because of their size, and the world maps are very colorful and informative.  Some Government Documents are intriguing.  But the one book that stands out in my mind that came through recently for binding was “Afro-Atlantic Histories”.  I chose to send this book for a Digicover, where the original covers are digitized, mounted on boards, and bound with a clear cover.  You can see by the photo this book cover is stunning.  Also, the foredge was a rainbow of primary and secondary color plate sections surrounding the text and art work.  If you would like to see this book, it is displayed at Lilly’s Art Exhibition Catalog Collection.  You can also find more information on the National Gallery of Art webpage

9. Does Conservation play into the bindery workflow? If so, how? Most people don’t know that we also have a brittle books workflow. Conservation Services staff also refer books to BAMM for boxing.  These books are too brittle for rebinding.  We box them to extend their shelf life for patrons’ use for many more years.  We enter the title, author, call number, and measurements in Excel, and send the spread sheet to The HF Group Indiana office.  The books remain on the shelves at Smith.  It saves wear and tear on the books, and we don’t have to worry about them getting lost during shipping.    The HF Group staff member makes the KASEBoxes, acid free clam shell boxes (similar to pizza boxes) that protect materials, and ships them directly to Smith.  Student workers match up the books by the item number printed on the box with the corresponding book on the shelf.  They are double-checked by title and call number.  Then they glue a brittle book label inside each KASEBox to inform the patron how to handle the brittle materials.  The Item Process Status (IPS)  is changed if needed, and the boxes are sent out to the owning library or DUL’s offsite storage facility.




Zhuo Pan, Resident Librarian for Resource Description

Collections Services was pleased to welcome Zhuo Pan (潘倬, Pān Zhuō) on August 14, 2023 as Resident Librarian for Resource Description.  It has been a busy and engaging three months for Zhuo and the Resource Description Department and we are glad Zhuo was here to share them with us.  Zhuo received his Master of Library and Information Science at the University of Washington earlier this year, where he also served as a Library Data Specialist in the UW Libraries.  Zhuo received his Bachelor of Library Science from Wuhan University.  Though new to Duke in Durham, Zhuo is returning to the wider Duke University community.  He worked at Duke Kunshan University Library, both as an intern and as Library Assistant for Technical Services.   In his current position, Zhuo forms one-half of the inaugural cohort of DUL’s Residency Program, which seeks to enable recent graduates of an MLIS or related graduate program to gain experience in a highly specialized area of librarianship.

The cover of 法海寺壁画临本, with images of people in elaborate robes and a background of flowers.
Book cover showcasing figurative art with beautiful fabrics and flowers.

In his position as Resident Librarian, Zhuo describes materials to make discovery possible through the Duke University Libraries Catalog.  His work also contributes new and improved records to WorldCat, which is a catalog of library resources from all parts of the world.  Because catalogers must learn to use subject knowledge across a variety of disciplines and to apply complex international standards when creating catalog entries, gaining expertise is a long-term process and hinges on training and mentoring.  Zhuo brings to his current position experience both with hands-on cataloging at Duke Kunshan University Library, as well as experience with the international set of elements and guidelines for creating metadata for library resources from his position at UW libraries.  It has been gratifying to build on Zhuo’s knowledge and experience by working to describe books awaiting description.  During his first three months, Zhuo acquainted himself with internal workflows, policies, and the tools and documentation that support these.  He also spent significant time assessing and categorizing materials in the Chinese language cataloging queue.  This facilitated a training strategy focused on specific types of description, starting with literature, then transitioning to comics and graphic novels, and moving onto local history.  For a snapshot of Chinese language books cataloged in the last 3 months, check the catalog. Zhuo provided description for over half of new titles added during this period. The Monograph Acquisitions department, where books with records that are complete in WorldCat at the time of receipt are processed, provided description for the remaining  portion.

A black and yellow book cover with text in multiple languages.
This graphically eye-catching cover needs to be cut open (carefully!) in order for the book to be described.

Most recently, Zhuo has worked on books about art and photography.  This is an especially complicated area of description with many special requirements for noting creators and subjects associated with artistic works.  In addition, art and photography books often reflect their discipline, meaning they get artsy with how the physical book is presented.  This adds an extra layer of challenge to describing the physical resource.  Zhuo has come across books that are portfolios with loose plates of images, books with pages that fold out to create larger-format reproductions of photos, and even a book that is sealed in its entirety and needs to be carefully cut open before he can describe it.  Following are some photos of recent art books that Zhuo has encountered.  I particularly enjoyed working on the book that included parallel texts in Chinese and Russian languages with Zhuo since we each got to use our particular linguistic strengths to describe it.  This partnership is just one example of the myriad ways that original catalogers constantly work together to use combined expertise in resource description.  Here is looking forward to many years of working with Zhuo to provide timely and inclusive description of library collections.

A red book standing up on a desk, with the title 苏联人镜头中的新中国 = Новый Китай сквозь объектив Советского человека in black on the cover.
Parallel Chinese and Russian edition of the
photographic works of V.V. Mikosha.

A Day in the Life: Alaina Economus

A person with short brown hair and glasses, wearing headphones, smiling while holding a cat
Alaina and Simon

Hello! My name is Alaina Economus, and I am the Slavic Language Resource  Description Intern in the Resource Description Department.

I came to Duke University Libraries in August of 2022, three months after graduating from Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts, and simultaneous to beginning my MSLS at UNC-Chapel Hill. I majored in History and Russian, Eurasian, and Eastern European Studies as an undergraduate, and thought this position would be the perfect combination of my Russian language skills and my passion for library and information science. I interviewed for the internship in my dorm room at Smith (College) and thought how serendipitous it would be to begin a new chapter of my life also at Smith (Warehouse)!

When I first arrived at Duke, we had a significant backlog of Slavic language monographs that had been sent to us for original cataloging. Most of the items had not been looked over following their referral. With direction from my supervisors, Jessica Janecki and Natalie Sommerville, I spent the first couple of months looking up every item in OCLC Connexion and sorting them into different categories based on the language of the text and their “problem”; some had no record in OCLC, others had no call number assigned, and others had records with poor copy. Throughout this process, I was able to send many items to circulation, which cleared up a lot of much-needed space.

Now that the backlog has been sorted, I spend much of my time cataloging books from each specific category. This past spring, I decided to focus on Ukrainian-language materials with poor copy or no call number . It felt like something small I could do to support the promotion and accessibility of Ukrainian language and culture. I really value working with these materials, and hope that I am doing them justice.

This experience inspired me to conduct a collections analysis of the Ukrainian-language collection at Duke with Dr. Ernest (Erik) Zitser, Librarian for Slavic, Eurasian, and East European Studies. While it was originally just for a field experience course for my degree, I’ve been able to present the analysis at the TRLN Annual Meeting this past summer, and I’ll be presenting the full analysis at the Ukrainian Studies Conference this month. It has been such an enriching experience to work with these materials both for this project and for my work at Smith Warehouse.

Growing my cataloging skills has been one of the best parts of my experience in Resource Description. A year ago, I knew almost nothing about call numbers, subject analysis, or authority records. Now, I spend most of my time determining if the monographs I work with have accurate description that will make them accessible to patrons. It’s a big responsibility, but I love it! I am hoping to pursue a career in cataloging once I have completed my MSLS degree.

When not at work or in class, I enjoy reading, cross-stitching, traveling, and spending time with my friends, my partner Abbie, and my cat Simon (pictured).