News Category


David McCartney selected to 2013 Archives Leadership Institute

In a competitive application process consisting of nearly 100 candidates, David McCartney has been selected as a participant in the 2013 Archives Leadership Institute.

David has been the University of Iowa Archivist in the Department of Special Collections and University Archives, University of Iowa Libraries, since January 2001.  He currently serves as chair of the CIC University Archivists Group and is membership chair of the Midwest Archives Conference. Previous archival positions have included contracting with History Associates, Inc., a records management evaluation position with the International Monetary Fund, a processing position with the National Public Broadcasting Archives and Library of American Broadcasting, and an archives technician position in the Motion Picture, Sound, and Video Branch of the National Archives and Records Administration.  David has a BA from the University of Wisconsin-Madison (1979) and an MA in history and MLS in library science from the University of Maryland, College Park (1998).

Participants were selected for the program based on their leadership skills and potential, ability to influence policy and change within an organization and the archival field, commitment to the archival profession, career progress and history, organizational involvement, professional motivation and goals, a collaborative and innovative spirit and diversity and specialization within the profession.

ALI is a program funded by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission, a statutory body affiliated with the National Archives and Records Administration, and is being hosted at Luther College for the years 2013-15. The Archives Leadership Institute at Luther College (ALI@Luther) will provide advanced training for 25 emerging and innovative leaders, giving them the knowledge and tools to transform the archival profession in practice, theory and attitude. To learn more about ALI@Luther see


DVD Quick Pick Up at Main Library

No more waiting around to pick up DVDs at the Main Library. Just request them online and have them waiting for you. The DVD collection located in the Main Library consists of over 18,000 titles, ranging from documentaries to tv shows. 

Delivery to your closest library as well as to the North Circulation desk within the Main Library is possible through the “Request” option in InfoHawk or Smart Search

Requests placed before midnight will be available at the Main Library North Circulation desk before noon the next day and requests placed before 11:30am will be available the same day by 5pm, Monday-Friday. 

Whether you want to watch a movie for fun or need to prepare for a course, we have improved our delivery service to make check-out faster and more convenient. Remember, just click “Request” and have your DVD(s) waiting for you to pick up!


Learning Commons @ your library

In the fall of 2013, University of Iowa students will discover a tech-infused, 24-hour, comfy study space and one-stop academic help center…with good coffee.

Designed with significant student input, the new Learning Commons will provide an “intellectual hub” with room for 500-plus students. The 37,000-square-foot facility in the Main Library is the product of a unique partnership among Information Technology Services (ITS), University Libraries, and the Office of the Provost.

“The Learning Commons is focused, first and foremost, on furthering the academic success of students,” says Nancy Baker, university librarian. “The staff will provide students with a ‘concierge’ experience. They’ll answer common academic, library, and technology questions and point students to the resources they need to succeed, like help with their research, writing, or tutoring.”

VIDEO: Learning Commons Walkthrough

“Our design team spent a lot of time watching how students study, and particularly noticed how much they leveraged technology in their daily work habits,” says Chris Clark, ITS learning spaces director. “This space, with its multimedia resources, collaboration technologies, and wall-to-wall wireless, reflects the way today’s students integrate technology into their lives.”

Features of the project include 18 group study spaces, 100 desktop and laptop computers, a 45-seat TILE (Transform, Interact, Learn, Engage) classroom with glass walls and sliding doors, printers and scanners, TVs and projectors, and multimedia resources.

The design team also considered students’ stomachs, because students can’t concentrate on their studies when they’re hungry. The Food for Thought café will offer an expanded menu that includes hot panini sandwiches, fruit smoothies, and other snacks, as well as espresso and gourmet coffees.

“We want to create an ambience that welcomes students,” Clark says.

According to Beth Ingram, associate provost for undergraduate education, the most important feature of the space is its flexibility.

“The Learning Commons is many different kinds of study spaces and services rolled into one,” she says. “With technology, information, and expertise combined in one location, it’s a space where students can study with a group or by themselves; where they can have a coffee with friends and then go to a workshop on stress management; where they know they can get answers to questions about information resources, technology, or tutoring services.”

Of course, part of the challenge in creating such a massive space for students is minimizing the impact the construction process will have on daily student life. Hope Barton, associate university librarian, says the impact on current study spaces will be minimal, since the area being remodeled was office space.

“This will really be a fantastic resource for University of Iowa students,” Ingram says. “We’re excited to see the project come to completion so students can start making the most of the new space.”


Barrett research with Libraries’ Special Collections reveals secrets of old paper

Research by a University of Iowa led team reveals new information about why paper made hundreds of years ago often holds up better over time than more modern paper.

Led by Timothy Barrett, director of papermaking facilities at the UI Center for the Book, the team analyzed 1,578 historical papers made between the 14th and the 19th centuries. Barrett and his colleagues devised methods to determine their chemical composition without requiring a sample to be destroyed in the process, which had limited past research. The results of this three-year project show that the oldest papers were often in the best condition, in part, Barrett says, due to high levels of gelatin and calcium.

“This is news to many of us in the fields of papermaking history and rare book and art conservation,” says Barrett. “The research results will impact the manufacture of modern paper intended for archival applications, and the care and conservation of historical works on paper.”

Barrett says one possible explanation for the higher quality of the paper in the older samples is that papermakers at the time were attempting to compete with parchment, a tough enduring material normally made from animal skins. In doing so, they made their papers thick and white and dipped the finished sheets into a dilute warm gelatin solution to toughen it.

“Calcium compounds were used in making parchment, and they were also used in making paper,” Barrett says. “Turns out they helped prevent the paper from becoming acidic, adding a lot to its longevity.”

Barrett acknowledges that some may wonder why research on paper longevity is worth doing today, when art or text on paper can be scanned at high resolution and viewed later on a computer. He notes that close analysis of the papers themselves can often shed new light on a particular historical episode or figure. For example, when letters from a particular writer are found on especially poor quality paper given the writer’s time and place, it may indicate something significant about the writer’s financial situation. When a book was printed on very high quality paper for its period and location, it may suggest something new about the publisher’s intended audience and marketing strategy.

“Both instances provide evidence wholly lacking in digital scans of the same pieces of paper,” Barrett says. “Paper does more than support words or images. It can bring alive its own moment in history or show us how to make longer lasting paper in the future.”

Even in a digital age, some materials will still be created and preserved on paper. For instance, Barrett and his UI papermaking team worked with National Archives staff in 2000 to produce special handmade paper that now sits beneath the Charters of Freedom at the Archives Rotunda in Washington D.C.

“The information lying dormant in paper in important books and works of art needs to be preserved for researchers in future generations to uncover and utilize,” Barrett says. “Just as important, paper originals — that can be read without hardware and software — will continue to be essential backups to digital scans long, long into the future.”

Barrett’s group included Mark Ormsby, physicist at the National Archives and Records Administration Research and Testing division; Joseph Lang, UI professor of statistics and actuarial science; Robert Shannon at Bruker Elemental; Irene Brückle, professor at the State Academy of Art and Design in Stuttgart, Germany; Michael Schilling and Joy Mazurek from the Getty Conservation Institute; Jennifer Wade at the National Science Foundation; and Jessica White, a UI graduate student who is now proprietor of the Heroes & Criminals Press.

The Institute for Museum and Library Services, the University of Iowa, and the Kress Foundation provided funding for the research. The UI Libraries is hosting the newly launched website which details all the project goals, procedures and results. The UI Center for the Book is a part of the Graduate College.


A faster and more predictable Interlibrary Loan – UBorrow

Together with 12 other university libraries in the Midwest and the Center for Research Libraries, the University of Iowa Libraries is proud to announce a new service called UBorrow that offers fast access to over 90 million books. Books requested via UBorrow typically are available within a week and are checked out for 12 weeks, with a four-week renewal option.

Iowa faculty, students and staff can search UBorrow directly. A UBorrow search option is also available in Smart Search and InfoLink.  UBorrow checks the UI Libraries’ catalog for an available copy before checking other libraries’ catalogs in real time and placing a request directly with the other libraries. If a book is not available through UBorrow, faculty, staff and students can still place a traditional interlibrary loan request and UI Libraries staff will try to obtain it from another library.

Who is loaning the books in UBorrow?

The 13 CIC libraries as well as the Center for Research Libraries will be lending books through UBorrow. The CIC consists of University of Chicago, University of Illinois, Indiana University, University of Michigan, Michigan State University, University of Minnesota, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Northwestern University, Ohio State University, Pennsylvania State University, Purdue University, and University of Wisconsin-Madison. The proximity of these partners, as well as commitments made by each library, allow books to be delivered through UBorrow far more rapidly than when they are requested via traditional interlibrary loan.


Books are on the Move…

As we prepare to renovate the Main Library – to build the Learning Commons on the first floor and create staff space on the fifth floor, we will be moving books and shelving in the building.

We will be shifting the entire collection in the Main Library. A stream of books from the Z call numbers has begun moving from the 4th floor to the 2nd floor west shelves just vacated by the Art Library.

Once all equipment and shelving is in place, the pace of the book move will accelerate and books will be moving to and from different parts of the 4th and 5th floor collections simultaneously.

At this point we don’t expect anything to be off the shelf for more than a few hours and we will send out regular updates on the move status and other logistics as the project progresses.

If you have questions or need help locating materials, please contact the information or circulation desks on the first floor.


Famine in Historical Context

Looking for primary resources for your speech or paper, but don’t have lots of time? This month’s focus is on locating primary documents that report on famine, food security, and humanitarian aid.

Learn transferable skills that can be applied to nearly all topics. These mini-workshops are like veggies for your brain!



On the Move in the Main Library

If you’ve been in the Main Library recently, you’ve noticed some activity. We’re getting ready for beginning of construction that will transform the first floor of the Main Library into a learning commons. There have been movers pushing carts of books around and now student employees are dismantling bookshelves on the east side of the second floor and the old graduate student carrels on the east side of fourth floor. As you can guess there is a certain amount of noise involved in these projects. If you are looking for some quiet study space, check out:

  • west side of the second floor (where the art, music and East Asian collections are located)
  • north study lounge on the second floor overlooking the north entrance and the exhibition hall
  • east side of the third floor in the journal stacks
  • west side of the fourth floor
  • fifth floor

If you have some other suggestions for good study space in the library post it on our Work Smarter, Not Harder tumblr page.


Princeton University’s policy on Open Access

There are various types of “open access” policies that are expanding on college campuses. Now, Princeton University has taken a different view – they have “banned” their faculty from granting copyright to publishers. Read the full story through the link below.


Looking for a few good people… for the Iowa City Book Festival

The Iowa City Book Festival would like three interns to help with every aspect of planning and promotion of the 2012 Festival. Interns must be in Iowa City for the summer of 2012.

  1. Programming intern will assist the Programming Director and committee in all aspects of developing the festival program – researching potential authors, researching publishers and publicists, attending committee meetings and taking minutes.
  2. Marketing intern will assist the Marketing and Communications Director and committee in all aspects of the marketing and publicity work for promotion – generating, organizing, and implementing various promotional plans, social media generation, media contact research, distributing promotional materials.
  3. Fundraising intern will assist the Executive Director and committee in all aspects of fundraising for the ICBF – writing grant applications, working with donors, corresponding with local businesses, planning and implementation of fundraising events.

Some duties will be based on experience and skills of the intern, others on the need of the committee. Scope of responsibilities is to assist in planning and organizing for the Iowa City Book Festival.

** Please keep in mind that from Friday, July 6 through the weekend of July 13-15, a schedule of longer hours will be required.

Applicants should be aware that not all duties will be equally challenging, but all will be duties that are regularly performed by committee members during the process of planning the ICBF. Upon completion of the 2012 ICBF, the confident and successful intern will receive letters of recommendation from the ICBF planning committee.


  • Current enrollment or acceptance at the University of Iowa
  • Excellent communication skills, both written and verbal
  • Excellent computer skills and online research abilities

The ICBF committee expects the intern to work five to ten hours a week for the remainder of the Fall 2011 and Spring 2012 semesters, then ten to twelve hours per week in the summer which includes attending committee meetings. The intern will receive supervision and evaluation from Kristi Bontrager, Director, ICBF; Karen Fischer, Programming Director; and Allison Means, Marketing Director.

Please submit your resume to Kristi Bontrager, Director, Iowa City Book Festival (