The University of Massachusetts Amherst


The UMass Amherst Libraries are pleased to announce that the recipient of the 2021 Sir Harold W. Kroto and Steve F.A. Acquah GEOSET (Global Educational Outreach for Science Engineering and Technology) Award is Jacque Moon Yee ’22, a rising senior who produced an animated video about Saccharin, the artificial sweetener, and why it is so controversial. 

“I am incredibly honored to receive this year's GEOSET Award from Dr. Acquah,” Yee says. “I am very grateful for the recognition of my work with Professor Laura Vandenburg in the SCoPE (Science Communication to Promote Environmental Health) program at UMass, and I hope to continue to share science education with the world through digital media.”

The award was established by Steve Acquah, Digital Media Coordinator and Associate Research Professor of Chemistry, to continue the late Nobel Laureate’s legacy in research and outreach. It is given each year to a chemistry major who has demonstrated excellence in science communication through digital media. The Chemistry Award Ceremony falls on the fifth anniversary of Kroto's passing, a timely tribute.

“This past year we all became experts in digital media, navigating a landscape that was challenging at times,” says Acquah, “but over the next year, I hope we all continue to find new and exciting ways to communicate our work and ideas through digital media.”

The UMass Amherst Libraries are pleased to announce FalConference: a one-day virtual conference where the community is invited to join the Du Bois Falcon team and their collaborators on- and off-campus as they discuss all things Peregrine. The event will take place on Zoom on Friday, May 21, 2021, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and is free and open to the public.

Peregrine falcons have successfully nested on the roof of the Du Bois Library at UMass Amherst since 2003. A live web camera was installed atop the Library in 2012, made possible by the UMass Amherst Facilities Planning Division, UMass Amherst Information Technology (IT), the Libraries' Systems and Web Management Department, the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife (MassWildlife), and the generous donors to the Du Bois Falcons Fund. Viewers can stream the webcam from the Library website at and follow the falcons on Twitter at @DuBoisFalcons.

The conference consists of several panels, including “The History of the Falcon Reintroduction Program in Massachusetts and at UMass,” “The Art and Science of Banding Wild Falcons,” and a special “Birds of Prey” program with Tom Ricardi, raptor rehabilitator. The full schedule can be viewed on the FalConference website.

Additionally, the FalConference team is excited to collaborate with The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art and collect images of falcon-themed artwork from the community to be displayed in the FalConference online gallery.

The UMass Amherst Libraries are pleased to announce the winners of the 2021 Undergraduate Sustainability Award. 

The 2021 Undergraduate Sustainability Award is a collaboration between the UMass Amherst Libraries and Lillian Kurina ’21, a Natural Resource Conservation major and Waste and Recycling Fellow through the Physical Plant. For her semester project, Lillian developed the concept of the award focusing on art to inspire UMass Amherst undergraduates of all backgrounds to reflect on their relationship to the environment and how they experience climate change.

The competition was open to all currently enrolled UMass Amherst undergraduates. Five winners were chosen and received $700 scholarships from the Libraries’ Sustainability Fund.

  • Jenna DiDonato ’21, for a choreographed dance to “Over the Rainbow”
  • Kelly Jankauskas ’22, for a poem, “Asking for More”
  • Jin Lee ’24, for a painting inspired by her work at the Joppa Flats MassAudubon bird banding station
  • Fatimah Rashid ’24, for a short, animated video inspired by Pixar’s WALL-E
  • Sruthi Tanikella ’22, for mandala art, “Goddess of Earth”

Winners will present their projects in a virtual reception on Thursday, April 29, 2021, 5:30 p.m.

A gallery of all submissions is available for browsing.

Savoring Spring, Planning for Fall

As vaccination numbers rise, and COVID-19 transmissions decline, the Libraries have at long last been able to reopen a limited number of study spaces to our students – and it is wonderful to have students taking advantage of the opportunity! We have implemented a number of safety measures to ensure that those who use our spaces will face minimal risk of infection, including a reservation system for seats in both the W.E.B. Du Bois Library and the Science & Engineering Library (SEL), as well as mandatory compliance with the campus “Green Checkmark” protocol, overseen by Environmental Health & Safety. We’re happy to note that our students are taking safety for themselves and our staff as seriously as they’re taking their study time, and the Libraries are once again filled with the sound of laptop keys clacking and pages turning. (Music to a librarian’s ears!)

The limited springtime reopening also includes resumed access to the newly renovated and expanded Digital Media Lab (DML), adjacent to our Learning Commons. Our DML staff each have significant expertise in new and emerging technologies that enhance student research and learning, such as 3D printingvirtual and augmented reality technology, and video and audio media production. Opportunities for learning these technologies and integrating them into the student learning experience is growing ever more critical in our increasingly online world, something the COVID-19 pandemic has made all too apparent.

We continue to prepare our physical spaces for the return of all students to campus for the Fall 2021 semester, with students being able to look forward to refreshed study spaces in both Du Bois and SEL.  The planned return to campus, however, has not lessened our focus on the availability of e-resources and digital media, including access to electronic journals, books, and monographs. Even with curbside pickup of materials available during the pandemic, we’ve seen a decline in physical circulation, and a corresponding increase in access to electronic materials. This trend offers benefits even beyond the obvious convenience of not having to dash across campus in the rain or snow to return a book. For example, many open educational resources are available in digital form to support student research and learning, and faculty who create and use them are able to target them directly to the classes they teach.  We’ll maintain our support for students remaining off-campus as remote learners until all students are able to return to campus. And our librarians will remain available to all students through chat and email to assist with research, identifying and obtaining resources. 

Spring at the UMass Libraries also means the return of the peregrine falcons that nest on top of the Du Bois Library tower. Thanks to the collaborative efforts of members of our Libraries staff from Communications and Library Technology services, along with the UMass Amherst Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research & Engagement, the UMass Amherst Physical Plant Division, the UMass Amherst Information Technology (IT), and the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife (MassWildlife), we are able to bring you a livestream of the nest. Many of these institutional partners are also joining us for a one-day FalConference on May 21 (via Zoom), which is free and open to the public. Please register to join us if you can!

My best wishes to you and your loved ones,


Simon Signature

Simon Neame
Dean of Libraries
There is no better time than now to support the UMass Amherst Libraries.

red, red tulips with yellow and black centers

Tulips in the Du Bois Library Courtyard Garden


Inspired by the recent acquisition of Daniel Ellsberg’s vast collection of personal papers by UMass Amherst Libraries' Special Collections and University Archives, this free online conference brings together more than two dozen distinguished historians, journalists, activists, whistleblowers, and former policymakers on the eve of the 50th anniversary of Ellsberg’s leak of the Pentagon Papers. The conference will include a keynote address by Daniel Ellsberg as well as and seven roundtable discussions, in which presenters will explore the major issues that have engaged Ellsberg’s life: the Vietnam War, nuclear weapons, antiwar resistance, the Pentagon Papers, Watergate, whistleblowing, and the wars of the 21st century.

This conference is the culmination of a year-long course taught by UMass Amherst historian Christian Appy and journalism professor Kathy Roberts Forde in collaboration with UMass alumnus Charles Sennott '84, founder of The GroundTruth Project, and fellow alumnus Jeremy Smith '94, the Daniel Ellsberg Archivist in Special Collections and University Archives, UMass Amherst Libraries, the repository for Ellsberg’s papers.

In addition to the conference, a website titled the Ellsberg Archive Project, will house conference materials, as well as items from Ellsberg’s papers selected by the students of professors Appy and Forde, and a five-part podcast series called The Whistleblower: Truth, Dissent & the Legacy of Daniel Ellsberg produced by GroundTruth in collaboration with GBH.

The conference was collectively organized by the UMass Amherst Departments of History and JournalismUMass Special Collections and University Archives, UMass Amherst Libraries; the UMass Amherst College of Humanities and Fine Arts; and The GroundTruth Project, with generous support from the Office of the Chancellor.

REGISTER for the Conference.
View a conference SCHEDULE including featured SPEAKERS.


The UMass Amherst Libraries are pleased to coordinate efforts for the Pioneer Valley’s participation in the annual international City Nature Challenge (CNC). The Challenge consists of a submission period from April 30-May 3, 2021, during which participants submit observations (such as photos or audio evidence) of wild plants, animals, and fungi using the free mobile app iNaturalist, and a crowdsource-based identification period from May 4-9, 2021.

According to the CNC website, the Challenge was started in 2016 by citizen science teams at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County and the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco “as a fun way to capitalize on their home cities’ friendly rivalry and hold a citizen science event around urban biodiversity.” Additionally, the wildlife information gathered during the Challenge “gives scientists, educators, urban planners, and policymakers insight into the biodiversity of urban locales throughout the world.” Last year, more than 800,000 observations were made.

Recently, Challenge organizers released a statement saying “In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2021 City Nature Challenge will not be focused on competition; instead we want to embrace the healing power of nature and celebrate tens of thousands of people all around the world, searching for and documenting their local biodiversity, together in this event.”

This year marks the second year that the Pioneer Valley is officially participating. Melanie Radik, librarian in the Science and Engineering Library, is spearheading organization efforts with an information guide and virtual workshops on April 29 and May 4 for interested participants.

RefWorks requires a subscription that is paid for by the University Libraries. Due to budget pressure, declining use, and increasing subscription cost, the Libraries have decided to cancel the subscription to RefWorks effective July 31, 2021. 

Considerations that went into this decision include:

  • Declining usage of RefWorks and continuing cost increases;

  • Availability of free alternative citation management tools such as Zotero and Mendeley available to students, faculty, and researchers.

The UMass Amherst Libraries are committed to supporting our community though this change and are providing assistance with migrating from RefWorks to another citation management tool. We will be offering workshops throughout the spring to help those using RefWorks to transition to a different citation manager, if they choose to do so.

Due to the short time we will retain access to RefWorks, at this point, we DO NOT recommend new users select RefWorks as their citation manager.

Signs of spring are beginning to slowly appear on campus, though we’ve still got a little while before the snow is fully gone. Along with warmer weather (and a decrease in COVID-19 cases on campus), the Libraries are preparing to implement our plans for student access in keeping with the guidelines from Environmental Health & Safety and University Health. All of the necessary details will be available on the Libraries’ website, and any changes to our protocols will be posted there.

Students on campus will be able to make use of our renovated and refreshed Library spaces. This includes the Digital Media Lab, which was relocated and expanded to a purpose-built space adjacent to our Learning Commons. Here, students and faculty can engage in projects and research, including dynamic technologies such as 3D printingvirtual and augmented reality technology, and video and audio media production, supported by a staff with expertise in each of these areas. 

Of course, our support for students remaining off-campus as remote learners will continue at the same level as before, with librarians available through chat and email to assist with research, identifying and obtaining resources, and ensuring that those resources are made available virtually wherever possible, but in hard-copy when necessary through the USPS with Library Express. 

We also want to highlight the work of Annette Vadnais ‘99, our Undergraduate Outreach Librarian, whose role it is to work closely with undergraduates, including first year and transfer students, to introduce them to the Libraries. Annette has a particular affinity for first-generation students, having been one as a UMass undergrad herself. Your students may know her as the “Purple Hair Librarian” due to her distinctive hair color, which you can see for yourself in this welcome back video in this video created to welcome students back this semester.

In addition, the W. E. B. Du Bois Center hosts a weekly “Breakfast with Du Bois” event via Zoom each Monday at 9:30 a.m. You can learn more about these events on the Du Bois Center events page, and you (and your student!) may register for them by emailing Adam Holmes. We’d love to have you join us for these events if you’re able to do so!



 Simon Signature

Simon Neame
Dean of Libraries
There is no better time than now to support the UMass Amherst Libraries.

Screen Shot 2021 02 26 at 9.28.03 AM

Deserted Villages: Perspectives from the Eastern Mediterranean published this week from The Digital Press at the University of North Dakota brings together nine peer-reviewed studies of abandoned villages from Greece, Turkey, and North Dakota authored by leading scholars in their fields. Each study not only documents specific abandoned settlements in detail, but also offers nuanced analysis of these sites and the processes that led to their abandonment and current state. The book is edited by Deborah E. Brown Stewart, head of Penn Museum Library at the University of Pennsylvania and Rebecca M. Seifried, geospatial information librarian at the University of Massachusetts Amherst Libraries.

People usually expect archaeologists to study abandoned sites to understand past societies. In the Eastern Mediterranean, however, the most commonly imagined sites are usually buried beneath meters of earth and require careful excavation to reveal their secrets. The book invites the reader to explore the vegetation overgrowing the hamlet of Pentaskouphi, the abandoned churches of Kythera, the roads and paths of the Western Argolid, and the imposing stone houses of the Mani peninsula. Reflections on sites as diverse as the settlement of Lakka Skoutara in the southeastern Corinthia and the town of Wheelock in Western North Dakota prompt historians and archaeologists to come to terms with abandonment as a process and state. 

Brown Stewart noted that these villages often elicited mixed responses from people who encounter them: “Some people dismiss them as unsightly ruins, others photograph them as romantic, and still others might think about the potential for investing and restoring to create a lovely summer place in the country. Archaeologists instead see opportunities to reveal the stories of people and communities that are too often missing from history and our understanding of the past.”

The countryside of the Eastern Mediterranean is filled with abandoned villages, hamlets, and settlements that are often still standing. The residents of these sites abandoned their homes after World War II for many reasons ranging from the convenience of mechanized agriculture to the appeal of urban life, the dislocations of war, and the changing character of the global economy. Archaeologists have regularly made note of these abandoned settlements, but until now, there wasn't a single volume focused on their archaeology.

Seifried suggests “while we focus on work being done by medieval and early modern archaeologists, the topic as a whole speaks to the kinds of questions that scholars of other time periods and even entirely other fields are asking, and this makes our book a contribution not only to Mediterranean archaeology, but also to a much more wide-ranging body of scholarship. I believe that anyone interested in life in rural villages, about the process of abandonment, or about how reuse and adaptation affect material signatures of the archaeological record will find something of delight in this book.”

Like all books published by The Digital Press at the University of North Dakota, Deserted Villages is available as both a free download and as a low-cost paperback. William Caraher, director of The Digital Press, remarks: “It's particularly important for books that seek to draw attention to an often overlooked aspect of the Mediterranean landscape to circulate as widely and freely as possible. Open access publication ensures that anyone with even a casual interest in the sites, methods, and problems associated with these kinds of sites can read and engage the work in this book.”

Yuntian Hu, the Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) leading developer at the UMass Amherst Libraries Digital Media Lab (DML), is working on creating an immersive virtual experience that will allow students and staff to navigate a 3D representation of the W. E. B. Du Bois Library. Visualizing the library space in this form will highlight resources and services, including some of the lesser-known support services and collections.

“The pandemic has shown us the importance of connections between our friends, family, and the university community. Technology has kept us connected in the shadow of in-person restrictions, helping us to adapt to and embrace new methods of communication,” says Steve Acquah, coordinator of the Digital Media Lab. 

The virtual experience is available for download for both PC and Mac computers.

The DML is also currently collaborating on an interactive state-of-the-art virtual tour of the new facility, working with Adrian Chase ’23, a UMass Student and founder of tech startup Interactiva Studios. Chase says, “We’re super excited to be able to work with the UMass Amherst Libraries to pilot our tech to the campus community.” 

“We are fortunate to be able to collaborate with talented students like Adrian and his team who have taken the initiative to help during these challenging times,” says Acquah.