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Friends of the Smith College Libraries

The Friends host occasional lectures and panel discussions that add to the intellectual life of the college campus. 

Upcoming Events

There are no upcoming events at this time. 

Past Events

Most of our events have been recorded and are available for viewing. Past events often highlight scholarship related to the Smith’s unique library resources. See below for more information and links to these recorded events.

Videos of Past Events

Video recordings of many of the Friends' events are available on the Libraries' YouTube channel.

Libraries' YouTube channel

Past Events

Discussion: "Book Banning and the Culture Wars"

In a time where an assortment of media is readily available to anyone with an internet connection, what drives the desire for censorship and book banning? Author, professor, and Smith College alumna Emily Knox ’98 will explore this question and more at her discussion “Book Banning and the Culture Wars,” on Thursday, September 14, 2023 at 4:30 p.m. in the Neilson Browsing Room. View the video.

Sylvia Plath: An American Icon

This event celebrates Heather Clark’s award-winning biography of Sylvia Plath, Red Comet, and the recent gift of Judith Raymo’s Plath Collection to Smith College. It also coincides with Sylvia Plath’s 90th birthday year (her birthday is October 27.) This one hour event set Raymo and Clark together in conversation about Plath - in writing her life story and the manuscripts that she left behind after her death in 1963. The event was cosponsored by the Friends of the Smith College Libraries and Special Collections. November 1, 2022. View the video.

Band of Sisters: The Smithies Who Brought the Grecourt Gates to Smith

In 1917, eighteen Smithies traveled to the front lines of World War I to help French civilians. This event explores the history of the Smith College Relief Unit and the novel that has led to renewed interest in the accomplishments of these brave women. College Archivist Nanci Young introduces the event, with Sarah MacLean ‘00 serving as MC. Guest speakers include Jennifer Hall-Witt, historian, and Lauren Willig, author of Band of Sisters which is the Smith College Alumnae Book Club current read. Co-sponsored by the Friends of the Smith College Libraries and the Office of Alumnae Relations and Development. February 23, 2022. View the video.

The Creative Partnership of Willa Cather & Edith Lewis, Smith Class of 1902

In her new biography, University of Nebraska-Lincoln English professor Melissa Homestead '85 explores the creative collaboration between Willa Cather and her longtime friend and partner, Smith alum Edith Lewis, including her contributions to Cather’s writing. Homestead discusses her findings with book critic and fellow Smith alumna Bethanne Patrick. Helen and Laura Shedd Professor of English Rick Millington introduces the speakers. Co-sponsored by the Smith College English Department and the Friends of the Smith College Libraries. April 27, 2021. View the video.

Library Partners: New Roles for Students in the Libraries

A session on how librarian-student partnerships benefit the campus community. UX Librarian Sika Berger, UX Student Assistant Alaina Economus-Stout '22, First Year Experience & Engagement Librarian Cat Hannula, and Outreach Assistant Shira Zaid '23 discuss and share their experiences. Moderated by Director of Learning, Research & Technology Jean Ferguson. Sponsored by the Friends of the Smith College Libraries. Friday, March 26, 2021. View the video.

Navigating the News: Safeguarding Journalism in an Age of Misinformation

A timely panel discussion with guests Sarah Baker ’03; Carolina Miranda ’93; and Kate O’Brian ’80. Brooke Hauser, the editor in chief of the Daily Hampshire Gazette, moderates the discussion. Sponsored by the Friends of the Smith College Libraries, Smith College English Department and American Studies Program. Thursday, October 3, 2019. View the video.

McGrath Lecture: Conceptional Sensations - From Germany to Japan and Back Again

Veronika Schäpers delivered the annual McGrath Lecture in Contemporary Book Arts, a series which honors master printer Harold P. McGrath (1921-2000). Wednesday, October 31, 2018.

Panel Discussion: Publishing for Young Readers - The Success of the Baby-sitter's Club and Other Publishing Phenomena

Ann M. Martin ’77, bestselling author of the Baby-sitter's Club series, and two legendary publishing professionals, Jean Feiwel and Liz Szabla, give an insider’s look at publishing for children over the past thirty years. Dean of the College and Vice President for Campus Life Susan Etheredge ‘77 moderated the panel. Thursday, October 11, 2018. View the video.

In Humility, Knowledge: One Smithie's Journey into our Wild, Lascivious Language

Kory Stamper '96, the author of Word by Word: The Secret Life of Dictionaries delivered the McGrath lecture. Stamper is a lexicographer at Merriam-Webster where she also writes, edits, and appears in the "Ask the Editor" video series. She blogs regularly on language and lexicography on her blog Harmless Drudgery, and her writing has appeared in The Guardian, The New York Times, and on Thursday October 5, 2017. View the video.

Italia Mia: How English and American Travelers Made Italy their Own

Werner Gundersheimer presented a lecture based on his collection of more than 600 published and manuscript travel narratives about Italy. Dr. Gundersheimer is director emeritus of the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington D.C. Thursday, October 6, 2016. View the video.

Trans-formations: Writing and Understanding Transgender Lives

Amy Ellis Nutt, author of the recent New York Times bestseller Becoming Nicole: The Transformation of an American Family, about a transgender identical twin, spoke about her work. April 14, 2016. View the video.

From Paper to People: A Journalistic Approach to the Archives

Author and journalist Brooke Hauser discussed her experiences researching the life of Helen Gurley Brown (1938-2012.) Monday, November 9, 2015. View the video.

Meg Wolitzer in Conversation with Bethanne Patrick '85

New York Times best-selling novelist Meg Wolitzer spoke about her work, her time at Smith and the influence of Sylvia Plath. April 16, 2015. View the video.

What Does the Future Hold for the Past? Envisaging Smith College Special Collections

Smith's new Director of Special Collections, Dr. Beth Myers, spoke on the place of Special Collections in the scholarly world of tomorrow. November 12, 2014. View the video.

Piper Kerman, Up Close and Personal

The author of Orange is the New Black, Piper Kerman '92, spoke with book critic Bethanne Patrick '85 about her advocacy work highlighting the conditions of incarcerated women, and how the Netflix series is making this topic a national conversation. October 2, 2014. View the video.

"Stukulele" Concert and Workshops

Stuart Fuchs, aka "Stukulele," returned to campus. Fuchs specializes in Ukulele, Gypsy Jazz & Classical Guitar, Didjeridoo, and Percussion. September 27, 2014.

Su Meck '14 read from her book "I Forgot to Remember"

Su, an Ada Comstock Scholar who graduated in May 2014, read from her book about her total memory loss following an accident at age 22. April 25, 2014.

Education as Inspiration: How Smith Informs Four Writers' Lives

Four alums discussed how Smith influences their writing lives, 7:30 pm, Sweeney Concert Hall, October 18, 2013. View the video.

Empowering Young People with Stories

Ann M. Martin '77, author of The Baby-sitters Club® series took part in a panel discussion with David Levithan, Virginia Euwer Wolff '59 and Emma Straub. Moderated by Bethanne Patrick '85, April 11, 2013. View the video.

Margaret Mitchell's Year at Smith: Culture and Context

Former Smith College President Carol Christ and Susan Van Dyne, Professor of the Study of Women and Gender and Chair of the Archives Concentration gave a presentation on October 25, 2012. View the video.

Against Wind and Tide, Diaries and Letters of Anne Morrow Lindbergh, 1947-1986

Reeve Lindbergh read from her mother’s writings to provide context for this, the final installment of her published diaries. November 7th, 2012. View the video.

The Future for Books in the Digital Age

University of Virginia professor, Michael F. Suarez S.J., spoke about the enduring relevance of the printed book. Read more about his topic. April 4, 2012.

Books, Libraries, and the Digital Future

A lecture presented by Harvard University Librarian Robert Darnton who is, among many things, the driving force behind the Digital Public Library of America project. March 12, 2012. View the video.

Nothing Daunted: The Unexpected Education of Two Society Girls in the West.

Author and executive editor of The New Yorker, Dorothy Wickenden discussed the adventures of her grandmother Dorothy Woodruff with Rosamond Underwood (both 1909 alums) in remote Elkhead Colorado. March 1, 2012.

Romance Literature: Love it or Leave it

“Book maven” Bethanne Patrick '85 moderated this very enjoyable discussion with May Chen ’00, Barbara Keiler ’74, Stephanie Dray ’93, and Sarah MacLean ’00, a best-selling regency romance novelist. Wednesday, April 13, 2011. View the video.

Shake It Up, Baby! The Future of Academic Libraries

Lecture by Sarah Thomas ’70, Bodley’s Librarian & Director of the Oxford University Library Services; former chair of the Friends of the Smith College Libraries; and Smith Medal recipient, 2010. April 14, 2010. View the video.

William Allan Neilson: "A King o' Men [and Women!] for a' That"

A lecture on the life and legacy of Smith’s third president by Peter I. Rose, Sophia Smith Professor Emeritus of Sociology and Anthropology. February 18, 2010.

The Heart of Our Place of Learning: William Allan Neilson Library 1909-2009 (Online Exhibition)

Neilson Library opened for research and discovery on November 22, 1909. To celebrate the Library’s centennial and document the history of Smith's first library building, the College Archives presents this online exhibition. View online exhibition [Internet Archive].

Growing Branches: A History of Smith College's Specialty Libraries (Online Exhibition)

Each of Smith College’s branch libraries has its own unique history and place within the scholarly community. The exhibitions give some background of the events and people behind their founding, and the physical spaces they have occupied over the years. View online exhibition [Internet Archive].