Inside Spencer: The KSRL Blog

Throwback Thursday: Fiftieth Anniversary Edition

November 8th, 2018

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!

Fifty years ago today, the University of Kansas celebrated the dedication of the new Kenneth Spencer Research Library. It was the culmination of a project that had started over seven years earlier, and the result of a year of intensive planning by KU Libraries, multiple other campus units, KU Endowment, Helen Spencer, and the Kenneth A. and Helen F. Spencer Foundation.

The dedication was comprised of four events:

Describing the dedication ceremony, the University Daily Kansan student newspaper reported on November 11th that “about 270 persons braved 35 degree weather Friday to watch” the event.

KU Chancellor W. Clarke Wescoe began the ceremony with introductory remarks. He later remembered that “a chill wind swept the terrace; the remarks were not brief because of it but because in moments of great meaning the heart speaks swiftly.”

Photograph of the dedication ceremony on the terrace at Kenneth Spencer Research Library, November 8, 1968

Photograph of the dedication ceremony on the terrace at Kenneth Spencer Research Library, November 8, 1968

Photograph of the dedication ceremony on the terrace at Kenneth Spencer Research Library, November 8, 1968

KU Chancellor W. Clarke Wescoe speaking at the dedication ceremony, November 8, 1968.
University Archives Photos. Call Number: RG 0/22/82 1968 Dedication:
Campus: Buildings: Spencer Research Library (Photos). Click image to enlarge.

Next, Helen Spencer – speaking on behalf of the directors of the Kenneth A. and Helen F. Spencer Foundation – presented the library building to the University.

It is truly gratifying to be here for this dedication. I appreciate so many of my dear friends coming today to share with me what I consider a significant occasion.

If Kenneth were here, he would enthusiastically approve of this Library and the concept behind it —

Because this Library will serve the students, both graduate and undergraduate, of the State of Kansas, where he was born and reared and began his career;

Because it will serve this great University, which he loved and from which he was graduated in 1926;

Because it will serve the entire Middle Western area, of which he was always fiercely and justly proud;

Finally, he would have approved of this Research Library and the uses for which it is intended. As a business man and as a mining engineer, he was firmly convinced that growth of science-based industries in the Middle West could occur only with the aid of strong educational institutions capable of inspired teaching with facilities for forward-looking research in the sciences.

Photograph of the dedication ceremony on the terrace at Kenneth Spencer Research Library, November 8, 1968

Helen Spencer speaking at the dedication ceremony, November 8, 1968.
University Archives Photos. Call Number: RG 0/22/82 1968 Dedication:
Campus: Buildings: Spencer Research Library (Photos). Click image to enlarge.

Charles N. Cushing, Chairman of the Kansas Board of Regents, replied and accepted the building on behalf of the Board of Regents and the University of Kansas.

I am deeply honored to accept this magnificent building from a generous and most gracious lady. We know there are people with means, but we also know there are few people with vision. So first of all, I would like to pay tribute to a person who has such vision and who is responsible for the reality we dedicate here today.

It is people like Helen Spencer who have made Kansas a great state. And it is generosity such as hers which has contributed immeasurably to the quality of this University she so deeply loves. And yet there is no person quite like Helen Spencer and, therefore, there is no gift quite like this one that has made this imposing structure possible.

We stand in awe here today of the Kenneth Spencer Research Library. Far more than any other building on this campus it represents creative imagination. From its first concept to its final completion, it carries the imprint of a lady whose impeccable taste can be seen throughout–from the largest design to the smallest detail. For this building typifies those very qualities so dear to Mrs. Spencer’s ideals.

It is only fitting and proper that this building bear the name of her late husband, the distinguished industrialist, Kenneth Spencer. A proud name for a proud building. And it will carry with it also the distinguishing characteristics of Kenneth Spencer’s life–quality–excellence–creativity. Through the years, the decades, and even the centuries to come, this building will long endure as a memorial–the building Helen Spencer built to honor her husband.

But we must remember it is more than just a memorial–it is a means. It is a tool by which we may open the door to both the past and the future. And it will benefit not only those who use it, but all who profit by new knowledge, and that is all of us–everyone. So it is today that everyone is indebted to you, Mrs. Spencer, and we thank you more than words can express.

English physicist, chemist, civil servant, and best-selling novelist Lord Charles Percy Snow followed with brief remarks. According to Joseph C. Shipman, Director of the Linda Hall Library, Snow was an excellent choice to speak because, in addition to being “a well-known name,” he “speaks and writes in such a fashion that his audiences are likely to relish and remember what he has said.”

Photograph of the dedication ceremony on the terrace at Kenneth Spencer Research Library, November 8, 1968

Lord C. P. Snow speaking at the dedication ceremony, November 8, 1968.
University Archives Photos. Call Number: RG 0/22/82 1968 Dedication:
Campus: Buildings: Spencer Research Library (Photos). Click image to enlarge.

Dr. Earle B. Jewell concluded the ceremony by reminiscing about Kenneth Spencer and providing the benediction.

Photograph of the dedication ceremony on the terrace at Kenneth Spencer Research Library, November 8, 1968

Guests entering the library after the dedication ceremony, November 8, 1968.
University Archives Photos. Call Number: RG 0/22/82 1968 Dedication:
Campus: Buildings: Spencer Research Library (Photos). Click image to enlarge.

Photograph of guests touring the Special Collections reception area after the dedication of Kenneth Spencer Research Library, November 8, 1968

Guests touring the Special Collections reception area after the dedication
ceremony, November 8, 1968. This area is now the library’s Exhibit Space.
Lawrence Journal-World Photo Collection, University Archives Photos.
Call Number: RG LJW 32/37 1968: University of Kansas Libraries:
Special Collections (Photos). Click image to enlarge.

Caitlin Donnelly
Head of Public Services

Throwback Thursday: Dedication Preparation Edition

November 1st, 2018

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!

Fifty years ago, Spencer Research Library was abuzz with activity and final preparations ahead of the November 8th dedication ceremony.

Helen Foresman Spencer – who, as president and director of the Kenneth A. and Helen F. Spencer Foundation, had donated funds to KU in January 1966 for the construction of the library in honor of her late husband Kenneth – was heavily involved in completing these finishing touches. The Kansas City Star noted in an undated 1968 article (“Spencer Library–A New Center for Research”) that

the hand of Mrs. Spencer can be seen in every aspect of the library, university officials agree. Almost every detail was her personal decision. She went over the plans with the architect and supervised the finishing of the building in its later stages and its furnishings.

Similarly, a story about Spencer Research Library in the December 1968/January 1969 Kansas Alumni magazine noted that

Mrs. Spencer waxed and polished the furnishings and the floor of the Spencer Room [memorial office] herself before the opening and created floral arrangements for many of the rooms” (12).

Photograph of Helen Foresman Spencer in the memorial office at Kenneth Spencer Research Library, 1968

Photograph of Helen Spencer directing the placement of furniture at Kenneth Spencer Research Library, 1968

Helen Spencer standing in the memorial office (top) and directing the placement of
furniture (bottom) at Spencer Research Library, 1968. University Archives Photos.
Call Number: RG 0/22/82/i 1968 Negatives: Campus: Buildings:
Spencer Research Library: Interior (Photos). Click images to enlarge.

Caitlin Donnelly
Head of Public Services

Throwback Thursday: Reading Edition

September 6th, 2018

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!

It’s National Read a Book Day, and a visit to Spencer Research Library is a great way to celebrate! Our collections have something for everyone: books in various genres covering a wide range of topics, places, and time periods. Or, bring your own book to the library and find a quiet spot to read. You might enjoy the coziness of the antique furnishings in the Spencer lounge or, like the student in this week’s photo, you might prefer the grandeur of the North Gallery, with its glass-enclosed book stacks and spectacular campus views.

Photograph of a library student assistant reading a book in the North Gallery at Spencer Research Library, 1970s

A library student assistant reading a book in Spencer’s North Gallery, 1970s.
University Archives Photos. Call Number: RG 32/37 1970s Slides: University of Kansas Libraries:
Special Collections (Photos). Click image to enlarge (redirect to Spencer’s digital Collections).

Caitlin Donnelly
Head of Public Services

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

Flashback Friday: Hinman Collator Edition

April 15th, 2016

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 26,900 images from KU’s University Archives and made them available online; be sure to check them out!

This week we’re celebrating National Library Week! First sponsored in 1958, National Library Week is a national observance sponsored by the American Library Association (ALA) and libraries across the country each April. It is a time to celebrate the contributions of our nation’s libraries and librarians and to promote library use and support.

The theme of this year’s National Library Week is “Libraries Transform,” so today’s entry highlights a transformational piece of equipment that can be found in numerous libraries across the country, including Spencer. It’s a Hinman Collator, and it was invented by former KU English professor Charlton Hinman in the late 1940s. The machine was used to compare pairs of documents or books for differences in the text.

Photograph of woman using Hinman Collator, 1959

Woman using a Hinman Collator at Watson Library, 1959. The machine was moved to
Spencer Research Library sometime after it opened in 1968. University Archives Photos.
Call Number: RG 32/37 1959 Negatives: University of Kansas Libraries:
Special Collections (Photos). Click image to enlarge (redirect to Spencer’s digital collections).

Here’s how the Hinman Collator worked (as described on the blog of the Folger Shakespeare Library): The user placed a book in each of the two holders so that they were aligned when s/he looked through the eyepiece. The Collator then “used strobe lights to rapidly alternate between views of the two pages [i.e. superimposing them], and any differences would jump out at the viewer, seeming to lift off the page.”

One scholar has described the Hinman Collator as “one of the most important applications of technology to the study of literature ever made.” This was because, according the Folger blog, it “rapidly increased the rate at which two texts could be compared. The manual method that preceded Hinman’s mechanical collator consisted of placing one finger on each text and looking back and forth between them…[It] was not only slow, but potentially inaccurate.”

The Collator’s inventor, Charlton Hinman (1911-1977) attended the University of Colorado, Cornell, and Oxford before receiving his Ph.D. in English from the University of Virginia in 1941. He held positions at the University of Missouri (1937-1939) and Johns Hopkins University (1946-1950) before arriving at the University of Kansas in 1960; he taught at KU until he retired in 1975. Hinman’s areas of specialization included Shakespeare and Elizabethan drama as well as analytical bibliography.

Photograph of Charlton Hinman working at his desk, circa 1960-1975

Charlton Hinman working at his desk, circa 1960-1975. University Archives Photos.
Call Number: RG 41/ Faculty and Staff: Hinman, Charlton (Photos).
Click image to enlarge; you can see this and other pictures of
Charlton Hinman and KU’s Collator at Spencer’s digital collections.

As Shakespeare Quarterly reported in a remembrance piece on Hinman, his “academic endeavors were twice interrupted by military service: he distinguished himself in naval intelligence and communications both during World War II and during Korean conflict.” Hinman got the idea for the Collator as a result of his wartime work comparing aerial reconnaissance photographs for evidence of bombing damage.

According to the Folger blog, “with his mechanical collator and the large collection of First Folios at the Folger, Hinman was able to compare each page–indeed, each impression of inked type–of fifty-five copies, leading to his monumental work exploring the process by which Shakespeare’s collected plays were printed, Printing and Proof-reading of the First Folio of Shakespeare (1963).” The effort took him almost a decade to complete, but Hinman once estimated that without the machine, it would have taken him more than forty years, if he had been able to complete the project at all.

Hinman Collators are generally not used today, but be sure to see the one at Spencer the next time you visit the library.

Caitlin Donnelly
Head of Public Services

Melissa Kleinschmidt, Megan Sims, and Abbey Ulrich
Public Services Student Assistants