Ask A Librarian

West Virginia Day celebration to examine law and lawyer in the Mountain State

Posted by Monte Maxwell.
June 15th, 2018

West Virginia invitation cover

West Virginia University Libraries and the West Virginia and Regional History Center will address the law and lawyers in the Mountain State to mark the 155th anniversary of West Virginia’s founding on June 20.

“Justice for All; Law and Lawyers in West Virginia” will commemorate the key role the legal profession has played throughout the history of the nation’s 35th state.

“Few people are aware that West Virginia has made nationally significant contributions to law and legislation in fields including labor and industry, natural resources, medicine and education among others,” WVRHC Director John Cuthbert said.

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West Virginia v. Barnette: 75 years later

Posted by Jane Metters LaBarbara.
June 14th, 2018

Blog post by Lori Hostuttler, Assistant Director, WVRHC.

Seventy five years ago today, on Flag Day, June 14, 1943, the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) handed down its decision in the case of West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette.  This landmark case expanded religious freedom for all Americans under the free speech clause of the First Amendment of the Constitution.  The ruling said that mandatory flag salutes in public schools violated free speech and were therefore unconstitutional – reversing a decision from just three years earlier.

outside the Greebrier School, Hinton, W. Va., ca. 1950, pledging allegiance to the American flag

Students pledge allegiance to the flag on Veterans Day at the Greebrier School, Hinton, W. Va., ca. 1950, image from WV History OnViewRead the rest of this entry »

A New Gift for the Rare Book Room: Edith Wharton’s Italian Villas and Their Gardens, Illustrated with Paintings by Maxfield Parrish

Posted by Jane Metters LaBarbara.
June 12th, 2018

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

Cover of book "Italian Villas and their Gardens" including gold details and an image of a garden with fountain, flanked by an image of a woman with a basket of grapes on the left and a garden with trees and a building on the right

Recently, the WVU Libraries received a large gift from the late Lucinda Ebersol, a collector, book lover, publisher, and bookstore owner, totaling over 11,000 books.  Yes, that’s right, over 11,000 books.  This extensive collection arrived in near pristine condition, all books in their original dust jackets, and with many rare and antiquarian titles included.  Today on the blog, I would like to highlight a book from the collection that I am very excited about, one of those rare and antiquarian titles that I have longed to have in the collection.  Read the rest of this entry »

WVU launches Distinguished West Virginians Archives

Posted by Monte Maxwell.
June 8th, 2018

President Gee

It comes as a surprise to some that West Virginia and its flagship university have both produced a cavalcade of distinguished leaders in business, science, government, the arts and the military, just to name some areas.

“People will say, ‘I didn’t know that you were from West Virginia,’ or ‘I didn’t know you went to West Virginia University’. And that, of course, is something we want people to understand,” WVU President Gordon Gee said in announcing an effort to remedy that lack of knowledge.

“We’ve been celebrating the achievements of the University and that celebration includes the fact that we have built ourselves on the base of great giants who have made such a difference to this state and this nation and most importantly our students,” Gee said Saturday in announcing the Distinguished West Virginians Archives, a new initiative to document the lives and legacies of West Virginians who have achieved extraordinary accomplishments and bring them to the attention of the state and the nation.

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Broadsides in the History Center

Posted by Jane Metters LaBarbara.
June 1st, 2018

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

The way people communicate is evolving along with technology.  Today, we have event pages on Facebook to alert friends and customers to upcoming activities, and blog posts and newspaper editorials on the web to share our political feelings. What filled these communication needs before the internet? In some cases, the answer was broadsides! A broadside is “a single sheet with information printed on one side that is intended to be posted, publicly distributed, or sold” (according to the Society of American Archivists). The WVRHC’s broadsides collection includes posters, handbills/flyers, and other types of advertisements and announcements.

Speaking of the internet, not all of the WVRHC’s glorious collections are available on the web.  The broadsides collection is not available online, but it is partially cataloged in the card catalog we have at the Center.  The broadside catalog cards are arranged in chronological order, from the 1770s-2007; beyond that, we have some yet-to-be-cataloged broadsides for intrepid researchers to explore. Some of our broadsides are originals and some are facsimiles. Below are a few examples to give you an idea of what this collection contains.  Read the rest of this entry »

Rhubarb: The Pie Plant

Posted by Jane Metters LaBarbara.
May 25th, 2018

Blog post by Lori Hostuttler, Assistant Director, WVRHC.

In West Virginia, spring brings a selection of new and fresh foods.  Ramps and morels each have a season, as do strawberries and my subject today: rhubarb.

Rhubarb in basket and planted in the ground

Image from Rhubarb Farmer.

Rhubarb, also called pie plant, is known for its tart flavor. It is considered a vegetable and looks quite a bit like red celery.  But most people prepare it as they would a fruit.  Because of the tartness, it is often sweetened and used in desserts.  Only the stalks can be eaten.  The leaves are poisonous and should not be ingested.  Read the rest of this entry »

WVU Libraries receives grant to create public art guide

Posted by Monte Maxwell.
May 24th, 2018

West Virginia University Libraries has received a Grant for Community Engagement from the WVU Research Office to fund the creation and production of a Morgantown Public Art Guide, in collaboration with the Greater Morgantown Convention and Visitors Bureau, Arts Monongahela, the Art Museum of WVU and the College of Creative Arts.

Spearheaded by WVU Libraries’ Exhibits Coordinator Sally Deskins and Interim Director of Strategy and Planning Carroll Wilkinson, the project is an effort not only to inform residents and visitors of the more than 40 locations displaying public art, but to showcase the benefits of collaboration amongst the University, the community and local arts organizations.

The GMCVB will sponsor the production of the piece and play an integral role in its online and print dispersal and promotion.

“The Morgantown Public Art Guide will be a tremendous resource for area residents, visitors and those considering relocating here,” GMCVB Executive Director Susan Riddle said. “We are excited to help promote the wonderful artwork throughout our community.”

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Snapshots of WVU in the 1960s, Part 3, Towers Residence Halls

Posted by Jane Metters LaBarbara.
May 21st, 2018

Blog post by Michael Ridderbusch, Associate Curator, WVRHC.

In the course of researching and preparing for this blog series of historical photography of WVU in the 1960s, I sometimes discovered material documenting inaugural moments, such as the opening of Towers 1 and 2, as will be shown here.  The construction of the Towers in Evansdale was part of a building initiative in the 1960s that transformed much of the campus, resulting in the Creative Arts Center, the Forestry Building, and the Mountainlair.  Read the rest of this entry »

Read All About It! New Books at the West Virginia and Regional History Center

Posted by Jane Metters LaBarbara.
May 11th, 2018

Blog post by Stewart Plein, Rare Book Librarian

We’re always looking for new books to add to the West Virginia and Regional History Center Reading Room Collection.  Recently we added four new books we thought our patrons would enjoy.

Lauren Pond’s Test of Faith:  Signs, Serpents, and Salvation, is a photographic documentation of one man’s devotion as displayed through his belief in snake handling. Read the rest of this entry »

WVU Libraries names two Munn scholars

Posted by Monte Maxwell.
May 4th, 2018

West Virginia University Libraries selected Elizabeth Satterfield and Rachel A. Wattick as 2018 Robert F. Munn Undergraduate Library scholars.

“All of us at WVU Libraries are pleased to recognize Elizabeth Satterfield and Rachel Wattick for their tremendous achievements in researching their topics and presenting their findings,” Interim Dean of Libraries Karen Diaz said. “Our selection committee noted that they clearly dedicated a great deal of thought and time to gathering the necessary information and then writing their impressive works of scholarship.”

Munn award winners with deans

Munn Award winners Rachel A. Wattick (second from left) and Elizabeth Satterfield pose with Damien Clement, assistant dean of the Honors College, and Karen Diaz, interim dean of WVU Libraries.

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MayDay: Saving Our Archives – and Precious Things

Posted by Jane Metters LaBarbara.
May 1st, 2018

Blog post by Lori Hostuttler, Assistant Director, WVRHC.

The Society of American Archivists has designated May 1 as MayDay, a day to reflect on preparedness in the event of a disaster (big or small) and to take a simple action to ensure the protection of collections. Preservation is an important aspect of the work we do at the West Virginia & Regional History Center and essential to the long term care of the collections in our stewardship. Following some best practices enables us to minimize the risk of damage to materials and help ensure that the history of West Virginia & central Appalachia will be around for researchers for many, many years to come.

May Day logo for May 1, 2018, showing weather hazards

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Everettville Mine Disaster in Their Own Words

Posted by Jane Metters LaBarbara.
April 30th, 2018

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

Today marks the anniversary of the Everettville Mine Disaster.  On April 30, 1927, there was an explosion at the Federal No. 3 mine owned by New England Fuel and Transportation Company, in Everettville, Monongalia County, WV. One hundred and eleven people were lost, and nine were saved. Below are the newspaper headlines for the following week–the disaster happened at around 3:30 PM so it didn’t make the evening edition of the Morgantown Post on April 30–the results of the Great Mississippi Flood took up a lot of front page space that day. The Everettville mine disaster was reported in a number of local newspapers and even made national news.  Read the rest of this entry »

Maintaining a strong collection during tough budget times

Posted by Monte Maxwell.
April 26th, 2018

Student with laptop

By Karen Diaz, Interim Dean of Libraries

The state of West Virginia and West Virginia University have had a couple of belt-tightening years. This, of course, has impacted the Libraries budget as well.  After two years of stringent reductions and loss of access to reserve funding, we have had to cut our spending on library materials (collections) from over $9 million in FY 2015 to under $6 million in FY 2018. This is a 39% reduction.

A few things about library collections:

  • About 90% of our materials budget now goes to electronic materials. This includes databases, e-books, and e-journals, and is fairly typical for an academic library.
  • About 88% of our budget is for subscription items. These are items that in most cases require us to maintain the subscription in order to continue to have access to the title at all.  For instance, if we cancel a database, we no longer have access to any information in the database.  We don’t just lose access to the current year moving forward.
  • Some of our “materials” costs actually go to tools to help provide access to our content. For example, we pay an annual fee for our online catalog, in some cases we pay an annual “hosting fee” for digital content, we pay for tools that allow our users to log into proprietary content from off campus, and tools that provide us with data about which materials are being used.
  • Even the content we get for free, such as gift books or important archives and manuscripts, have costs. There are fees for transporting the material, processing it so it is known and findable to researchers, and housing it – sometimes in special acid-free boxes or in particular conditions for longevity. If we want to make that content available online there are digitization costs.

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Snapshots of WVU in the 1960s, Part 2, Wise Library

Posted by Jane Metters LaBarbara.
April 17th, 2018

Blog post by Michael Ridderbusch, Associate Curator, WVRHC.

This blog will continue to survey photographs from an archival photograph collection received by the History Center from University Relations. It contains photos showing people, activities, and events at West Virginia University from the 1960s to more recent times.  This installment of the series will focus on photos that document Wise Library (which is now encompassed within the Downtown Campus Library).  Although some of these photographs have probably been seen before, the acquisition of this collection with all of its original negatives will now privilege researchers and viewers with source material of the highest quality.
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Looking at Morgantown exhibit opens April 20

Posted by Monte Maxwell.
April 13th, 2018

The Downtown Campus Library will host an opening reception for the West Virginia University Libraries’ newest exhibit, “Looking at Morgantown,” on April 20 from 4-6 p.m. in Room 1020.

“Looking at Morgantown” showcases 24 photographs specific to Monongalia County and the people, places and events that represent the area by 18 regional professional and amateur photographers. The WVU Art in the Libraries Committee selected the images from more than 350 submissions.

The exhibit is in conjunction with “Looking at Appalachia: Selected Images from 2014-2016” currently on display at the DCL. “Looking at Appalachia is an ongoing crowdsourced photography project created by West Virginia-based photographer Roger May as a response to media coverage and perceptions of Appalachia and the President Johnson’s War on Poverty.

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Downtown Campus Library to host two Wikipedia edit-a-thons in April

Posted by Monte Maxwell.
April 9th, 2018

 

The Downtown Campus Library will host two Wikipedia edit-a-thons in April. Both event are open to the public. Preregistration is not required, but people should bring a laptop.

The first is an Art + Feminism Wikipedia Edit-a-thon on April 13 from noon to 3 p.m. in room 104. The Art + Feminism edit-a-thon will focus on female artists in the collection of the WVU Museum. Participants will have the opportunity to write about and edit Wikipedia pages of female artists, painters, designers and dancers. Kelly Doyle, WVU Libraries’ Wikipedian in Residence for Gender Equity, will be available help individuals edit and create an account. For more information contact Sally Deskins, Libraries exhibits coordinator, at sbdeskins@mail.wvu.edu.

On April 19, from noon to 3 p.m., in Room 1036, students in the Women’s and Gender Studies capstone class are organizing a Women Innovators, Designers and Entrepreneurs Wikipedia Edit-a-thon. It will be held in conjunction with WVU’s Demo Day and Black Women’s History Month. For information on this event contact Kasi Jackson, associate professor of Women’s and Gender Studies, at kasi.jackson@mail.wvu.edu.

 

Doc the Fire Dog

Posted by Jane Metters LaBarbara.
April 9th, 2018

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

One of the Libraries’ Instagram posts from last month inspired me to research a dog that showed up in a couple of Morgantown fire department photos in our collections.

Instagram post showing modern image of old firehouse in Morgantown meshed with historic photo of firetruck in front of same building, with explanatory text.

My research took me into the archives at the WVRHC as well as the wonderful historical material kept by the Morgantown Fire Department.  They have captain’s logs, scrapbooks, clippings, photos, and other material that tells the story of the MFD; if any of our readers have research interests about the MFD, you can get in touch with our fire chief, Mark Caravasos. He showed me their collection and gave me more information about Doc the fire dog to fill in the gaps in my research.  Read the rest of this entry »

Recovering the Classics, Appalachian Style

Posted by Jane Metters LaBarbara.
April 9th, 2018

Blog post by Stewart Plein, Rare Book Librarian

Last fall, Sally Deskins, Exhibits and Program Coordinator for the Downtown Campus Library, approached me, Stewart Plein, Rare Books curator, and Joe Galbreath, Associate Professor for Graphic Design at the WVU School of Art & Design, with a great idea – to reimagine the design of classic books and their cover art in a new way.  Sally was inspired by the Recovering the Classics website, a crowdsourced program that invites “illustrators, typographers, and designers of all stripes to create new covers for 100 of the greatest works in the public domain.”

But Sally had a twist to this great idea – to recover classic Appalachian titles instead of literary classics.  Professor Galbreath and I were both excited about the project and began to make plans.  Professor Galbreath created an assignment for his Advanced Typography class, Art 328, to visit the WVU Rare Book Room and the West Virginia and Regional History Center’s Reading Room collection to gather inspiration for their reimagined book cover designs.   Read the rest of this entry »

Libraries interim dean named Library Senior Fellow at UCLA

Posted by Monte Maxwell.
April 6th, 2018

West Virginia University Libraries Interim Dean Karen Diaz is among 17 top academic library directors selected as Library Senior Fellows at UCLA for fall 2018. The international cohort will travel to UCLA in August for a three-week residential program featuring lectures, guest speakers, case studies and field trips.

“I’m delighted to welcome this distinguished group of accomplished library managers to the Senior Fellows program,” said Brian E. C. Schottlaender, director of the Library Senior Fellows program at UCLA. “Through the competitive selection process, these individuals have demonstrated that they are part of the next generation of library leaders in the academic world.”

Library Senior Fellows at UCLA combines management perspectives, strategic thinking and practical and theoretical approaches to the issues confronting academic institutions and their libraries. Of some 250 alumni, nearly half have gone on to positions as library directors. The program is a collaborative effort of the UCLA Graduate School of Education and Information Studies (GSE&IS), the UCLA Library and Ithaka S+R.

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Downtown Campus Library to host poet Maggie Anderson on April 4

Posted by Monte Maxwell.
March 28th, 2018

Maggie Anderson

West Virginia University Libraries will present Talking Publicly with Maggie Anderson, a reading and discussion, on April 4 from 3:30 to 5 p.m. in the Downtown Campus Library’s Milano Reading Room. This free event, part of a celebration of National Poetry Month, is open to the public.

Anderson is a West Virginia-based poet and author of five books of poems, most recently “Dear All” (2017).

Following Anderson’s reading and talk, Dr. Judith Stitzel, WVU Professor Emerita of English and founding director of the WVU Center for Women’s and Gender Studies, will moderate a discussion on the role of poetry in contemporary society.

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