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 library@wlu.edu.

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


Library Databases for W&L Alumni

The Washington and Lee University Library is pleased to provide our alumni, including the Class of 2020, with access to several important commercially-published article databases, similar to those available to current W&L students, faculty, and staff.

Use of these resources is made possible by the generous financial support of the W&L Friends of the Library.



The databases available to our alumni include:

  • Project Muse
  • EbscoHost Databases — Academic Search and Business Sources



Access to these products is controlled through W&L’s  Office of Alumni Engagement as one their Colonnade Connections online options.  There are two basic steps to using these databases:

  1. First, set up your own Colonnade Connections login (ID and password) via this link:  http://colonnadeconnections.wlu.edu/
  2. Once you are officially registered, use this link and your personal ID and password to gain access to the databases listed above: https://colonnadeconnections.wlu.edu/friends-of-the-library

W&L alumni who have questions about using these databases can contact the University Library via this general-purpose online form or one of the direct links to our staff.  If you have questions about the Colonnade Connections program, please contact Molly Myers, Assistant Director of Digital Communications for Alumni Engagement.


Physical space closures & continued virtual support

Leyburn Library overlaid with technology

In an effort to further limit personal interaction for the health and safety of our community, Leyburn and Telford Libraries’ physical spaces will be closed to all students effective Monday, March 23, and will close to all after March 27. Library staff will continue to support students, faculty and staff remotely. 

The library staff are eager to offer support. You are encouraged to reach out to your assigned librarian or email library@wlu.edu to inquire how the library can meet your needs.

Library services for all of the W&L community
(faculty, staff & students)

  • Library online resources – The library’s online resources aren’t bound by walls. Off-campus users have access to the library’s robust selection of databases, journals, ebooks, and streaming content. Just start at libray.wlu.edu to ensure direct access without paywalls.
  • eBooks – The library can determine if editions are available for books that you need.
  • Interlibrary Loan – Articles and book chapters are still available for digital delivery, but shipping of physical items has been suspended.
  • Chat Reference – A Chat Reference service will be available when classes resume March 30 for on-demand, online research support, but don’t hesitate to reach out to your favorite librarian.

In short, contact the library about what you need, and library staff will do their best to accommodate.
Explore additional services specific to faculty and specific to students below.

Additional Services for Faculty

  • Videos – The library can determine if streaming rights are available on videos you would like to use in class.
  • Scans – If ebooks are not available, the library can scan chapters of books in the collection to post on Canvas.
  • Carry-out services – If you need items from our collection, send citations and call numbers to library@wlu.edu.
    In 24-48 hours (weekdays), we will contact you about picking the items up.
  • Special Collections – Special Collections remains available to faculty and staff by appointment; contact Tom Camden (camdent@wlu.edu) to schedule one. Scans are an option if you wish to use Special Collections materials in your classes.
  • LibGuides – On request, librarians can embed the specialized subject guides they produce in your Canvas courses. Contact your assigned librarian or email library@wlu.edu to have a specialized LibGuides subject guide created for your class and embedded in your Canvas course.
  • Streaming Services – The library subscribes to a variety of streaming services faculty can use in their media-rich classes.  If you wish to stream content from a vendor not listed below, contact your assigned librarian or email library@wlu.edu to initiate an investigation of availability.

Additional services for Students

  • Items in the collections – use the Interlibrary Loan form to submit requests
    • Scans – If ebooks are not available, the library can scan chapters of books in the collection for you.
    • Books – we can ship a limited number of books to you. We will provide prepaid return UPS labels for seniors. Returning students can return books in the fall.
  • Items in your carrel – if you left items in your carrel that you need, let us know at library@wlu.edu, and we will ship these items back to you.

Mock Convention Research


If the news media are pillar-to-post about presidential primary campaigns, you know Washington and Lee University’s Mock Convention cannot be far off.    And, sure enough, Mock Con Weekend is now less than six months away and our students already are working on political research and other preparations.

For years the W&L University Library has been proud to assist Mock Con students with their research efforts, usually focusing on the work of state delegates looking into electoral patterns and histories, economic and demographic factors, public opinion, and anything else that seems relevant to accurately forecasting a U.S. state’s behavior in upcoming presidential primaries.   For at least 15 years, that assistance has included the preparation and ongoing revision of an online research guide, which is available to W&L students (and faculty and staff) from both on-campus and just about any off-campus locations.

If you are curious about previous incarnations of this  research guide, here is the 2004 guide.


Kurt Vonnegut and W&L


Early spring of 1969 was a time in America fraught with anxiety.  Richard Nixon recently had been inaugurated as President of the United States as the Vietnam War bled into another decade.  It had been almost exactly one year since Martin Luther King was assassinated.  It felt a bit like history was off the rails.

And then a novel appeared which gave new meaning to the idea of history becoming unhinged, while also giving an additional twist to William Faulkner’s declaration that the past is not past.

Kurt Vonnegut’s masterpiece Slaughterhouse Five was published in the early spring of 1969, almost exactly fifty years ago.   The New York Times reviewer declared Vonnegut’s sixth novel “an extraordinary success.  It is a book we need to read, and to reread.”  The American Scholar compared the author to George Orwell.  And Washington and Lee’s own Tom Wolfe would go on to say, “I guess he’s the closest thing we had to a Voltaire.”   Appreciations commemorating the 50th anniversary of this masterpiece are beginning to appear now in early 2019, including an extraordinarily thoughtful essay in the New York Times by Kevin Powers.

Kurt Vonnegut came to Washington and Lee University in 2003, speaking in Lee Chapel on Tuesday 4 February.  As far as we can tell, the only account in the Ring Tum Phi was a captioned photograph on the first page of the 10 February 2003 issue, with the great man at a table in the Southern Inn.  The photo appears beneath the cryptic headline “Don’t Use Semicolons.”    A more contemplative account was contributed by then-University Photographer Patrick Hinely (’73) to the Alumni Magazine.

It is not always true that public presentations at W&L by eminent visitors are preserved for future appreciation, but we got lucky with Vonnegut’s 2003 talk.   Several of our librarians found a DVD recording in a box in Special Collections and others worked to “translate” that video into an Internet-friendly format.   Thus, it is thanks to Tom Camden, Seth McCormick, and Paula Kiser that we are able to present video of Kurt Vonnegut at W&L in 2003.   So it goes.



Book of the Week!


OK, let’s try this.  Let’s look at a book just added to the Washington and Lee University Library collection — something interesting and/or cool.  Or just surprising.

This week’s nominee is Really Cross Stitch;  For When You Just Want to Stab Something a Lot.

Acquisition of this book was inspired by this term’s Politics 295B course taught by Robin LeBlanc and Ron Fuchs entitled “The Material Culture of Protest.”

You can view information on the book in our Primo database — and if you get to the shelf quickly, maybe you can check it out.


The Way We Were — 1966 and 1985


The definitive account of Washington and Lee University’s modern history is Blaine Brownell’s 2017 book, Washington and Lee University, 1930-2000: Tradition and Transformation.

As part of their orientation to W&L, members of the incoming undergraduate class of 2022 are learning about Washington and Lee by reading and discussing two chapters of that work, “Issues of Race and the Civil Rights Revolution” and “Men and Women Together: Expanding Old Foundations.”  The first reading has been described as concentrating “on the 1960s and how W&L grappled with the changes in American society and higher education at this time,” leading to the admission of African-American students as undergraduates, while the second “focuses on the mid-1980’s and the university’s momentous shift to co-education.”

Professor Brownell notes that the first two African-American students, Dennis Haston and Leslie Smith, enrolled at W&L in the fall of 1966, while the first undergraduate women arrived for the Fall Term in 1985.   The author discusses many of the issues, opinions, and emotions which which were apparent or behind-the-scenes at those times.

But what did W&L look like at these turning points of 1966 and 1985?

One can get a pretty good idea of campus life by examining the official student yearbook, the Calyx, for these pivotal years.  The University Library has digitized decades of Calyx volumes and readers near and far can now get a flavor of W&L by browsing these pages and appreciating, at least visually, the way we were.   Here are the Calyx volumes for 1966-67   and 1985-86.


[from the 1967 Calyx]