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

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

Throwback Thursday: Marilyn Stokstad Edition

March 24th, 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 25,400 images from KU’s University Archives and made them available online; be sure to check them out!

We were saddened to learn of the passing of Marilyn Stokstad, KU distinguished professor emerita of art history, who died on March 4th at age eighty-seven. The KU community is remembering Dr. Stokstad for her remarkable career as well as the significant contributions she made to the university.

 

Photograph of a Museum of Art exhibition opening, 1962

Marilyn Stokstad (center) at an exhibition opening at the
Spencer Museum of Art, 1962. University Archives Photos.
Call Number: RG 34 1962 Prints: Museum of Art (Photos).
Click image to enlarge (redirect to Spencer’s digital collections).

Photograph of Marilyn Stokstad, 1979

Marilyn Stokstad, 1979. University Archives Photos.
Call Number: RG 41/ Faculty and Staff: Stokstad, Marilyn (Photos).
Click image to enlarge.

I do not remember when I first met Marilyn Stokstad, but she remembered meeting me. When I interviewed for the position of head of Spencer Research Library, Marilyn recalled a conversation with me years before, where I apparently shared my frustrations with the challenges of graduate school and my fears for what the future held.

Since I returned to Kansas and met Marilyn for the second time, she has been such a presence, such a FORCE, that if I were honest with myself, I would have admitted I thought she might outlive me. I would come to realize that her memory was outstanding, but so was her passion, her scholarship, her enthusiasm, and her generosity.

The Stokstad Reading Room at Spencer Research Library represents not just her generosity, but her understanding that sometimes you have to change amazing things to keep them amazing. She understood the role of librarians and archivists in re-envisioning many of the third floor public spaces, and it’s comforting to know that her support was a vote of confidence in the work we do every day.

The University of Kansas has shared many tributes to the impact Marilyn had as a scholar, a colleague, and a benefactor; she was all those things. But along with that, Marilyn was also an inspiration, a hero, and a friend. We miss her already.

Photograph of Marilyn Stokstad at the Stokstad Reading Room grand opening, 2011

Marilyn Stokstad at the grand opening of the Stokstad Reading Room
at Spencer Research Library, November 2011. She is standing with
lorraine haricombe, former Dean of KU Libraries, and
Kent Miller, Interim C0-Dean of KU Libraries.

Beth M. Whittaker
Assistant Dean for Distinctive Collections
Director of Spencer Research Library

Throwback Thursday: Spencer Dedication Edition

November 5th, 2015

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 9,800 images from KU’s University Archives and made them available online; be sure to check them out!

If you’ve ever visited Spencer Research Library, you may have noticed a plaque adjacent to our third-floor entrance: “This research library is a gift of Helen Foresman Spencer in memory of her husband Kenneth Aldred Spencer, November 8, 1968.” That was date, forty-seven years ago Sunday, that the library was dedicated in a private ceremony attended by several hundred of Mrs. Spencer’s friends and educators from across the country. It marked the completion of the library’s construction, which took nearly two years. A public opening occurred one week later.

A story about the new 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 Spencer Research Library dedication, November 8, 1968

Spencer Research Library dedication ceremony on the terrace, November 8, 1968.
British novelist, scientist, and government official Sir Charles Percy Snow is at the rostrum.
Mrs. Spencer is shown sitting to the right of the entrance, behind the speaker.
University Archives Photos. Call Number: RG 0/22/82 1968 Dedication Prints:
Campus: Buildings: Spencer Research Library (Photos). Click image to enlarge.

We look forward to sharing more photographs and documents about Spencer Research Library’s beginning and early years as we approach our fiftieth anniversary in 2018!

Caitlin Donnelly
Head of Public Services

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

Meet the KSRL Staff: Beth Whittaker

June 8th, 2015

This is the third installment in what will be a recurring series of posts introducing readers to the staff of the Kenneth Spencer Research Library. In this post we posit questions to Beth Whittaker, Assistant Dean for Distinctive Collections and Director of Spencer Research Library.

Beth Whittaker portrait

Beth M. Whittaker

Where are you from?

I grew up in Overland Park, KS, attended KU, and have lived several different places before returning to Lawrence.

What does your job at Spencer entail?

My position description says I “provide leadership, vision, and direction for the distinctive collections programs, services, and resources of the Libraries, enhancing and promoting the unique research, teaching, and learning opportunities these collections offer.”

Essentially I am here to help my colleagues get what they need to make our collections available for students, scholars, and the public. I set priorities and help get exciting initiatives off the ground.

How did you come to work in special collections and archives?

I actually began working in special collections as a student assistant here at the Spencer over twenty years ago. I came in one day to examine a manuscript for my master’s thesis, and I saw a job announcement. Within a year, I decided that special collections libraries were where I wanted to be. I’ve been fortunate enough to work in several different libraries before returning to where it all began, the Kenneth Spencer Research Library!

What part of your job do you like best?

I get to tell the story of the Spencer Library every day, in some way or another. I love talking to people; no one who knows me would argue with that!

What are your favorite pastimes outside of work?

I love being outdoors, and am an enthusiastic do-it-yourselfer around the house. I spend most of my time outside of work with my family. I’m also very excited when I can get somewhere on my new scooter.

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

Probably what I’m sure most of my colleagues have said in previous posts: we are here to help. I remember what it’s like the first time you walk into a research library like this. These are YOUR collections as much as they are ours.

Beth M. Whittaker
Assistant Dean for Distinctive Collections
Director of Spencer Research Library