Ask A Librarian

The Road to Publication

Posted by Jane Metters LaBarbara.
January 16th, 2019

Blog post by Lemley Mullett, Program Assistant

Marc Harshman, the poet laureate of West Virginia since 2012 and an author from Marshall County, donated his life’s work collection to the WVRHC’s Distinguished West Virginians project. His collection reflects his dedication to both his craft and to Appalachia: not only do we have many of his rustic poem collections such as Believe What You Can, and Green-Silver and Silent, but many letters to and from publishers about his children’s books also are part of the collection–plus many manuscript drafts enclosed therein.

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Evansdale Library hosts Gordon Gee’s Tie Collection exhibition

Posted by Monte Maxwell.
January 15th, 2019
promotional flyer for exhibit

President E. Gordon Gee is known nationwide for his bow tie style, with feature articles and interviews in fashion publications Bow Tie Aficionado and Ivy Style, among bow tie mentions in national media such as USA Today and the New York Times, and regional media as well. He’s made several videos about his famous collection that began at age 16, and developed while he was President at WVU the first time, 1981-1985. One of his thousands of ties has flown to space. He’s met past US Presidents in them and made a plethora of service visits in them. People have imitated his style and Ohio State University even created an individualized mascot sculpture—“Gordon Gee Brutus”—donning his tie. Folks gift him with handmade ties and objects—funky and precious objects he holds dear.

This exhibit, which run January 20-May 15, takes a look at his collection and some notable times where he and his notable ties were worn and honored, with a selection of his ties, photographs and personal objects. A reception with President Gee will be held Feb. 6 from 5-6 p.m.

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Incorporate, Innovate, Create: WVU Libraries and the Teaching and Learning Commons collaborate on Open Educational Resources Grant

Posted by Monte Maxwell.
January 14th, 2019
student reading a book

West Virginia University Libraries and the Teaching and Learning Commons (TLC) are partnering to support the use of and the development of Open Educational Resources (OER) through a grant program for instructors.

The grant’s aim is to encourage development of alternatives to high-cost textbooks, lower the cost of college attendance for students, and support faculty who wish to implement new pedagogical models for classroom instruction.

“Textbook affordability is a very real issue for many students, and we’re excited to see WVU supporting instructors in offering low-cost, or no cost, options for our students.  There is a wide variety of high-quality, free resources available for faculty to consider and we look forward to partnering on these projects from a teaching and learning perspective.” Dr. Keith Bailey, assistant provost for Teaching and Learning and dean of WVU Online.

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WVU Libraries collaborates in Digital Virginias initiative

Posted by Monte Maxwell.
January 9th, 2019
Rush Holt cartoon
A cartoon commentary from the 1930s on the coal industry and coal commission, from the Rush Dew Holt Collection at the West Virginia and Regional Center.

Although Virginia split into two separate states in 1863, West Virginia University Libraries and organizations from Virginia are uniting as part of the Digital Public Library of America’s (DPLA) new Digital Virginias service hub.

Digital Virginias, consisting of institutions from both Virginia and West Virginia, offers more than 58,000 items from historical and cultural collections for research and exploration. Read more about the service hub, including how to get involved, at

“We are thrilled to be part of DPLA’s tremendous initiative,” WVU Libraries Dean Karen Diaz said. “Digital Virginias will be a valuable resource to people living in Virginia and West Virginia and anyone who wants to delve into the history of both states.”

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Help lower textbook costs for students

Posted by Monte Maxwell.
January 8th, 2019

Did you know?

  • The cost of textbooks is rising at a rate of four times inflation.
  • Sixty percent of students have delayed purchasing textbooks until they’ve received their financial aid.
  • Seventy percent don’t purchase a required textbook during their academic career because of cost.

Are you an instructor who is concerned about the impact of high textbook costs for your students’ academic success?

You can help by attending the Open Textbook Workshop and Textbook Review where you can discover open textbooks in your field. After the workshop, you will be asked to write a short review of an open textbook. Your review will benefit other faculty considering open textbooks. You’ll receive a $200 stipend for your participation and a written review. The workshop will be held March 7 at 10 a.m. in Downtown Campus Library, Room 104. Librarians Hilary Fredette and Martha Yancey will lead the workshop.

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All of This is Now Yours: Works from 1923 are Now Copyright Free

Posted by Jane Metters LaBarbara.
January 7th, 2019

Blog post by Stewart Plein, Assistant Curator for WV Books & Printed Resources & Rare Book Librarian

“Whose woods these are I think I know.

His house is in the village though;

He will not see me stopping here

To watch his woods fill up with snow.”

The first few lines of Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening, by poet Robert Frost, pictured below.  One of the great masterworks now entered into the public domain.

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Scholarly search tool Scopus returns to library resources

Posted by Monte Maxwell.
January 4th, 2019
Scopus graphic

West Virginia University Libraries has reinstated its subscription to Scopus, a popular scholarly search tool. Currently the largest curated abstract and citation database of peer-reviewed literature, it includes the fields of science, technology, medicine, social sciences, and arts and humanities. It can be accessed on the Libraries website.

Additionally, Interlibrary Loan continues to be a tremendous service for acquiring content necessary for research at WVU. In many cases, journal articles can be supplied within hours of the request. There is never a cost to the researcher or the department for obtaining materials through ILL. Liaison librarians are happy to meet with individuals or departments to discuss library resources and research needs.

Two students receive Dean of the Libraries Student Art awards

Posted by Monte Maxwell.
December 20th, 2018
Margaret by Jacqueline Circkirillo
Dolma by Cancan Huang

In November, the Art in the Libraries Committee awarded College of Creative Arts students Jacqueline Circkirillo and Cancan Huang with the Dean of the Libraries’ arts awards. Huang’s work, Dolma, an oil painting, will be on display in the Downtown Campus Library lobby for the spring semester. Circkirillo’s work, Margaret, an oil painting, will go on display at Evansdale Library for the spring semester.

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Gems in the Orum, Eskey, and McCaffery Family Papers

Posted by Jane Metters LaBarbara.
December 17th, 2018

Blog post by Jane Metters LaBarbara, Assistant Curator, WVRHC.

Family papers are a relatively common sight in archives like the WVRHC. We collect them because they tell the stories of the people of our state and region, and because they can be great genealogical resources. The WVRHC has hundreds of collections of family papers, ranging from collections with just a few items to collections like the Siler Family Papers, which contain over 150 boxes of material.  I’m currently processing the Orum, Eskey, and McCaffery Family Papers, detailing intersecting family lines from Sherrard, WV, and I wanted to share a few items from the collection that I found particularly special.

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WVU Libraries lead effort to create Morgantown Public Art Guide

Posted by Monte Maxwell.
December 12th, 2018
John F Kennedy Memorial

Do you know about the John F. Kennedy Memorial in Star City? Did you know the large Coca-Cola mural on a High Street building is a restoration originally painted in 1953?

These sites are just two of the 44 local attractions detailed in the new Morgantown Public Art Guide, a collaborative initiative among WestVirginia University Libraries, the Greater MorgantownConvention and Visitors Bureau, the Art Museum of WVUCollege ofCreative ArtsArts Monongahela,,a free nonprofit website that lists historic and cultural sites across theUnited States.

From outdoor sculptures and murals to indoor galleries and venues, Morgantown offers many opportunities for experiencing art for free.

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The History of McLoughlin Brothers Children’s Books

Posted by Jane Metters LaBarbara.
December 10th, 2018

Blog post by Anna Schein, Associate Curator for Printed Ephemera, WVRHC.

McLoughlin Brothers, Inc. was a New York publishing firm which pioneered the use of color printing technologies in children’s books.  Actively publishing between 1858 and 1920, the company was particularly well known for its early use of hand-stenciled colored illustrations and its later printing techniques using chromolithographs and photo engravings.

Book cover of The Night Before Christmas, Showing Santa Claus' face

The company flourished under the leadership of John McLoughlin, Jr., who learned wood engraving and printing while working for Elton & Co., a publishing company owned by his father, John McLoughlin, Sr., and engraver/printer, Robert H. Elton.  After McLoughlin, Sr. and Elton retired, John, Jr. had control of the business.  He started to publish picture books under his own name and made his younger brother, Edmund McLoughlin, a partner in 1855.

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The Importance of a Good Cookbook

Posted by Jane Metters LaBarbara.
December 5th, 2018

Blog post by Stewart Plein, Assistant Curator for WV Books & Printed Resources & Rare Book Librarian

Recently the West Virginia and Regional History Center received the gift of hundreds of cookbooks that are part of the Lucinda Ebersole Collection.  Ms. Ebersole was bookstore co-owner, cookbook enthusiast, editor, and book collector. Her collection of cookbooks spans the late nineteenth century up to 2016.  The much beloved cookbook pictured here arrived as part of the larger Ebersole collection.

Beneath the hand sewn plaid cover is the Rumford Complete Cook Book printed in 1918.  Nearly every page is covered with handwritten recipes, cooking spills and splashes marking favorite recipes, clippings pasted on pages that completely cover the text and recipes attached by paperclips.

Yellow, blue, and red cookbook cover

Yellow, blue, and red cookbook cover Read the rest of this entry »

Libraries adjusting materials spending in response to budget realities

Posted by Monte Maxwell.
December 3rd, 2018

Student using laptop.

By Karen Diaz, Dean of WVU Libraries

For two years now, West Virginia University Libraries has been working toward bringing our materials spending in line with the new budget realities that we have faced since 2016. One of the biggest challenges in our reduction in funds is managing “bundled” journals subscriptions that historically provided us with more journal title subscriptions at less cost. Unfortunately, over time the inflationary costs of these bundle subscriptions have outpaced the size of our budget.

In 2016, when we were first presented with the need to reduce our spending, bundled journal packages accounted for 30 percent of our materials budget but only provided 6.2 percent of our titles. We recognized at the time that we would have to address this significant portion of our budget to achieve the necessary savings. We did so immediately by unbundling our Wiley subscription package which provided us with about $400,000 in savings at that time. Now we are moving to unbundle the remaining packages.

Remedies, Consequences and Negotiations

Our librarians have spent the last year and a half doing a tremendous amount of analysis on our bundled packages. We have looked at where there is title overlap between different packages we purchase. We have purchased a detailed report that helps us understand which journals our campus researchers are downloading from, publishing in, and citing in their published research. Based on that we have been able to rank in importance the journals for our community in a data driven manner. Our internal collections advisory committee has reviewed and adjusted this work based on extra knowledge gleaned from relationships they have developed with colleges across campus.

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Libraries seeking submissions for “Appalachian Futures” exhibit

Posted by Monte Maxwell.
November 27th, 2018

Appalachian Futures

What do you imagine is in the future for Appalachia? West Virginia University Libraries is developing an interdisciplinary exhibit for 2019-20 themed around “Appalachian Futures.”

The WVU Libraries’ Arts in the Libraries Committee is seeking content from scholars, artists, community groups and practitioners from a range of fields to integrate into a curated exhibition that will be designed and installed in WVU’s Downtown Campus Library in the spring and summer of 2019, and potentially travel throughout the state.

“This collaborative, multidisciplinary exhibit and programming will address the dominant contemporary narratives about Appalachia in a new way – how the people of Appalachia have worked and will work to rewrite their own narrative and transcend limiting definitions of what it means to be Appalachian,” said Sally Deskins, exhibits and programs coordinator for WVU Libraries.

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Libraries accepting submissions for Annual Faculty/Staff Exhibits Award

Posted by Monte Maxwell.
November 26th, 2018

Avatar exhibit

“Avatars and their Players: From Object to Other,” an exhibit by 2018 award winner Dr. Jaime Banks.

The West Virginia University Libraries’ Art in the Libraries committee seeks submissions for the Libraries’ Annual Faculty/Staff Exhibits Award. The committee invites current WVU faculty and staff to submit ideas for consideration for an exhibit to visually showcase their scholarship in new and experimental ways, providing a visual evolution of their work, visualizing their research and influences, or answering a research question.

The winner will receive a $1,000 professional development funds award and an exhibition in Downtown Campus Library, Room 1020. The winner will give a public lecture, program, or demonstration. Non-art faculty or staff may submit a proposal based on their academic research that could become visualized with Library consultation and limited resources. Applicants must submit an outline of their proposal on the Propose an Exhibit online form, with “Annual Faculty/Staff Exhibits Award Submission” in the Proposed Exhibit Location section, by midnight Feb. 28, 2019. More information is available at

The 2018 winner was Dr. Jaime Banks, who worked with Dr. Nick Bowman to create the exhibit “Avatars and their Players: From Object to Other,” which visualizes their scholarly research on the experiences and effects of video gamers’ connections with their avatars. It will remain on display in the Downtown Campus Library, Room 1020, through Dec. 30.

Esther Benford, Engineer

Posted by Jane Metters LaBarbara.
November 19th, 2018

Blog post by Jane Metters LaBarbara, Assistant Curator, WVRHC.

Sometimes, when processing a new collection of archival materials, you get an interesting snapshot of someone’s life.  Occasionally, if you want to know how that person’s story continues, you will have to do some research outside the collection.  While processing a new collection, I came across clippings and a few photos of Esther Benford. According to one of the clippings, from a city newspaper, she was a WVU student on track to receive in 1937 the “first degree in civil engineering ever granted to a woman” (probably “at WVU” and not the first in the world, but the article didn’t specify).

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Honor an Outstanding Librarian or Distinguished Library Supporter

Posted by Monte Maxwell.
November 15th, 2018

student talking with librarian

The WVU Libraries Faculty Assembly is seeking nominations for the Outstanding Librarian Award and Distinguished Service Award. These awards are presented once every three years to recognize exceptional contributions toward the delivery, development or expansion of library services or special programs for the constituencies of WVU.

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Karen Diaz named permanent dean of WVU Libraries

Posted by Monte Maxwell.
November 12th, 2018

Karen Diaz

West Virginia University’s interim dean of LibrariesKaren Diaz, has been appointed the Libraries’ permanent dean by Provost Joyce McConnell.

“Karen has been successful in various roles in our libraries because she is a great leader and consensus-builder who has truly earned the trust and support of her talented faculty and staff,” McConnell said. “I know that she will continue to lead in this thoughtful, positive way as the dean, ensuring that the WVU libraries continue to be among our most valuable campus resources.”

Diaz first joined the WVU Libraries as associate dean in January of 2016. She worked extensively with academic department heads and initiated efforts to meet the challenges of a contemporary research library through Open Access initiatives, “engaged librarian” models and cross-functional teams.

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Discovering World War I at the History Center, Part 4: The Elsie Janis Memorabilia Collection

Posted by Jane Metters LaBarbara.
November 9th, 2018

Blog post by Michael Ridderbusch, Associate Curator, WVRHC.

On the 11th of this month of November, at 11:00 AM Paris time, will occur the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I.  America suffered casualties of over 115,000 in this conflict, making it the third costliest war in American history, following World War II (over 400,000) and the Civil War (750,000).  This sacrifice inspired President Woodrow Wilson in 1919 to ask Americans to recognize “those who had died in the country’s service.”  In time, his moral injunction led to Congressional actions that ultimately established in 1957 Veterans Day as we know it today.


In times of relative peace, we of course recognize the service of those in the armed forces.  In times of war we aspire to more.  These aspirations often take the form of serving in hospitals, working in the arms industry, etc.  In addition to these activities of material support, however, are ones of moral support to the troops.  In the Second World War the United Service Organizations (USO), a nonprofit organization established by request of President Roosevelt in 1941, provided such support.  Although many entertainers answered the call, the comedian Bob Hope has become most identified with the USO, so much so that the organization is currently known as the “Bob Hope USO.”  He not only entertained during World War II, but also during the conflicts in Korea and Vietnam.  Lesser known and even forgotten, however, is Elsie Janis, a vaudeville star who also entertained troops, albeit during World War I.  Her rapport and connection to audiences of soldiers was so great that she was immortalized as “the sweetheart of the AEF” (American Expeditionary Force).  The History Center has recently acquired memorabilia regarding Elsie Janis, including photographs, clippings, and other material documenting both her vaudeville years and World War I service.  Read the rest of this entry »

Exhibit presentation to journey into the world of “Avatars and their Players”

Posted by Monte Maxwell.
November 7th, 2018

Avatar exhibit

Do gamers have a special connection with their avatars? Drs. Jaime Banks and Nick Bowman will explore that and other questions in their presentation Nov. 13, at 2 p.m. in the Downtown Campus Library, Room 1020.

The “Avatars and their Players: From Object to Other” exhibit, on display at the DCL through Dec. 30, visualizes Banks and Bowman’s scholarly research on the experiences and effects of video gamers’ connections with their avatars. The exhibit features a curated collection of submitted images and narratives avatar stories that recounts users’ favorite memories with favorite videogame avatars.

“These stories illustrate the impact avatars have had on their lives—dispelling assumptions and myths about gamers and highlighting the ways that avatars can be meaningful in contemporary life,” Banks said.

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