Inside Spencer: The KSRL Blog

Throwback Thursday: North Gallery Edition

August 31st, 2017

Each week we’ll be posting a photograph from University Archives that shows a scene from KU’s past. We’ve also scanned more than 34,800 images from KU’s University Archives and made them available online; be sure to check them out!

Spencer’s North Gallery has been the library’s iconic space since the building opened in 1968. Earlier this summer we finished a renovation of the space and installed a new permanent exhibit featuring a snapshot of Spencer’s collections.

Come see the changes in the North Gallery any time Spencer Research Library is open, or attend the grand reopening next Thursday, September 7th, 3:00-4:30pm. The opening reception is free and open to everyone, and we hope to see you there!

Photograph of the Spencer Research Library North Gallery, 1960s

The North Gallery at Spencer Research Library, 1960s.
University Archives Photos. Call Number: RG 0/22/82/i 1960s Prints:
Campus: Buildings: Spencer Research Library: Interior (Photos).
Click image to enlarge (redirect to Spencer’s digital collections).

Caitlin Donnelly
Head of Public Services

Workshop Recap: Care and Identification of Photographs with Gawain Weaver

June 20th, 2016

Last week Spencer Research Library hosted a workshop on the care and identification of photographs, taught by photograph conservator Gawain Weaver. I was fortunate to attend the four-day workshop along with three other fellow Spencer staff members from Conservation, Public Services, and Processing, as well as archivists and conservators from Missouri, Texas, and elsewhere in Kansas.

Our group met in Spencer’s Johnson Room and jumped right into things on day one by preparing paper to make our own salt prints. We coated paper first in a sodium chloride solution and, once dry, in a silver nitrate solution, then we placed leaves on the coated paper and exposed them in the sunlight over our lunch break. This simple exercise was a fun and engaging way to demonstrate the fundamentals of photographic chemistry.

Salt print (photograph)

The salt print I made in the workshop…it isn’t pretty, but the exercise was very useful!

Over the four days, we divided our time between Gawain’s incredibly information-packed lectures on the history of photographic and photomechanical processes, and lively hands-on sessions examining examples of many of the processes we’d learned about. The workshop fee included a small 60x-100x handheld microscope and a binder filled with the lecture slides, reference guides for identifying various processes, articles and recommended reading lists, and lots more useful information. Participants also had the option to purchase a sample set of photographic and photomechanical prints – a great addition to an archivist’s or conservator’s reference library.

Hand-held microscope

This microscope is small, inexpensive, and very handy for identifying photographic & printmaking processes.

Photographic sample set provided by Gawain Weaver

Photograph sample set of eighteen different photographic and photomechanical prints.

In addition to covering photographic history and technique, Gawain also discussed digital prints and issues of photograph deterioration, storage conditions, and proper housings. I enjoyed this workshop a great deal, and I came away with a clearer understanding of how photographs are made as well as greater confidence in my ability to identify photographic processes and to better address the particular preservation needs of photographs in the collections I work on. Many of the guides and resources in the workshop packet are available for purchase or to download for free from Gawain’s website, along with links to many more resources and information about this and other workshops that Gawain offers.

Angela Andres
Special Collections Conservator
Conservation Services

Calling All Bibliophiles: Enter the Snyder Book Collecting Contest!

January 25th, 2016

Okay, so you didn’t win 1.5 billion dollars in the recent Powerball drawing, but you still have the chance to turn your love of books into a nice little rainy day fund. This year KU Libraries is celebrating the 6oth anniversary of the Snyder Book Collecting Contest. To help mark this banner year, the contest will offer even larger prizes than usual.

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

  • First Prize: $1000
  • Second Prize: $600
  • Honorable Mention: $300

Each winner will also receive a gift card in the following amounts from contest co-sponsor Jayhawk Ink, a division of KU Bookstore:

  • First Prize: $200
  • Second Prize: $100
  • Honorable Mention: $50

Start combing your shelves, though, since entries are due by 5 p.m. Friday, February 19, 2016. The winners will be announced at an awards ceremony on Thursday, April 14th, 2016.

Snyder Book Collecting Content 2016 Banner
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, the rules have expanded to include digital objects and non-print materials. You can learn more about the contest and how to enter by visiting https://lib.ku.edu/snyder/. There you’ll also find a handy FAQ as well as selected essays, bibliographies, and a sample collection to help you on your way.

In need of further inspiration? Take a glance at some of the evocative titles of winning collections from the past fifteen years. What might you title your collection?

  • Clandestine Publications, by Resha S. Cardone, 1st place Graduate Division, 2002
  • Writing for No One: Zines and the Literature Undergroundby Joe Morgan, 1st place Undergraduate Division, 2004
  • On Being and Becoming a ‘Total Woman:’ Bestselling Books on Christian Marriage, 1972 to 1979, by Jennifer Heller, 1st place Graduate Division, 2004
  • Binding Times: Central American and Caribbean Literature Created in Crisis, by Erin S. Finzer, 1st place Graduate Division, 2005
  • Out of Season: Collecting Hemingway In Our Time as the Su[m] Also Rises, by Todd Giles, 1st place Graduate Division, 2007
  • The Mythology of Mozart, by Bailey Pike, 1st place Undergraduate Division, 20o8
  • High and Low: Commix, Art and Their Influence, by Thayer Bray, 1st place Undergraduate Division, 2009
  • Return With Us Now: The Rise of the Old Time Radio Hobby, by Ryan Ellett, 1st place Graduate Division, 2010
  • A Genre of One’s Own: Constructing Science Fiction as a Space for Feminist Discourse, by Meagan Kane, 1st place Undergraduate Division, 2011
  • The Evolution of Scientific Knowledge: Vintage and Antique Textbooks of the Natural and Physical Sciences, by Laci Gerhart, 1st place Graduate Division, 2012
  • Language and Linguistics: How Words Changed My Life,  by Allie Alvis, 1st place Undergraduate Division, 2012
  • Discovering Hollywood’s Mysteries: Juvenile Literature from Cinema’s Golden Age, by Baiba Sedriks, 1st place Graduate Division, 2013
  • A Decade of Yarncraft, by Emma Fahrlander , 1st place Undergraduate Division, 2014
  • Southern Appalachia: Historic and Imagined, by Clarissa Nemeth, 1st place Graduate Division, 2015

 Clarissa Nemeth, 2015 Graduate Division Winner with her collectionClarissa Nemeth, with her collection “Southern Appalachia: Historic and Imagined.”
Nemeth won first place in the Graduate Division in the 59th Annual Snyder Book Collecting Contest (2015)

 

 

Yeats at KC Irish Fest

September 8th, 2015

The Irish collections from Special Collections at Spencer Library were represented at the Kansas City Irish Fest this past Labor Day weekend. We were asked by Irish Fest organizers to exhibit some items from our W. B. Yeats Collection to celebrate the sesquicentennial of his birth. Featured here are a few of the items selected by Special Collections Librarian Elspeth Healey.

KCIrishFest

Whitney Baker and Elspeth Healey at KC Irish Fest

 

Letter from W. B. Yeats to A. H. Bullen. March 28, [1909].

In this letter, we see Yeats’s generosity to other writers as he encourages his publisher, A. H. Bullen, to read the manuscript of a young poet that he had met in London. “There may be some fire in the flax,” he comments to Bullen. Though the letter’s dateline does not include a year, Yeats’s opening reference to the death of Irish writer J. M. Synge fixes the date as 1909. Just two years earlier, Synge’s The Playboy of the Western World had sparked audience protests when it was first performed at the Abbey Theatre. Some nationalist viewers objected the play’s language and what they saw as its unflattering portrayal of Irish peasant society.

MS_25_Wa_2_57

Letter from W. B. Yeats to A. H. Bullen. March 28, [1909]. Special Collections, call number MS 25 Wa 2.57. Click image to enlarge.

 

Yeats, W. B. “Tom O’ Roughley,” typescript with manuscript emendations. ca. 1918.

This typescript copy of “Tom O’Roughley” is signed and revised in manuscript by Yeats, with additional markings in pencil by the printer. It appeared in Nine Poems (1918), a collection printed privately by Yeats’s friend Clement Shorter. Shorter also printed for private circulation the first edition of Yeats’s poem “Easter 1916.” The “Tom O’Roughley” of this poem shares much with the figure of the “fool” outlined by Yeats in Phase 28 of A Vision (1925, 1937). There Yeats writes, “his thoughts are an aimless reverie; his acts are aimless like his thoughts, and it is in his aimlessness that he finds joy.”

MS_25_Wd.1.3_TomORoughley

Yeats, W. B. “Tom O’ Roughley,” typescript with manuscript emendations. ca. 1918. Special Collections, call number MS 25 Wd.1.3 Tom O’Roughley. Click image to enlarge.

 

A Broadside. Dundrum, Ireland: E.C. Yeats, The Cuala Press. No. 9, Second Year (February 1910)

W. B. Yeats’s sisters Susan (Lily) and Elizabeth (Lolly) founded Cuala Industries in 1908, following an earlier printing and craft venture, Dun Emer Industries. Lily produced embroidery, and Lolly oversaw the Cuala Press, which brought out titles by primarily Irish writers, including many by W. B. Yeats himself. Below is an issue of A Broadside, a series that featured both contemporary and traditional poems and ballads. Each issue was printed in folio format—a single sheet folded once—and was illustrated with hand-colored woodcuts by Yeats’s brother, the artist Jack B. Yeats, who also edited the first series (1908-1915).

YeatsY339_No9Year2 _Page_1

A Broadside. Dundrum, Ireland: E.C. Yeats, The Cuala Press. No. 9, Second Year (February 1910). Special Collections, call number Yeats Y339, No. 9, Year 2. Click image to enlarge.

 

Whitney Baker
Head, Conservation Services

All Creeping Things: A History of Herpetological Illustration

May 26th, 2015

All Creeping Things: A History of Herpetological Illustration, Spencer Library’s newest exhibit, opened on May 14, 2015. Guided by Special Collections Librarian Karen Cook, students Megan Sims, Sydney Goldstein, and Ryan Ridder created and installed the exhibit for an exhibit planning and design course (MUSE 703). Whitney Baker, Head of Conservation Services at KU Libraries, Special Collections Librarian Sally Haines, and Caitlin Donnelly, Head of Public Services at Spencer, also assisted the students with their project.

The exhibit was developed in conjunction with the Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles conference being held at the University of Kansas in July and features herpetological illustrations from seventeenth-, eighteenth-, and nineteenth-century books in Spencer Library’s Special Collections. Spencer has put on a few iterations of a similar exhibit for previous conferences. Each student had a unique perspective on their experience creating the exhibit.

Ryan Ridder

“One of our goals was to be distinct from Slithy Toves [a previous exhibit, by Sally Haines] and to present images that viewers familiar with that exhibition, and associated book, might not see as often. We ended up repeating a few irresistible images – the giant salamander, Agassiz’s turtles, and the famous frontispiece to Rössel von Rosenhof’s frog volume – but everything else you see is different. We thought touching on embryological illustrations would give our exhibit another unique slant.”

Photograph of Megan and Ryan installing books

Megan Sims and Ryan Ridder installing books in the cases. Click image to enlarge.

Sydney Goldstein

“I found this class to be both an overwhelming and an incredibly eye-opening experience. Coming from a graphic design background I’ve never gone through the steps of curating an exhibition or working off the computer. It was fun to rummage through a variety of books to select illustrations, figuring out how they will fit in the cases, selecting wall graphics, and working in a group. The most rewarding part was applying our vinyl title graphic ourselves. Overall, a great experience!”

Photograph of the MUSE 703 group hanging vinyl

Megan, Sydney, and Ryan hanging the vinyl title graphic.

Megan Sims

“I have installed many exhibits according to specific designs from clients, but this was my first experience selecting objects, designing signs and labels, and fabricating book mounts and wall graphics for an exhibit. Both the physical process and communication were challenging at times, but seeing the finished product was very rewarding. I’m excited for the conference members and the Lawrence community to see this exhibit!”

Photograph of the MUSE 703 exhibit team in front of title

Ryan Ridder, Sydney Goldstein, Megan Sims, and curator Karen Cook. Click image to enlarge.

All Creeping Things is free and open to the public through August 2015.

Megan Sims
Museum Studies Graduate Student