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Inside Spencer: The KSRL Blog

Books on a shelf

Welcome to the Kenneth Spencer Research Library blog! As the special collections and archives library at the University of Kansas, Spencer is home to remarkable and diverse collections of rare and unique items. Explore the blog to learn about the work we do and the materials we collect.

Bloom and Grow: Color Our Collections – Round 5!

February 8th, 2022

What in carnation?! It’s the sixth-annual Color Our Collections week! Started by the New York Academy of Medicine Library in 2016, Color Our Collections is a week of coloring fun where libraries, archives, and other cultural institutions around the world share coloring pages that feature their collection materials.

All of us at KU Libraries are head clover heels for our newest submission! This year’s coloring book celebrates plants with a selection of woodcut prints from Herbarius Latinus, a fifteenth-century herbal housed at Spencer Research Library. You can download and print the book via the Color Our Collections website. While you are there, be sure to check out the submissions from our colleagues at other institutions (as if you need any encourage-mint)!

As a preview, here are three pages from the book. Click on the images to enlarge them.

Are you a fan of the collections at Spencer? Do you be-leaf you’ve come across an image in our materials that would make a great coloring page? Take the thyme to tell us about it in the comments or email us at

Here’s wishing you all some peas and quiet and time to relax with our newest coloring creation! Happy coloring, everyone!

Emily Beran
Public Services

The Garden of Health: Gart der Gesundheit, Hortus Sanitatis

April 4th, 2016

The herbal is a medical garden in book form–hence the titles Hortus Sanitatis and Gart der Gesundheit–and as such contains data on the appearance, gathering, preparation, and use of medicinal plants. Remedies from the animal and mineral kingdoms are often included as well. Although the works shown here are from the early part of the Golden Age of the Herbal (roughly 1470-1670), these practical manuals have been popular with scientist and non-scientist alike since antiquity, and a stroll through any bookstore today will attest to a resurgence of that popularity. The Department of Special Collections has a rich and growing garden of herbals spanning six centuries.

Page from herbal book. Call number Summerfield E60 v. 1_1, Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas.   Page from herbal book. Call number Summerfield D291, Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas.

Left: Otto Brunfels, Herbarum vivae eicones, [1532], call number Summerfield E60 v.1. Right: Pedanius Dioscorides of Anazarbus, De medicinali materia, [1542], call number Summerfield D291 item 1. Click images to enlarge.

Page from herbal book. Call number Summerfield C1125, Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas.   Page from herbal book. Call number Summerfield C2114, Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas.

Left: Christovam da Costa, Trattato  . . . della historia, natura, et virtu delle droghe medicinali, 1585, call number Summerfield C1125. Right: Incipit Tractatus de virtutibus herbarum, [1509], call number Summerfield C2114. Click images to enlarge.

Adapted entry from the catalog for the exhibition, All that in this delightfull Gardin growes, Department of Special Collections, 1983
Sally Haines, Rare Book Cataloger