Inside Spencer: The KSRL Blog

Join Our Team! (Position Opening: Head of Public Services)

June 29th, 2012

The Kenneth Spencer Research Library is hiring a new Head of Public Services.  To read more about this exciting opportunity, please take a look at our position announcement pamphlet:

Kenneth Spencer Research Library Head of Public Services Position Announcement (click on link for PDF File)

Image of Instruction at the Kenneth Spencer Research Library

Image of Entrance to the Spencer Research Library

Already sold? To apply, please navigate to KU’s Employment Opportunities  website (https://jobs.ku.edu/applicants/jsp/shared/Welcome_css.jsp) and search for position number 00007827. Applications are due by July 6th, 2012.

Patron Saint of “Russian” Librarians…

June 22nd, 2012

Friedrich von Adelung was a Prussian historian, linguist, and bibliographer, a.k.a. Fedor Pavlovich Adelung, when he pulled up roots and moved to Russia at age 26. He was dubbed patron saint of Russian librarians when he compiled – with statistician K. Storch – a five-year review of Russian literature, 1810-1811, that marked the beginning of Russian bibliographical statistics. He also wrote a literary review of travelers to Russia up to 1700, Western and otherwise; compiled a universally celebrated bibliography of Sanskrit, 1811; and assembled another bibliography of foreign maps of Russia, 1306-1699.

Portrait from Siegmund Freiherr von Herberstein (C135)
Siegmund Freiherr von Herberstein: mit besonderer Ruecksicht auf seine Reisen in Russland,
by Friedrich von Adelung (1768-1843). St. Petersburg: N. Gretsch, 1818. Call Number: C135

This portrait of Sigmund von Herberstein is from Adelung’s biography of that early German traveler to Russia. Among other important bibliographical works, Adelung published, in 1827, the Austrian Augustin von Meyerberg’s account of his travels in Russia in 1661 and 1662. Adelung died during his presidency of the Petersburg Academy of Sciences.

Sally Haines
Rare Books Cataloger
Adapted from her Spencer Research Library exhibit, Frosted Windows: 300 Years of St. Petersburg Through Western Eyes.

Bloomsday 2012

June 15th, 2012

Happy Bloomsday! As fans of James Joyce’s experimental novel will know, Ulysses is set on June 16, 1904. Accordingly, the 16th of June has become an annual occasion for readers around the globe to celebrate Joyce and commemorate (often with marathon public readings) Leopold Bloom’s fictional wanderings through Dublin.

In honor of Bloomsday 2012, we’ve posted a few Ulysses-related “firsts” from the Library’s James F. Spoerri Collection of James Joyce (one of our three major Irish Collections). It consists of over 900 volumes by and about Joyce, including first editions of all of the writer’s works with the exception of five minor items.

 

First Printing of an Episode from Ulysses

First episode of Ulysses in The Little Review (March 1918)

The Little Review. Vol. IV (misprinted as Vol. V), no. 11 (March 1918).
Call number: Joyce Y166. (Click on image to enlarge.)

Episodes from Ulysses first appeared serially in The Little Review, an American “little magazine” then based in New York. Twenty-three installments–covering 13 episodes as well as the beginning of episode 14–came out between March 1918 and December 1920. Though experimental literary circles fêted the work, the New York Society for the Suppression of Vice was less impressed. It brought the serialization to a halt by initiating obscenity charges over the events depicted in the “Nausicaa” episode.  Read the rest of this entry »

Oyster Shell: Pearl :: Clamshell: Medieval Manuscript?!?

June 13th, 2012

A clamshell or “drop spine” box is a typical housing for bound materials, like books and manuscripts, or loose materials that should be stored together, such as a set of prints. The fanciest clamshells are covered cloth, paper, or leather, and are custom-made to fit the item that will go inside.

 Clamshell Box for MS B61 (exterior)

Here is an example made to fit MS B61, Registrum Brevium, a 14th century British manuscript written in Latin. This book, because of its age, had been bound in different styles over the centuries. The most recent iteration was a suede binding of the 19th or early 20th century, glued tightly to the backs of the folded pieces of parchment that were sewn together to make up the book.  Read the rest of this entry »

Ray Bradbury, 1920-2012

June 7th, 2012

On Tuesday, legendary writer Ray Bradbury died at the age of 91.  James Gunn,  writer, scholar, and founder of KU’s Center for the Study of Science Fiction, has memorialized Bradbury as being “[…] a bridge between the two cultures – not [C. P.] Snow’s science and literature but science fiction and literature.”  KU Libraries holds close to one hundred editions Bradbury’s work, including thirty-five volumes housed the Kenneth Spencer Research Library. We are also fortunate enough to hold a smattering of letters by Bradbury in several of our science fiction collections, including in the papers of editor and publisher Donald A. Wollheim, writer and critic P. Schuyler Miller, and writer Theodore Sturgeon.

Ray Bradbury’s letters to Ted Sturgeon are a particular delight: playful, comic, and frank, with plenty of talk of writing and sex.  He opens one missive with the salutation, “Dear Word-That-Rhymes-With-Virgin.”  Indeed that letter, written in April of 1947, captures Bradbury at a particularly significant moment in his career.   His first book, Dark Carnival (1947), was just about to be published, but Bradbury was too caught up in the process of proofing to boast.  “It’s a swell book,” he writes to Sturgeon, “but, Christ, the ennui, the vertigo, the inertia that overcomes one after hours of reading stuff you don’t want to read anymore.”

Indeed, as the letter shows, Bradbury navigated his early successes with a good deal of self-effacing wit.  When Sturgeon congratulated him on the literary coup of publishing a story, “The Man Upstairs,” in the March 1947 issue of Harper’s, Bradbury joked about his new-found ego: “Since my sale to Harper’s I’m not speaking to anybody.  Especially my grocer, my cleaner, my clothier, my radio man; to all of whom I owe money […].”  Now, sixty-five years later, it’s hard to imagine that Bradbury’s place in the annals of American storytelling was ever anything but assured.

To celebrate this influential author’s  life and writings, we share below three covers from Bradbury volumes in the Spencer Library’s collections (click images to enlarge).  Rest in peace, Mr. Bradbury.

 Cover of first Book Club editio of Ray Bradbury's The Martian Chronicles (1950)Cover of the first edition of Ray Bradbury's The Illustrated ManCover of Ray Bradbury's I sing the Body Electric, 1969

Clockwise: The Martian Chronicles, by Ray Bradbury.  Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1950 (Book Club Edition). ASF C194; The Illustrated Man, by Ray Bradbury. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1951 (First Edition).  ASF C65; I Sing the Body Electric, by Ray Bradbury. New York: Knopf, 1969 (First Edition). ASF C790.

Elspeth Healey
Special Collections Librarian