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.
MS = manuscript (can be found in call numbers for textual materials in both the Kansas Collection and Special Collections)
PH = photograph (you will only see this call number designation in the Kansas Collection)
WL = Wilcox (historically, the Wilcox Collection has been associated with the Kansas Collection, so you’ll typically see “RH WL” together)
It’s a bit like a mathematical formula, if you combine parts of these call numbers. For example, “RH WL MS” means it’s a Wilcox manuscript collection.
Spencer Research Library also typically houses material by size, most often by height for volume call numbers. “A” volumes will be some of the smallest (typically measuring between ten and 15 cm tall), while “H” volumes are frequently stored flat because they are so large (usually over 45 cm tall).
Spencer also uses letters to designate other sizes of materials. A “P” in a call number means that it’s so thin and/or such a small amount of material it’s stored in a single folder or small number of folders, not enough to fill a box or stand upright on a shelf by itself.
So, for another call number formula example: “MS P” means it’s a Special Collections manuscript collection in a single or small number of folders.
Armed with this information, do you think you can figure out which collections belong to which collecting areas and what kind of housing they might have from our listing of newly processed collections?
It was a busy back half of 2022 for the manuscripts processing team at Kenneth Spencer Research Library. We hired two new full-timestaff members, which has helped us a great deal in getting more collections processed and finding aids produced!
See below a listing for the finding aids newly produced between July and December 2022, with a selection of images from some of these newly processed collections.
Supply chain issues and lower staffing levels have continued to affect our ability to process new collections in the first half of 2022, but despite this we have continued to process and describe new materials. We’ve also been able to return to a project that has long languished, in which we are inventorying and describing the official records of the University of Kansas, including creating finding aids for record groups that were previously undescribed in an easily accessible, online way. Look for updates to our record group listings throughout the rest of this year and beyond!
You’ll see some newly described record groups in the list below, amongst our other newly processed collections.
The global pandemic continues in myriad ways to affect our ability to process new collections and provide descriptive access to new collections online—but we are still doing what we can! And in the meantime, we have continued to enhance existing online description and provide online description for collections we’ve held for decades that previously had little to no exposure online, so that more of our researchers can find more of our holdings.
If you want to pleasantly surprise your guests, think over everything to the smallest detail: how the registration goes, who greets the participants and in what form, what kind of music plays, whether you have an interesting photo corner, how your presentations plan a large-scale event are designed and the team is dressed, what breaks are filled with. For example, during registration, you can provide participants with the opportunity to attend a short workshop, play games or watch informative videos. Try to surprise people and create a wow effect, exceed their expectations in the most ordinary things. This is what creates the atmosphere of the event.
Despite the challenges of hybrid schedules, lower staffing levels, supply chain issues affecting our ability to get archival supplies, and the many other issues we’ve been facing, we have finished processing several collections in the past 18 months. You can see the list of new finding aids below.