Ask A Librarian

Downtown Campus Library to screen “Backburner Dreams” on October 11

Posted by Monte Maxwell.
October 2nd, 2018

Cover of Backburner Dreams

Join West Virginia University Libraries and the Center for Women’s and Gender Studies for a screening of “Backburner Dreams – A Women’s Passion Project” on October 11 at 7 p.m. in the Downtown Campus Library, Room 104.

The documentary follows three women, Carla, Stephanie and Melanee, who share stories about their dreams and passions, and why they put them on the “backburner.” All three will, in nine months’ time, take steps to realizing their passions and dreams. The film chronicles their journeys to achieve their dreams.

“Backburner Dreams” has been selected for screening at the 2018 Creation International Film Festival. The event is sponsored by the Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.

October 3 Is #AskAnArchivist Day

Posted by Jane Metters LaBarbara.
September 27th, 2018


October 3, 2018 is #AskAnArchivist Day! This day-long event, held on Twitter and sponsored by the Society of American Archivists, will give you the opportunity to connect directly with archivists in your community—and around the country—to ask questions, get information, or just satisfy your curiosity. Staff at the WVRHC will be participating via the Libraries’ Twitter handle, @wvuLibraries.

As professional experts who do the exciting work of protecting and sharing important historical materials, archivists have many stories to share about the work they do every day to preserve fascinating documents, photographs, audio and visual materials, artifacts, and even digital materials.

What questions can be asked?

No question is too silly . . .

  • What’s the craziest thing you’ve come across in your collections?
  • If your archives had a soundtrack, what songs would be on it?
  • What do archivists like to listen to while processing collections?

. . . and no question is too practical!

  • I’ve got loads of digital images on my phone. How should I store them so I can access them later on?
  • How do you decide which items to keep and which to weed out from a collection?
  • As a teacher, how can I get my students more interested in using archives for projects?

How does it work?

To participate, just tweet a question and include the hashtag #AskAnArchivist in your tweet. Your question will be seen instantly by archivists around the country who are standing by to respond directly to you.  If you want to ask a specific institution directly, include their handle (e.g., @wvuLibraries) in your tweet.

Don’t have a Twitter account? That’s okay! You can follow along even if you don’t have a Twitter account here:

If you have a question, feel free to ask the WVRHC questions on our other social media pages (Facebook and Instagram) or send us a message through our contact form. We look forward to hearing from you!

[Modified from SAA’s news release]

#AskAnArchivist Day, October 3, 2018 advertisement featuring potential questions to ask

LaunchLab & Libraries hosting trademark symposium on October 18

Posted by Monte Maxwell.
September 26th, 2018

Patent and trademark logo

West Virginia University Libraries and the LaunchLab are co-sponsoring a trademark symposium entitled “Business Formation and Trademark Registration… A Symposium: What Every Entrepreneur & Small Business Should Know” on October 18 from 3-4:45 p.m. at the LaunchLab in Evansdale Crossing, Suite 413.

The free symposium will offer students, entrepreneurs and small businesses an opportunity to better understand the path to commercial success, with a focus on entity formation and trademark registration.

Read the rest of this entry »

Not-Banned Books

Posted by Jane Metters LaBarbara.
September 24th, 2018

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

Banned Books Week, the last week in September, is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read and to seek and express ideas (even unpopular ones), spotlighting censorship and censored authors. It dates back to 1982, and is supported by a national coalition. The Libraries celebrate this year’s Banned Books Week with a display in the Downtown Campus Library entrance and a historical discussion on banned books presented by Law Library Special Collections Librarian & Archivist Mark Podvia and the ACLU of the WVU College of Law (Wednesday, September 26, 12-1 PM in Room 141).

While the West Virginia & Regional History Center seems like a quiet place to do historical research, our book collection is not without controversy. In this post, I’m going to highlight a few books that have made waves here. Read the rest of this entry »

LYRASIS awards Libraries grant to preserve congressional constituent correspondence data

Posted by Monte Maxwell.
September 17th, 2018


Arch Moore letter

Constituent correspondence in both paper and digital formats can play an important role as Congress considers legislation and can be found in archives across the country. This letter is an example of materials preserved in the WVRHC.

West Virginia University Libraries has been awarded a $27,000 LYRASIS Catalyst Fund grant to plan for preserving and providing access to congressional constituent correspondence data.

Since the late 1970s, constituent correspondence has moved from paper to digital formats, and archives across the country now receive correspondence as data exports. WVU Libraries has developed an innovative open-source system that could make access to the data possible.

The LYRASIS grant will support a feasibility study that will assess the WVU Libraries’ open-source system and engage the congressional archives community to develop a roadmap for creating a cooperative, data sharing infrastructure.

“We are honored that LYRASIS selected this project,” said Danielle Emerling, West Virginia & Regional History Center assistant curator and the grant’s principal investigator. “Constituent data sets have great potential for numerous research inquiries, analysis, and visualizations, and we’re excited to be one step closer to making the data available to researchers.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Before the Holiday: Remembering Child Labor in West Virginia

Posted by Jane Metters LaBarbara.
September 5th, 2018

Group photo of child miners, 1911

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

Faces smudged with coal dust, clothing torn and dirty, hands cut and bruised from reaching down to pick slate from chutes beneath them; this was the fate of the young boys who worked in the mines in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century in West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and elsewhere in the United States.  Read the rest of this entry »

Health Sciences Library to host opening reception for “Art & Health” exhibit on September 20

Posted by Monte Maxwell.
September 4th, 2018

Health Science Library

The West Virginia University Health Sciences Library will host an opening reception for the exhibit “Art & Health: Artwork by Healthcare Professionals at WVU” September 20 from noon to 1 p.m. at the Health Sciences Center Pylons.

The exhibit showcases works of photography, painting, ceramics and more by people who work in the University’s health industries, and will remain on display through December 15.

The artists include:

  • Ismail Asad, a WVU undergraduate in his junior year studying biology and minoring in business administration;
  • Dana Gray, grants administrator for the department of Pathology and the Research Coordinator for the Department of Surgery;
  • Randall Levelle, program manager at the WVU School of Nursing;
  • Beth Ann McCormick, program specialist for the Pathologists’ Assistant Program at WVU HSC;
  • Denise Porter, a mammographer at WVU Medicine at the Betty Puskar Breast Care Center and at the Fairmont Gateway Clinic;
  • Kimberly Rauscher, ScD, MA, an Associate Professor in the School of Public Health;
  • Benjamin Silverberg, MD, MSc, FAAFP, a Family Medicine physician at WVU Medicine.

For the chance to win a prize, visitors are invited to a write a response to the artwork in this exhibit. Submissions should be limited to one page and sent to juror Jason Kapcala at by Dec. 15. Kapcala is the author of North to Lakeville and coordinator of Auxiliary Aids in WVU Office of Accessibility.

First place winner will receive a signed copy of Kapcala’s book; the second place winner will receive a signed copy of “Roundabout Directions to Lincoln Center” by Renee K. Nicholson, professor of Multidisciplinary Studies and Narrative Medicine project director. For more information visit


Discovering World War I at the History Center, Part 3: The World War I Poster Collection

Posted by Jane Metters LaBarbara.
August 27th, 2018

Blog post by Michael Ridderbusch, Associate Curator, WVRHC.

One of the treasures at the Libraries’ History Center is a collection of original World War I propaganda posters, mostly American, acquired in the 1960s.  Their eloquence in communicating a message through text, composition, and coloration is testimony both to the urgency of their purpose, to convince Americans to support the war, and to the more limited channels of communication available at that time, since print media was a primary means of communication.  Television and the internet had yet to be invented, and radio was only in its infancy.  For example, one of the earliest radio stations, KDKA in Pittsburgh, began broadcasting in 1916.  It is in this context that it becomes comprehensible to us today why the method of distributing posters to the American public was a focus of the federal government’s efforts to advance its agenda, one of garnering public support for involvement in an European war.  Read the rest of this entry »

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.

Read the rest of this entry »

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.

Read the rest of this entry »

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.

Read the rest of this entry »

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.

Read the rest of this entry »

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.

Read the rest of this entry »

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.

Read the rest of this entry »