The University of Massachusetts Amherst


Margaret L. Crist, former Director of the UMass Amherst Libraries, passed away on December 15, 2021 at her Amherst home.

Born in Kansas to Roy and Leona Crist, Margo grew up on the family wheat and cattle farm. She graduated from McDonald Rural High School, then earned an undergraduate degree from the University of Kansas. In 1969, Margo earned a master’s in library science from the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor and moved east later that year to work at the Boston Public Library, where she stayed for nearly a decade. Both as a research librarian, and later as branch librarian in Charlestown, she took great pleasure in providing services to senior citizens.

For the next seven years, Margo served as regional administrator for Central Massachusetts Regional Library System, headquartered in the Worcester Public Library. In that post, she Initiated the founding and co-directed the establishment of the Central/Westem Massachusetts Automated Resource Sharing (C/W /MARS), a network which links 40 mostly small, rural member libraries allowing them to share efficiencies of automation and greatly expand the resources available to library patrons.

Margo brought those valuable insights into her next position: assistant director of the Boston Public Library, from 1987 to 1990, and then to her alma mater, the University of Michigan, where she served as assistant director of libraries from 1990-1997, supervising public services.

In 1997, Margo came to the Pioneer Valley in Massachusetts to become director of the W. E. B. Du Bois Library at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, making it her job to merge the future with the past. By the time Margo arrived at UMass, she had a national reputation as an innovator who knew how to bring libraries into the information age and reimagine their role in both the public and academic arenas.Margo had studied how libraries can serve users from many different angles, and she set out to make the library more user-friendly, installing the first computer stations on the main level for the public to use a then-new research tool, the Internet.

Margo championed both technological advancement and unique resources available only in print. She believed librarians were teachers of information literacy: educating patrons how to search for, capture, evaluate, and use information. Margo believed these lifelong skills were the underpinning of critical thinking and problem-solving.

Throughout her career, Margo was active in professional organizations to explore and expand the work of libraries, including the American Library Association, American College and Research Libraries, the Association of Research Libraries, the Boston Library Consortium, and the Five Colleges Libraries.

Those who worked under Margo remember her as a leader who applauded accomplishments and who took a hands-on, helping approach to challenges. At work and in her personal life Margo was forthright and collaborative; as a colleague she was courageous and articulate; in conflict she was formidable. Friends knew her to be wise, discreet, and a non-judgmental counselor, intent on healing and empowering others. Plus, she enlivened any party!

Margo’s life partner, Joe Hopkins, was also a professional collaborator. When they met in the late 1970s, he was serving as Director of the Worcester Public Library. Over the years, they read, traveled, skied, biked, and danced together. When they returned East after seven years in Michigan, they built a house together in Amherst that was a place for family gatherings, and also functioned as part retreat and part entertainment venue. In her retirement, Margo became Joe’s caregiver after he suffered a stroke. It was a role she filled with affection and respect for her partner, and for the many generations of the Hopkins family who loved her.

After Joe's death, Margo resumed traveling, including to the Middle East, Peru, the Galapagos Islands, and Africa. She attended the annual Shakespeare Festival in Stafford, Ontario and the Shaw Festival at Niagara-on-the-Lake. Music, too, was a sustaining joy, from the Boston Symphony Orchestra on Sundays at Tanglewood to singing with the local chorus. Margo was always on the move—from Jazzercise and yoga to daily walks with her neighbor’s dog, Lassie.

Margo’s family, friends, and close neighbors will forever miss her laugh, her intellect, and the joy and love she shared during her lifetime.

Margo is survived by her sister Judith (Robert) Whaley; her nephews Richard (Diane) Whaley, Alan Whaley, Philip (Frances) Whaley; and Christopher (Kim Phan) Robertson; and grandnieces Rachel, Chaii, and Jordan Whaley; and Ava Robertson as well as the entire Hopkins family.  She was preceded in death by her parents, her life partner Joseph Hopkins, a sister Caroline Louise Crist, a brother Kenneth (Kenny) Crist who was a Vietnam casualty, and a nephew Ryan Robertson.

The family plans a celebration and remembrance in 2022.

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The University of Massachusetts Amherst Libraries’ Robert S. Cox Special Collections and University Archives Research Center has acquired the Benjamin LaGuer Papers. LaGuer, who passed away in November of 2020 at the age of 57, spent two-thirds of his life in prison in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, convicted of a crime which he steadfastly denied he committed.

The initial collection — more than 20 boxes of legal papers, letters, photographs, video recordings of extensive press coverage, audio cassettes of conversations with the inmate, radio interviews and ephemera — capture some of the complexities at the intersection of race, justice, media and politics in Massachusetts and the United States. They also tell a story about higher education behind bars. LaGuer earned most of his credits toward a bachelor's degree as a UMass student. After transfer to the prison in Norfolk, he earned a degree in Liberal Studies from Boston University, graduating magna cum laude.

Joy James, a scholar who has written on LaGuer’s role, and the role of race, in Deval Patrick’s 2006 gubernatorial election, called the acquisition “an important contribution to Ben's memory and attempts for justice." James’ brief correspondence with the inmate is in the collection.

The Benjamin LaGuer Papers join other important collections at the Libraries’ Robert S. Cox Research Center that document the experience of incarceration and illuminate the legal system from a black inmate’s point of view. These collections include the papers of Tiyo Attalah Salah El, a prison abolition activist serving a life sentence; Frank “Parky” Grace, who was a founding member of the New Bedford Black Panther Party and was wrongly convicted of murder and released from prison after a decade; and Frankie Ziths, whose collection documents the activities of the National Committee for the Defense of Political Prisoners and the Black Panther Party’s efforts to free political prisoners across the country.

Along with hundreds of other collections in the Robert S. Cox Center documenting the fight for social change in the US, the LaGuer Papers provide a unique and valuable resource for understanding the history of social justice and for building tools to effect positive change.

“Bringing Ben’s papers to the Libraries reflects our commitment to preserving the voices of people whose stories aren’t typically reflected in the historical record,” says Aaron Rubinstein, head of the Robert S. Cox Center. “Opening these materials to students, scholars and the general public will continue the important conversation about race and the justice system in this country.”

LaGuer was a thinker and a writer who never stopped growing intellectually. As part of his advocacy, LaGuer devoted hours to writing the story of his own drama, especially the events and repercussions of a few days in July 1983 that put his life on an unimaginable course.

Items immediately available include the trial transcript, police reports, forensics, court filings, judicial decisions and legal correspondences, along with extensive press coverage of each phase of LaGuer’s battles.

More information on the Benjamin LaGuer papers can be found here: Other reference materials can be found online:

Zoom Memorial, May 1, 2021 (YouTube)

Tragedy Times Two (YouTube) Contains new evidence that police arrested the wrong man.

Benjamin LaGuer and the Cruel Reality of Medical Parole (Commonwealth Magazine)

Ben LaGuer, 1963 - 2020. A self-made spirit in his own voice (Radio Open Source with Christopher Lydon)

Unprecedented Miracles (from UMass Amherst Libraries’ Bookmark Magazine, Winter 2021-22) Password: Ben

The UMass Amherst Libraries are pleased to announce that Theresa Dooley has been appointed to the two-year term position of Open Education Librarian in Scholarly Communication. She will begin her new role on January 3, 2022.

During her two-year position as the Open Education Librarian, Dooley will be responsible for setting the strategic direction for open and affordable course content throughout the Libraries and across the campus. She will oversee and support Library-led open education initiatives (OEI), including the OEI grants funded by the Libraries and the Provost’s Office, and will promote the use of OER among the campus and other constituencies. One of her initial strategies will be to focus on education, outreach, and advocacy within the Libraries and then connect this work to the Libraries’ mission in close collaboration with multiple library partners. She will also represent the university on the statewide Open Education Advisory Council

Dooley earned her MLIS from Simmons College in 2020. Prior to that, she received her Bachelor of Arts in Journalism from Stony Brook University. Subsequently, she has earned a Certificate in Open Educational Resources (OER) Librarianship from the Open Education Network (OEN) and a Creative Commons Certificate from Creative Commons in 2021. Before joining UMass Amherst, Dooley gained experience in scholarly publishing as the Senior Production Editor and Project Manager for The Sheridan Group of Waterbury, VT from 2011 to 2018.

Dooley joined the UMass Amherst Libraries in 2018 as the Learning Commons Supervisor and Training Specialist in the Student Success and Engagement Department. During her tenure as a Learning Commons supervisor, Dooley developed a peer-mentoring staffing program for students working in the LC, designed and implemented a training curriculum for Library staff and students working in the Learning Commons, and created lasting relationships between the Libraries and campus partners such as IT User Services and IT Computer Classrooms. 

While participating in the OEN’s Certificate in OER Librarianship, Dooley created a five-year action plan that maps out strategic open education initiatives for the Libraries, building upon existing resources and partnerships, connecting with the Libraries’ and university’s strategic plans, and once again placing the UMA Libraries at the forefront of this work. 

A few of Dooley’s recent accomplishments in the open education area include collaborating with campus partners in the Becoming an Open Education Influencer (BOEI) program in working with staff from Nelson Mandela University through Open Education for a Better World to create a self-guided course that would train learners in how to become international Open Education Influencers, as well as leading workshops educating faculty on the importance of OER through the Boston Library Consortium (BLC).

Call for Social Media Videos for #UMassGives

The Libraries are seeking student-produced content around the theme “The Libraries are Open.” The videos will be shared on the Libraries’ social media during the annual #UMassGives fund drive, April 28 & 29, 2022. #UMassGives is a 2-day online giving campaign using email, texts, and social media to encourage people to give to their favorite area of UMass Amherst.

The Libraries will accept up to 12 proposals for short 15-30 second student-produced videos. The videos should be appropriate for all audience, be fun and friendly, and seek to complete and illustrate the following idea:

#UMassGives Me a Library Open (to)...

Three sample ideas:

….Meet my need for afternoon caffeine and a quiet place to study.

….To all.

...For group study with my friends. 

Videos should encourage support of the Libraries during #UMassGives!


  • Production Deadline: March 1, 2022
  • Length: 15-30 seconds
  • Close-captioned according to ADA specifications (we can train you)
  • Artist is willing to share their work across social media channels during #UMassGives in addition to the Libraries’ social media channels
  • Video embodies the values of the University and the Libraries
  • Any media used must be Creative Commons licensed, and videos must be Creative Commons licensed

Submission: By Feb. 1, 2021

Please submit a short description of your idea, along with your name, spire ID, major, and year of graduation to
Compensation: $200 (against bursar’s bill) per accepted proposal upon completion of the video

Video Style Guide 

Aspect Ratio: 16:9 Ratio

Most modern screens are set in a 16 by 9 ratio—therefore, video should be produced in a 16:9 ratio. 

Resolution: 1080p HD

Video produced for UMass Libraries should be recorded at a minimum of and exported at 1080p HD quality.

•           Only when necessary (for slow-motion shots, cropping, etc.) should video be 720p.

•           No footage below 720p should be used unless it is archival footage.

Framerate: 24 fps

Except for extenuating circumstances (news reels, archival footage, broadcast-legal, etc.), all final videos should be output at 24 fps (true 23.98 fps).

 Bitrate: highest possible

When possible, all footage should be recorded in the highest possible bitrate available. This will allow for better color, detail and video quality in the final product. 


Materials should be filmed in “standard” color mode, allowing for the most natural in-camera color and saturation. Final videos should be graded to natural colors—not over/under saturated or too heavily influenced in one color direction.


Background Noise

•           Avoid locations with background noise whenever possible.

•           Wireless lavalier mics should be set to frequencies that avoid frequency noise.

Mic Placement

•           Shotgun microphones should not be visible.

•           Lavalier mics may be visible but cords/cables should be hidden.


Sound Effects 

•           If sound effects are used, the sound should be clean and professional.

•           Sound effects should only be used for subtle effect. (e.g. A dim whoosh, low bass for emphasis, etc.)


•           Avoid distortion/clipping.

•           If audio includes incidental background noise, remove noise whenever possible, without introducing noise-reduction artifacts.

•           Speech should be limited to a maximum of -3dB.

•           Compression may be used to normalize audio levels, without artifacts or distortion.

 Final Export

•           Container: MP4 or MOV

•           Audio Codec: AAC-LC

•           Sample rate: 48khz

•           Video Codec: H.264 

File Naming

All files should be named in an intelligent manner with dates and no spaces.

Submission of Video: 

All final edited video must be delivered to Mac/Windows friendly medium to

The UMass Amherst Libraries present the highlights of open scholarship activity during the fall 2021 semester at the university.

  • Faculty Incorporate OER Commitment in Their Syllabi. “There is no required textbook to purchase for this course” are welcome words to students, many of whom struggle to purchase expensive textbooks. Faculty using open education resources (OER) are adding a version of this sample statement to their syllabi under the “Textbooks and Materials” section, demonstrating their commitment to equitable access and education affordability through their use of OER.
  • Writing Program Anthology Saves Students Money. Elkie Burnside, assistant director of the Writing Program, engaged students and faculty in a meaningful collaborative process of OER creation. Burnside created a digital open access textbook for the roughly 5,000 students in College Writing courses. Starting this fall, the Student Writing Anthology replaced a text that cost students between $40-70. Burnside is also creating a digital repository of the annual best text contest the Program holds every year. This will be a journal with the work of each year’s winners being shared and circulated publicly.
  • Two Professors Eliminated Student Textbook Costs and Made a Curriculum More Inclusive at the Same Time. Stacy Giufre, director of the Italian Language Program and the Italian Graduate Program, and instructor Melina Masterson developed Tutt* a tavola!, an OER for Elementary Italian. “In writing this book, our goals were to reduce costs for students in the hopes of making Italian a more inclusive language learning experience, as well as to offer the opportunity to learn about Italian language and culture to a more diverse group of learners.” Even the title of the book, Tutt* a tavola!, represents inclusivity. It translates to “Everyone at the table,” or, as an invitation, “Everyone to the table!” It’s the result of the 2020 grant cycle (link) and has received national exposure at the Language OER Conference.
  • “Expand Open Access Education for College Students.” UMass student Samantha Le wrote in the Daily Hampshire Gazette that OER “are easy to adapt to specific courses, no matter how niche the topic may be, and allow for collaboration between educators all around the world to help improve these resources… at UMass Amherst, OER has saved students over $2.5 million, and by having more professors switch from paid textbooks to open access education, this number can increase immensely. What we must do to win the game, then, is to advocate for larger OER grant funding and convince more professors to adopt OER. The goal is for all students to be able to study without worry, regardless of the major.”
  • Our Tools and Our Values. Open Access Week 2021 was marked by a keynote address by Ethan Zuckerman, associate professor of public policy, communication, and information, and director of the UMass Initiative for Digital Public Infrastructure. Martha Fuentes-Bautista, senior lecturer, director of Engaged Research and Learning with the Department of Communication, gave a response. The discussion explored how the digitization of all aspects of our lives presents an ongoing challenge for values-led organizations like public broadcasters, advocacy organizations, and libraries. We can take a first step towards resolving the conflicts between technology and values in auditing our technological environments and moving towards values aligned alternatives. But a deep shift requires creating an alternative technological infrastructure that's driven by public values rather than profits.

The UMass Amherst Libraries are pleased to announce that Maria Rios has been appointed to the Humanities Research Services Librarian position in Research Services.

Rios joined the UMass Amherst Libraries in 2018 as the first resident in the newly-created Diversity Residency program, funded as a cost share by the Provost’s Pathways Program. The Pathways Program is intended to recruit and retain faculty and librarians “who will contribute to the campus goals of greater equity and inclusion.”  Departments are encouraged to hire program participants following a residency of up to three years, based on organization need and the resident’s skills and professional trajectory. During her three-year residency, Rios has proven to be an excellent and well-qualified successor for the Humanities Research Services Librarian position in Research Services, previously held by Jim Kelly. She will serve as the liaison to the English, comparative literature, and philosophy departments and their affiliated centers, programs, and certificates.

Rios earned her MLIS from the University of South Carolina in 2017; prior to that, she received her Bachelors of Arts, Magna cum laude,​ honors, in ​English Professional Communications​ from Armstrong State University (now the Armstrong campus at Georgia Southern University). Before joining UMass Amherst, Rios gained experience working in the libraries of Midlands Technical College, University of South Carolina, and Georgia Southern University, Armstrong Campus.   

As the Libraries’ first Diversity Resident, Rios has provided critical perspective and enthusiastic, knowledgeable partnership in program development. The majority of her residency has been in the Research Services department, where she served as the liaison to the Women, Gender, Sexuality Studies department and as the liaison to the History of Art and Architecture Department while Annie Sollinger was on sabbatical. Rios also worked with the Libraries’ Information Resource Management Department between liaison appointments, filling out her understanding of the Libraries integrated systems and services as a broader ecosystem of support. 

Rios has been an outstanding member of the Research Services team. She is an active member of many committees in the Libraries as well as the American Library Association’s New Member Roundtable and Rainbow Roundtable. She recently co-authored two book chapters: “Vision, voices, and self-care in academic residencies” with co-author Melina Zavala in Residencies Revisited: Reflections on Library Residency Programs from the Past and Present​ and “Dewhitening Librarianship: A Policy Proposal for Libraries” with Isabel Espinal, and April M. Hathcock in Knowledge Justice: Disrupting Library and Information Studies through Critical Race Theory​. Most recently, she completed the Library Freedom Institute, a highly selective and competitive privacy-focused collaborative program between New York University and IMLS funded Library Freedom.

Q: What is the Framework for Provider Agreements and why is it important to us?
A: The Framework for Provider Agreements (FPA) is a set of principles to guide the UMass Amherst Libraries when they are working with resource providers (e.g., journal publishers, monograph publishers, data repositories, platforms, infrastructure, etc.).

The FPA also serves as a public declaration relating to the Libraries’ goal of moving towards a more financially sustainable, diverse, accessible, and open system of scholarly communication. We engage in these efforts not only as consumers of intellectual products but also as creators and evaluators.

We also recognize that procedures and expectations can vary among academic disciplines, so the principles are meant to be taken as a guide rather than a rigid set of rules.

Q: Are other research universities engaged in similar efforts?
Several other universities have also established similar frameworks, guidelines, and strategies:

Q: Does the FPA restrict where we can publish?
A: No, the FPA does not require that anyone publish in particular outlets, nor does it restrict publishing in particular outlets. However, it does include by reference the University of Massachusetts Amherst Open Access Policy, whereby faculty members and graduate students grant the university a license to deposit their scholarly articles in the institutional repository, ScholarWorks, to promote dissemination of research. (See also the Open Access Policy FAQ.) This is known as Green Open Access.

Q: Does the FPA mean we get to keep our copyrights?
A: The FPA does not require or ensure that authors retain their copyrights, although that would be ideal. It is the author’s responsibility to negotiate their rights. However, it does include the principle that providers should offer UMass authors’ works under a public license such as Creative Commons or GNU Free Documentation License. It also restricts the publisher’s ability to require UMass authors to waive their rights under the UMass Open Access Policy (see Q3).

For more information about publisher contracts and copyright, please contact the Office of Scholarly Communication at

Q: How would this Framework affect my access to the Libraries’ holdings in my research areas?
A: The Libraries make every effort to provide access to journals and resources that are considered essential in a field. In the vast majority of cases the Libraries will continue to subscribe to or purchase these materials, however in certain cases this may not be possible due to financial or other considerations. In such an event, the Libraries will consult with affected faculty about suitable alternatives.

Materials may still be requested via Interlibrary Loan and Document Delivery.

Q: Will this Framework change my relationship to the journals on whose editorial or advisory boards I serve?
No, the FPA does not restrict researchers from serving on editorial boards, nor does it change the nature of any existing relationships between faculty and the journals they work with. The FPA relates  to the Libraries’ relationship with resource providers. Should researchers wish to promote these Principles in their roles as editors or reviewers, the Libraries are available as a resource.

Q: If I would like for the Libraries to buy certain books that are relevant to my research and teaching areas, how would this Framework change my ability to make such requests?
A: Singular purchases of digital and physical books and other materials will not generally be affected by the FPA. Rather, the focus of the FPA is with publishers of journals and books and collections of these materials.

Q: Many professional societies rely on journal subscriptions to finance their activities. How will this Framework affect these professional associations?
A: While the FPA is meant to provide consistency in how the Libraries invest in access to scholarly materials, the principles are guidelines and not requirements. The Libraries are cognizant of and sensitive to the financial position of smaller and non-profit publishers. The financial viability of small publishers and professional societies is in the interests of the Libraries and UMass Amherst scholars. The Libraries will work with them towards mutually beneficial relationships.

Q: How can submitters look out for predatory and unethical publishers?
A: There is not one easy answer to the question of which journals and publishers are predatory or unethical and which ones are ethical. Lists of “good” and “bad” publishers are dynamic and subject to debate. Instead, those interested can refer to this guide on predatory publishers or ask their library liaison to help evaluate journals, conferences, or information providers.

Q: How does the Framework affect tenure and promotion processes?
A: Tenure and promotion are the subjects of each departments’ guidelines and personnel committees; they are not directly addressed in the Framework. The Framework does advocate for UMass Amherst researchers to have better access to and use of others’ scholarship and for authors to retain the rights to their works. These rights facilitate research.

Q; I have more questions. Where can I go for additional information?
For more information, please see the Open Scholarship & Scholarly Publishing Library Guide. You can also contact the Scholarly Communications Department, at

The Libraries are pleased to congratulate Erin Jerome, Open Access and Institutional Repository Librarian, on receiving the 2021 LPC Award for Exemplary Service.

Full announcement can be read here.

Dear Parents,

We’ve reached the time of year when the winds blowing across the campus are cold, but the libraries are warm – and student demand for library services is heating up. This year we’re particularly happy to see your students making use of our spaces to study, to collaborate with each other on projects and presentations, and to work with our library staff to conduct their research These activities are happening in all three of our locations – the W. E. B. Du Bois Library and the Science and Engineering Library in Amherst, and the Wadsworth Library on our Mt. Ida campus in Newton. I was recently able to visit the Wadsworth Library and enjoyed the company of our students and staff there. It was a truly enjoyable day trip (just 90 minutes from Amherst for those of you unfamiliar with Massachusetts geography!) and I returned home that evening with a number of exciting ideas for how the Libraries can better support the unique offerings at Mt. Ida, including the very popular Veterinary Technician program.  

The Libraries recently held our Fall Reception, which is an annual opportunity for library supporters (including UMass alumni with strong connections to our work) to meet and mingle with the library staff, as well as faculty and administration across campus. We were unable to hold the reception last year due to the pandemic, so it was wonderful to rejoin with friends old and new, and to have Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy with us to officially announce the creation of the Robert S. Cox Special Collections and University Archives Research Center (known informally as SCUA). Named for the late Rob Cox, who helped transform the university archives into a globally renowned destination for scholarly inquiry, this research center contains a dazzling array of unique collections, from the papers of W. E. B. Du Bois to a collection of East German packaging designs to the papers of Paul S. Kahn, an important artist, author, and activist for disability rights. With faculty actively working with SCUA to incorporate these materials into their syllabi, your students are offered the invaluable opportunity to conduct research on primary sources and to engage with the intellectual and material legacy of people who have changed – and made – history. 

Of course, we’re also looking towards the future here at the UMass Libraries – and I strongly believe that Open Access (OA) and Open Educational Resources (OERs) are an important part of the future of Libraries. We are keenly aware that the high cost of commercial textbooks is a major concern for you and your student and that this can create a barrier to your student's success. That is why we are committed to the development of high-quality open educational materials in collaboration with our faculty. We’ve awarded Open Education Initiative (OEI) grants to three UMass Amherst instructors to adopt, adapt, or create OERs. In this twelfth year of its existence, the OEI has saved more than $1.8 million for UMass Amherst students that use OERs and existing library materials, and we’re working to increase both the availability of these resources for your students and the cost savings they represent.  

On behalf of the UMass Libraries staff, I wish all of you a safe, healthy, and joyous holiday season! 

Sarah Hutton 
Interim Dean of Libraries

Chancellor Kumble R. Subbaswamy announced on Friday, Oct. 22, a new name for the University’s Special Collections and University Archives (SCUA): “In acknowledgment of its growth and development, today we are announcing a new era for Special Collections and University Archives,” said the Chancellor. “To ensure its mission is aligned with a continued focus on building innovative programming around its exceptional collections, SCUA will now be recognized as a UMass research center, the Robert S. Cox Special Collections and University Archives Research Center.”

The Chancellor said the new name recognizes SCUA as a unique hub for research: it has become internationally known as a repository and resource for understanding global social change movements and the activists that drive them; for exploring innovation and entrepreneurship; and for better understanding the life and culture of New England. 

“The Robert S. Cox Special Collections and University Archives Research Center will serve as a front door—an open door—through which we welcome communities that see themselves reflected in our collections, spaces, and services,” said Sarah Hutton, interim dean of libraries. 

In being named for Rob Cox, who died in May 2020 at age 61, the center highlights the value of intellectual exploration and its potential to improve lives, and the continuing growth of SCUA’s unique collections, which support such exploration and action.  

Under Cox’s leadership from 2004 to 2020, the SCUA team expanded the archives into an exceptional repository, with fully 75% of current SCUA materials acquired during Cox’s tenure. Cox began by building on the papers of W. E. B. Du Bois, one of the department’s most distinguished collections. Guided by Du Bois’s ability to see the interconnections that underlie social change movements, and inspired by Du Bois’s long life and evolving philosophy represented in the collection, Cox put into practice two approaches to collecting: acknowledging and documenting the overlap of social change movements and collecting “whole lives, whole communities.”  

“The research center increases visibility for the university, for Special Collections and University Archives, and the stories and experiences that drove Rob’s work,” said Aaron Rubinstein, head of the Robert S. Cox Special Collections and University Archives Research Center. “High-profile collections that came to the University under Rob’s leadership--such as Daniel Ellsberg, Ken Feinberg, Brother David Steindl-Rast, Mark McCormack the New England Yearly Meeting of Friends, as well as the stories of hundreds of other people and organizations--and many exciting collaborations and partnerships, all position the research center for future success as we continue building upon Rob’s groundbreaking vision and approach.” 

The University Libraries also announced the Robert S. Cox Special Collections Fund. While the Robert S. Cox Research Center will be supported through the existing resources of the university and the libraries, the Robert S. Cox Fund will allow SCUA to channel additional resources into projects and collections that advance both the mission of the research center and Cox’s legacy. The university’s goal is to create a one-million-dollar endowment, ensuring SCUA can continue to innovate and champion the histories of those activists and groundbreakers whose stories have been overlooked or marginalized. 

The Libraries’ Robert S. Cox Special Collections and University Archives Research Center is home to distinguished manuscript collections documenting the history of social change in America, including the papers of W. E. B. Du Bois and Horace Mann Bond. The Robert S. Cox Research Center inspires discovery through the collection and curation of cultural heritage materials for the people of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and beyond, contributing to the vital conversation between past and future. As part of a community dedicated to the values of diversity, social equity and positive social change, the Robert S. Cox Research Center acts through its collections, services, programs, and exhibitions to promote free inquiry; the production, exchange and preservation of knowledge; and joy in learning.