The University of Massachusetts Amherst

Archive: 02/08/2019

Wadsworth Library, Mount Ida Campus

Fall 2019 Film Series

October 14th, 2019
“The Color Purple: Alice Walker, Oprah Winfrey, and Perceptions of Black Womanhood in the 20th Century”

Alice Walker’s seminal work about black women living and working in a small southern town in the early 20th century examines relationships between men and women, with their children, and how perceptions of racial identity and self-worth are perpetuated in various socio-cultural circles. In examining underlying themes of self-awareness, self-awakening, and self-liberation in Walker’s characters, participants will discuss how the author effectively uses them to talk candidly about the reality of race, gender, sexual identity, and class within the context of the historical period and how these ideologies translate onto the 21st century societal landscape.

We’ll view Steven Spielberg’s Oscar-nominated adaptation of Walker’s novel, starring Whoopi Goldberg, Oprah Winfrey, and Danny Glover, comparing the coverage of themes within the book and discussing the way in which Morrison’s characters and messages are portrayed on film.

December 12th, 2019
“The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks: African Americans and a Legacy of Mistreatment within the Medical Community”

In an examination of Rebecca Skloot’s “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks,” participants will learn about Lacks and her major contributions to medical science through the unethical harvesting of her unique cancer cells without her permission in 1951. Lacks’ cells have been bought and sold millions of times since they were harvested, with no financial compensation or consent from her family. To this day, Henrietta’s cells are still used in major clinical drug trials and research labs, cloned to sell to for-profit companies who make billions on biotech research ventures or for use in government-funded studies.

The 2018 docudrama, based on Skloot’s book and produced by Oprah Winfrey and HBO, will be used to discuss the controversies surrounding medical ethics and the disenfranchised, looking at race, gender, and class and the role those factors have played historically in the selection of subjects for human experimentation in medicine. Using the Lacks story as a case study, participants will discuss how other groups including African-American men at Tuskegee Institute, prisoners, the mentally ill and disabled, and the poor have been used throughout history as test subjects for the purported “common good” and how this has inherently affected people of color around the world even today.

Sponsored by a grant from the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Campus Climate Improvement.

The UMass Amherst Libraries, along with the University of Texas at Arlington (UTA) and the University of Nevada-Reno, were recently awarded a $241,845 National Leadership Project Grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) to fund the development of an immersion program to train faculty and instructors on how to integrate the use of makerspaces, dedicated spaces with technological resources and equipment for project-based collaboration, into their courses.

The impetus for designing such a program comes from the results of a previous IMLS grant-funded pilot study entitled “Maker Literacies and the Undergraduate Curriculum,” which explored the impacts of academic library makerspaces on undergraduate student learning. The UMass Amherst Libraries were chosen by UTA and the University of Nevada-Reno as one of four additional university partners to participate in that study because of the Libraries’ Digital Media Lab (DML), a cross-disciplinary makerspace in the W. E. B. Du Bois Library open to all UMass Amherst students, faculty, and staff, regardless of major or department.

The results of the pilot study demonstrated that academic makerspace instructors need training and support in order to collaborate successfully with faculty on designing makerspace lesson plans and assessing maker literacies. Developing the immersion program and making it openly accessible online would fill this need at both a community and national level with the potential to be built on and scaled as new makerspace practices emerge.

“This grant gives us resources to take what we learned about maker literacies and develop a curriculum for educators,” says Sarah Hutton, head of Student Success and Engagement for the Libraries. “We’re building a community of maker-educators across a wide spectrum that can continue to learn from and engage with each other.”

Friday, Oct. 18, 1-7 p.m.
Great Barrington, MA

On Oct. 18, the Town of Great Barrington and the University of Massachusetts Amherst Libraries mark the 50th anniversary of what was, in 1969, the controversial establishment of the W. E. B. Du Bois Boyhood Homesite, at 612 South Egremont Road, Great Barrington. Talks, readings, exhibitions, music, and film will take place at the Homesite, Mason Library, and First Congregational Church.

1:30-2:30 p.m., Du Bois Boyhood Homesite
Speaking program. Dr. Whitney Battle-Baptiste, Director, W. E. B. Du Bois Center, UMass Amherst Libraries, will emcee. Speakers include Frances Jones Sneed, Ph.D., professor emeritus at MCLA, Dr. David Levering Lewis, Pulitzer Prize-winning Du Bois biographer and recipient of the first Great Barrington W. E. B. Legacy Award, Guy Davis, son of actor/activist Ossie Davis, who emceed the original dedication, and Frederick Lord, an early supporter of the original homesite effort. Jazz musician Craig Harris will perform. A special tree-planting ceremony will follow.

3-4 p.m., Great Barrington Mason Library
View an exhibit of original homesite artifacts gathered by UMass and the Great Barrington-based W. E. B. Du Bois Center. A remarkable film from the 1969 dedication will be shown. Berkshire County NAACP President Dennis Powell will speak about his recent trip from Jamestown, Va., to Ghana, marking the 400-year anniversary of the beginning of the North American slave trade, followed by remarks from Rachel Moriarty, director of the Schumacher Center for New Economics.

5-7:30 p.m., First Congregational Church, Great Barrington
Reception 5-5:30 p.m. The Passing and Sharing of the Du Bois Legacy Flame follows along with an inter-generational discussion panel led by Gwendolyn VanSant, CEO and founding director of BRIDGE and vice-chair of the Du Bois Legacy Committee. Musical selections by Craig Harris, Wanda Houston and Guy Davis. Drum facilitation by Otha Day, together with Joanna Haigood, choreographer, is sponsored by Jacob’s Pillow Festival of Dance, to complete the day’s celebration.

More information is available here.


Tuesday, Oct. 22
10 a.m. and 5 p.m.

Campus Makerspace
Agricultural Engineering Building Room 114

Professor Christine Hatch, UMass Extension Associate Professor, Geosciences Department

Hands-on learning and data collection engages students of all ages and backgrounds, and helps to develop intuition about river processes. This presentation will begin with a brief introduction to basic concepts of fluvial geomorphology, or why rivers look and behave the way they do. We will then have an interactive demonstration where participants will observe central fluvial-geomorphology concepts on a scale model of a river where 2 minutes equals 100 years of river evolution. This teaching tool allows us to understand river shape and process, to predict channel responses/changes over time, and to design culverts, bridges, and roadways that are more resilient to severe precipitation events.

Design Challenge

Thanks to the 3D Innovation Center at the Digital Media Lab in the W. E. B. Du Bois Library, we've recently incorporated scale models of houses (that fall into the river if placed too close to the river), roads (for demonstration trainings with transportation workers), and large wood pieces (for stream restoration) for instructional purposes. Can you help us design box culverts, corrugated culverts, or other crossing structures in TinkerCAD for demonstrations like this one? What else are we missing? Surprise us!

Questions? Contact Christine Hatch at

Follow on Twitter @UMassRiversmart

Thursday, Oct. 24-Sunday, Oct. 27

Homecoming Events in the Libraries


Digital Media Lab Experience

Friday, Oct. 25, 5-7 p.m.
Saturday, Oct. 26, 11:45 a.m.-6 p.m.

Experience the intersection of technology and innovation in the Library's Digital Media Lab while witnessing firsthand how donor-funded 3D printing and virtual reality capabilities are used to support students and faculty across campus.

Explore the world of 3D printing in the Digital Media Lab where you can have a 3D scan done of your head, use a 3D print pen, and take home a 3D printed item. 

Then check out the latest virtual reality gear and technology, create a scan of an object and visualize it in real-time, and even test-drive a virtual reality roller coaster! 

No cost to attend. All are welcome. Sign up early—registration will close on October 18.


W. E. B. Du Bois Library Tour

Saturday, Oct. 26, 11:15 a.m.
Saturday, Oct. 26, 11:45 a.m.

Get an exclusive look at how the busiest place on campus is transforming its spaces, technology, and resources—marked by sustainability and social responsibility—to meet the needs of UMass Amherst and the commonwealth.

Our dedicated student workers will lead you on a personalized tour of the tallest academic research library in the world, while showcasing these new and updated facilities.

Tours depart at 11:15 and 11:45 a.m. from the W. E. B. Du Bois Library Main Entrance Lobby.

No cost to attend. All are welcome.Sign up early—registration will close on October 18.


Wednesday, Oct. 30
6 p.m.

Campus Center Auditorium

Please RSVP by Oct. 28.

Live stream information can be found here.

Exposing deceit on the part of U.S. administrations regarding the Vietnam War, the Pentagon Papers were a major component of the Watergate scandal and resulted in a high stakes prosecution against Ellsberg that ended in a dramatic mistrial in 1973. Undaunted, Ellsberg has toiled as an activist ever since, speaking out against war and nuclear weaponry, and defending the cause of whistleblowers and freedom of the press.

Daniel Ellsberg will speak at the Friends of the Libraries' 21st Annual Fall Reception at UMass Amherst. The reception celebrates the university's recent acquisition of Ellsberg's personal papers. This is an important acquisition for the UMass Amherst Libraries and will join other highly regarded collections in Special Collections and University Archives documenting the history of social unrest and change in the U.S.

Please contact the Office of External Relations and University Events at or 413-577-1101 with questions, to discuss any special needs or to RSVP.

Click here for more information regarding the Ellsberg collection.

Photo credit: Tony Spina.