Category Archives: Spotlight

– announcements
– retrospectives on people
– special events

A Day in the Life: Adam Hudnut-Beumler

A man and woman stand in front of a pale green lake surrounded by rocks and trees.Hello! My name is Adam Hudnut-Beumler, and I am a Serials Management Associate in the Continuing Resource Acquisitions Department. When not at work, I love going to bar trivia, playing sports, binging podcasts and hiking. But how did I get to Duke?

In 2017, I came to Durham right after college to start a PhD in American Religions at Duke’s Graduate Program in Religion. During that time, I got a summer job as a student assistant working in the stacks and at the desk at Lilly Library. Somewhere along the line, I realized I liked contributing to the library more than studying critical theory, so after three years I pivoted my career aspirations to the library. Gratefully, in February 2021 I started as a Serials Management Assistant with CRAD. I am also thankful for the support of the department as I also attend the UNC-Chapel Hill School of Information and Library Science. My coursework allows me to acquire data science skills of use to academic libraries and our patrons.

I began my current responsibilities around the start of May 2022. Placing orders, paying invoices, and handling vendor communication make up the core of my job. I also copy catalog and manage the receipt and labeling of Duke’s Government Documents collection. Working constantly between DUL’s order, subscription, item, and holdings records in our current ILS Aleph, the job also requires a diligent eye to ensure our periodicals and serials data and metadata are correct and up to date for our users. As our department looks to the transition to FOLIO next summer, I attend weekly meetings with my Serials Management Team members to advocate for greater serials and periodicals acquisitions functionality.  Screencap of a spreadsheet describing claimable issues of periodical orders.

Recently, I brought my library school learning into my job for CRAD’s annual subscription renewals review project. Starting with the spreadsheets of our open orders provided by our major vendors, I added a column that lists all past-due issues aligned with each order row. I used the principles of database querying I learned in a course this summer to develop a working knowledge of the Aleph Reporting Center. I created a report of all periodicals with elapsed expected arrival dates, and then read that data as a .csv into a Python script which could combine multiple issues’ data into single lines for each order number. After transforming the data, I read the .csv back into Excel and used the VLOOKUP function to join my claimable issues table to our renewals spreadsheets on the order number. With this data readily available, we can identify our problematic subscriptions at a glance and achieve a thorough claiming of the materials DUL promises to provide its patrons.

I feel blessed to work with such a talented team. Our department head, Virginia, and our team leaders, Bethany and Abby, promote open collaboration and communication. We always have each other’s backs in CRAD. The other great thing about working in Technical Services broadly and CRAD in particular is the breadth of materials and areas of the library our work touches. Digital and print, humanities and sciences, East and West Campus,all corners of Duke University Libraries and its offerings intersect with CRAD. Getting to know colleagues across DUL divisions is an added bonus of that variety. With that variety comes a lot of complexity, and the job forces you to have a good memory for DUL’s many codes and abbreviations. SMT work takes you across Aleph modules—Acquisitions, Cataloging, and even Circulation regularly—and requires learning of multiple vendor websites, Caiasoft for LSC records, and external programs like WinSCP and OCLC Connexion. It is work that turns you into a jack of all trades (and master of some). Using those skills to work with colleagues in other TS departments is always a treat—Smith Solidarity! No one does it quite like TS.


Juneteenth Jamboree

We’ve been waiting for Juneteenth to roll around again, ever since it was made a federal holiday last year (An Act to Amend Title 5, United States Code, to Designate Juneteenth National Independence Day as a Legal Public Holiday). This weekend we hope for good weather, joyful celebration, and an opportunity to reflect on the work that still remains to be done in the US around racial equity. 

This weekend, why not give a listen to two versions of “Juneteenth Jamboree”, selected for us by our very own Stephen (of INSIST! fame).  

“Juneteenth Jamboree” – Fatso Bentley 

Our first version comes to us from Gladys Bentley (1907-1960), a gender-non-conforming lesbian who unapologetically sang in speakeasies in Harlem and made her own way in the world. 

For more on race and sexuality in Harlem, and on Gladys herself, check out Bulldaggers, pansies, and chocolate babies : performance, race, and sexuality in the Harlem Renaissance by James F. Wilson.  

If you’re more feeling a documentary, Duke Libraries offers “Unladylike2020: unsung women who changed America”, both streaming and on DVD. 

Juneteenth Jambouree   Louis Jordan 

Then we have this amazing recording of Louis Jordan (1908-1975), complete with some serious dance moves. Jordan cut across genres, and changed the face of music and R&B forever. Read more about Jordan in Louis Jordan: son of Arkansas father of R&B by Stephen Koch (find it in the library here), or explore more of his contributions to musical history with the Platinum Collection, streaming online through Duke Libraries. 

Happy Retirement, Debbie!

Debra (Debbie) Taylor is retiring from Duke University Libraries after over 45 years (!) of service to Duke University. Thank you, Debbie!

First, we hear from Debbie herself, reflecting on her time at Duke:

Debbie Taylor portrait on blueCelebrating retirement as a Library Assistant. A person who stops at nothing to achieve her goals. Known to be full of joy, full of energy, and an immense love for people.

I have had the honor of being at Duke University for 45 plus years working in various departments. As much as I have enjoyed my time working here at Duke, it is now time for me to embark on my next adventure. I am excited to be able to spend more time with my family and friends.

In all sincerity, I will miss seeing smiling faces of my colleagues and friends, and although I am retiring from Duke University, I find joy and solace in taking your friendships with me. It has been an incredible journey. As the saying goes, our professional lives are filled with people usually who come and go. Personally for me, I will always hold in my heart everyone that I have met along my Duke journey. I am so grateful for all the times my colleagues and I have worked together. My colleagues have always been such an inspiring and an admirable group; just like family from the very beginning.

Debbie office portrait

To all my lunch friends, your kindness and your friendships have been such a blessing to experience. All of my experiences, filled with lots of laughter and fun, I will take with me and treasure the years we have worked together. Time has passed us by so fast. It seems like only yesterday when we all met and became a family. There are times where I ask myself, “Where did all those years go at Perkins Library and Smith Warehouse?” As time continues to move, the memories that I have of my Duke family will remain steadfast in my heart. I am grateful. Thank you, Duke University, for an incredible journey. I would like to leave this special word with everyone,



And of course, her colleagues wanted to share a few words in congratulations:

Virginia Martin:

I am grateful to have had the opportunity to get to know Debbie better over the past few years after she joined the CRA department. When I think about Debbie, what stands out to me the most is how much love and kindness she offers to others, whether it be her family, friends, or colleagues. She is generous with her time and energy, always willing to lend a helping hand or a listening ear. I will definitely miss the positive energy that Debbie brings to Smith every day. Earlier this year, when she returned to the office after a couple of months away, we all noticed the change in office vibe –

Party picture for Debbie

Debbie was back! And somehow Smith was more lively and fun. With 45 years of service, however, Debbie deserves a break. I hope that the next magazine she picks up is one that she is taking to the beach!

Bethany Blankemeyer:

Even though we only worked together for a short period of time, Debbie made such an impact on my time here at Duke. From day one she made me feel welcome and comfortable. I always enjoyed checking in and chatting with her about her family or her time here at Duke. Debbie is such a kind and thoughtful colleague and she will be greatly missed here at Smith! I wish her a happy and restful retirement filled with lots of family time!

Abby Wickes:

From the first time I met Debbie during my interview with the department, I remember her being incredibly friendly and welcoming. She’s a gracious colleague who checks in on teammates regularly. She was particularly thoughtful this past year when I was expecting, always asking “how y’all doing?” whenever I’d see her. I’ll really miss seeing Debbie around Smith, and I wish her lots of fun and relaxation during this exciting next chapter!

Antha Marshall: Party photo with Debbie and Antha

Debbie began working in the Acquisitions Department in Perkins Library in 1980.  It has been a pleasure to have worked with her all these years.  Getting to know Debbie’s family as well has been wonderful.  We recall how much fun we have had through the years attending DULSA parties for Halloween and Christmas and birthday parties for co-workers.  Debbie will be missed!  I wish her much happiness and joy as she retires!

Adam Hudnut-Beumler:

Working with Debbie has been a complete joy. Even though we only got to overlap in our department for a little over a year it feels like much longer because Debbie’s innate kindness made me feel so welcome right away. I have met few people in my life as reliable and resilient as Debbie Taylor. In truth, Debbie is a model colleague, friend, and person. We will all miss Debbie and the frequent loving stories of her tight-knit and talented family greatly, but I am happy Debbie will have even more time to spend with that very special family!

Debbie at field dayDebbie party 2

Thank you for everything, Debbie!

Sharing: Resources on the Russian Invasion of Ukraine

In Technical Services, our jobs revolve around obtaining and making available information and resources. Right now, we can’t think of more important information to share than this vital post by our esteemed colleague, Ernest Zitser, with reliable sources of news, scholarship and places to take action. Ernest, thank you for your hard work – with you, we wish to work towards a peaceful resolution to this conflict, as soon as possible.

Logo and title for IAS blog: Been All Around This World

Resources on the Russian Invasion of Ukraine

Happy Retirement, Jean!

Jean Hall and friends in 1994

Join us in wishing a hearty congratulations to Jean Hall on her retirement this month! Jean is nothing short of an institution at DUL and Technical Services, and is retiring after a career of 45 years. Take it away, Jean:

“I started on January 27, 1977. I had just graduated with an Associate’s Degree in Business Administration in December 1976.  I worked all of my 45 years in the Acquisitions department.

I started out as a clerk typist in Acquisitions. I typed up all of the purchase orders from the professors. Somewhere down the line my position was upgraded to a library assistant. I was in the accounting unit at one time. I even learned how to write computer programs for accounting.  I was upgraded to a library assistant senior at one point.  Over the years, I have processed approval book and firm order books.  I really enjoyed working with the Weinberg approval books. I couldn’t speak Hebrew, but I had fun matching up some of the Hebrew books to the Hebrew characters on the invoice.

I was one of the first group of library workers to organize the Ergonomic Committee in the library.Jean Hall and friends at a retirement party

I also bowled in the Duke Blue Devils Bowling League.  I was given the nickname Mean Jean the Bowling Machine.

As I start this new chapter in my life, the first thing that I will do on Monday morning, is to sleep past 5:00am. I will have to remember to turn off my alarm clock.”

An impressive list of roles and experiences for sure, Jean will be missed (though if there’s ever a bowling league again we are bringing her back as coach)!


One of Jean’s colleagues over these many years has been Antha Marshall, who shared a few words about Jean:

“Jean was born at Duke Hospital and continues to live in Durham.  She is a graduate of Durham High School and played in the band.  Jean remembers how downtown Durham was from the late 50’s through the early 70’s before there were many malls.  Most of the department stores were located in downtown. She and I frequently reminisce about Belks, Amos & Andy’s hotdogs, Five Points, and the sweet fragrance of cured tobacco in downtown.

Jean belonged to a bowling league that included her parents.  She and her family would often travel to bowling competitions in other states.  It was always interesting to hear her describe different parts of the United States that she had traveled to and also a variety of musical groups, such as Alabama, that she got to hear.  When Jean first heard the group Alabama, at Myrtle Beach, SC, they had not yet become famous.

Jean is an expert at processing Hebrew materials.  She would lend her expertise to anyone that had a question regarding an invoice, a vendor of Hebrew material, or a book.

I wish Jean much happiness in her retirement!”

We wish you all the best Jean, enjoy retirement and don’t forget to turn that alarm off!

Happy Retirement, Deb Fields!

On May 21st Duke University Libraries will bid a fond farewell to our amazing Technical Services colleague Deb Fields. After 42 years working for the library, Deb has helped so many people with her seemingly infinite expertise and thoughtful approach to work. We asked Deb and some of her longtime colleagues to share some DUL memories on the occasion of her retirement.  

Deb Fields 

Tell us something interesting about yourself most people probably don’t know. 

I’m a pretty open book, but those of you who work closely with me know that I like quilting and canning. My grandmother taught me how to do simple block quilting when I was younger, and that’s something I want to share with my granddaughter. Some folks reap the rewards of my gardening and canning; I like to bring stuff in whether folks want it or not! I also have a second job with my sweetie’s trucking business. I’ve done his bookkeeping work for the last 15 years. Also, not everyone knows I have a wicked sense of humor.  

Tell us about some of your memorable moments working at Duke over time 

I told Virginia the other day I didn’t like all of these questions, because what I find memorable is also sad in a way. A memorable moment for me was meeting my soulmate Larry years ago, and having a fine life with him until he passed. We both worked at Perkins. I can talk about this now without crying, so that’s a good sign.  

Another memorable moment for me is I met my best friend of 38 years, Penny. She’s been much more than a colleague; she’s seen me through the good and the bad, and I absolutely treasure her. 

On top of all of this, my primary memorable moment was my first day at Duke University. My son Chris was 11-weeks old, and I was trying to hold back the tears all day. I was missing my baby, and I wanted to quit. Back then you had to walk to Perkins to get your benefits, and I fell! We’d had a huge snowstorm that weekend, and it was snowy and icy. But a nice young man helped me up and helped me get to the door of the library. Thankfully I didn’t quit. 

How did you know you wanted to work at Duke? 

It wasn’t so much that I wanted to work at Duke; Duke was the first job after having Chris that I applied for. Fortunately, I was hired, so you could say Duke chose me. I’ve had five or six different jobs. They’ve always been in Technical Services, the majority in Acquisitions. I’ve enjoyed the work, and I’ve been fortunate enough to have had supervisors who encourage me and support me learning new things. 

What are some of the biggest changes you’ve experienced throughout your career at Duke? 

Personally, I was divorced, I was married, I was widowed. Professionally, I had to learn different ILSs and adjust to a variety of supervisors over the years. Technology has changed a lot in my forty-something years. When you look in Aleph you might wonder, who the heck is CRM? Only people who have been here for a while know that’s my son’s initials. 

I should send you a list of jobs I’ve had over the years. I was departmental secretary for Acquisitions a while. I started out as a clerk typist making $3.23 an hour. One of the first desktop PCs in the department landed on the secretary’s desk. It had Lotus 12-3, which we now call Excel. I also did typing on the side for a few professors’ manuscripts for books for publication. 

What’s the first thing you want to do for fun when you retire?  


I actually want to take a trip to the beach. I love the Outer Banks. I love to fish. We’re thinking late September or early October because the fish like to run around and get caught that time of year. This summer I’ll also be watching my granddaughter, and I want to resume birthday lunches with fellow DUL “life timers.” I’ve also never made a quilt for myself, so I hope to work on my bookshelf quilt and a dragon quilt for my granddaughter. 

Deb's bookshelf quilt in progress

Any other parting thoughts? 

I hope my colleagues feel that I’ve been a thoughtful, kind, and respectful colleague to them. I hope they feel I’ve helped them. I think my colleagues here in Technical Services are the best on the planet.   

Antha Marshall 

I met Deb when she was hired to work in the Acquisitions Department.  We realized then that we had attended junior high school together and knew some of the same people. Two of my favorite things about Deb are her friendliness and sense of humor.  We have had many laughs through the years.  I will miss her wealth of knowledge of serials and periodicals.  Also, Deb would contribute to keeping the Candy Bowl filled up by bringing bags of candy! 

Shelia Webb 

I met Deb when she came to Duke as part of the Acquisitions Dept. under Rick Keyworth and Mary Plowden.  I was working in the Serials Records Dept. and I placed the serial and periodical orders.  Her department handled the monograph orders.  We shared a database to print orders and claims. We had scheduled times to print and this was my first interaction with Deb. 

One of the favorite things Deb used to say to me was “You are breathing my air”! When I joined the Acquisitions Accounting Dept. in 2009, Deb trained me in all the processes, and the one we did not care for was invoice reversals.  When she is in a good mood, she is “Deb”, but when she is in a bad mood, she is “Debra”.  I loved the looks she gave me when I was getting on her nerves with my silly antics.  I told her if I don’t get on your nerves, who will!!  I learned a lot from Deb and she never got tired of helping me get what I needed to do my job. She tried her best to keep me in line, but that was a hard job! I miss our morning walks and talks when we were onsite.  I just miss her! 

I don’t think most people know that Deb grew up in a military family or how talented Deb is outside of work.  She makes beautiful quilts and is a very crafty person.  She is a “Jack of All Trades” and a master of them all!! 

Whenever we had luncheons or meetings offsite, Deb always offered the transportation.  We always went in her car, but she did not want to drive—that was Penny’s job!  She made sure we all went together and came back together. Deb loves to do for others and wants nothing back in return.  I wish her the best retirement, she has definitely paid her dues!! 

Penny Brown 

I first met Debra when I came to work for the library in July 1982.  She was the departmental secretary type person.  I’m not sure what her title was but she was surely a jack of all trades (and still is)!  If anyone needed anything she knew where to find it or was able to do it.   She was always kind, friendly, and helpful.  She made me feel at ease which wasn’t a simple task as this was my first full time job.  She is one of the hardest workers I’ve ever known.  When she was supervisor, she wouldn’t ask us to do anything she wouldn’t do herself.  She was always right there to open a box or type and order.   We became fast friends.  She isn’t just a coworker or colleague.  She is family.  We have shared lots of laughter and more than a few tears over the 39 years we’ve worked together.   

Debra is one of the kindest people I have ever met.   She has the biggest heart of anyone I know.  Always the giver.   She’s always willing to help whether its work related or something personal.  At work she is always to first one to volunteer for the job nobody else wants.   One of Debra’s hobbies is making quilts.  When my children were little, she made several quilts and Halloween costumes for them.  Everything from pumpkins to princesses.   She is one of the few people I know who still does things that have become a lost art, things like sewing, gardening, canning, freezing, pickling things.  You don’t see much of that any more.   I am hoping that working from home will make her retirement a little less painful for me.  It will be a big loss for me personally.   I will miss having a confidant and supporter, a sounding board, and someone on whom I can always depend at work!!!  Fortunately for me, our friendship doesn’t end with retirement; but the office will certainly be missing something big. 

Virginia Martin 

I believe I first met Deb before I started working at Duke because she was on the search committee that hired me! We’ve worked together since I started at Duke in October 2014, and she really was my touchstone during my first few months at the library, showing me the ropes in Aleph and teaching me about how we handle orders and invoices for subscriptions. I think she was the one who blew my mind about how we treat periodicals and serials differently at DUL, which is something I had never heard of before. Deb was – and still is – always generous with her time and support. I had a pretty rough onboarding process and I don’t think I would have made it through without Deb’s help.  

I will miss everything about Deb when she retires! She’s the only person in the department who is comfortable teasing me and giving me a hard time, which is maybe what I will miss the most. Pre-pandemic, she was the frequent victim of my “drop-bys,” and would listen to me talk about what I had been cooking or patiently explain to me the history of why we do some of the weird things we do around Technical Services. I’ll miss hearing about what is going on with her sweetie, Mr. King, and her granddaughter, Maya. I’ll also miss all of the expertise and knowledge she has about our work; losing that will be big hit to the department, but fortunately she has put in a lot of time training all of us so that we’re ready to handle things ourselves when she’s gone. She’s just so dependable, helpful, and kind – lots to miss there! 

Many of Deb’s hidden qualities have already been revealed by others earlier in this blog post, but one thing that hasn’t been mentioned yet is her evil twin, “Margaret.” When Deb isn’t having a good day, Margaret appears, and takes the blame for any surliness. The funny thing about Margaret is that she is just as helpful and dependable as Deb is!  

I want to thank Deb for all that she has done for the library over her 43 years of service, and for me personally over the past six and a half years. With Deb, I grew our little baby department that was just the two of us in December 2016 into what is now, five years later, a much larger department of ten. She and I have learned and grown so much together over the years, and have really supported one another. I am so grateful to Deb for being there for me and being such an awesome colleague and friend. I hope that her retirement is amazing, because she really deserves it.  



Farewell and Happy Retirement, Jane!

Our esteemed colleague Jane Bloemeke has worked with us here at Duke Libraries for 42 years, starting fresh out of high school in 1979.  She started her DUL career working with the Bindery before moving to Serials Receipts where she specialized in Periodicals, finally joining us here in Monograph Acquisitions where she placed and processed orders for librarians all over the libraries. Below are a few of the words of appreciation from co-workers past and present. 

Dear Jane, 

Congratulations on your retirement. 

I am very lucky to be able to work with you for 20 years. You have been a wonderful neighbor to sit next to all these many years, and every day I go to work I see that you are already working there. When I learned that you were going to retire, I was really sad.  The library is like a big family, and you are like members of my family. I will miss us working together and chatting together. I have prepared a gift for you, I hope you like it. When you see it in the future, you will remember the scene of us working together. Thank you for your help in my work. I hope you will enjoy your good life after retirement and you are safe and healthy. 

Yaoli Shi 


Due to a reorganization in Technical Services, I started working in the same unit with Jane in January of 1991.  This team processed the serials, periodicals, and set standing orders.  I became aware that Jane had many talents, such as, she has a great singing voice and she can write poems for any occasion.  She would give her poems to people at their birthday celebrations or for other occasions.  With her enthusiastic spirit, she enjoyed team parties and readily helped with the preparation for them.  Jane has always been a friendly and pleasant person to know and to work with throughout the years!  Upon her retirement, I wish her much joy and happiness as she begins this new chapter in her life. 



Orange and white kitten wearing a top hat with front paws in the airI had the good fortune to work with Jane when I was in Order Management, and then lucked out when she became my Order Specialist for music after I transitioned to the Music Library!  One quality of Jane’s I’ve enjoyed most over the years is her sense of humor—she has the *most* infectious laugh which always gets me giggling too, usually over crazy ordering snafus on my part, like the time I inadvertently cut off a couple of numbers when copying an OCLC # for her so that instead of a record for an incredibly staid Bach score that I had meant to send her, the number brought up this random and wacky title when she searched for it on OCLC: From artichokes to Zanesville: the story of trucks serving America.  I think this was also probably one of many instances where we exchanged some goofy icon with “jazz hands”—appropriate for music orders, but also for the many, many funny circumstances and the many good laughs we had during all of those great years working together.   I really appreciated what a fantastic colleague Jane has always been, always helpful, always cheerful, incredibly thorough and conscientious, and just a really caring person.   Thank you, Jane, and have a fantastic and fun retirement!  

Laura Williams 


Hi Jane. It was great working with you for so many years. I wish you a long and happy retirement. You deserve it.

Ken Wetherington 


Drawing of a gray cartoon cat wearing a Santa hat and green-and-red scarf

I had the privilege of working with Jane for several years in the former Receipts Management Section. In addition to her strong work ethic (and her knowledge of AV materials), I remember her fun sense of humor! We loved talking about Lucille Ball and our favorite “I Love Lucy” episodes.  We also looked forward to snow in the weather forecast, and had fun trading this cute cartoon back and forth via email on such occasions! I’ll miss Jane’s presence at Smith Warehouse, but wish her all the best in retirement!  

Lesley Looper 

Jane is a caring, funny, and most importantly CAT-LOVING colleague and wonderful friend with whom is has been my deep pleasure to work with over the years. Perhaps my favorite recollection from our ordering days together is that we spoke with each other over the phone almost daily – I miss those times, and I will greatly miss Jane’s presence at Smith. Congratulations on your retirement, Jane, and please, please, please keep in touch!!! 

Here are a few snippets from emails and PEPs that illustrate her dedication and good grace: 

“OMG, Jane, are you going to drop down in your tracks from all this extra ordering? Yikes!” – 8/10/2012 [Danette to Jane] 

“Ms. Bloemeke does an excellent job of communication. She is easy to work with, responsive, and professional in all she does. I feel very lucky to have Ms. Bloemeke on my team!”– 4/8/2013 [contribution to Jane’s PEP] 

“I’d like to share a recent excerpt from an email from a user, who benefited from Jane’s proactive work. When Ms. Bloemeke discovered that the DVD requested by [the patron] wouldn’t arrive until payment was received, she asked the filmmaker if a link could be sent to the student who wanted to include an analysis in her senior honors thesis; on Monday, April 4, 2016 [the patron] wrote: “[The filmmaker] just sent me the link to the film after Jane Bloemeke requested it from her. Thanks so much for your help securing it!” – 4/5/2016 [contribution to Jane’s PEP] 

“We already ordered this one; you requested it as a rush in January.  It has been in production, and just happened to arrive today!   Yay!” [Jane to Danette] 
“Wow, now that’s service! Thanks, Jane. 😎” [Danette to Jane] – 4/6/2016 

From: Jane Bloemeke 
Sent: Monday, September 12, 2016 4:57 AM
To: Danette Pachtner
Subject: RE: Rush book for Lilly Reserves; Fall2016 

It’ll be here tomorrow. [Jane to Danette] 

“Thanks, Jane!!! What time do you awaken… ?! J [Danette to Jane] 9-12-2016 

“I miss you SO MUCH!!!! :))))))  Thanks!!! Happy Friday!” 9/20/2019 [Danette to Jane] 

Danette Pachtner 


It has been an absolute pleasure and honor to work with Jane over my first few years at Smith and DUL. She was a good-natured and patient trainer as I learned the ropes of A/V materials and remained my go-to consultant for all such matters. I especially appreciate her laugh, which would always brighten my day. Jane, I know I made a lot of corny jokes, so thank you for laughing even if you were just humoring my attempts at humor. She was also always willing to help out with whatever questions or issues I or anyone else encountered, and consistently with nothing but upbeatness and cheer. Jane, I wish you nothing but the happiest of retirement. We’ll miss you! 

Stephen Conrad 


I remember so clearly when I first met Jane – during the interview session for my first (unsuccessful!) attempt to get a job in Order Management. Jane’s wit and friendliness did not fully mask her ability to look straight through me and see that I had little idea what I was talking about where library acquisitions were concerned! 

Luckily for me, Jane was welcoming and encouraging when I finally did manage to claw my way into the department. In what I came to understand as standard behavior, Jane helped situate me within the culture of Order Management and offered me guidance on GOBI, workflow management, and the expected responsiveness on the part of the Order Specialist. 

When I moved into a position of supervision within the department, it became clear that my experience of Jane was shared throughout DUL. Every year, come PEP time, I heard from librarians who were eager to offer praise and appreciation for Jane’s steady support. It was always such a relief to know that I could count on Jane to focus on her work with good cheer and reliability. 

Jane’s spirit and friendliness will be missed in MonoACQ, but we’re so happy for her that she’s able to start her much anticipated retirement! Best of luck, Jane, from a deeply grateful supervisor. 

Bill Verner 

Info Sessions for Head of Resource Description, Duke University Libraries

Arial Image of Perkins Library

Please join us to learn more about the position and ask questions.

We are offering two identical sessions over Zoom for interested candidates. We will share more information about the university, our library, and the Head, Resource Description position. We would also be happy to answer questions or put you in touch with staff to learn more about working at Duke or living in the Triangle region. No registration is needed – just click the link at the listed date and time.  All times are in Eastern Standard Time.

Tuesday, March 9th, 4-5pm EST:

Monday, March 15th, Noon-1pm EST:

The Head of Resource Description provides strategic direction and operational management of bibliographic metadata and cataloging infrastructure, policies, and practices. The position reports to Dracine Hodges and is a member of the division’s leadership team. You will direct Resource Description production of MARC metadata at all levels, in all formats, and languages reflected in Duke University Libraries’ (DUL) collections strategy. You will lead change initiatives in response to emerging data models (RDF, BIBFRAME, Linked Data), to enhance user-centered resource discovery, and transitions driven by technological innovation (e.g. FOLIO, SHARE-VDE).

Learn more here:



Betsy Sorrell Retires after 40 Years of Dedicated Service

Betsy Sorrell with her Firefigher Monkey in her Smith Warehouse cube
Betsy’s cube mate, Firefighter Monkey, reminds her of her firefighter husband. Sadly, Firefighter Monkey has not volunteered to stay after her retirement!

As Betsy Sorrell celebrates her 40th year at Duke University Libraries, she is also retiring on October 23! We’ll certainly miss her work in Shelf Preparation Section, as well as her kind spirit and wonderful sense of humor!  All of TS will miss hearing her signature statement, “It’s gonna be allllright!”

Betsy’s Career

Betsy started on December 22, 1980 in the Marking and Repair Unit in Technical Services. One of her early tasks was learning how to use (and clean) the pasting machine. She wasn’t very impressed with that pasting machine, and considered quitting! Well, thank goodness for us, she stuck with it. (Tenacity is one of Betsy’s strong points—she doesn’t give up easily, and has a great attitude about her work!) She started out as a part-time Library Clerk for the first year, then switched with a full-time colleague who wanted to work a part-time schedule.

Over the years, Betsy has gained responsibility on the job, as her position has been upgraded from Library Clerk to Library Assistant to Library Assistant Sr. Her duties have grown, as the name of her unit has changed over the years to better describe the work of Betsy and her colleagues. Betsy started her career in Marking and Repair, which later changed to Materials Processing Unit (or MPU), and last, but not least, Shelf Preparation Section. Betsy’s early duties included typing call number labels on a typewriter, in addition to using the pasting machine that almost sent her jobhunting again! Now Betsy processes a variety of materials, from monographs to DVDs, as well as prepping the YBP shelf-ready materials for delivery to circulation points across campus.

Betsy’s Personal Milestones

Since Betsy’s been at Duke Libraries, she’s gotten married, had two children, and now two darling grandsons who think their “Nana” is the best!

 What Betsy’s Liked the Most about Working at DUL

Betsy has enjoyed learning new things throughout her career, including keeping up with all the new technology over the 40-year span of her career. (No more pasting machines or typewriters!)

But most of all, though, Betsy’s enjoyed getting to know her DUL colleagues, and I have to say that the feeling’s mutual. We’ve really enjoyed knowing Betsy over the years, and we will miss her hard work ethic and fun sense of humor!

And last but not least, here are some comments about Betsy from last week’s DUL Career Service Awards ceremony, captured from the Zoom chat:

  • Thank you, thank you, Betsy! You’ve seen a lot and been an essential part of the Libraries. Thank you for staying with us for 40 years! All the best to you in retirement!
  • My heart is melting and I really want Betsy to stay! 🙂
  • Betsy is the best!
  • Congratulations, Betsy!
  • Wow, Betsy! Congratulations!
  • Congratulations, Betsy! I am going to miss you and the joy and happiness you bring to us in DULTS every day.
  • Congratulations Betsy! I wish you the best, enjoy your retirement! We will miss you lots!
  • I remember Betsy and I filing cards in the public catalog every week. She made a tedious job a lot more pleasurable. I’ll miss you.
  • Congrats, Betsy! Thanks so much for your work and your kindness. I was always happy to see you at Smith.
  • Congratulations, Betsy!! It’s a remarkable career, and I hope you have a wonderful retirement!
  • Congratulations Betsy!! Enjoy retirement!
  • WOW Congrats Betsy….great working with you …..her favorite words…..HEY SHUGG! Enjoy retirement.
  • Congratulations Betsy! We will miss your amazing spirit at DULTS!
  • Congrats Betsy, I will miss you more than you know!
  • You go girrl!
  • And for endearing nicknames when she says hello. “Hey, shug!”

A Virtual Look Back with Shelia Webb

Shelia Webb on the occasion of her 45-year anniversary with Duke University
Shelia on the occasion of her 45-year anniversary with Duke University

On July 31, 2020, Duke University Libraries will say a heartfelt farewell to a Superstar of our Support Staff: Shelia Webb has decided to retire after over 46 years with Duke. Although she has spent the last few years in Business Services, the majority of Shelia’s career happened in Technical Services, and her physical office space remained with us in Smith. So, although the pandemic has robbed our go-to party planner of her own retirement party, we could not let this occasion go unmarked. Shelia has been a champion of Support Staff issues both within the Library and the University. A powerful personality with a sharp sense of humor and a strong work ethic, Shelia is impossible to summarize or encapsulate in a single blog post. She’s a loyal friend to many and a constant source of support, not only in the professional sphere, but in the personal realm of boosting another up and helping them through the days, months, and years of their lives. In that way she’s a good example of what makes the staff at DUL so much like an extended family. Shelia’s contributions to the Library and to our lives will stay with us as she moves into this next chapter of her life.

Here’s a look back with Shelia over her years with DUL, as told by the Star herself, in a socially-distanced, virtual interview. Take it away Shelia!

Getting started in the world of library technical services:

I transferred to the Library from Dietary Services at Duke South on July 26, 1976, which was my 1st wedding anniversary.  I was hired by Asta Smith, whose husband Eric Smith was a Reference Librarian.  It was a great group.  I was part of Serials records, which consisted of Daisy Whiteside, Debi Woody (Eason), Vera Roberts and Asta Smith (Head).  Later Dale Edgerton, Beverly Mills, Jeannie Beck, Jacqui Brown and Jane Bloemeke completed the section.

An evolving career in library acquisitions:

I began as a Clerk Typist and when Daisy Whiteside left, I was automatically promoted to her position as Library Clerk. I was later promoted to Library Assistant, and then a lateral move as the first Library Assistant to place periodical orders.  When the libraries did Recon (retrospective conversion of the physical catalog to an online one) they needed someone to coordinate that process and I was promoted to Library Assistant, Sr. in that role.  As time evolved, my duties changed and I was given the duties back that were removed when I got promoted.  We switched off duties by the week, so we all had to learn all the duties in the Section.  We merged with the Acquisitions/Accounting Department as Acquisitions Serials.  Then later we became the Acquisitions Department. After that, the serials and periodicals check-in merged with the Documents Department headed by Ann Miller.  After I received my bachelor’s degree in 2003, Ann recommended that I be placed in a position that I showed the most interest in and that was financial.  I had a meeting with Nancy Gibbs and Marty Berryman and in my new position, I became an Invoice Specialist, which was later changed to a Staff Assistant.  After Nancy retired and Teddy Gray departed, I was under Bill Verner who was Interim Head, and then Head of Acquisitions.  In December 2016, I became part of Business Services under Jameca Dupree.

Shelia in 1998, when computer monitors were the size of microwave ovens
Shelia in 1998, when computer monitors were the size of microwave ovens

A tireless advocate and booster for her colleagues and community:

I was on DULSA [Duke University Libraries Staff Association] and the Library Support Staff Council (elected representative) from 2001-2003.  I was the second Library representative on the Duke University Parking Advisory Committee (2001-2003).  We needed representation because Parking Services would oversell the parking lots and it was a mess each year when we renewed our stickers.  Some staff who came to work later could not find a parking space and they were being charged to park. I was a member of the first Perkins Library Diversity Working Group (2001-2003). We won the first Duke University Diversity Award, which was a $750 prize.  I was also on the Staff Development Committee (2004-2008). I was a tester for OLE [Open Library Environment] for a little over 6 years (2009-2015).  That was a challenging task!  I somehow became the party planner and loved doing end of the fiscal year and retirement parties.  My latest committee was the Smith Warehouse Social Committee, which I joined in 2009.  I represented the Library for three annual social events with this committee – Holiday Party, Pizza Party, and the Ice Cream Social.  On this committee, I met people from all over Smith.  These were morale builders!

Outside the library, I am on the Executive Board of my church and also the Hospitality Committee.  I am part of several organizations, like The Order of the Eastern Star (Drucilla #19), Zafa Court #41 and the Golden Circle.  I am on one of my high school reunion Committees that we formed in the early 1990’s, NHSBAA (Northern High School Black Alumni Association).  I have been a part of planning three very successful reunions with this Association.  I am also my family’s official family reunion planner. I just turned that task over to my nieces this year.  They did a great job, but the pandemic put that to a halt.

And, DUL was just her day job:

I worked as a staff assistant (night Page Supervisor) at the Durham County Library for 20 years from December 1997 to June 2007.  I did a variety of duties there, such as working the circulation desk, new patron registration, assisting patrons at other service points, and collecting fines and fees.  I had a staff of three at night who were responsible for re-shelving the books.  I continued to work this position after I enrolled in Shaw University’s CAPE (Center for Alternative Programs of Education) program in 1999.  While at Shaw, I was crowned Miss Durham CAPE from 2002-2003. I was a member of the Alpha Chi National Honor Society.  To help with my tuition, I wrote an essay for a scholarship offered by Glaxo-Smith-Kline about overcoming adversity and going on to attend college and succeeding.  I was one of seven candidates who received an award and the amount awarded to me was $13,000. I graduated summa cum laude in May 2003.  I always wanted a college degree and that was my motivation.  I worked for the Durham County Agriculture as a contractor while I pursued my MBA from Pfeiffer University.  I attended online from January 2016 to December 2017.

What do you wish more people knew about your work in the library?

How hard I worked on the OLE Project.  It was a full-time job in itself.  When it was terminated, I felt that all that hard work was in vain.  I had to document procedures as a tester with no instructions, and there was no one in any of the other libraries working on the financial part of the system in the beginning.

What have been your biggest challenges in your career?

Trying to adapt to all the new systems over the years and not getting them mixed up with each other.  And also, remembering all the passwords for each of them!!!

What is the most fun you’ve had at work in DUL?

When the library staff did the entertainment for library parties, we used to have plays and singing programs.  The Plays were written and directed by library staff.  One I remember was the “The Wizard of Ros”, of course based on who else – Ros Raeford! We used to have designated days like, “Hat Day”, when all staff wore different type hats. We once hired a “Mourner” for a staff member’s birthday who was turning 40.  It was hilarious as her youth was mourned away with information about her they received from us. When Staff Appreciation Week came, Duke gave us prizes all week and a big luncheon on the quad.  To top off the week, there was a big carnival and lots of catered food and we invited our families on that weekend! We used to get bonuses in addition to our raises if you met exceeded expectations on your evaluation. There was never a dull moment back then!

What thoughts or advice would you like to leave us with, as you move into retirement?

Keep a positive attitude!  When you are thrown lemons, make lemonade.  Goodbye tension—hello pension!!!!

A Mad Hatter Party, with Antha Marshall, Debra Taylor, Marvin Tillman, Beverly Mills, and Gail Sewell
A Mad Hatter Party, with Antha Marshall, Debra Taylor, Marvin Tillman, Beverly Mills, and Gail Sewell