Postcards from a Librarian:
Julie Kane on the Stonewall Book Awards

Julie Kane

Julie Kane, Head of Collection Services

I’ve spent the past four years dedicating my American Library Association service to work on the Conference Committee. This year I’m transitioning to my first appointment on a book award committee, the first award established for LGBTQIA+ books. The Stonewall Book Award has three committees: Barbara Gittings Literature, Israel Fishman Non-Fiction, and Mike Morgan and Larry Romans Children’s and Young Adult Literature. The adult literature award is named after the iconic gay rights activist and lover of books Barbara Gittings, who famously fought over a series of years for the American Psychological Association to declassify homosexuality as a mental illness. In 1973, her campaign was successful, and the classification was removed.

The committee begins its work almost immediately after the announcement of the previous year’s winner at the ALA Midwinter meeting. Anyone can recommend a title to the Stonewall Committees to consider via web form. Titles must contain a certain threshold of queer content to be considered for the award (a new shorthand in my reviewing vocabulary for rejecting titles – neqc: not enough queer content). We review in physical and e-book form, and I anticipate some audiobook releases in the coming months.

Over the course of the year we’ve been meeting as a committee online monthly, with email discussions of individual books in between meetings. At the Midwinter meeting in 2021, we would usually meet from 8:30-5:30, locked in a room as a committee for three consecutive days (Friday-Sunday) to determine the award winner and any honorable mentions before the award announcement and press release reception. Though our meetings will be virtual this year, our schedule will be largely the same since we’re held to a press release deadline, and deliberations must conclude in time. The award is officially presented to the winning authors or editors at the following Annual conference in June. Winners receive a commemorative plaque and $1,000. I was delighted to meet W&L’s own Rebecca Makkai at an ALA publisher’s event when she was attending in 2019 to accept her Stonewall award for The Great Believers.

I’m thrilled and overwhelmed to serve on the Stonewall – Barbara Gittings Literature Award Committee, though it’s not without its novel challenges. I regularly review contemporary literature for Library Journal, and I’m an avid reader, but I did not anticipate scaling up my reading to accommodate evaluating ~300 titles in one year. As we get closer to the end of the calendar year, titles are coming to us at a furious pace, and the need to DNF (did not finish) books is increasing along with the height of the TBR (to be read) piles. I’m accustomed to reviewing novels only, and pleasure-reading a mix of novels and nonfiction, but this committee entertains a mix of literary fiction, poetry, drama, scifi, and graphic novels. Hardest of all struggles is the primary rule of the book award committee – the gag order. We are forbidden from discussing what we’re reading outside of the committee. My favorite part of returning from ALA or BookExpo is sharing (loudly, widely!) which books are coming out soon that I love or feel strongly about. Having to keep my mouth shut for the next two years is absolutely, bone-breakingly brutal. On the other hand, being part of a process that promotes and celebrates LGBTQIA+ literature is rewarding, hard work, and an incredible honor. I’m happy to report that there is no shortage of astonishingly good work coming in. I wish I could tell you more about it.

Check out recent Stonewall Book Awards winners held by the library:

2020 Awardees

Barbara Gittings Literature Award

    • How We Fight for Our Lives: A Memoir, Saeed Jones (2019)
      Leyburn Lower Level 4 PS3610.O6279 Z46 2019
      Check availability.

Stonewall Honor Books in Literature

    • On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous
      Leyburn Lower Level 4 PS3622.U96 O52 2019
      Check availability.

Stonewall Honor Books in Non-Fiction

    • In the Dream House: A Memoir, Carmen Maria Machado (2019)
      Leyburn Lower Level 4 PS3613.A2725243 Z46 2019
      Check availability.

2019 Awardees

Barbara Gittings Literature Award

    • The Great Believers, Rebecca Makkai (2018)
      Leyburn Lower Level 4 PS3613.A36 G74 2018
      Check availability.

Israel Fishman Nonfiction Award

    • Go the Way Your Blood Beats: On Truth, Bisexuality and Desire, Michael Amherst (2018)
      Leyburn Lower Level 3 HQ74 .A52 2018
      Check availability.

Stonewall Honor Books in Non-Fiction

    • Black. Queer. Southern. Women.: An Oral History, E. Patrick Johnson (2018)
      Leyburn Lower Level 3 HQ75.6.U52 S684 2018
      Check availability.
    • Raising Rosie : our story of parenting an intersex child, Eric Lohman & Stephani Lohman (2018)

2018 Awardees

Barbara Gittings Literature Award

    • Meanwhile, Elsewhere: Science Fiction and Fantasy from Transgender Writers, Cat Fitzpatrick & Casey Plett, editors (2017)
      Leyburn Lower Level 4 PS508.T73 M43 2017
      Check availability.

Stonewall Honor Books in Literature

    • When I grow up I want to be a list of further possibilities, Chen Chen (2017)
      Leyburn Lower Level 4 PS3603.H4471 A6 2017
      Check availability.

Stonewall Honor Books in Non-Fiction

    • Black on Both Sides A Racial History of Trans Identity, C. Riley Snorton (2017)

New Entry Traffic Pattern for Leyburn Library

As one door closes, another one opens…or stays open, in this case.

To create a traffic pattern that supports the library’s Covid-19 protocols, all W&L users will now enter Leyburn Library only through the Stemmons Plaza entrance. This is the entrance that faces the back of the colonnade.

Leyburn's Stemmons Plaza entrance

Photo of Leyburn Library’s Stemmons Plaza facing entrance

Throughout the remainder of Fall Term, this will be the only available entrance to Leyburn Library. Users must swipe their W&L ID cards to enter the Stemmons Plaza doors.

Entry points on Leyburn’s Lower Levels 2 and 4, and the Elrod Commons facing entrance on the main floor, will be locked to prevent entry.

All Leyburn Library exit points will remain operational.

We apologize for any inconvenience and appreciate your understanding as we work together to create a safe and healthy campus community. We’re all in this together. For questions, email

*See map of Leyburn Library’s Main Floor *

Voter Information Guide

Need help navigating the voting process? Check out the library’s Voter Information Guide.

In addition to an Election Day countdown clock, this guide includes information about:

  • how to register to vote;
  • absentee ballots;
  • voting at W&L;
  • acceptable forms of voter identification in Virginia;
  • resources for healthy voting.

Thanks to our amazing student employees for working on this guide! Thanks to the Law Library for contributing the section “Resources for Healthy Voting.”

LSO’s Favorite Books

Hispanic Heritage Month flyer


The Latinx Student Organization (LSO) has organized a variety of events, activities, and opportunities in celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month, which runs from September 15 – October 15.

Part of this larger slate of offerings, LSO partnered with the University Library to curate a book collection: “LSO’s Favorite Books.” Many highlighted books are written by Spanish speaking or Latinx authors.

Browse the below list to learn which items LSO selected as their favorite books, and which member selected what title. Some titles were ordered specifically for LSO and are on their way to the library!

Want a book that hasn’t arrived yet or is currently checked out?
To receive notification when the book is available, do the following:

  • When you are on that book’s library catalog record,
    select “Please sign in to check if there are any request options.”
  • Login.
  • On the resulting screen, select “Request.”

David Gálvez’s Favorite:

Diana Rodriguez’s Favorites:

Jerónimo Reyes’s Favorite:

Taylor Graham’s Favorite:

Jackie Tamez’s Favorites:

Oriana Gutierrez’s Favorite:

Isabel Lourie’s Favorite:

Carolina Rubio Regalado’s Favorite:

Fall Leyburn Construction: Expect Noise!

Bang calloutDuring Fall Term 2020, ongoing construction will occur on Leyburn Lower Level 2 in preparation for the future installation of the Center for Academic Resources and Pedagogical Excellence (CARPE). CARPE will be located on Leyburn’s Lower Level 1.

Please expect construction noise during each weekday!

Due to construction, Leyburn Lower Level 2 will be inaccessible Monday – Friday, during daytime hours. This space will be available after construction concludes each day at 6:00 p.m. and during weekends.

Lower level 2 items are listed in our catalog as:

“UNAVAILABLE DURING CONSTRUCTION: W&L Faculty/Staff/Students sign in to request access”

If you would like us to pull materials for you during the weekday, please login and use the supplied inter-library loan form. Users are welcome to pull materials on their own after 6:00 p.m. on weekdays and on weekends.

Have questions? Email

11 Things Every First-Year Should Know About The Library

This term is different than most; but, the library remains committed to supporting student needs whether they are in-person or virtual.

Review the below facts every first-year should know because…



  1. In order to forestall the potential spread of Covid-19, many library services and policies will be different for Fall 2020. The library appreciates student understanding during this time. We’re all in this together as we work to keep our campus community healthy & safe.
    Notable library changes include:

    • Leyburn Library will have abbreviated hours of accessibility:
      • Monday – Thursday: 7:00 a.m. – 2:00 a.m. ​
      • Friday, 7:00 a.m. – midnight​
      • Saturday, noon – midnight​
      • Sunday, noon – 2:00 a.m.
    • A W&L swipe card is required for building entry at all times.
    • While in Leyburn and Telford, masks must be worn at all times in all spaces, ​except for quick snacks ​or sips of beverages.
    • The library will not check out carrels. Carrels can be used temporarily by individuals. Personal materials should be removed upon departure.
    • Full meals should not be eaten in Leyburn or Telford.
    • The library will no longer check out chargers, headphones, or calculators.

Back to the regular library facts…

  1. Most US university libraries use the Library of Congress system to organize their physical book collections, and so do we–not the Dewey Decimal System. The Library of Congress System uses a combination of letters AND numbers for top level categories.
  2. Your university swipe card serves as your “library card.” Just present it when checking out or use it at one our our self-checkout terminals.
  3. The library is a lot more than a warehouse for physical books, although it has those too. It provides access to ebooks, DVDs, online articles, databases, government documents, streaming media, technology for checkout, and more! is the portal to find it all AND online content can be accessed on- or off-campus.
  4. The University Library provides access to a variety of databases. JSTOR is great, but there is much, much more available to W&L students.
  5. The library doesn’t own every resource. That’s what Interlibrary Loan is for. If we don’t have a book or article, we’ll get in from another library anywhere in the world. Free to W&L students.
  6. The library staff wants to help you. They are experts in finding, evaluating, and using information…basically, research! Make an appointment with a librarian for a virtual consultation. Or, drop by out virtual LibChat at!
  7. You will hear a lot of the Honor System and plagiarism in your time at W&L. The University Catalog recommends the library’s guide to avoiding plagiarism as a helpful resource.
  8. You’ll likely use several different citation styles during college, the library is happy to answer citation questions and even offer support in the use of the Zotero citation manager.
  9. Special Collections & Archives, on Leyburn’s Lower Level 1, houses rare books, manuscripts, and institutional and local history. Special Collections is opened Monday-Friday, 9:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. For Fall 2020, there is a 6 researcher cap in occupancy.
  10. Finally, be prepared for even more changes–good changes! Leyburn Library will be home to a future teaching and learning center, CARPE. In preparation for this, you might notice some construction.🚧
    • Because of the construction, Leyburn’s Lower Level 2 will be inaccessible Monday-Friday, from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., during Fall 2020.
    • Leyburn’s Lower Level 1 will be inaccessible in the Winter/Spring of 2021: Special Collections will remain accessible during this time.

We love the library and hope you will too. Reach out anytime with questions.

Leyburn Library Photo

Leyburn Library Call Number Location Changes

In preparation for the eventual installation of CARPE, the Center for Academic Resources & Pedagogical Excellence, physical materials are now organized in the following permanent locations within Leyburn Library:

    • Main Floor: reference collection, DVDs, current periodicals, & books on CD
    • Lower Level 1: books with call numbers A – BQ
    • Lower Level 2: books with call numbers BR – F (excluding science titles)
    • Lower Level 3: books with call numbers G through PQ
    • Lower Level 4: books with call numbers PR through Z (excluding science titles), all folios, bound periodicals, government documents, and VHS tapes

Problems finding something? Stop by Leyburn Library’s Information Desk—safely staffed using acrylic safety dividers. Or, email

Have problems navigating Library of Congress (LOC) call numbers? They are a lot different from Dewey! Review our “How to Read a Library of Congress Call Number” handout, available as a machine readable PDF.

Thank You, Dick Grefe!

Picture of Dick Grefe

Senior Reference Librarian and Associate Professor,
photo by K. Remington

This summer, the University Library says goodbye to three stellar employees: Sydney Bufkin, who completed her Mellon Digital Humanities Fellowship, and retirees Carol Blair and Dick Grefe.

Normally, we would celebrate our friends with a cake-filled fête. Because in-person celebrations aren’t possible due to Covid-19, we celebrate their contributions digitally…until we can safely gather together again.

In this post, we recognize Senior Reference Librarian and Associate Professor Dick Grefe. Dick joined the library on July 1, 1980. In his early days at W&L, Dick was responsible for Public Services (circulation and Interlibrary Loan) in addition to his role in reference. In 1989, Dick shifted to full-time in reference as the Senior Reference Librarian.

For the past 4 decades, Dick served as a well respected, and highly recognizable, member of the library faculty: providing detailed one-on-one research support, teaching credit-bearing courses, visiting classes to deliver course-specific research tutorials, coordinating the library’s government documents, substantially supporting Mock Con research needs, and so much more. Upon retirement, Dick served as library contact (or liaison) to a vast array of social science disciplines and interdisciplinary programs: Africana Studies; East Asian Studies; Education; Film Studies; Journalism and Mass Communications; Latin American and Caribbean Studies; Middle East and South Asia Studies;Politics; Poverty Studies; Sociology and Anthropology; Russian Area Studies; and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies.

Film Society 1983

Dick Grefe & the Film Society, The Calyx, 1983

Dick visibly supports and serves the university, and its students, outside of curricular confines. A champion of student sports, particularly soccer, Dick frequents the stands of Alston Parker Watt Field. For many years, Dick advised the student Film Society—as evident in the provided Film Society group photo from the 1983 Calyx.

One blog post cannot adequately capture Dick’s 4 decades of service to the library and university. Although verging on ineffable, we thank Dick for his vast contributions.

The following notes, from John Tombarge and Elizabeth Teaff, further highlight Dick’s impact.

Picture of John Tombarge

John Tombarge

A note from Dick’s long-time colleague, John Tombarge:

Over the years, Dick made a special effort to welcome prospective students to the library. It was Dick, too, who introduced most of the incoming class to the library each fall. He built much of the print collection and played an influential role as the library moved into the digital era, always paying close attention to new materials needed in specific classes and on the watch for popular research topics.

Always a strong advocate for our students, he is known for long meetings with students to help them with their research and regularly created individual research guides to help them get started. He is also known for his willingness to drop whatever he is working on to help students and faculty who show up at his office door. Dick also served as the faculty adviser to the Film Society for twenty-five years. A steadfast adviser for students preparing for Mock Con, he sought special funding to support their research every four years. He is also an avid supporter of all W&L athletics.

Over the years, Dick has served as a role model for librarians and their liaison responsibilities. As a reference librarian to reference librarians, he has always been a resource, talking through research strategies with other librarians working on problems or special projects. We offer our best wishes on a well-deserved retirement.

Picture of Elizabeth Teaff

Elizabeth Teaff

A note from Dick’s long-time colleague, Elizabeth Teaff:

Congratulations to Associate Professor Dick Grefe on his retirement. Over the course of many decades and two millennia, Dick has worked tirelessly to support the research needs of Washington and Lee faculty and students. His institutional knowledge and reference skills will be sorely missed. On a personal note, I have greatly benefited from all the guidance and support he has given me during my time at the University Library.

Dick served as primary library contact for various departments and programs. The following list identifies which individuals will now serve as the primary contact for those areas of research and study:

Thank you, Sydney Bufkin!

Picture of Sydney Bufkin

Professor Sydney Bufkin,
photo by K. Remington

This summer, the University Library says goodbye to three stellar employees: Sydney Bufkin, who completed her Mellon Digital Humanities Fellowship, and retirees Carol Blair and Dick Grefe.

Normally, we would celebrate our friends with a cake-filled fête. Because in-person celebrations aren’t possible due to Covid-19, we celebrate their contributions digitally…until we can safely gather together again.

In this post, we recognize Digital Humanities (DH) Fellow Sydney Bufkin. Since 2015, the University Library has hosted a Digital Humanities Fellow as part of our DH initiatives supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. For the past three years, we have been lucky enough to have Professor Sydney Bufkin in this role. Sydney was a familiar addition to the library. In her previous role in the English Department, Sydney regularly collaborated with librarians to bring information literacy skills to her classroom.

As DH Fellow, Sydney combined her pedagogical expertise with digital research methods to support faculty research and student projects—in and outside of the library. Within her first month, she was on the road to the Institute for Liberal Arts Digital Scholarship as a team member on Stephanie Sandberg’s Understanding Human Trafficking project. She worked closely with Emily Cook, research and outreach librarian, to develop a new library curriculum for working with the first-year Writing Program. Sydney also played an important role in the development and launch of the library’s Digital Culture and Information minor, serving as our in-house expert on assessment.

In addition to the day-to-day work of teaching, coding and consulting, Sydney led two major campus initiatives. In the 2018-2019, Sydney led the campus-wide initiative “Rewriting the Code,” a year-long initiative aimed at inspiring women at W&L to explore careers at the intersection of technology and the humanities. With the help of Kellie Harra ’18, our Mellon post-baccalaureate fellow, Sydney designed and organized two workshops on HTML, CSS, and Python. The demand for the workshops was so high, they were repeated in Winter Term. The initiative culminated in a forum featuring a full day of panels and presentations from six early-career women working in technology. Not only did this remarkable initiative bring together students, staff and faculty from across the university, it inspired a number of women to pursue the Digital Culture and Information minor and take more Computer Science courses.

Beginning in 2018, Sydney served as Institutional Lead for a multi-institutional grant from the Associated Colleges of the South, “Pathway to Diversity: Uncovering Our Collections,” to locate the history of desegregation and integration at W&L and three other ACS institutions in our archival collections. As part of this project, she supervised two summer research students and worked with faculty members to integrate primary sources into their courses. In 2019, the project received a second round of funding to create a shared online repository for the material. To highlight student contributions to the project, Sydney planned and hosted a multi-day “Curating Our Collections Institutional History Symposium” at W&L in late 2019.

Finally, we must acknowledge Sydney’s continual advocacy for non-tenure track faculty within the library and the entire university. Her willingness to speak up in any and every meeting brought needed attention to the employment conditions of contingent faculty. We are grateful for her dedicated work over the past three years to improve the lives of her students and colleagues.

*Written by Digital Humanities Librarian Mackenzie Brooks

Women Who Code Workshop

Professor Bufkin provides guidance during a “Rewriting the Code” workshop

Thank you, Carol Blair!

Picture of Carol Blair

Carol Blair, photo by K. Remington

This summer, the University Library says goodbye to three stellar employees: Sydney Bufkin, who completed her Mellon Digital Humanities Fellowship, and retirees Carol Blair and Dick Grefe.

Normally, we would celebrate our friends with a cake-filled fête. Because in-person celebrations aren’t possible due to Covid-19, we celebrate their contributions digitally…until we can safely gather together again.

In this post, we recognize Senior Library Assistant Carol Blair. Carol joined the W&L family in 1983 and worked in library acquisitions, a part of what is now called Collection Services, from the very beginning. During her tenure, she witnessed a transformation in library systems and processes: from multi-part order forms to today’s online purchasing systems. These technological innovations resulted in faster turnaround times for faculty requesting books. Books now arrive only days after order, as opposed to previous wait times of six weeks!

Animal Portraits

Animal Portraits by Carol Blair

Carol does much more than purchase books, media and serials. She processes donated gift books and is instrumental in the organization of our yearly library book sale, a favorite event for W&L community members and local Lexington patrons alike. She also helps manage aspects of the library budget, like the spending of endowed funds. Basically, Carol has been instrumental in library operations since 1983. Her varied tasks and duties cannot fit into one blog post.

Moving into retirement, Carol will have additional time to pursue her interests in art and golf. Carol graduated from UNC-Greensboro with a degree in Art and continues to produce artistic works—notably, highly realistic portraits of animals and golfscapes. She even flexed her artistic skills when winning the “Best in Show” prize at the library’s edible book event in 2016!

Thank you, Carol, for 37 years of service to the University Library! 

We look forward to seeing you out on the links, with a sketchbook or just enjoying life in Lexington!

A note from Carol’s long-time colleague, Senior Reference Librarian Dick Grefe:

Picture of Dick Grefe

Senior Reference Librarian Dick Grefe, photo by K. Remington

Carol’s retirement causes me to fear for the future.

Not so much the library’s future—we have anticipated this and planned for it and may be able to do a credible job of reassigning tasks and otherwise coping. Instead, I fear for the future of publishers and distributors with whom Carol has dealt over the years. 

For much of that span, these businesses have depended upon Carol to examine and correct their operations—their incorrect invoices, their statements sent to the wrong address, their failure to inform us of changes in their procedures and products, the occasional missing link, etc.  I wonder how CQ and National Journal and Sage and Oxford and Cambridge and several other companies can possibly manage to avoid total chaos without Carol’s intervention to save their corporate butts.

They, like W&L, will just have to get their houses in order.  And since they won’t think to say it, let me say it: Thank you, Carol, for keeping us and our relations with the academic publishing world humming along for all these years. Best wishes.—Dick Grefe