In 2004, Michele Chun ’07 became acquainted with
the work of author Joy Williams. While studying abroad in Scotland that
year, she read Williams’s The Honored Guest, and it’s remained one of
her all-time favorite reads.
Chun, who worked as a student assistant in Olin Library for four years, will
graduate this May, but her love for The Honored Guest will be
remembered at Wesleyan long beyond Commencement. Inside Olin Library’s copy
of the book, an affixed bookplate reads “In Honor of Michele Chun, Wesleyan
Class of 2007. Recognizing the student’s service to the Library.”
Chun and the other 43 graduating seniors who worked in Olin Library all
receive a bookplate honoring their time at Wesleyan. The students all had
the opportunity to choose the book title that their name would appear in.
“When I am not here, another student may check out the book and see my
name,” Chun explains. “I feel like I am leaving my mark in the library.”
This is the third consecutive year that Olin Library’s Users Services
Coordinating Group voted to have bookplates created for the graduating
“The library always depends on our quality students, and when they leave, it
feels like we are losing a staff member,” says EunJoo Lee, pictured below,
left, head of Access Services at Olin Library. “We hope by putting our
seniors’ names in a book that will give them a good feeling. We want them to
know that they were important to us.”
Biddle, pictured at left, head of Preservation Services, used a “drumming”
technique to apply acid-free glue to the bookplate’s back. The labels were
printed in her office, keeping cost for the bookplate program at a minimum.
Affixing the labels does not decrease the value of any Wesleyan publication.
The bookplaces, made of a traditional acid-free, laid-line and chain paper,
can easily be removed and leave no scaring on the book’s inside cover.
“Our books are read and loved. Because the labels are so handsome, these
books will probably increase in value,” Biddle says, gluing down senior
Melissa Mondesir’s label to her book choice Breath, Eyes, Memory by
Edwidge Danticat. Mondesir worked in the library’s Circulation Department
since her sophomore year.
"The author and the protagonist of the novel
are both Haitian, and I am first generation Haitian-American," Mondesir
says. "It's nice to read a coming of age story that I can truly relate to
culturally. After four years at Wesleyan University, I appreciate the novel
so much more for its
real portrayal of a strong black women."
Reservation Services student Talya Zemach-Bersin ’07 decided to have her
bookplate mounted in a senior thesis titled “Gustav Mahler : An Essay in the
History of Music.” Although the American Studies major hasn’t fully read the
essay, it has sentimental meaning.
The thesis’s author, Harvey Fischtrom ’55, is Zemach-Bersin’s grandfather.
“I didn’t even know for sure that he was a student at Wesleyan,” says
Zemach-Bersin. “But then just a few months ago I found out he was here, and
his thesis was in Special Collections and Archives. There was no doubt what
book I wanted to choose for my nameplate.”
(More on Zemach-Bersin’s story will appear in the May 16 edition of the
book subjects spanned the gamut from Arie Eernisee’s had her bookplate
affixed in Chinese Democracy after Tiananmen; Kristen Smith selected,
A Walk in the Woods; Sean McClellan chose, Abortion and the
Politics of Motherhood; Daniel Zolli picked The Da Vinci Code by
Zolli’s name is the second to appear in The Da Vinci Code. Library
student worker James Wallace also left his nameplate in the hardback when he
graduated in 2005.
“Once and a while two or even three students choose the same book, and that
shows that that particular book was really popular,” Lee says.
Although the exact years are unknown, Lee says the bookplate tradition
originated many years ago. In 2005, the idea was revisited when Preservation
Services student worker Danya Sherman ’06 was taking a typography course at
Wesleyan. Biddle asked Sherman if she could create a “21st century”
One hour later, the design was completed. The same design has been used for
the past three years.
During Reunion and Commencement Weekend, Lee hopes the seniors will bring
their families to the library and show them their name places and book
“And when they return to campus as alumni, maybe with their own families,
the books will always be on the Olin Library shelves for the former students
to revisit,” Lee says.