Ask A Librarian

Libraries play pivotal role in our communities

Posted by Monte Maxwell.
August 17th, 2018

The following op-ed appeared in the Charleston Gazette on August 14.

By Karen Diaz, Interim Dean of Libraries

Libraries enjoy an interesting relationship with the public and our users. We are trusted, loved, and yet often underestimated. Folks think of libraries as the friendly place to get books. They are indeed that – but so much more. Libraries are neutral in the sense of belonging to the collective, and hosting different points of view. They are political in the sense of dedication to that cause and working against censorship. They are for the common good. They are places and they are virtual. And importantly they are run by professionals who are guides, teachers, partners, community workers and scholars all in one. A public library is a space where the local community can come to grow and to learn about societal as well as personal matters whether that be through books or events. An academic library is a “neutral” space that brings different disciplines together through collections, space and services.

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Mountaineer Touchdown Challenge 2018 – Are you ready?

Posted by Monte Maxwell.
August 17th, 2018

WVU quarterback Will Grier

Football is in the air and that means West Virginia University Libraries and the WVU Department of Intercollegiate Athletics are teaming up once again for the Mountaineer Touchdown Challenge, our annual fundraising campaign to benefit the Libraries.

The initiative, in its eighth year, has provided for many needs of our students. This year alone we have updated all of our professional testing and career preparation books, purchased new DSLR cameras and graphing calculators for Access Services to lend and are updating monitors and technology in the Health Sciences Library study rooms to allow for wireless syncing from any device.

Several months ago, Challenge money also provided for a new poster printer on the Health Sciences campus. Hundreds of posters were printed for research symposiums like Van Liere Research Day. Graduate and undergraduate students alike reap the benefits.

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WATER: Exploring the significance, power and play of life’s critical resource

Posted by Monte Maxwell.
August 16th, 2018

Water exhibit in Downtown Campus LIbrary

Whether it’s navigating the raging rapids of the Gauley River or splashing in a kiddie pool, people love playing in water. That same substance can quench thirst, nourish crops and generate electricity as it rushes through a dam. If there’s too much, a small stream can spill over its banks and flood a community. Its absence can bring drought and famine.

Throughout the 2018-2019 academic year, the West Virginia University Downtown Campus Library is hosting WATER: A Cross Disciplinary Exhibit Exploring the Significance, Power and Play of Life’s Critical Resource, a collaborative, cross-disciplinary exhibit that explores the power, control, scarcity, abundance, play and impact of water in its various forms.

“We are thrilled to bring together such a diverse group of talented people each with a wealth of knowledge and expertise in their respective fields as we push off into this year-long trek to learn about and better understand the myriad issues that surround water,” said Sally Deskins, exhibits and programs coordinator for WVU Libraries.

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Out of this World! Isaac Asimov in the West Virginia University Rare Book Room

Posted by Jane Metters LaBarbara.
August 6th, 2018

Image of a planetarium and a starry, moon-filled sky

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

Although Isaac Asimov, one of the greatest science fiction authors of all time, passed away in 1992, his work lives on in the West Virginia University Rare Book Room.  One of the most prolific science fiction authors of the twentieth century, Asimov made a huge impact on how we view the future.

Asimov was responsible for more than 500 authored and edited publications.  Among his most popular novels are the Foundation Trilogy, The Martian Way, and The Stars like Dust.  Books that were turned into movies include I, Robot, the Fantastic Voyage, and the Bicentennial Man.

Perhaps Asimov’s single most important work is the short story/novella, Nightfall, published in 1941.  This story is considered the best science fiction short story written prior to the 1965 establishment of the Nebula Awards, the organization responsible for recognizing the best in science fiction or fantasy published in the United States.  The Rare Book Room holds important copies of Nightfall in a variety of formats, including books and records.  Its popularity led the story to be adapted for radio, film, podcast, and vinyl.  Read the rest of this entry »

Historian tackles West Virginia’s past and present in upcoming talks

Posted by Monte Maxwell.
August 3rd, 2018

West Virginia was known as a solidly Democratic state for most of the 20th century, but that has changed in the 21st century.

Renowned historian John Alexander Williams will make sense of this dramatic shift in a talk on Friday, Aug. 10, at 3 p.m. in West Virginia University’s Downtown Campus Library, in Room 104. The program is free and the public is welcome.

Williams’ talk, titled “The Greenne$$ of the Red: How Macroeconomic Issues Changed West Virginia from Blue to Red,” will discuss why Mountain State voters supported the Republican candidate for president in each of the past five statewide elections, and why both houses of the state Legislature now have Republican majorities.

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Discovering World War I at the History Center, Part 2: The Elmer A. Walton Collection

Posted by Jane Metters LaBarbara.
July 30th, 2018

Blog post by Michael Ridderbusch, Associate Curator, WVRHC.

Elmer Walton (1897-1960) of Martin’s Ferry, Ohio, as a member of the 4th Regiment, 3rd Division of the American Expeditionary Force in France, participated in the Second Battle of the Marne (July 15 to August 6, 1918), and in two campaigns of the final “Hundred Days Offensive” including St. Mihiel (September 12-15, 1918) and the Meuse-Argonne Offensive (September 26 to November 11, 1918).

 

Full length portrait of Elmer A. Walton

Portrait of Elmer A. Walton, By a Photographer in France, 1918.
(Photo from collection A&M 3694, Elmer Arthur Walton, Soldier,
World War I Letter, Scrapbook, and Other Material)  Read the rest of this entry »

WVRHC’s latest newsletter now available

Posted by Jane Metters LaBarbara.
July 27th, 2018

Cover of a newsletter, showing article about and photo of Louis Johnson of Steptoe and Johnson

The latest newsletter of the West Virginia & Regional History Center is now available online.  The two feature articles are “Papers of Attorney and Secretary of Defense Louis A. Johnson Now Open to Research,” detailing the life and accomplishments of one of the founders of Steptoe and Johnson, and “WVRHC Research Grants Assisting Scholars from Around the Globe,” which includes reports from three recipients of the WVRHC research grants.

You can read a PDF copy of the newsletter online or contact the Center to request a print copy.  If you want to see back issues of the newsletter, they are all online and accessible through our Newsletter webpage.

Cross-discipline collaboration results in unique interactive sculpture at Evansdale Library

Posted by Monte Maxwell.
July 24th, 2018
CESTA students pose with sculpture.

CESTA 2018 students Nysha Hongpaisan (WVU, engineering), Sarah Starcovic (Fairmont State, chemistry and biology), Erin McCarty (WVU, M.F.A.) Samuel Dickson (Youngstown State University, chemistry), Kyleen Kelly (WVU, B.F.A. art education) and Pamela Saidoni (WVU, engineering) pose with their creation.

An interactive sculpture on display at West Virginia University’s Evansdale Library illustrates the structure and function of a particular enzyme and can charge your SmartPhone.

The stunning metal, wood and ceramic work, titled “Cytochrome C,” is the creation of a team of artists, chemists and engineers from WVU and two other universities assembled as part of the Community Engagement in Science through Art (CESTA) program.

“The four-week summer program brings together students in the science, engineering, and art disciplines to design and build an interactive chemistry-art installation in Morgantown with the goal of improving cross-discipline communication and collaboration among the students while also bringing science to the community in a format that is fun, interesting and beautiful,” said Jessica Hoover, an assistant professor of chemistry, Eberly College of Arts and Sciences.

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Rolling Pins! The Lucinda Ebersole Rolling Pin Collection

Posted by Jane Metters LaBarbara.
July 20th, 2018

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

It’s been a long time since I spent the afternoon baking.  I’ve never been fond of making cookies but I enjoyed making pies.  Both activities require the use of a rolling pin.  The only pin I had was the traditional household rolling pin, a cylinder of wood slipped onto a metal bar with two handles, one on each end, allowing it to roll as I pressed out the pie dough.  Read the rest of this entry »

Autograph Books and Genealogy

Posted by Jane Metters LaBarbara.
July 2nd, 2018

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

I recently accessioned an autograph book. By following some of the clues in the book and using some basic genealogy resources, I found out more about its owner.

Cover of autograph book, with gold-colored birds and flowers on it

Flipping through it, I saw that it included a lot of signatures from 1879 through about 1883, some poems, and some really beautiful hand-drawn art.  Read the rest of this entry »

Discovering World War I at the History Center, Part 1: The John A. Thorn Collection

Posted by Jane Metters LaBarbara.
June 28th, 2018

Blog post by Michael Ridderbusch, Associate Curator, WVRHC.

A century has passed since the participation of the United States in the First World War in 1917-1918, and of course West Virginians volunteered, like so many other Americans, after declaration of war on April 6, 1917.  A recent acquisition of the History Center, including letters and photographs, details the war odyssey of West Virginian John Thorn of the 462nd Aero Squadron.  Read the rest of this entry »

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 Ebersole, 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 »