UM Presentation Focuses on Eudora Welty and Hubert Creekmore’s Ties

Literary researchers to examine authors' literary and family connections

The J.D. Williams Library features a new exhibit available to the public in their Department of Archives and Special Collections, including items from Eudora Welty and Hubert Creekmore. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

The J.D. Williams Library features a new exhibit available to the public in their Department of Archives and Special Collections, including items from Eudora Welty and Hubert Creekmore. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – Scholars will explore the literary and family connections shared by Mississippi authors Eudora Welty and Hubert Creekmore during a brown bag event at the University of Mississippi’s J.D. Williams Library.

The event, set for 11:30 a.m. Oct. 6 in the Faulker Room, features a discussion by literary scholars Suzanne Marrs and Annette Trefzer about Welty and Creekmore, an accomplished poet and author from Water Valley.

The library’s Department of Archives and Special Collections organized the examination of “Eudora Welty and Hubert Creekmore: Literary and Family Connections.” Selected items from the department’s Welty and Creekmore Collections are featured as a part of the exhibition “Hot Off the Press: New and Newly Available Archive Collections,” which is on display in the Faulkner Room through December.

“We are honored to have two such accomplished scholars speak about the connections between two outstanding Mississippi literary figures,” said Jennifer Ford, head of the department. “The Creekmore Collection is one of the treasures of the department, and the current exhibit offered a wonderful opportunity to display items from it for the first time.

“I hope this lecture will spark even more interest into Welty and Creekmore’s work, as well as draw even more attention to the department’s literary collections.”

Marrs, friend and biographer of Welty, is a retired English professor from Millsaps College. She met Welty in 1983 and they were close friends until the author died in 2001. The two met on nearly a daily basis to discuss literature, travel and politics and to welcome visiting writers and scholars to Jackson.

“Eudora Welty and Hubert Creekmore lived just a block or two apart on Jackson’s Pinehurst Street after the Creekmores moved there from Water Valley,” Marrs said. “They read each other’s work, shared an interest in photography and had a family connection: Eudora’s brother married Hubert’s sister.”

Trefzer, an associate professor of English at UM who has taught graduate and undergraduate classes on Welty, has studied American and Southern literature and also has extensive knowledge of Creekmore.

Marrs will discuss connections between the Creekmore and Welty families, and Trefzer will focus on the literary achievements of both authors.

Creekmore, although not as well-known as Welty, was an editor, translator, author, poet and reviewer known as an overall “literary man,” Trefzer said. Besides being the brother of Welty’s sister-in-law, Creekmore served as the aspiring author’s literary adviser when she began writing fiction, Trezfer said.

“When thinking of Mississippi authors, usually William Faulkner comes to mind,” she said. “But Eudora Welty, the award-winning writer from Jackson, also tells fantastic stories about her home state, and she is equally accomplished and prolific with a distinguished achievement of more than five decades of literature.”

Creekmore studied at Ole Miss and graduated in 1927. Welty and Creekmore’s relatives donated some of his works to the Department of Archives and Special Collections. The library is working to digitize Creekmore’s collection, and Ford hopes it will be available online by the end of 2017.

Visitors are welcome to bring lunch to the lecture and can view the “Hot off the Press: New and Newly Available Archive Collections” exhibit from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays-Fridays through Dec. 16.

For more information, contact Ford at or 662-915-7408.

Best-Selling Author Michael Blanding to Visit UM

Lecture, book signing set for Monday evening


Michael Blanding

OXFORD, Miss. – The life of a map bandit will be the topic of a free lecture Monday (March 21) at the University of Mississippi when New York Times best-selling author Michael Blanding comes to campus.

Blanding will discuss his latest book, “The Map Thief: The Gripping Story of an Esteemed Rare-Map Dealer Who Made Millions Stealing Priceless Maps” (Gotham Books, 2014), at 6 p.m. in the Overby Center auditorium. The free lecture and book signing is sponsored by the UM Lecture Series, the Department of English, the J.D. Williams Library and the Mississippi Geographic Alliance.

The book tells the true story of a desperation-driven antiquarian map dealer, E. Forbes Smiley III, who betrayed his friends and family by stealing more than $3 million worth of maps from various rare-book libraries around the country. Blanding will explore the history of the maps Smiley stole, including those of the Deep South, and the importance of library security.

“I look forward to strolling the grounds at Rowan Oak, and I hear that there is a nice Faulkner exhibit in the library’s (Department of ) Special Collections that I am eager to check out,” Blanding said.

“The Map Thief” was named a New York Times best-seller, an NPR Book of the Year, a New England Society Book Award winner and a finalist for the Chautauqua Prize and the Massachusetts Book Awards.

“This is a wonderful opportunity for students to learn more about the importance of primary documents to scholars and the role of libraries in our current culture,” said Jennifer Ford, UM Libraries’ head of archives and special collections.

For more information about the lecture, contact Ford at or 662-915-7639. For more information on upcoming events hosted by the J.D. Williams Library, visit the library’s website at or follow @UMLibraries on Twitter.

Oxford Conference for the Book Brings Variety of Authors to UM

Poets, journalists, scholars and readers coming to campus March 2-4 for free event

Ed Larson

Ed Larson

OXFORD, Miss. – Pulitzer Prize-winning authors, as well as first-time novelists, are part of the variety of legendary and debut writers hosted at the Oxford Conference for the Book, set for March 2-4. Poets, journalists, scholars and readers will visit the University of Mississippi for the 23rd conference.

The three-day event, which is free and open to the public, includes readings, panel discussions and lectures.

The conference is a great way for Oxford visitors and locals to explore the town and the university, said James G. Thomas Jr., conference director.

“We try to open doors with this conference, both literally and metaphorically,” said Thomas, associate director of publications at the UM Center for the Study of Southern Culture.

“By that I mean the sessions open up doors for thought and inquiry, and the venues we’re hav­ing them in are places that some Oxford residents, stu­dents, and visitors may not have had the opportunity to explore, such as the Lafayette County courthouse, the Barksdale-Isom House, the UM library’s Faulkner Room and even the University Museum.”

This year’s writers include novelists Rick Bass, Bobbie Ann Mason, Margaret McMullan, Robert Gipe, Taylor Brown and UM Grisham Writer in Residence Kiese Laymon; Mississippi historians Minion K.C. Morrison and Dennis Mitchell; historian and gender studies scholar LaKisha Michelle Simmons; poets Richard Katrovas, Rebecca Morgan Frank, Caki Wilkinson, Jericho Brown, Katie Peterson, Chiyuma Elliott and UM professors Beth Ann Fennelly and Derrick Harriell; histori­an Mark Essig; literary scholar Vereen Bell; and Pulitzer Prizewinners journalist Sheri Fink and historian Edward J. Larson.

Larson, professor of law at Pepperdine University, is the author of nine books, the most recent of which, “The Return of George Washington,” was on The New York Times bestseller list in 2015. He has lectured on all seven continents.

“I love Oxford, I have been for tailgating in the Grove since back when I was on the University of Georgia’s athletic board and the SEC was a 10-team conference,” Larson said. “Oxford has the best catfish anywhere. What I want to do next in Mississippi is to bike the Natchez Trace.”

Margaret McMullan

Margaret McMullan

Wednesday’s and Thursday’s events will take place in the auditorium of the Overby Center for Southern Journalism and Politics, and the conference will begin with a lecture and free luncheon, sponsored by the Friends of the Library, in the Faulkner Room in Archives and Special Collections in the J.D. Williams Library, also on the UM campus. Friday’s panels and readings will take place in the main courtroom of the historic Lafayette County courthouse on the Oxford Square.

Lyn Roberts, general manager at Square Books, calls the conference a celebration of books for everyone.

“The Oxford Conference for the Book has a history and tradition of bringing authors, both debut and established, to Oxford and the University of Mississippi, allowing everyone in the community and anyone who wants to travel the opportunity to hear them read from their works and discuss books,” Roberts said.

Conference panels will explore a wide range of topics, in­cluding Mississippi history; childhood in the South; mem­oir writing; youth, activism, and life in the Mountain South; poetic responses to Langston Hughes; Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird” and “Go Set a Watchman”; the Hurricane Katrina crisis; America’s continuing debate over science and religion; and a cultural and culi­nary history of the pig.

“I’m excited to introduce Mark Essig to the OCB audience,” said Sara Camp Milam, who will moderate Friday’s 10:30 a.m. panel, sponsored by the Southern Foodways Alliance. “His work is as engaging as it is educational. ‘Lesser Beasts’ was one of my favorite food studies books of 2015. For students thinking about how to make their academic work accessible to a general audience, I’d recommend attending this session.”

A new event this year is a poetry session paired with an art exhibition by photographer Youngsuk Suh. At 4:30 p.m. Thursday, following the “Poetic Responses to Langston Hughes” session, the University Museum will host a free recep­tion.

“Thacker Mountain Radio” will host a special Oxford Conference for the Book show at 6 p.m. Thursday at Off Square Books, 129 Courthouse Square, featuring conference authors and visiting musicians. The day’s authors will be there to meet conference attendees and sign books. Each afternoon following the sessions, Square Books will host book signings for that day’s authors.

Mark Essig

Mark Essig

The Children’s Book Festival will be held March 4 at the Ford Center for Performing Arts, with more than 1,200 first- and fifth-graders from area schools. Laurie Keller, author of “The Scrambled States of America,” will present at 9 a.m. for first graders, and Holly Goldberg Sloan, author of “Counting by 7s,” will present at 10:30 a.m. for fifth graders. The Lafayette County Literacy Council sponsors the first-grade program and the Junior Auxiliary of Oxford spon­sors the fifth-grade program.

Four special social events are set on the Ole Miss campus and in town. On March 2, the Friends of the J.D. Williams Library will host an opening lunch beginning at 11 a.m. in Archives and Special Collections. The lunch is free, but reservations are appreciated. That evening is the gala opening-night cocktail reception-dinner at 6:30 p.m. in the historic Barksdale-Isom House, 1003 Jefferson Ave. A portion of the $50 ticket proceeds is tax-deductible.

At noon March 4, the Lafayette County and Oxford Public Library will host a poetry talk and lunch with poet Richard Katrovas. Both the lunch and talk are free, but reservations are appreciated.

The Oxford Conference for the Book is sponsored by the Center for the Study of Southern Culture, Square Books, Southern Documentary Project, Southern Foodways Alliance, Living Blues magazine, University Museum, Lafayette County Literacy Council, UM Department of English, J.D. Williams Library, Overby Center for Southern Journalism and Politics, Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College, John and Renée Grisham Visiting Writers Fund, Junior Auxiliary of Oxford, Lafayette County and Oxford Public Library, Southern Literary Trail and the Pulitzer Centennial Campfires Initiative.

The conference is partially funded by the university, a contribution from the R&B Feder Foundation for the Beaux Arts, grants from the Mississippi Humanities Council and promotional support from Visit Oxford.

To see a full schedule of events, visit or contact James G. Thomas Jr. at 662-915-3374 or

Retirees Association tours library

Screen Shot 2015-12-21 at 8.41.14 AMUniversity Libraries hosted members of the University Retirees Association on Saturday, Oct. 3. Library faculty members Jocelyn Tipton, Alex Watson and Brian Young, along with Dean Julia Rholes and development of officer Angela Barlow Brown, welcomed the group. Watson presented a slideshow of the libraries’ history, and Young offered a demonstration of STUDIOone, the new video recording and editing service in the J.D. Williams Library. Watson and Tipton then led the group on a “hidden treasures” tour of the library.

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B.B. King continues to inspire through Blues Archive

Screen Shot 2015-12-21 at 9.09.29 AMCelebrated Mississippian and blues legend B.B. King died in his sleep on May 14. The winner of 15 Grammys and a Presidential Medal of Freedom passed away peacefully at 89 after a half-century career of moving audiences with his music and live performances. But the thrill isn’t gone; it can be rediscovered in the Blues Archive at the University of Mississippi.

Between 1982 and 1983, King donated almost 10,000 sound recordings from his personal collection to UM’s Blues Archive, one of the world’s largest public collections of blues recordings, publications and memorabilia. Established in 1985, the archive, which is now a unit in the Department of Archives & Special Collections, is located on the third floor of the J.D. Williams Library. It features more than 70,000 sound recordings, 40,000 photographs and 1,000 videos. This noncirculating collection serves not only UM students and faculty but also researchers worldwide.

Brett Bonner, editorial director at Living Blues magazine, worked for a short time at the Blues Archive and has seen his fair share of King’s monstrous collection.

“You can tell a lot about a man by his record collection,” Bonner said. “While working on the radio show ‘Highway 61’ with Bill Ferris (first director of Southern studies and the Blues Archive), I was able to look and pull from B.B.’s collection. It featured thousands of LPs. I felt I learned more about him looking through his collection; I could figure out what kind of music excited and influenced him.”

King was regarded as a kind and gracious man, always treating people the right way, and he was also an avid learner. It is fitting that UM is able to house and chronicle his unique collection since it features not only recordings of other musicians but also books, manuscripts and materials signifying how King never stopped learning.

“He always tried to better himself,” said Greg Johnson, blues curator at the J.D. Williams Library and associate professor. “In his collection, I found foreign language books that he would study to learn common phrases in order to speak to audiences when he would tour around the world.”

“I found a pilot book because B.B. was a trained pilot,” Bonner added. “And you wouldn’t believe it, but I also found a copy of a book detailing how to play the guitar!”

King made it a point to return to Mississippi. In 2004, the university gave him the title of Honorary Professor of Southern Studies, one of many distinguished titles he had received from numerous universities. Johnson interviewed King for the ceremony.

“It is a testament to the various universities honoring him with degrees and doctorates,” Johnson said. “When I got to publicly interview him, he was such a gracious and kind man, very down to earth.”

“B.B. would always come back to give concerts,” Bonner said. “Whether it was his homecoming concert in Indianola or the Medgar Evers Memorial Blues Concert, B.B. felt it was really important for him to be there.”

King performed and recorded decades of musical hits such as his signature “The Thrill Is Gone.” Among his honors, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987, given a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1991, and is in the Songwriters Hall of Fame. In 2008, his hometown of Indianola opened the $14 million B.B. King Museum and Delta Interpretive Center.

King influenced millions of people with his music. Musical genres, such as rock ’n’ roll, R&B, gospel and jazz, can thank the work of King and his beloved Gibson guitar, Lucille.

“The number of people he influenced and the reach of his music is unbelievable,” Johnson said. “Blues is the biggest cultural export of the state, and B.B. truly was an ambassador. He wasn’t one just for the blues or Mississippi but for the entire United States.”

For more on B.B. King, read Johnson’s blog at

First English Ph.D. Recipient Honored

Kenneth Holditch lectures at Faulkner conference

Screen Shot 2015-12-21 at 9.09.08 AM The University of Mississippi honored its first doctoral recipient in English, Kenneth Holditch, during his presentation at this year’s Faulkner and Yoknapatawpha Conference.

Holditch, a professor emeritus of English at the University of New Orleans who earned his doctorate at UM in 1961, presented his lecture, “Growing Up in Faulkner’s Yoknapatawpha Country.” He spoke to an enthusiastic audience in the Faulkner Room of the J.D. Williams Library during the 42nd annual conference.

At this program, Jay Watson, UM Howry Professor of Faulkner Studies and professor of English, announced the Holditch Scholars Award, which will be given annually to a graduate student in the Department of English.

“The creation of the Holditch Scholars Award is exciting news indeed for the English department,” Watson said. “This award will be an important source of support for deserving graduate students in our program, and a lovely way to honor the distinguished career of the man who received the very first Ph.D. granted in English at the University of Mississippi.”

Screen Shot 2015-12-21 at 9.09.17 AMIvo Kamps, UM chair of English, praised the efforts of Holditch and the university for the timely announcement.

“The English department is proud and pleased to recognize its first Ph.D. graduate, Dr. Holditch, with the creation of a graduate student award in his name,” Kamps said.

Watson noted how appropriate it was for Holditch to present his lecture at this year’s conference.

“That the announcement of the award fund came during this summer’s Faulkner conference was a wonderful bit of serendipity, since Professor Holditch pursued his Ph.D. studies at a time when Faulkner was still living in Oxford and since he went on to become an accomplished scholar of Faulkner’s works in his own right,” Watson said.

To contribute to the Holditch Scholars Award, contact Angela Barlow Brown, UM director of development for special projects, at 662-915-3181 or 

Archives gains addition to James Silver Collection

The University of Mississippi’s J.D. Williams Library has acquired a unique collection of notes written by author and former UM faculty member James Silver.

Silver began teaching at the university in 1936 and served as chair of the Department of History from 1946 to 1957. He is perhaps best known for his work on the history of race relations in the state, especially the 1964 publication of Mississippi: The Closed Society. That same year, Silver took a leave of absence from UM and continued to teach at Notre Dame and the University of South Florida.

The collection of notes includes newspaper clippings about race relations as well as handwritten notes, thoughts and underlined sections in the articles relevant to him.

“This gift provides an important glimpse into the research process used by Dr. Silver in conjunction with this seminal work,” said Jennifer Ford, head of Archives and Special Collections and an associate professor. “These notes survive due to the noteworthy efforts of Doris Bain Thompson, and we are deeply indebted to her family for this donation.”

In 1968, Thompson was a teacher working on her master’s degree in American history when she took a course taught by Silver in Innsbruck, Austria. Following a class seminar, Silver discarded his research notes. Thompson gathered and kept what she believed to be 90 pages of research notes for the enlarged edition of Mississippi: The Closed Society, published in 1966.

In a letter to her family while in Austria, Thompson wrote that she was taking a “great course in race relations which I think I have already explained is being taught by James Silver, the author of ‘Mississippi: The Closed Society’ and Thursday he threw out on the seminar table his research notes on the added 120-page addition that was included in the book. … I picked up all that were left after the others had left since he was leaving them for the janitors to clean up. Must have about 50 or 60 pages on yellow foolscap. Should be great to show a class how a researcher goes about writing such a book.”

Thompson’s daughter, Mary Margaret Hansen, said her mother was a teacher who spent many summers taking courses to gain more knowledge about American history.

Thompson taught American history and English to students at Lago Oil and Transport Co.’s school in Aruba and was also a director of choral music. Hansen said her mother was multitalented and also had an intellectual curiosity that drove her to keep learning.

She added that Thompson was a very visual teacher and likely saw these notes as an opportunity to incorporate an example of original research into her own American history courses.

While looking through family belongings, Hansen came across the notes, and she and her siblings decided to donate them to the university.

“We thought they would be more useful in archives, contributing to the subject matter, than they would be for us to keep them,” Hansen said. “We’re happy the papers are where they may be looked at as a small piece of a larger puzzle.”

This collection is a great asset to faculty, students and researchers studying topics dealing with race relations and Southern history, Ford said. 

Caring for the ‘Heart of the University’

Friends of the Library celebrates 75 years

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Beloved English professors, John Pilkington (left) and Charles Noyes devoted countless hours to the Friends of the Library’s cause.

What a school thinks about its library is a measure of what it feels about education,” educator Harold Howe II wrote. Two forces of nature – the late University of Mississippi English professors John Pilkington and Charles Noyes – were instrumental in helping to define what the Ole Miss family thinks about the J.D. Williams Library and were relentless in building support to purchase books and an array of other library resources.

“A library is the absolute heart of a university,” Noyes said on numerous occasions.

Many who have joined Friends of the Library, the support organization for the J.D. Williams Library, established in 1940, did so out of their great affection for Pilkington and Noyes. However, the two professors passed on the belief that we all have a responsibility to strengthen the university’s library. And now, new generations of alumni and friends have taken up the mantle of building support, and Friends of the Library is observing its 75th anniversary.

The Friends of the Library’s endowment is nearing $1 million, with annual income enhancing library assets. For decades, the organization has purchased library resources to meet the needs of students, faculty, researchers, staff and other patrons. Records show that during a calendar year, the Friends may purchase as many as 4,800 new books or resources for the J.D. Williams Library, with purchase decisions made from librarians’ recommendations and employees, students, and faculty members’ requests.

Carole Lynn Meadows (BSC 60, MBEd 64) of Gulfport, a former Ole Miss Alumni Association president, heads up the committee that has planned Friends of the Library anniversary events, which have included coffee receptions for UM administrators, faculty and staff to encourage them to join the organization. Also, the Ole Miss Alumni Association, a longtime library supporter, annually gives a $50 gift to honor each faculty and staff member with 25 years of service, resulting in a gift of a couple thousand dollars to the Friends organization. The association increased the amount to $75 to help mark the 75th anniversary.

“If you described the whole university as a wheel, the hub would be the library,” Meadows said. “Supporting this hub is no longer just about purchasing books; we have to attract funds for an array of technological resources that our students need to succeed in their classes and to increase their understanding of the world. 

“Being part of the Friends organization is a great way to give back; it’s an outlet for the tremendous appreciation and love I feel for the university. … I am compelled to find ways to strengthen the university for future generations and encourage others to join this effort.”

Anniversary events will continue through early 2016, with a holiday party planned for Friends of the Library members and a special event in the library’s Archives and Special Collections. Alumni and friends are encouraged to become involved members, enjoy the social aspects of membership and provide library support that’s needed more than ever.

The anniversary observance, of course, includes a tribute to professors Pilkington and Noyes.

“They are monumental figures at our university,” said Stephen Monroe (MS 03, PhD 07), assistant dean of the College of Liberal Arts and president of the Friends of the Library. “These two men were devoted scholars, teachers and servant leaders. Their commitment to the library, in particular, is an ongoing inspiration.”

Monroe said those involved in the Friends of the Library today are carrying on the tradition of dedication and service established by Pilkington and Noyes.

“We have strong, energetic board members,” Monroe said. “Together, we’re working to increase overall membership and to raise our endowment above $1 million.” 

This Friends’ support continues to make a world of difference in the lives of Ole Miss students by enhancing the J.D. Williams Library. Open 109 hours a week and 24/7 during the last three weeks of each semester, the library is usually packed with students. In addition to more than 2 million volumes, the library boasts several special collections and such features as individual and group study areas, exercise bikes for study breaks and a Starbucks coffee shop – where the line is always long. 

“We are so grateful for the longtime support of the Friends of the Library,” said Julia Rholes, dean of libraries. “The J.D. Williams Library is thriving because it offers students such strong resources; it also played a pivotal role in the university being chosen to shelter a chapter of Phi Beta Kappa (the nation’s oldest and most prestigious liberal arts honor society). Our growth and success would not be possible without the amazing support of the Friends.” 

Library technology assists students with learning and research. More than 180 public computers and an array of software are available, such as programs that help students compute and solve mathematical formulas and equations; and produce, analyze and print graphs, data tables, text and histograms. A crowdfunding initiative recently attracted private gifts to fund Studioone, a video recording and digital editing suite in the library for students to practice making presentations, complete multimodal assignments, create e-portfolio introductions or tape group discussions.

Gifts of all sizes strengthen the library and are welcome beyond membership dues. The anniversary goal is to reach 100 lifetime members, and the Friends organization is halfway there. Those who would like to join Friends of the Library or support the UM Libraries can do so online at or by contacting Angela Barlow Brown, development officer for libraries, at or 662-915-3181. The levels are students, $15; faculty and staff, $25; supporting, $30; contributing, $75; sustaining, $150; and life, $1,000. Friends of the Library members receive news about the library and invitations to Friends events. 

Tina H. Hahn is director of communications for the Office of University Development and the University of Mississippi Foundation. A longer version of this article was published in the summer 2015 edition of the Ole Miss Alumni Review.

A (Julia) Rholes To Remember

Retiring Library Dean reflects on challenges and achievements during her tenure

Screen Shot 2015-12-21 at 9.09.40 AMMany University of Mississippi employees sooner or later retire, but not everyone leaves behind a rich legacy of accomplishments. When Julia Rholes retires from her position of dean of UM Libraries in December, she will definitely join that short list of people who truly made a difference at the university.

During her 12-year tenure, Rholes has overseen several improvements. These include the renovation of several library areas to create commons areas, the addition of critical research collections and digital humanities collections and the digitization of many critical archival and accountancy collections. Other projects she has spearheaded are improvements to the library website, the creation of critical new library positions, the expansion of public services and growth in the area of fundraising.

“These achievements have been the product of teamwork within the library,” Rholes said. “We are fortunate to have many hardworking, talented people in the Libraries who do really care about their work.”

Prior to coming to the University, Rholes held administrative positions at the University of Kansas (interim dean, assistant dean) and at Texas A&M University (interim assistant dean, head of Reference and Instruction). She recalls the circumstances that led to her decision to accept the dean’s position in June 2003.

“I was very impressed on my interview here by the friendliness of the people,” she said. “I was also impressed by the obvious talents of the people I met.”

Since then, the Rutgers University graduate has had to rise to the many challenges that came with the job, including space limitations and the increase in the number of faculty and students.

“My vision was trying to improve our facilities, collections and services for our different users,” Rholes said. “While growth is a positive development, it has been hard to meet the growing library needs that come with more students and faculty. You always wish you had more funds. I believe we made significant progress, but the job is never really over.”

A second generation Irish American, Rholes is the first person in her family to attend college. She received a B.A. from Mount Holyoke College and an M.A. from the University of Texas (Austin).

“I feel fortunate to live in a country which still offers such strong educational opportunities,” Rholes said. “I consider education to be so critical, especially higher education.”

Rholes’ colleagues have observed and admire her tenacious example of servant leadership.

“Dean Rholes has maintained grace and enthusiasm during her tenure at the University,” said Jennifer Ford, head of UM’s Archives and Special Collections. “She has always been supportive of patron and employee needs. Because of this, people love coming through the library doors and employees love working here.”

Angela Barlow Brown, UM Foundation director of development for special projects, said Rholes has transformed the library to meet the needs of UM students.

“From purchasing databases and journals with Library dollars raised, bringing in a coffee shop, purchasing comfortable seating and overall striving to provide the best working and study environment possible,” she said. “I love her passion for serving the students. She wants only the best for them that she can provide as a Dean and as a library team as a whole.”

For all her dedication and diligence at work, Rholes does find the time to relax and unwind. Among her favorite leisure activities are movies, gardening and occasionally cooking.

“I love to read, in that I am a librarian after all,” Rholes said. “I enjoy traveling. There are a few continents I haven’t made it to.”

With less than three months left before she leaves her campus office for the last time, Rholes looks both back with a sense of gratitude and forward with hopeful anticipation of even better things to come.

“I will miss the people I work with in the library, on campus and across the state. I believe I was very lucky in this regard,” Rholes said. “I hope to devote more time to family and friends who are located across many states. I also hope to give back by volunteering more. I’d also like to sleep past 5 a.m. a little more often.”

Rholes has been active in a number of professional organizations, including elected positions within the American Library Association, the Association of Southeastern Research Libraries and the EPSCOR Science Information Group. In 2002, she was named a Frye Institute Fellow and has authored a number of publications in the field of academic librarianship.

When asked if she had any parting “words of wisdom” for her successor, Rholes waxed philosophical.

“You have a lot of choices and decisions and I think that you should strive to be both fair and kind,” she said. “It isn’t always easy.”

Good, solid advice from a woman who has definitely fulfilled her role in the ongoing UM pantheon.

Patrons and supporters of the J.D. Williams Library are asked to continue their financial contributions to the work Rholes has begun through the UM Foundation. For more information, contact Angela Barlow Brown at 662-915-5944.

By Edwin Smith



Pop-up Libraries – Bringing Access to Information to Community

Deadline: Oct. 15

Screen Shot 2015-12-21 at 9.10.04 AMThe J.D. Williams Library is bringing reading and library services into the community with their Pop Up Library.

The Pop Up Library is exactly how it sounds – a library booth set up at residence halls, outdoor campus areas and even the Grove. However, it’s much more than just books. The Pop Up Library offers patrons information about library resources, news and events as well as technology demonstrations.

This new addition to the J.D. Williams library is made possible by a 2014 grant from the Mississippi Library Leadership Institute within the Mississippi Library Commission.

“The library has so much more to offer than just books,” Outreach and Instruction Librarian Melissa Dennis said. “We believe in supporting creative, fun technology that can help you learn in and out of the classroom. That is why we are using a grant funded by the Institute for Library and Museum Services to help you think outside the box.”

The grant allowed the library to create an iPad lending program to promote popular Mississippi authored e-books as well as invest nearly $4,000 in technology lending and outreach services, including the Pop Up Library.

“When students, faculty and staff see our pop up library, they will be able to stop by and check out exciting new technology that the library is providing to make required class assignments more fun,” Dennis said. “The pop up library provides extended library outreach beyond the walls of the library to the University and Oxford community, with an emphasis on STEM outreach. This also allows the library to expand technology outreach to those who are struggling to keep up with course requirements, limited class time and increased student enrollment.”

Screen Shot 2015-12-21 at 9.10.13 AMThe Pop Up Library can be found in the Grove during Ole Miss home football games, right in front of the Carrier Hall School of Engineering. In November, it can be found in residence hall lobbies in the evenings to offer students research help as the semester draws to a close.

“We want our students to use our books, journals, databases, government documents and a myriad of other materials to write papers, create art or compositions and develop new science or engineering ideas,” engineering and reference librarian Brian Young said.

He added that he hopes all students will learn how to create human-computer interaction projects.

“Getting students, faculty, staff and community users excited to use and learn STEM materials gives the library an opportunity to share other resources and services with users and draw more people into the library and potentially into a STEM major.”

Visitors that come to the library tent can learn about the circulation of iPad minis, MakeyMakey kits and Raspberry Pi kits as well as the new video production area, Studio One.

“We create a welcoming space for everyone to feel accepted and enjoy refreshments and conversations with librarians outside the J.D. Williams Library,” Dennis said. “The library is known for hosting learning spaces and materials for people of all backgrounds, and we enjoy promoting the creative resources and services they may not know about.”