Publication Celebration: William and Mary Libraries honors faculty writing with Celebration of the Book


Wednesday, April 10, the first Celebration of the Book reception at the College of William and Mary was held by William and Mary Libraries in the Read and Relax section of Earl Gregg Swem Library. The event was hosted to acknowledge the accomplishments of faculty and staff at the College who have recently published a book or book chapter. 

William and Mary Libraries Senior Director of Communications Engagement Tami Back shared the motivation behind this reception. 

“We wanted to celebrate faculty scholarship and the work that they’re doing,” Back said. “Writing a book and even a book chapter takes so much work. It’s so much research and writing and editing, and so it’s a major achievement.”

Over 70 faculty and staff submitted their work to be recognized, yielding a diverse array of over 80 publications, with topics ranging from the applied sciences to art history to modern languages and literature. A pamphlet was handed out to all attendees with information about the featured books and their locations for easy browsing. The books were organized at different tables according to department, with a quick synopsis of each provided for curious passersby, along with copies to flip through. Several e-books were available to read on iPads, as well. Some of the books are scheduled for publication later this year and will be added to the collection once they are released. 

Honored faculty members’ friends, family and students attended the event to support their work. Adeline Steel ’26 came to support her major advisor, who had published a book, and spoke to the lively and encouraging atmosphere that the event fostered. 

“I think it’s really cool that they’re holding this celebration, and I think it’s good and right that the faculty get the recognition for all the work that they’re doing,” Steel said.

However, not all student attendance was intentional. Several students happened to stumble upon the event by chance while wandering through the library, perhaps smelling the aroma of the refreshments that the reception boasted. Amy Weitzman ’24, a student assistant at Special Collections, shared her excitement about this unexpected event. 

“I saw some professors that I do know, and I know some of their work that I wanted to read, but I haven’t had the chance,” Weitzman said. “So, this will be a good opportunity for me to go look at it and get it signed. 

Students also marveled at the ability of faculty and staff to be so multifaceted and showcase such a diverse array of interests. 

“I really like the idea that you can have multiple passions. Having a passion for math, for example, doesn’t stop you from being able to write,” Steel said. “Getting to flip through this [pamphlet] and seeing how many different kinds of books they have, and how many professors here had the ability to write while being a professor here, I think it’s just super cool.” 

Weitzman described being impressed by not only the books their professors wrote, but also by how their words would live on long after they were gone. 

“In Special Collections, these professors have donated their recent publications,” Weitzman said. “So it’s interesting to see how this is now becoming historical material in the College’s history.”

About midway through the reception, Provost Peggy Agouris took to the podium to say a few words about the library and its resources. The event occurred during National Library Week, a time dedicated to recognizing the importance of libraries in making knowledge accessible and fostering community. To that end, Agouris mentioned that the College is trying to place more emphasis on open access books in the library that would be available to the public for free online, with a focus on housing the work of authors in the community. Additionally, the Provost stated that the College is spending the bulk of its resources on digital materials, which it hopes will make publications even more accessible to students and make it easier to use the library’s vast resources, no matter the time or place. 

One of the books honored at the celebration was “Statistical Modeling: Regression, Survival Analysis, and Time Series Analysis” by professor of mathematics Lawrence Leemis, the first book published directly by William and Mary Libraries. The book is available with open access and free to download online, a step towards making knowledge available to all.  

“It’s amazing,” Weitzman said. “I always love the celebration of books in general, and I had no idea that William and Mary was becoming a publisher, and especially that these things are open access. That’s so rare to find these days.” 

Between exciting updates about the future of library resources and the recognition of faculty and staff achievements, organizers found the event to be successful on all counts. 

“We had a great turnout,” Back said. “People seem just really thrilled to be able to have an event like this that recognizes the work that they’re doing, and that they have done, and so I’m really thrilled.”


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