Inside Spencer: The KSRL Blog

Meet the KSRL Staff: Stacey Wiens

November 10th, 2017

This is the twelfth installment in what will be a recurring series of posts introducing readers to the staff of Kenneth Spencer Research Library. Joining us in October 2017, Stacey Wiens is Spencer’s newest team member; she’s the Reference Specialist in Public Services.

Photograph of Stacey Wiens

Where are you from?

I moved to Kansas from California (the state where I was born), but I have also lived in Texas, Colorado, and Missouri.

What does your job at Spencer entail?

My job is about helping users of the library to access the materials and find the resources that best meet their needs. I am still in the training phase for my position, but I will eventually assist researchers in person at the Spencer Reading Room and also respond to off-site researchers through email and phone.

How did you come to work at Spencer Research Library?

I am coming to the library field as a second career after having been a teacher for several years.

I graduated with my master’s in library science in May 2017. While I was in the MLS program, I found that I was drawn to the issues related to special collections and archives such as how to provide access but also protect these materials over time. I completed a graduate certificate in archival management along with my master’s degree.

While in graduate school, I was working as a librarian at a public library in California and lived in an area where opportunities to work in archival institutions are limited. When I had the chance to apply for the Reference Specialist position at Spencer Research Library, I saw it as opportunity to apply my past experience as a reference librarian and educator while being exposed to work in a special collections and archives setting.

What is one of the most interesting items you’ve come across in Spencer’s collections?

Three recent interactions with materials stand out:

  1. The John Gould materials in the Ellis Ornithology Collection are a treat to view. Products from the entire lithography printing process can be examined, i.e., the beginning pencil sketches, inked and painted masters, rubbed transfer images, stone printing plates, and vibrantly-colored final prints. I highly recommend visiting the exhibit in the North Gallery of Spencer Research Library to learn more about John Gould, the artists who worked with him, and the lithography process. Also, check out a 2014 blog post by Special Collections Librarian Karen Cook.
  2. I saw drawings from the Kansas City Terminal Railway that are plans for building a train trestle (a supportive structure over a low place in the landscape). These drawings were from a time before calculations and schematics could be produced by computers. I was struck by the knowledge and skills that are represented by the intricately-detailed drawings with load-bearing information included for each support.
  3. While looking through some of the early KU yearbooks, I found them to be entertaining and revealing of perspectives from a particular point in time. For example, in 1884, the KU departmental classifications were listed as Science, Literature, and Art; Elementary Instruction; Law; Music; and Normal. In the 1903 yearbook, the member lists for a Bachelor’s Club and an Old Maid’s Club were included. Advertisements in yearbooks also offer insights into daily life of a particular time. In 1884, ads revealed that pianos, organs, and sewing machines were often sold in the same store. An ad from 1903 purported that purchasing granulated opium is the best choice for making tinctures.

What part of your job do you like best?

I enjoy helping researchers discover and use the tools they need to feel confident in their search processes. I like the problem-solving aspects of maintaining awareness of our resources and how best to match our resources to a research question. Watching classes of students interact with Spencer materials, especially when they can’t help but show their excitement, is another fun part of my job.

What are some of your favorite pastimes outside of work?

Being out in beautiful natural settings, exploring places that are new to me, creating art, playing tennis, and watching sports with my husband are some of my favorite activities when not working.

What piece of advice would you offer a researcher walking into Spencer Research Library for the first time?

Don’t be intimidated by the process at Spencer. Although it is a different research experience in that you don’t have access to browse the shelves of materials, the request process is fairly straightforward, and the staff is eager to assist you as needed. Allow yourself plenty of time to interact with Spencer’s rich and intriguing materials. Sometimes, using primary source documents, for example, can require some extra time to determine if the items contain what you need.

It’s a great idea to acquaint yourself with the Spencer Research Library website before visiting. The Aeon system for requesting materials, the KU Libraries catalog, and Spencer finding aids are available online. Feel free to contact the Spencer Public Services staff if you have questions before you visit. We look forward to seeing you at Spencer!

Stacey Wiens
Reference Specialist
Public Services

Meet the KSRL Staff: Chris Banuelos

January 9th, 2017

This is the eleventh installment in what will be a recurring series of posts introducing readers to the staff of the Kenneth Spencer Research Library. Chris Banuelos is the Audiovisual Preservation Specialist for Conservation Services at the University of Kansas Libraries.

Chris Banuelos, Audiovisual Preservation Specialist, Spencer Research Library.
Chris relaxing in the lounge at Kenneth Spencer Research Library.

Where are you from?

I grew up in and around Greater Los Angeles, or the Southland, as they call it. I have lived in the San Gabriel Valley, OC, Inland Empire (specifically the Pomona Valley), and Gateway Cities regions.

What does your job at KU Libraries and Spencer Research Library entail?

Officially, I am the Audiovisual Preservation Specialist. As such, I am responsible for the care, maintenance, and potential reformatting of the A/V materials housed here within the various collections at Spencer. The care and maintenance component involves adhering to the best practices and standards for the handling and storage of the myriad A/V formats living at the library (which runs the gamut from motion picture film to tape-based material to digital files), including the machines necessary to play back the content.

How did you come to work at Spencer Research Library?

For a brief time, a job listing for the position had been floating around the list-serv of the graduate program I attended at NYU. On a whim I applied and through a stroke of luck, participated in a series of interviews that lead to acquiring the job.

What is one of the most interesting items you’ve come across in Spencer’s collections?

By far, my favorite part of the library is the Wilcox Collection of Contemporary Political Movements. In particular, there is a VHS tape I really want to watch called Demon U.F.O.s. Because the only thing worse than a demon OR a u.f.o. is a combination demon u.f.o.

What part of your job do you like best?

The paycheck! No, but really, having the opportunity to create an A/V infrastructure that works in tandem with the extant (and wildly successful) Conservation Department is a fantastically noble challenge. The university houses some really great content that is begging for further study and I am rather excited to be a part of its discovery. Um, and the paycheck.

What are your favorite pastimes outside of work?

I don’t know that I have a pastime. I try to at least talk, if not Skype with my daughter every day. She’s eight and is absolutely hilarious.

What piece of advice would you offer a researcher walking into Spencer Research Library for the first time?

Don’t be afraid to ask for anything. Everyone that works in Spencer is extremely accommodating to patron requests and is willing to go the extra mile to obtain whatever it is that is being asked for.

Chris Banuelos
Audiovisual Preservation Specialist
Conservation Services

Meet the KSRL Staff: Emily Beran

September 20th, 2016

This is the ninth installment in what will be a recurring series of posts introducing readers to the staff of the Kenneth Spencer Research Library. Joining us in July 2016, Emily Beran is Spencer’s newest team member; she’s the Library Assistant for Public Services.

Emily Beran, Library Assistant for Public Services

Where are you from?

I’m from Claflin, this little town in central Kansas.

What does your job at Spencer entail?

I’m primarily responsible for running reception and assisting with the day-to-day running of things at the Spencer (helping with schedule, office inventory, working with students, etc.). I’m also learning more about the collection right now so that soon I can page materials for patrons and help with research questions.

How did you come to work at Spencer Research Library?

I actually worked for KU Libraries for three years as an undergrad (Watson Cataloging Department). When I saw there was an opening at the Spencer for a library assistant, I knew I had to apply! Not only did the position bring me back to KU but it also gave me the opportunity to work in an environment that really prizes research and accessibility to the amazing resources available here.

What is one of the most interesting items you’ve come across in Spencer’s collections?

Narrowing this down is so hard! Right now I’m really excited about the facsimiles of The St Alban’s Psalter and The Relics of St Cuthbert that I stumbled upon just the other day! Those are at the top of my list of items to check out!

What part of your job do you like best?

Learning more about the collection! I can’t wait to explore more!

What are your favorite pastimes outside of work?

I love to read – something I can do for fun again now that I’m done with my master’s. I also watch a ridiculous amount of Netlfix. Oh and I’m working on learning French!

What piece of advice would you offer a researcher walking into Spencer Research Library for the first time?

Never be afraid to ask questions! It’s the best way to learn!

Emily Beran
Library Assistant
Public Services

 

Meet the KSRL Staff: Letha Johnson

July 11th, 2016

This is the eighth installment in what will be a recurring series of posts introducing readers to the staff of the Kenneth Spencer Research Library. Letha Johnson is the Assistant Archivist for Spencer Research Library’s University Archives.

Letha Johnson, Assistant Archivist for the University Archives

Letha Johnson in front of Jayhawker Yearbooks which are part of the University Archives
reference collection found in the Marilyn Stokstad Reading Room at Spencer Research Library.

Where are you from?

Salina, KS.

What does your job at Spencer entail?

I am responsible for overseeing the appraisal, processing, management, and accessibility of records in the University archives regardless of physical format.  I work towards expanding the archives responsibility of the University’s electronic records and provide records management, reference, and outreach services across campus and beyond. I also ensure space is allocated for proper storage and order of collections in all formats and that knowledge of locations is maintained. By utilizing recognized standards and methodologies in managing digital collections and electronic records and media, I work towards expanding the availability of digital collections on the library website.

How did you come to work in archives? 

I wanted to do something in the history field besides teaching in secondary education.

What is one of the most interesting items you’ve come across in Spencer’s collections?

KU’s first account ledger from 1864 to 1867.  It has the names of prominent figures in KU, Lawrence, and Kansas history.

What part of your job do you like best?

There’s a great deal of variety in my job, so it’s always interesting. I learn something new almost every day.

What are your favorite pastimes outside of work?

Reading and hanging out with my family and friends.

What piece of advice would you offer a researcher walking into Spencer Research Library for the first time?

Don’t be afraid to ask for help or to ask questions in general.  The staff is here to help.

Letha Johnson
Assistant Archivist
University Archives

Meet the KSRL Staff: Kathy Lafferty

May 17th, 2016

This is the seventh installment in what will be a recurring series of posts introducing readers to the staff of the Kenneth Spencer Research Library. Kathy Lafferty is the Copy Services Manager at Spencer Research Library.

Kathy Lafferty, Copy Services Manager, Public Services, Spencer Research Library.

Kathy Lafferty, Library Coordinator/Copy Services Manager
for Spencer Research Library’s Public Services Department

Where are you from?

Both sides of my family are from Ohio. My father joined the Navy shortly before my parents married, and I was born in San Diego, California. For most of my childhood I lived in Pennsylvania.  I’ve also lived in Ohio, New York and Tennessee.  However now, when people ask me where I’m from, I say Kansas.  I’ve lived here since 1983.

What does your job at Spencer entail?

My title is “Library Coordinator.” As a member of the Public Services staff, my main job is to manage and process the reproduction requests that come to Spencer. In addition, I serve on the reference desk and answer email reference inquiries.  I also assist with classes and tours.

How did you come to work at Spencer Research Library?

I started working at KU in June of 1984. My first job title was “Secretary.” I’ve served in the Engineering School, the Communications Studies Department, the Vice Chancellor for Information Services office, and have held several positions in Spencer Research Library. My first job in Spencer started in May of 1990, as secretary for the Kansas Collection.

What is the strangest item you’ve come across in Spencer’s collections?

I can’t think of anything “strange,” but there are things that I’m fond of, such as the Kansas City Monarchs baseball caps, Quantrill’s letters to his mother, the Cuneiform tablets, the fore-edge books, the “retired” KU mascot costumes, and the photograph collections.

What part of your job do you like the most?

I get great satisfaction from helping people find the information they need and from seeing them in awe over the materials we have. This includes the full range of our patrons, from preschool students to seasoned academic researchers.  I also enjoy selecting materials for our students to see and watching their reactions.

What are your favorite pastimes?

My favorite way to spend free time is to be with my granddaughters.  I love being a Grandma! I also enjoy trying to stay physically fit (so I can keep up with them) by walking and taking yoga, weight training and cycling classes. I like working on home projects, like cooking, gardening and decorating. And I watch a lot of old movies.

What piece of advice would you offer a researcher walking into Spencer Research Library for the first time?

I would advise a first time user to take advantage of the availability of KSRL subject specialists. This would be true for both on-site and remote patrons. Talk to our librarians and archivists to gain a deeper insight into our holdings and how they might be useful for you.

Kathy Lafferty
Library Coordinator/Copy Services Manager
Public Services
Spencer Research Library