Ask A Librarian

Collection Development at the WVU Libraries in 3 Minutes and 16 Seconds

Posted by Monte Maxwell.
June 16th, 2022

The WVU Libraries’ Collections Advisory Committee explains the Libraries’ collection development strategies in a YouTube video. WVU faculty, staff and students may find this brief explanation helpful in understanding the Libraries’ budget, the effect of inflation on their capacity to subscribe to or purchase resources, and how to place requests for resources. To discuss this further, contact the subject librarian for your discipline.

WVU Libraries to mark West Virginia Day on June 21 with “West Virginia’s Poetic Heart”

Posted by Monte Maxwell.
June 14th, 2022
West Virginia Day postcard

West Virginia University Libraries and the West Virginia and Regional History Center will help you find the words to celebrate the Mountain State’s 159th birthday with “West Virginia’s Poetic Heart” on June 21 at 1 p.m. in the Downtown Libraries’ Milano Reading Room. The date of this event has changed because of a University holiday.

The West Virginia Day program brings together West Virginia Poet Laureate Marc Harshman and the poetry of noted Appalachian poet Maggie Anderson.

“We are thrilled for Marc to headline our first in-person West Virginia Day program since 2019,” WVRHC Interim Director Lori Hostuttler said. “Although Maggie isn’t able to participate in the program, she will be present through Marc reading her works. Listening is poetry is always moving and inspiring, and will help us celebrate the experiences and relationships we as West Virginians value most.”

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WVU Libraries’ Collection Budget Priorities

Posted by Monte Maxwell.
June 6th, 2022
University Library circa 1910
University Library, circa 1910, West Virginia History OnView Collection

Few would argue that academic libraries have changed radically since 1902 when Stewart Hall was the WVU Library. What hasn’t changed is the Libraries’ commitment to WVU’s land grant mission and the study, teaching, and research of the faculty, staff, and students. One not-so-obvious change is the WVU Libraries’ focus on providing access to resources, as opposed to owning them. The explosion of research and new publications means no single library or library system can own everything the institution might need (even with the help of generous donors,) but through carefully curated collections and the power of interlibrary loan, libraries provide access to what faculty, staff, and students need. The focus on access is accompanied by a just-in-time approach, in contrast to the former just-in-case plan. (When the libraries purchased new books, videos, etc., because we thought they might be needed some day, this was a just-in-case plan.)

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WVU Libraries joins MIT Press Open Access Publishing Initiative

Posted by Monte Maxwell.
May 23rd, 2022

In March 2021, MIT Press announced the launch of its Direct-to-Open (D2O) framework. In this model, rather than purchasing licenses to eBook titles individually or through packages, libraries pay annual participation fees that support open access (OA) book publishing. Participating libraries gain access to new MIT Press titles—around 90 titles per year—as well as its eligible backlist of approximately 2,300 books. D2O features two non-overlapping collections of scholarly monographs and edited volumes: Humanities & Social Sciences and STEAM. Anyone can read the OA titles free of cost on the MIT Press website, regardless of institutional affiliation. 

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WVU Libraries names three Munn Scholars

Posted by Monte Maxwell.
May 19th, 2022

West Virginia University Libraries’ Teaching and Learning Committee has selected Samantha N. Franzese, Jude Platz and Elizabeth Rockwell as 2022 Robert F. Munn Undergraduate Library Scholars.

“We at WVU Libraries are pleased to recognize Samantha, Jude and Elizabeth as Munn Scholars,” Dean of Libraries Karen Diaz said. “They thoroughly researched their topics and wrote impressive works of scholarship.”

WVU Libraries and the Honors College established the Robert F. Munn Undergraduate Library Scholars Award in 2009 to honor Dr. Robert F. Munn, dean of Library Services from 1957-1986. The award goes to one or more Honors students for an outstanding humanities or social sciences thesis based on research conducted in the WVU Libraries. Along with a $1,000 award, their names will be added to a plaque in the Downtown Campus Library and their theses added to the Research Repository @ WVU. These papers can be read at

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Libraries unveil inaugural Inclusive Portrait

Posted by Monte Maxwell.
May 11th, 2022
Portrait of Victorine Louistall Monroe
Dean of Libraries Karen Diaz and artist Anna Allen pose with Allen’s portrait of Victorine Louistall Monroe.

Victorine Louistall Monroe made history twice at West Virginia University. She received her master’s in education from WVU in 1945, making her the first known Black female to be awarded a graduate degree from the University. Then, Monroe made history again in 1966 when WVU hired her to teach Library Science, making her the University’s first Black faculty member.

In April, WVU Libraries unveiled a portrait of Monroe (1912-2006), Professor Emerita of Library Science, the first painting to be commissioned as part of the Inclusive Portrait Project, in the Downtown Library’s Robinson Reading Room.

“We are excited to celebrate Victorine Louistall Monroe with this portrait,” Libraries Dean Karen Diaz said. “A true Mountaineer, Victorine broke several barriers throughout her life and set a shining example for future generations to emulate.”

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Downtown Library to host Margaret Armstrong exhibit and speaker

Posted by Monte Maxwell.
May 5th, 2022
Armstrong book cover

An exhibit on the works of Margaret Armstrong, best known for her intricate and innovative book covers, opens May 18 in the Downtown Library’s Rockefeller Gallery. The opening kicks off with a presentation by Lowell Thing, author of the upcoming book “Cover Treasure: The Life and Art of Margaret Armstrong” at 4 p.m. in the Milano Reading Room.

The exhibition, titled “The Book Beautiful: Margaret Armstrong and her Bindings,” is a collaboration between West Virginia University LibrariesWest Virginia and Regional History Center and the New York Society Library.

Armstrong (1867–1944) was 18 years old when she broke into the male dominated industry of book design and started to make a name for herself. At the time, there was only one other woman working in book design. Armstrong pushed the boundaries of design and began to dominate the field with the quality of her work.

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Shakespeare’s Third Folio: Tracing Ownership over 350 years

Posted by Admin.
April 22nd, 2022

Written by Stewart Plein

Most people have heard of Shakespeare’s First Folio, but the subsequent folios don’t seem to get quite as much press as the first one.  What’s so great about a later printing of Shakespeare’s folio?  Turns out – plenty! 

William Shakespeare's third folio, open to the title pages. On the left is an illustration of the author. on the right the title page.

The third folio is particularly interesting.  Basically, it’s the third printing of the first folio, which was the first printing of Shakespeares’ plays.  The first folio gave us eleven plays that were unknown before its’ publication including Macbeth, The Tempest, Measure for Measure and Twelfth Night.  A significant literary achievement.

The third folio, published in 1663, is important because very few copies have survived.  Traditionally, a few hundred copies of a book were published, then stored in a warehouse while waiting for buyers.  Three years after its publication, while many copies of the third folio were still warehoused, the Great Fire of London erupted.  The fire destroyed many booksellers’ warehouses along with their inventories, thus, few copies of the third folio have survived. 

WVU’s rare book room is fortunate to have a copy of the third folio donated by an alumnus, Arthur Dayton.  WVU received five Shakespeare folios in the Dayton donation, the first, second, an additional second printing, the third and the fourth folio.  These comprise the complete set of Shakespeare’s folios. 

The Dayton third folio is interesting for another reason.  Several names, notations and bookplates appear on the first couple of pages.  These notes and bookplates document previous owners.  Evidence of previous ownership is called “provenance.”  Provenance is considered to be a record of an items’ history, or a record of ownership.  If you’re a fan of the PBS series, the Antiques Roadshow, you know that provenance, such as purchase receipts, bookplates, author signatures, and gift presentations, are important tools used to establish the authenticity of an item.     

So, what can we learn from bookplates and notations in books?  What role does ownership play in the life of a book?  Let’s take a look at the bookplates and notations in Shakespeare’s third folio to find out.

First documented owner: Thomas Sharp.

The first thing we see is an ownership stamp for Thomas Sharp, (1693 – 1758).  Sharp was a clergyman.  He was named to the important position of Archdeacon of Northumberland on February 27, 1722.  According to Wikipedia, the Archdeacon of Northumberland is a senior officer responsible for the disciplinary supervision of clergy within his region.  An important position, indeed. 

Below, we see a portrait of Thomas Sharp.  Beneath is the book stamp he used in the third folio. Sharp held a number of positions throughout his lifetime, but the presence of the stamp verifies that Sharp acquired the third folio while serving as Archdeacon. 

An illustration of Thomas Sharp, a middle-aged white man with a high collared shirt, black robes, a thin nose, and curly gray hair.
Thomas Sharpe's book stamp, used in the third folio. It is an oval with a shield inside, the head of a bird is over the top point of the shield, and laurels surround the outside

Although this attribution is important – there is no record of previous owners.  Since the third folio was printed in 1663, there’s 60 years of ownership unaccounted for.  That is disappointing, but it is great that we can pick up on who may be the second, or third owner.

Second documented owner:  Clare Hall, Cambridge University, England.

The college of Clare Hall, founded in 1326 as University Hall, is the second-oldest college at Cambridge University.  In 1338 the college was renamed Clare Hall, in honor of Elizabeth de Clare (1295 – 1360), the 11th Lady of Clare, who provided an endowment for the college.

A large building with three stories and ornate stone architecture.

The notation marking Clare Hall’s ownership is on the title page of the third folio.

A page of the third folio with the inscription "From Clare Hall, March 1843."

This brings us to the question – why did the college dispose of the 3rd folio? And when did they dispose of it?  We may never know.

Third documented owner:  Shakespearean actors, Edward Hugh and Julia Marlow Sothern.     

The Sotherns are shown here, photographed in costume as Lord and Lady Macbeth in Shakespeare’s play, Macbeth, in 1911.  Edward Hugh Sothern (1859-1933) was an American actor and author who appeared on the stage in New York and London.  Julia Marlowe (1865-1950) primarily acted in New York. They met in 1904 when they starred in a play together.  They married a few years later in 1911.  Following their marriage, they toured across the United States, mainly in Shakespeare plays, until Julia retired in 1924.  Their bookplate is pasted inside.

An ornately decorated bookplate with a shield in the middle and ribbons reading "Edward Hugh" and "Julia Marlowe" and below, "Southern."
  Edward Hugh and Julia Marlow Sothern’s bookplate.
A woman and a man, dressed in ornately decorated robles and dresses, each wearing golden crowns and covered in golden detailing. They hold hands, the man looking downward.
  Shakespearean actors, Edward Hugh and Julia Marlow Sothern.

Fourth documented owner: Arthur Dayton

A graduate of WVU with a degree from the College of Law, Arthur Dayton’s lifelong dream was to own all four of Shakespeare’s folios.  He accomplished his goal, and after his death, his wife Ruth donated his entire Shakespeare collection, including the 5 Shakespeare folios, to WVU.  The folios now reside in the rare book room, which was founded in 1951 to house his collection.  Dayton purchased his folios at auction in the ‘30’s and ‘40’s, when folios regularly appeared on the market.  Today, most of the surviving Shakespeare folios are owned by institutions like WVU and the Folger Shakespeare Library.

A bookplate showing WVU's documentation of Arthur Dayton's gift of the folio.
A photograph of Arthur Dayton, an adult white man with light colored hair, glasses, and wearing a suit and tie.
Arthur Spencer Dayton (1887-1948) from Phillipi, WV.

Above is the bookplate added by WVU to document Dayton’s gift to the University.

The letter below, from the previous owner, Julia Marlowe Sothern, discusses Dayton’s purchase of “their” third folio.

Julia Sothern describes how happy she is that Arthur Dayton, a collector of Shakespeare’s works, purchased “her” folio. 

A page of a letter
A page of a letter

Do you have any books that once belonged to someone else?  Who might that be? How do you know?  Did the previous owner sign their name or add a bookplate?  Let us know!

If you’d like to examine the provenance in Shakespeare’s third folio, please send an email to Stewart Plein at to make an appointment.


Third Folio image: 

Image of Thomas Sharp: 

Image of Clare Hall:,_Cambridge#/media/File:Clare_college.jpg 

Information regarding Edward & Julia Marlowe Sothern: 

Images of provenance: taken by author.

WVU Libraries and partners debut NEH-funded online portal for congressional archives

Posted by Monte Maxwell.
April 19th, 2022
Portal screen shot

West Virginia University Libraries has created the first-ever online portal bringing together congressional archives from repositories throughout the United States.

“The American Congress Digital Archives Portal Project represents the most significant proposal that I have ever seen in terms of its promise to bring historical, political, and policy materials to the fingertips of more scholars on more questions,” Douglas Harris, Professor of Political Science at Loyola University Maryland, said. “It is not a stretch to think that this project could revolutionize the study of Congress across multiple disciplines.”

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Libraries to unveil inaugural Inclusive Portrait

Posted by Monte Maxwell.
April 13th, 2022
Victorine Louistall Monroe gives a presentation at a public library, circa 1974.

West Virginia University Libraries will unveil a portrait of Victorine Louistall Monroe (1912-2006), Professor Emerita of Library Science, the first painting to be commissioned as part of the Inclusive Portrait Project, April 28 from 4-6 p.m. in the Downtown Library’s Robinson Reading Room.

“We are thrilled to honor Victorine Louistall Monroe with this portrait,” Libraries Dean Karen Diaz said. “A true Mountaineer, Victorine broke several barriers throughout her life and set a shining example for future generations to emulate.”

Monroe graduated from Kelly Miller High School in Clarksburg and earned her bachelor’s degree from West Virginia State College. She received her master’s in education from WVU in 1945, making her the first known Black female to be awarded a graduate degree from the University.

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Libraries to host Food Justice in Appalachia “Community+Food” virtual panel discussion

Posted by Monte Maxwell.
April 6th, 2022
Food Justice poster

Food is vital to sustaining all living things; yet, not everyone has access to a constant food supply, let alone fresh healthy foods. Do you want to know what local organizations are doing to help the community access food security?

West Virginia University Libraries will host a panel discussion titled “Community+Food” April 13 from 4-5 p.m. in the Downtown Library, Room 104. The program is in conjunction with the “Food Justice in Appalachia” exhibit and will give panelists the opportunity to share their organization’s role in making food more accessible to the community. For those who can’t physically attend, the discussion will also be available for viewing on Zoom.

Register for the Zoom event here.

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Library Faculty Assembly names Hostuttler Outstanding Librarian

Posted by Monte Maxwell.
April 5th, 2022
Lori Hostuttler

The Awards Committee of the West Virginia University Library Faculty Assembly has selected Lori Hostuttler, interim director of the West Virginia and Regional History Center, as the Outstanding Librarian for 2022.

The award, presented triennially, recognizes a faculty librarian who has made exceptional contributions toward the delivery, development, or expansion of library services or special programs for the constituencies of WVU.

In her nomination, Hostuttler was recognized by members of the College of Creative Arts, College of Arts and Sciences and West Virginia Humanities Council for her accomplishments in the areas of innovative instruction, accessibility and social equity. 

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Library Faculty Assembly presents Distinguished Service Award to Roth

Posted by Monte Maxwell.
April 5th, 2022
David Roth

The Awards Committee of the West Virginia University Library Faculty Assembly has presented the Distinguished Service Award to David Roth, who retired December 31, 2021 as a digital education specialist in the Office of Curriculum and Instructional Support with 28 years of service to WVU.

Roth was nominated by his supervisor, Kelly Diamond, head of the Office of Curriculum and Instructional Support, for the “quality of his work, thoughtful and insightful feedback on projects, and for modeling collegiality in the workplace.”

Roth’s accomplishments have included expanding and implementing quality control for instruction, scheduling workflows, and creating and maintaining instructional guides for ULIB 101, which have earned frequent praise from the librarians who have used them to teach. He has tested digital learning objects against instructional design principles, ever mindful of reducing inequities in access and representation. 

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Downtown Library to host open house for Graduate Research Commons April 6

Posted by Monte Maxwell.
March 29th, 2022
Post with images of research commons

Come celebrate the Downtown Library’s new dedicated graduate student collaboration space at an open house Wednesday, April 6, 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. in Room 122.

The Graduate Research Commons offers a flexible space to host study sessions, meetings, and events. With ID swipe-access for entry, the Commons is equipped with Mac and Dell desktops, two extended-hours study rooms, video call conferencing equipment, white boards, a printer, and a white noise sound system.

Learn more about resources available to improve your skills and make researching easier and have lunch on us. Help us plan by registering in advance:

Can’t make it? Learn more about services available via the Graduate Research Commons at our website: Presented in collaboration with OGEL as a part of Graduate Student Appreciation Week.

Join the “Amplifying Appalachia” Wikipedia Edit-a-thon Kickoff Event

Posted by Monte Maxwell.
March 18th, 2022

The Amplifying Appalachia Art + Feminism Wikipedia Edit-a-thon will run from March 21-25. Join us for a Zoom kickoff event Monday, March 21, at 10 a.m. for an overview of editing Wikipedia and a chance to ask questions.

A recording will be made available for those unable to attend. To register for the Zoom kickoff event, click here.

For more info/to register for the Edit-a-thon, click here.

Questions? Contact Lynne Stahl ( or Erin Brock Carlson (

WVRHC to host “Engaging the Queer Feminist Archive” discussion

Posted by Monte Maxwell.
March 9th, 2022

The histories of traditionally marginalized groups have long gone unrepresented in archives. As part of its effort to reduce that disparity, the West Virginia & Regional History Center will host researcher and author Susan Ferentinos to discuss how to better represent LGBTQ+ communities in archival collections. The hybrid event will take place on March 31 from 3-4 p.m. in the Milano Room in WVU’s Downtown Library and on Zoom.

Register for the Zoom event here:

“Engaging the Queer Feminist Archive” is part of the WVRHC’s newly developed West Virginia Feminist Activist Collection (WVFAC). The growing collection works to capture the stories of West Virginia individuals and organizations who have fought for social justice and equity. Often, such activists are left out of the historical record for going against the status quo and/or having marginalized identities.

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Libraries to host Women of Appalachia Project’s “Women Speak” on March 12

Posted by Monte Maxwell.
March 8th, 2022
Women Speak graphic

The Women of Appalachia Project’s (WOAP) “Women Speak” performance, a juried presentation of story, poetry and song showcasing women artists living in or having strong ties to Appalachia, will be held Saturday, March 12, from 1-3 p.m. on Zoom. Register for the event here.

The event is a presentation of readings published in WOAP’s anthology series “Women Speak.” This is WVU Libraries’ fifth time hosting the event, which is co-sponsored by the Women’s Resource Center, WVU LGBTQ+ Center and Center for Women’s and Gender Studies.

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Libraries, History Department mark Buffalo Creek disaster anniversary with exhibits, event

Posted by Monte Maxwell.
February 23rd, 2022
Photograph of Buffalo Creek
Photograph of the damage along Buffalo Creek after the flood, February 1972, Governor Arch A. Moore Jr. papers, WVRHC.

In the early the morning of February 26, 1972, a coal slurry impoundment on Buffalo Creek collapsed, sending millions of gallons of wastewater rushing into the valley below. Hundreds of people died or were injured, and thousands were left homeless. The cleanup, investigations, and lawsuits that followed further strained the community.

To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the disaster, WVU Libraries and the Department of History have created exhibitions online and in the Downtown Library’s Atrium that will remain on display through December.

In conjunction with the exhibits, the Libraries’ Local to Global Film Series and Department of History will host a virtual screening of Buffalo Creek Flood: An Act of Man and Buffalo Creek Flood Revisited followed by a discussionwith award-winning film director Mimi Pickering on March 3 at 7 p.m. Registration for the event is open.  

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$1.4M estate gift to benefit the WVU Libraries’ West Virginia & Regional History Center

Posted by Monte Maxwell.
February 15th, 2022

History buffs statewide will benefit from a $1.4 million estate gift from a late West Virginia University professor to support the West Virginia & Regional History Center at WVU Libraries.

Professor Emerita Betty Lou Ramsey, of Belington, West Virginia, passed away July 19, 2014. Her recently completed trust gift supports a namesake fund she and her late sister, Effie Lucille Ramsey, established prior to their deaths to support WVU Libraries. The fund helps to collect, preserve and provide public access to library materials that honor the history and culture of West Virginia and the central Appalachian region.

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Art in the Libraries receives a WV Humanities Council grant for Indigenous Appalachia exhibit

Posted by Monte Maxwell.
February 3rd, 2022

WVU Libraries recently received an award notification for a West Virginia Humanities Council major grant for an upcoming exhibit, Indigenous Appalachia. The exhibition will be displayed at WVU Downtown Library and virtually from August 2022 through May 2023 before traveling to WVU Beckley Library, Appalachian State University Library and Marshall University Library.

The exhibit will also become a digital exhibit available on the WVU Libraries’ website and archived on the Research Repository at WVU.

The goal of the exhibition is to increase awareness of the contributions made by Indigenous Appalachians to the region both historically and contemporarily, while recognizing the continuing injustices faced by Indigenous people.

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