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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

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


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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US Congress exhibit opens April 2

Posted by Monte Maxwell.
March 28th, 2018

Photograph of British Prime Minister Winston Churchill addressing a joint meeting of Congress, December 26, 1941, from the Senator Harley Martin Kilgore papers, WVRHC

The United States Congress is the branch of the federal government closest to the people, where representatives and their constituents most directly engage over the issues of the day. Yet many Americans view Congress with a mix of frustration, confusion, and disapproval.

To promote a better understanding of Congress, the West Virginia and Regional History Center at West Virginia University Libraries will open a new exhibit, “The People’s Branch: Exploring the U.S. Congress with Archives,” on April 2, in the Downtown Campus Library’s Rockefeller Gallery. It will remain on display through December 2018.

“The People’s Branch” uses archival materials to explore the basic functions of Congress and the importance of the institution in American democracy. It highlights the representative responsibilities of the body and the interactions between politicians and constituents. It encourages visitors to consider how Congress has evolved over time and how it continues to shape politics and public policy.

“With the upcoming 2018 midterm elections, the exhibit offers a chance to look at the legislative branch broadly and to reflect on how the institution has remained consistent, and changed, over time” said Danielle Emerling, WVRHC assistant curator and congressional and political papers archivist.

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Dr. Harriet B. Jones, West Virginia Physician, Suffragist, and Activist

Posted by Jane Metters LaBarbara.
March 26th, 2018

Blog post by Lori Hostuttler, Assistant Director, WVRHC.

Harriet B. Jones was born in Ebensburg, Pennsylvania, and grew up in Terra Alta, Preston County, West Virginia from the age of seven.  She attended Wheeling Female College in Wheeling, West Virginia, with a focus on music and art, graduating in 1875. Soon thereafter she concluded four years of Chautauqua courses.  Despite completing the traditional training for middle class women of her day, Jones was discontent.  She recognized the need for female physicians and pursued a medical degree at the Women’s Medical College of Baltimore.  She graduated in 1884 and later finished post-graduate studies to specialize in gynecology and abdominal surgery.

Portrait of Harriet B. Jones, ca. 1897

Harriet B. Jones ca. 1897. Image from American women: Fifteen Hundred Biographies with over 1,400 Portraits: a Comprehensive Encyclopedia of the Lives and Achievements of American Women during the Nineteenth Century, page 425.  Read the rest of this entry »

Book dealer honors Forbes with massive book collection to WVU

Posted by Monte Maxwell.
March 21st, 2018

Harold Forbes, retired rare books curator, peruses a book dealer Jim Presgraves donated to WVU Libraries in honor of Forbes as library associate Autumn Summers and work study student Jamie Rood look on.

When Harold M. Forbes retired from West Virginia University as curator of Rare Books in 2013, bookseller Jim Presgraves wanted to pay a proper tribute to his colleague’s long career.

Rather than sending a card, Presgraves, approaching retirement himself, donated a large portion of his inventory at Bookworm and Silverfish Books in Rural Retreat, Virginia, to WVU Libraries in honor of the former Rare Books Curator. Library staff calculate the gift at more than 10,000 books, pamphlets, archives, maps and other materials with a value more than $500,000.

“WVU has been a very good customer over the years, and that was my reward,” said Presgraves, who secured books on West Virginia, Appalachia and other topics for Forbes.

As part of his donation, he requested the Libraries identify 100 books and add special bookplates recognizing Forbes. Rare Books Curator Stewart Plein, who worked with Forbes prior to his retirement, selected books she knew would interest him and invited Forbes back to the Rare Book Room in the West Virginia and Regional History Center to unveil the tribute.

“At first, I thought, ‘What a terrific selection’, and then I was stunned to see my name in the books,” Forbes said. “To receive something like this, something so substantial, it was exceptional. I felt truly honored.”

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Interview with Elaine Sheldon, Director of “Heroin(e)”

Posted by
March 19th, 2018

As part of Women’s History Month, West Virginia University Libraries screened the Oscar nominated “Heroin(e)”, directed by Peabody Award-winning documentarian Elaine McMillion Sheldon alongside an exhibition photography of three West Virginia-based photographers.

West Virginia native and WVU alumna Sheldon (BSJ, 2009) thereafter discussed the Netflix Original Documentary short following three women fighting the opioid crisis in Huntington, as well as the work of the artists whose work is seen in “A Knowing Intimacy: A photography exhibit by West Virginia Women” on display in DCL Room 1020 through April 13.

Sheldon, the exhibit’s curator, explained that the name comes from the shared intimate quality among her work and the work of photographers Lisa Elmaleh, Rebecca Kiger and Meg Elizabeth Ward.

Before the event, Sheldon sat down with WVU Libraries’ Exhibits and Programs Coordinator Sally Deskins to discuss how growing up and living in West Virginia impacts her work as well as her time at WVU, making documentaries about her homeplace, her podcast She Does, curating this exhibit and much more. The interview was created using StoryCenter’s Listening Station and is archived with the StoryCenter.

Click here to learn more about the exhibit and artists.

“A Knowing Intimacy” is supported by the Libraries’ Arts in the Libraries program. For more information contact Sally Deskins, exhibits coordinator,

Call for Art Created by Health Professionals at WVU

Posted by
March 13th, 2018

WVU Art in the Libraries, in collaboration with Health Sciences Center, is seeking visual artists in the health care field working at WVU and WVU Medicine to participate in a group exhibition to take place in the fall of 2018 in the WVU Health Sciences Library.

Through art, relationships of medical professionals and their patients and the impact thereof can come through, such as in Luke Fildes’ famous 1891 painting, The Doctor (below) or Thomas Eakins’ Gross Clinic (1875).  Too, artwork can prove a fun hobby, personal release or second creative profession for those in such a scientific, sociable profession as health, like mid twentieth century illustrator Frank Netter or the contemporary painter Lissa Rankin (Both Sides Now painting, below), who retired as OBGYN to make art.

tan and white with wide strip down center and hourglass and colorful dots.

Both Sides Now by Lissa Rankin

Man watching young girl sleeping on chairs with man in background

The Doctor by Luke Fildes

We want to know what WVU health professionals are making visual art!

Any part or full time staff or faculty, may submit any media, ready-to-display, work of any theme for this exhibition.  We’re interested in all types of work addressing contemporary issues or concerns, health or medical issues or concerns, or completely abstract artwork.  You do not need to be an “established” artist! We are looking for health professionals who create artwork, any level or media will be considered.

The facilities include limited wall space and display cases in the Health Sciences Library, on the 2nd floor of the Health Sciences Center of West Virginia University. There is ample natural and artificial overhead lighting. Traffic includes medical undergraduate, graduate students, faculty and other professionals in the health and medical field as well as prominent campus visitors and others using the library facilities. Artists are encouraged to visit the space before submitting.

Artists are responsible for transporting artwork to and from the Library if their work is accepted.  Libraries hold the University insurance if loan form is filled out and signed, though security is limited to the access services staff of the Library during open hours.

To participate: Contact WVU Libraries Exhibits Coordinator, Sally Deskins,, 304.293.0369, feel free to send images, ideas, websites, etc. by May 31, 2018.

About: Art in the Libraries develops exhibits and related programs in the Downtown Campus Library, Evansdale Library, and Health Sciences Library, highlighting the creative endeavors and scholarship of WVU faculty, staff, and students, reaching across the University, the region, and the broader academic community. This program demonstrates how art, libraries and scholars encourage the community to explore, reflect, and discuss what they encounter in the WVU Libraries which seeks to embody the mission of West Virginia University by excelling in discovery and innovation, modeling cultural diversity and inclusion, promoting vitality and building pathways for the exchange of knowledge and opportunity.

WVRHC Debuts New Archives Research Website

Posted by Jane Metters LaBarbara.
March 13th, 2018

The West Virginia & Regional History Center at West Virginia University Libraries has launched a powerful new tool to assist researchers anywhere in the world who have an interest in exploring the history of the Mountain State and its region.

The Center’s new Guide to Archives and Manuscripts provides enhanced descriptions for more than 4,300 archival collections, and that number grows every week. The new site is available at

The website is built with ArchivesSpace, an open source, web-based archives information management system supported by a community of over 300 member institutions and the LYRASIS network of museums, archives and libraries. WVU Libraries has been a member of the ArchivesSpace community since 2015.

For more information, check out the article in WVUToday:

If you have any questions about using the new site, please contact us!


Posted by Jane Metters LaBarbara.
March 12th, 2018

Blog Post by Jessica Eichlin, Photographs Manager and Preservationist

Driving on the back roads of West Virginia is one of my favorite parts of traveling to visit family in Virginia.  The natural scenery is gorgeous, I get to see incredible farm houses, and, as a bonus this last trip, I saw a Mail Pouch Tobacco sign on a barn.  I had heard of these rustic billboards before, but did not know much about the history behind them.  Read the rest of this entry »

Be an Advocate for Change

Posted by Monte Maxwell.
March 7th, 2018

As part of Open Education Week (March 5-9), West Virginia University Libraries, faculty and students are focusing on the high cost of textbooks.

Since 1978, the cost of college textbooks as risen 812 percent, a rate faster than medical services (575 percent), new home prices (325 percent) and the consumer price index (250 percent), according to statistics from the American Enterprise Institute.

The rising cost of textbooks can not only affect a student’s bank account, but their grades as well. The Florida Virtual Campus, formerly the Florida Distance Learning Consortium, has been studying the effect of rising textbooks costs on students’ purchasing decisions, their academic success, and their awareness of Open Education Resource (OER) options.

Their 2016 study found that the cost of textbooks continue to be a negative influence on students’ grades and success.

2016 Florida Student Textbook & Course Materials Survey chart

Florida Virtual Campus. (2016). 2016 Florida Student Textbook & Course Materials Survey. Tallahassee, FL.

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University Archives Update, Part 2: Beyond University Records

Posted by Jane Metters LaBarbara.
March 7th, 2018

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

In January, I wrote about WVU’s new records retention efforts and how that helps the University Archives collect WVU’s history.  University history goes beyond departmental and administrative records, though, so the University Archives collects more than just records created by the University. If you are interested in what the University Archives wants to collect, take a look at our Collection Policy.  It describes additional types of records and materials that we are collecting, including the following categories:  Read the rest of this entry »