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The Libraries Announce Winners of the 2017 Undergraduate Sustainability Research Award

USRA 2017

The UMass Amherst Libraries are pleased to announce the winners of the 2017 Undergraduate Sustainability Research Award. Projects created from Spring 2016 through Fall 2016 were eligible and the competition was open to all currently enrolled undergraduate UMass Amherst students.

The first place recipients, who will share a $1,000 scholarship, are Cameron Lane ’18, Pepperell, Mass.; Matthew “Donnie” Rollings ’18, Lincoln University, Pa.; Cameron Smith-Freedman ’18, Natick, Mass.; and Luke Fateiger ’18, Stow, Mass. for “What is it Going to Take to Make Solar Panels Cool?”  The winning paper proposes a system of collecting rainwater so that it can be reused to cool and clean the panels, thereby improving their power output by at least 15%.

Two second place awards of a $500 scholarship each go to the team of Kyle Grasso ’17, Charlton, Mass.; Taryn Ramey ’18, Danbury, Conn.; Randa Kallin ’17, Hudson, Mass.; and Patricia Murphy ’17, Sunderland, Mass. for “Proposal for Implementation of an E-receipt System and Non-toxic, Compostable Receipt Paper at the University of Massachusetts Amherst Dining Facilities” and to Sam Kefferstan ’18, Andover, Mass. for “The Perfect Storm: Lasting Impacts of Structural Adjustment Programs and Pressures of Climate Change in Latin America and Ghana, Africa.”

Honorable mention of a $250 scholarship goes to the undergraduate team members of  Louis Correra ’19, Andover, Mass.; Jose LaSalle ’16, G’20, Amherst, Mass.; Ezra Marcus ’18, Great Barrington, Mass.; Michelle Nikfarjam ’16, Upton, Mass.; Josh Nolan ’19, Hanover, N.H.; Yamaan Ziade ’18, Shrewsbury, Mass.; and Brandon Curtin ’18, Otis, Mass., for "BioSTEAD Initiative: a Transdisciplinary Initiative to Construct Safe-to-Fail Green Buildings as Sustainable Development Research Sites on University Campuses."

The Undergraduate Sustainability Research Award is made possible through the Library’s Sustainability Fund. The award promotes the learning of sustainability, research strategies, and the use of library resources, including consultations with subject librarians. The winning submissions demonstrate students’ sustainability-related research, critical thinking skills, and leadership potential which they will carry into their future academic, vocational and community-based endeavors.

"The winning projects for the 2017 Undergraduate Sustainability Research Awards reflect how important a priority sustainability is to our students on this campus,” says Dean of Libraries Simon Neame, “the Libraries, with the support of our generous donors, are proud to support these awards and recognize the outstanding work of UMass Amherst students."

The winning projects will become a part of the Libraries’ Special Collections and University Archives as well as made openly accessible in the Sustainable UMass Student Showcase on ScholarWorks, the university’s digital repository at Matthew “Donnie” Rollings will accept the award on behalf of the winning team at the Libraries’ A Climate for Change event on Saturday, April 1, 2017.


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Libraries' Usability Survey Recruitment

Volunteers needed for survey that begins in early April.

usability study

Coffee for your thoughts?    

Free library coffee mug and beverage for less than an hour of your time to tell us:

  • Do you use online research tools at the library?
  • Do you think they could be improved?

If yes, please volunteer for the Libraries’ Usability Study by signing up to be part of a focus group or hands-on testing of our new library search platform. The study begins in early April and will take no more than one hour of your time.

Volunteers receive a coupon for a free beverage at the Procrastination Station Café as well as a UMass Libraries mug.

For more information or to sign up, contact Zack at

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Undergraduate Outreach Librarian Annette M. Vadnais

Promotes libraries and librarians as part of College Matters for U

AnnetteVadnaisIMG 3956

The UMass Amherst Libraries announce undergraduate outreach librarian Annette M. Vadnais’ participation in the University of Massachusetts’ College Matters for U program. In October 2014, the UMass Center at Springfield launched College Matters for U as part of Springfield Public Schools’ College and Career Awareness Month.

The College Matters for U program allows students from area schools to visit the UMass Center in Springfield to participate in a day of engaging activities.  The goal of the program is to educate students in grades K-12 about S.T.E.A.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Mathematics) career options and expose them to opportunities available after high school graduation, including applying to and attending college.

Vadnais reached out to Leykia Nulan, assistant provost for diversity at UMass Amherst, who spearheads the university’s ongoing efforts to increase diversity in the undergraduate student body and to foster an inclusive, supportive campus community, and offered to help these efforts in any way she could. Nulan then connected Vadnais with Jamina Scippio-McFadden, Director of Marketing and Community Relations at the UMass Center.  

“College Matters for U is a program that really speaks to me. Being able to help kids realize that college is an option for them is really wonderful,” says Vadnais.

Annette M. Vadnais graduated from UMass Amherst in 1999 with a B.A. in theater, and received her masters of library and information science from Simmons in 2013. Vadnais is a first generation college graduate from a low income background. “My parents never spoke about going to college, my father had only finished the seventh grade.” says Vadnais, “Even though my parents wanted me to do well in school, there was no pressure to perform academically. After taking time off after high school and working at a grocery store, I realized that I wanted more. A friend was applying to Mt. Holyoke and she strongly encouraged me to apply to UMass.”

In her sessions, Vadnais works with students of three age groups; elementary, middle, and high school. She tailors her time with each group in an age-specific manner, always concluding by telling the students the ways in which librarians are helpful, and encouraging them to make friends with librarians at their school or local public library.

For the elementary school students, she talks about various types of librarian jobs and the many different kinds of library spaces such as the Libraries’ Digital Media Lab which includes 3D printing. The students are then able to choose from several pre-made activity sheets featuring drawings of librarians that they finish themselves using what they learned from the presentation.

When working with middle school students, Vadnais shows them pictures of various people and asks which person they think is a librarian. She asks why they selected the picture they did, and then surprises them by revealing that all the images depict librarians. They then learn about the various types of librarians and library spaces, as did the elementary school kids, but since these students are older, they are asked to guess what the various types of librarians do, before they are told.

The high school students are more focused on what they want to do for a career, so for this group Vadnais discusses how libraries and librarians can help make their studies easier if they decide to go to college. She provides a list of resources they can use in high school and in college. She includes the UMass Amherst Libraries home page (pointing out that as residents of Mass. they can access the entire catalog, research guides, and much more) and information on the Libraries’ academic liaison program where each academic department is paired with a librarian. Vadnais says that the students get “super excited” to learn about the Occupational Outlook Handbook which shows salaries of various careers.

“I love working with students of all ages, teaching them not only about college but about how libraries and librarians can help them in their life.” says Vadnais.

For additional information about the College Matters for U program, please contact Jamina Scippio-McFadden, director of marketing & community relations, at 413-788-6277, or

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Libraries Accepting Applications for 2017 Five College Graduate Student Du Bois Fellowship

Deadline is April 14, 2017

DuBois grad Fellows

The UMass Amherst Libraries are accepting applications for the 2017 Five College Graduate Student Du Bois Fellowship. Through a generous grant awarded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the W. E. B. Du Bois Center at UMass Amherst Libraries, in collaboration with the Department of Special Collections & University Archives (SCUA), offer graduate fellowships to assist scholars in conducting research in its collections. All graduate students at UMass Amherst and the Five Colleges are eligible to apply. Fellows will receive a stipend of $3,000 for an eight-week library residency.  The deadline for applications is April 14, 2017. For more information and to apply, visit

Since the arrival of the W. E. B. Du Bois Papers at UMass Amherst in 1973, SCUA has become the steward for a number of collections in which Du Bois is a central figure, including those of his associates James Aronson (acquired 1990), Katherine Bell Banks (2004), Lillian Hyman Katzman (2010), and Catherine A. Latimer (2015), as well as the papers of scholars who studied Du Bois, including William Strickland (2014) and two-time Pulitzer Prize winner David Levering Lewis (2014). There are, as well, several collections in which Du Bois appears as a direct influence, including the papers of the educator Horace Mann Bond (1979) and the records of the Africa-America Institute, an organization that for more than 60 years has promoted educational and economic ties between African nations and the United States. Of these, Du Bois, Aronson, Banks, Katzman, and Bond are all fully digitized and available online free of charge. Among the approximately 15,000 linear feet of manuscripts held by SCUA are many valuable collections for the study of social change in the United States, including the papers of the most important exponent of the politics and culture of the twentieth century,
W. E. B. Du Bois. 

Fellows may come from any field and any perspective, and they may work on any topic, but their research should explore the major themes that characterize Du Bois’ scholarship and activism. This includes the history and meaning of racial, social, and economic justice; the problems of democracy and political inclusion; the role of capitalism in world affairs; and the global influence of African cultures. Comprehensive, searchable guides and finding aids to SCUA’s collections are available online at

Fellows will be selected on a competitive basis from applicants interested in conducting original research using the Du Bois Papers and other SCUA collections. In addition to the two-month residency, Fellows will be invited to give a public talk to the Five College community, UMass faculty fellows, and community college faculty in the humanities and social sciences. The criteria for selection will include the potential of the proposal to contribute to scholarship; the need for the use of SCUA’s collections; and a letter of support. The application will consist of a brief (up to three pages) description of the research project, curriculum vitae, and the letter of support. To apply, visit

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Visual Browse

An alternate way to explore and discover library materials in the Five College Library Catalog

Visual Browse


What is Visual Browse?

Visual Browse offers an alternate way to explore and discover library materials in the Five College Library Catalog. It pulls in content from outside services including book previews and reviews, descriptions, author bios, movie trailers, and more. Like the traditional catalog, you can search across all five colleges or limit your search to one institution. For academic research, you are encouraged to use the Five College Library Catalog, Discover, UMA WorldCat and other library research tools.

Login with your institutional login for the following additional features

  • Request an item from any of the Five College Libraries
  • Tag items as “My Favorites.”
  • Create a personal Collection that you can make public or keep private.
  • Follow collections created by others.

What will I find in Visual Browse?

  • Selections from the Five College Library Catalog
  • Journal titles and articles are not included. See Discover or UMA WorldCat or other library databases and research guides for journal articles.
  • Featured collections Including New Books, New Movies, Movies by Genre, Television, and more
  • Popular Collections Collections curated by your librarians
  • Shared Collections Collections created by you and other users

Looking for help?

Contact the Libraries’ help desk at or 413-545-0150


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