Inside Spencer: The KSRL Blog

Be Prepared: Library Disaster Planning

March 28th, 2013

In Conservation Services we borrow the Boy Scouts’ motto of “Be Prepared” when it comes to disaster planning. In order to be ready to combat any flood, fire, or leak that might happen, we take various preventive steps. We have a disaster plan in place for every library at the University of Kansas, including Kenneth Spencer Research Library. We have a Collections Emergency Response Team that undergoes periodic emergency preparedness and response training.  Also, in each library we have placed disaster kits full of commonly used disaster supplies to be ready to respond quickly.

Image of Disaster Kit Contents Image of Pulling the Disaster Kit

Our kits are on wheels and were retrofitted with a handle so they are easy to transport to a disaster site. Supplies include paper towels, sponges, caution tape, bucket, extension cord, scissors, flashlight (with batteries), and lots of plastic sheeting. The kits are checked yearly to keep them well stocked.

Fortunately Spencer Library has a good roof and is solidly built so we’ve had relatively few problems.  But we are ready if need be.

Whitney Baker
Head, Conservation Services

Gossip and Literary Celebrity, circa 1871

March 21st, 2013

Though public figures in late nineteenth-century England might not have had to contend with paparazzi or gossip bloggers, their lives and personal writings were nonetheless a subject of interest and speculation.  What might begin innocently as a jovial private communication between friends could one day find itself before a much wider circle of readers, or so Pre-Raphaelite artist and poet Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828-1882) warned his friend and fellow poet Algernon Charles Swinburne (1837-1909).

Photogravure of Dante Gabriel Rossetty by G. F. Watts.        Image of black and white reproduction of Dante Gabriel Rossetti's portrait of Algernon Charles Swinburne

Left: Dante Gabriel Rossetti from photogravure by G. F. Watts;  Right: Black and white photograph of Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s portrait of Algernon Charles Swinburne, both reproduced in H. C. Marillier’s Dante Gabriel Rossetti: An Illustrated Memorial of his Art and Life. London: George Bell and Sons, 1899. Call Number: E1470.

In a letter likely dating from November 1871, Rossetti cautioned Swinburne,

[…] You seem to think that such things are likely to be restricted to the circle of their recipients. Why, my dear fellow, every line you have ever written will one day be religiously raked up by greedy & often doubtless malevolent exploiteurs, and it is very hard for those who receive these wonderfully funny things of yours to resolve on taking the only safe course with them for your sake — that is, to destroy them after they have been abundantly laughed over by a circle of friends who know what mere fun they are. (Call Number: MS 23D:3.2)

Though we can only hope that Rossetti wouldn’t have considered the staff at the Spencer Research Library to be greedy and malevolent “exploiteurs”–he had in mind perhaps critics of the day, publishers, or members of the periodical press–time has proven the validity of his concern.  For example, a number of Rossetti’s own private communications now reside in Spencer’s collection of Rossetti Family Correspondence (MS 23).  This collection includes letters by his father, Gabriele Rossetti, his sister, the poet Christina Georgina Rossetti, his brother, critic William Michael Rossetti, and his sister-in-law, painter and biographer Lucy Madox (nee Brown) Rossetti.  These letters are a boon to scholars, students, and the general public, even if their creators might not have wished for all of them to reach our prying eyes.

To read Rossetti’s letter to Swinburne, click on the thumbnails below to enlarge:

Image of Rossetti to Swinburne [circa Nov. 1871p.1]  Image of page 2 of Letter from Rossetti to Swinburne.  Image of page 3 of letter from Rossetti to Swinburne  Image of page four of letter from Rossetti to Swinburne

Letter from Dante Gabriel Rossetti to Algernon Charles Swinburne. [Shortly after 6 Nov. 1871?]. Rossetti Family Correspondence. Call Number: MS 23D:3.2. Click images to enlarge.

Elspeth Healey
Special Collections Librarian

From Spencer’s Irish Collections: Internment Camp Autograph Book

March 14th, 2013

St. Patrick’s Day is this Sunday, March 17, so we thought we would highlight a fascinating artifact from the Kenneth Spencer Research Library’s rich Irish holdings.

Image of cover of Ballykinlar Internment Camp Autograph Book

This autograph book, dating from 1921, contains entries by inmates at Ballykinlar Internment Camp.  Located in County Down in what is now Northern Ireland, Ballykinlar was a British-run camp that housed Irish prisoners during the Anglo-Irish War, also known as the Irish War of Independence (1919-1921).

Image of the Autograph Book open to an embellished credit ticket and an inscription bearing a patriotic sentiment.

Image of Opening featuring quotation from Pearse and an inscription in Irish.

Photograph of an opening featuring an inscription in shorthand and a sketch.

Top: opening featuring an embellished camp credit ticket (left); Middle: opening featuring an inscription in Irish (right); Bottom: opening featuring a sketch and an inscription in shorthand.  Autograph Book, Ballykinlar Internment Camp, 1921. Call Number: MS K19. Click images to enlarge.

The book’s pages are filled with the internees’ inscriptions, drawings, patriotic sentiments, quotations, and poems (composed in English, Gaelic, and even shorthand).  Prisoners were housed in huts, as depicted in the sketch below, and many, like the author of the poem on the facing page, included their hut numbers when they signed their names.

Page containing the poem "The Angelus Bell" Last stanza of the poem “The Angelus Bell”, written in the autograph book by a Ballykinlar internee:

[….]

Falls soft the light on the Altar white
When fragrant flowers and incense blend
And as the Aves raise in devout appraise
Men’s souls to Mary, the sinner’s friend.
But faint’s the knell of the Angelus bell,
So the prisoner turns in his barbed-wire pen
To wait the day whenev’r Risings may [?],
The sun of Freedom shall shine again.

Image of a page containing a sketch of the camp's huts.

Poem “The Angelus Bell”  inscribed by an internee and facing page sketch of the camp. Autograph Book, Ballykinlar Internment Camp, 1921. Call Number: MS K19. Click images to enlarge.

This manuscript volume came to the Spencer Library from Ireland as part of the 25,000 item collection of Irish nationalist, civil servant, and book collector, P. S. O’Hegarty (1879-1955).  The collection is particularly strong in publications and ephemera related to Irish politics as well as literature of the Irish Literary Renaissance.  O’Hegarty’s  library contains another internment camp autograph book from the early twentieth century.  This second book belonged to a man named Paul Cusack, who was first a prisoner at Frongoch Internment Camp in Wales in 1916 following the Easter Rising and then later at Mountjoy Prison in Dublin in 1921 (Call Number: MS K18).  The portion of Cusack’s autograph book that dates from 1916 includes an inscription that appears to be by fellow Frongoch inmate Terence MacSwiney.  MacSwiney later became Lord Mayor of Cork and died during a hunger strike while incarcerated in Brixton Prison in 1920.  Autograph books such as these offer insight into an important period in Irish history.

To learn more about the Kenneth Spencer Research Library’s Irish Collections, visit the overview of Spencer’s Irish holdings on our website or delve deeper with our Irish Collections Lib Guide (especially helpful for identifying our Irish manuscript holdings).

Looking for St. Patrick’s Day-themed activities in town?  Lawrence’s annual St. Patrick’s Day parade will take place on March 17, 2013 at 1:30pm. On March 23, the Irish Roots Cafe will host a musical event at the Grenada, which will include Sean Nós style song in the Irish language.

Elspeth Healey
Special Collections Librarian

 

Call for Entries: Snyder Book Collecting Contest

March 7th, 2013

 

Snyder Book Collecting Contest Logo

KU bibliophiles, dust off your shelves and start scrutinizing your collections!  The Snyder Book Collecting Contest is open and accepting entries.  The submission deadline is March 29, 2013.

The contest was established by Elizabeth M. Snyder in 1957 to cultivate and recognize undergraduate and graduate students’ interest in collecting books. In recent years, additions to the rules have been made to accept digital objects and non-print materials alongside books in the collections.

Winners are selected in both graduate and undergraduate divisions, with the following cash awards:

  • First Prize: $600
  • Second Prize: $400
  • Honorable Mention: $100

In addition, each winner will receive a gift card from contest co-sponsor Jayhawk Ink, a division of KU Bookstore.

2012 Graduate Division Winner:  Laci Gerhart's collection “The Evolution of Scientific Knowledge: Vintage and Antique Textbooks of the Natural and Physical Sciences”

Snyder Book Collecting Contest Displays, 2012

Top: 2012 Graduate Division Winner:  a partial view of Laci Gerhart’s collection “The Evolution of Scientific Knowledge: Vintage and Antique Textbooks of the Natural and Physical Sciences”; Bottom: Attendees examining the competing collections at the 56th annual Snyder Contest (2012).  Images Courtesy of KU Libraries.

Contest details, rules, and resources are available at the Snyder Book Collecting Contest site, http://lib.ku.edu/snyder/rules.shtml.

Entries will be displayed and winners announced on Tuesday, April 23 in Watson Library, level 3 West.  The celebratory event will begin with a reception at 5:30pm and will culminate in the awarding of prizes and a presentation by Elliott Shore, the Executive Director of the Association of Research Libraries.

Don’t miss your chance to enter!  Submit your collection by March 29th at 5:00pm.