The University of Massachusetts Amherst


The UMass Amherst Libraries recently announced the recipients of their 2021 Open Education Initiative (OEI) grants. Three UMass Amherst instructors received funding to adopt, adapt, or create open educational resources (OER). OER are teaching materials released with an open license, which allows for their free revision and redistribution with attribution to the creator of the original work.

The Open Education Initiative at UMass Amherst aims to:

  • Encourage the development of alternatives to high-cost textbooks by supporting the adoption, adaptation, or creation of OER
  • Provide support to faculty to implement these approaches
  • Lower the cost of college for students in order to contribute to their retention, progression, and graduation
  • Encourage faculty to engage in new pedagogical models for classroom instruction

Thanks to generous funding from the Provost’s office, this year’s winners represent a broad range of disciplines across campus:

  • Elkie Burnside, Assistant Director, Writing Program,  for the creation of two open education resources (OER) to share and circulate student work as scholarship through the UMass Amherst Libraries’ Pressbooks instance and ScholarWorks@UMassAmherst, the campus’ institutional repository. Her College Writing course will impact nearly 5,000 students this fall.
  • Rodrigo Zamith, Associate Professor, School of Social and Behavioral Sciences, for the development of an open education textbook in Journalism to enable a more discussion-oriented class and permit more time for active learning.
  • Meghan Graham MacLean, Lecturer of Quantitative Ecology, for the creation of a free resource tailored to the needs of students in the NRC and ENVISCI undergraduate programs in Environmental Conservation (ECo) Department at UMass.

“We are seeing more and more faculty wanting to create customizable teaching tools that are not only free for students, but can also improve how students learn,” says Jeremy Smith, the Libraries’ Daniel Ellsberg Archivist and former Open Education and Research Services Librarian. “By utilizing or creating openly licensed teaching materials, instructors are removing a barrier to student success that high-cost textbooks often create. OER are not appropriate for every class, but as the number of newly-created OER has drastically increased over the past three years in a wide range of topics, it has become easier to find and customize material for college courses.”

Now in its twelfth cycle, the Open Education Initiative has generated a total savings of more than $1.8 million for students in UMass Amherst classes that utilize either OER or existing Library materials. The Libraries partner with the Provost's Office, the Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL), and the Instructional Design, Engagement, & Support (IDEAS) group to support these efforts.

For further information, please contact UMass Amherst Libraries Digital Scholarship Services at

Dear UMass Families,

In my role as interim Dean of Libraries, it is my distinct pleasure to welcome your students back to the Amherst and Newton campuses, and to share with you some information about what they will find at the UMass Amherst Libraries, whether at the W. E. B. Du Bois Library, the Science and Engineering Library (SEL), or the Wadsworth Library.

Before I get too deep in the details, however, I want to share a little bit about who I am, and how I came to be interim Dean. Having grown up in a small town in Maine, I completed my undergraduate education at Lesley University, and received a Master's Degree in Library & Information Science from the University of Rhode Island. Prior to UMass, I spent several years at the University of Bridgeport, where I began developing my vision for how academic libraries support the student experience. I joined the UMass Libraries in 2010, and most recently have served as the Head of Student Success & Engagement (SSE), where I oversee the Learning Commonsthe Digital Media Lab, and Student Success and Outreach Librarian, as well as the Libraries’ own Assessment and Planning team, who help us to understand how our services can be made more effective in order to shape our future. Our mission at SSE is written into the name of our department, and while we may be most visible to students through the fun events we host throughout the year, we take seriously our charge to provide students with the orientation and access to the libraries that will support their academic success. 

Next month, our Provost John McCarthy initiates a national search for a new permanent Dean of Libraries and has asked me to lead the Libraries on an interim basis. I am honored to serve in this role.

When your students return to the libraries they will find several updated and refreshed spaces awaiting them, both at the W .E .B. Du Bois Library and the Science and Engineering Library (SEL). At Du Bois, the Digital Media Lab has both relocated and expanded; it now occupies space adjacent to the Learning Commons on the lower level, and features additional capacity for 3D printing and modeling, virtual and augmented reality projects, and sound and video recording. At SEL, the new Learning Studio features flexible space that can be configured as a multimedia-equipped classroom, event space, or student space for engaging  in collaborative work.

We have also expanded our online resources to meet student needs. We now provide access to LinkedIn Learning, which offers a vast array of tutorials on technology and professional development to support students as they prepare to enter the workforce. We’ve also added Academic Video Online to our list of available databases, so students will have access to over 70,000 high-quality videos covering a vast array of subjects.

Many students will be returning to campus hoping to join critical conversations about social justice. The W. E. B. Du Bois Center exists as a unique, interdisciplinary space on campus for the discussions of race, socio-economic inequality, discrimination, and legacies of colonialism. The Center looks forward to welcoming students interested in these important topics and those who want to explore the ways in which the past influences the present. We will be running a series of events throughout the semester about Du Bois's life, legacy, and significance, and will encourage students to consider the Center a welcoming home on campus for their ideas on the issues that most affect our society. As Du Bois wrote: "You and I can never be satisfied with sitting down before a great human problem and saying nothing can be done. We must do something. That is the reason we are on Earth."        

Students have also let us know that they value the libraries as a space where they have opportunities for non-academic engagement as well, and we’re very happy to support that with our Outreach Series, which consists of events like open mic nights, crafts, and trivia. These events are fun for both students and library staff, and offer a wonderful sense of community and collegiality. 

I hope this brief note has been able to convey how excited we are to see your students on campus again, and how many wonderful activities and resources await them here. 

Sarah Hutton
Interim Dean of Libraries

Hutton HS2023 

On behalf of Provost John McCarthy, the University of Massachusetts Amherst Libraries is pleased to announce that Sarah Hutton, Head of Student Success and Engagement, has been appointed interim Dean of Libraries, effective August 22, 2021. To assist with the leadership transition process, the Provost has appointed Jennifer Friedman, Associate Dean for Research and Learning, to serve as acting dean from July 25 to August 21, 2021.

Sarah Hutton has held a number of positions at the UMass Amherst Libraries.  In her current role, Ms. Hutton oversees the Learning Commons, Digital Media Lab, the Libraries’ Assessment and Planning program, and numerous campus-wide partnerships in support of student success and outreach. She also serves as an adjunct in the College of Education. Ms. Hutton has been instrumental in positioning the Libraries as a key partner in UMass’ strategic goals of creating an exceptional student experience on campus.  

Hutton and Friedman will serve in their respective roles following the departure of Dean Simon Neame, who will begin his post as Dean of Libraries at University of Washington on September 1, 2021. 

The nationwide search for the permanent Dean of the Libraries will begin in September and a search advisory committee will be formed in the coming weeks. The executive recruitment firm Isaacson, Miller will provide professional support for the search process.

With the UMass Libraries buildings reopening to the campus community and public on June 21, the HathiTrust Emergency Temporary Access Service (ETAS), which has allowed digital access to some of the print books in the stacks during the COVID-19 pandemic, will end.

HathiTrust ETAS aids libraries suffering an involuntary, temporary disruption to normal operations, such as COVID-19, which closes the library to its patrons, or otherwise restricts print collection access. Through it, UMass Libraries patrons have been able to access digital materials in HathiTrust that correspond to physical books held by the Libraries. During this time, the Libraries did not circulate the books covered by ETAS, in order to abide by copyright laws. With the reopening of Libraries buildings and access to the stacks restored, the Libraries must end the ETAS on June 21, in order to remain in compliance with copyright. 

About a quarter of the Libraries print collection will continue to be—and had been, prior to the pandemic—accessible via HathiTrust. These materials are in the public domain or have open access licenses, and can be used at any time. They will continue to be available via links in the UMass Libraries catalog.

For questions about changes to the Libraries’ HathiTrust access, please contact

The Special Collections and University Archives, UMass Amherst Libraries, are hosting an online event to honor Dr. Lester Grinspoon (June 24, 1928 - June 25, 2020) on Thursday, June 24, 2021, 7-8:30 p.m. EST. The event, a conversation among experts and activists mentored and inspired by Dr. Grinspoon, will focus on his life, activism, and work, including his groundbreaking research on cannabis use, psychedelics, and other drugs, in the 50th-anniversary year of his book Marihuana Reconsidered.

This free virtual event, on what would have been Dr. Grinspoon’s 93rd birthday, will formally launch a campaign to raise funds to process and digitize the Lester Grinspoon Papers, one of the major collections related to drug policy and social change held in Special Collections and University Archives, UMass Amherst Libraries.

It will feature an expert group of people who knew Grinspoon and drew inspiration from him:

Richard M. Evans, Esq. (moderator), a western Massachusetts lawyer since 1973, authored the first comprehensive cannabis regulation/taxation plan introduced as legislation in any state. In the 1990s, while serving on NORML’s board of directors, he was the moving force behind the organization’s Principles of Responsible Cannabis Use, now adopted worldwide. He was given NORML’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2011. His numerous op-eds and other writings helped shape and propel the counter-prohibitionist narrative. In 2016, Mr. Evans chaired the Massachusetts Yes on 4 initiative campaign committee and served on the drafting committee, which produced the first legalization law to include a social equity mandate.

Rick Doblin, Ph.D., is the founder and executive director of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) and has been researching uses of cannabis and psychedelics for 35 years. He received his doctorate in Public Policy from Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, where he wrote his dissertation on the regulation of the medical uses of psychedelics and marijuana and his master’s thesis on a survey of oncologists about smoked marijuana vs. the oral THC pill in nausea control for cancer patients. A certified holotropic breathwork practitioner who studied under Stanislav Grof, Dr. Doblin is interested in helping develop legal contexts for the beneficial uses of psychedelics and marijuana, primarily as prescription medicines but also for personal growth for otherwise healthy people. He founded MAPS in 1986, lives in Boston with his wife and dog, and has three grown children.

Peter Grinspoon, M.D., is a primary care physician and cannabis specialist at Massachusetts General Hospital, an instructor at Harvard Medical School, a certified health and wellness coach, and a member of the board of directors of Doctors for Cannabis Regulation (DFCR). He spent two years as an associate director of the Massachusetts Physician Health Service helping physicians with addiction and mental health issues and is the author of the memoir Free Refills: A Doctor Confronts His Addiction.

Staci Gruber, Ph.D., director of the Cognitive and Clinical Neuroimaging Core at McLean Hospital’s Brain Imaging Center and associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, has studied the impact of recreational cannabis use on the brain for more than two decades. Her research focuses on the application of neurocognitive models and brain imaging to characterize risk factors for substance abuse and psychiatric conditions. Given inherent differences between recreational and medical cannabis users, in 2014 Dr. Gruber launched Marijuana Investigations for Neuroscientific Discovery (MIND), the first program of its kind designed to clarify the specific effects of medical cannabis use. MIND supports numerous projects, including clinical trials, designed to address the impact of medical cannabis on a number of important variables such as cognition, brain structure and function, clinical state, quality of life, pain, sleep, and other health-related measures.

Allen St. Pierre ’89, during his long tenure at NORML (1991-2015; executive director 2005-2015), established himself as one of America’s hardest working cannabis law reform activists, helping to turn public opinion from anti-pot to anti-pot prohibition. He has made thousands of media appearances; published significant pro-cannabis law reform public policy reports; organized national conferences, legal seminars, public protests and pro-reform festivals; met with elected officials; and testified before local, state and federal legislatures. His writings have appeared in national magazines and newspapers, including more than 200 columns for High Times, and—post-prohibition—in Cannabis Business Executive and Cannabis & Technology. After leaving NORML, Mr. St. Pierre has been a vice president of Las Vegas-based Freedom Leaf, a partner at Boston-based Sensible Alternative Investments, an advisor to cannabis-centric software company getAmbr, and curator of the WeedMaps Museum of Weed. Currently he serves as board chair for the California-based cannabis cultivation company Cypress. An alumnus of UMass Amherst, where he majored in legal studies, Mr. St. Pierre was instrumental in the development of SCUA’s drug policy archival collections. He lives on Cape Cod with his wife and two children.

Genester Wilson-King, M.D., is a board-certified obstetrician and gynecologist with more than 20 years of clinical experience. In 2010, she founded Victory Rejuvenation Center (VRC), a private holistic and integrative wellness medicine practice that provides life-transforming management modalities and customized medicines to patients. She is vice president of the Society of Cannabis Clinicians, a nonprofit that works to empower and educate healthcare providers on the use of cannabis medicine, author of two modules in the new SCC Cannabis Clinicians Training Curriculum, and co-director of the Training Curriculum. Dr. Wilson-King is on the board of directors of Doctors for Cannabis Regulation (DFCR), the first and only national physicians’ association dedicated to the legalization and regulation of cannabis for adults. 

This event is a prelude to a larger event scheduled for June 24, 2022. 

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.