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Iowa Reads Shakespeare in the City Park “Globe Theater” Saturday, 9/24



Dost Thou Speak Masterly: Iowa Reads Shakespeare

Step up to read Shakspeare and celebrate The Bard’s 400 Death Anniversary – Just like they did 100 years ago in Iowa City, or come and enjoy the show!


A century ago, Iowa City celebrated the tercentenary of Shakespeare’s death. In 1916, the world was at war, and, as always, the arts were a healing salve. People gathered, donned Shakespearean costumes, and paraded to City Park to hear readings from the Bard’s plays.

So here we are in 2016, celebrating Shakespeare’s quatercentenary. We have planned to gather again in City Park. Interesting, isn’t it, that a public theatre-in-the-round now sits where Iowans observed Shakespeare’s last 100th birthday?


On September 24, 2016, we’ll gather at the Riverside Festival Theatre to read Shakespeare. For inspiration, we recall the words of Duke Orsino in Twelfth Night (Act II, Scene IV), “Thou dost speak masterly.”


SO, WE PUT IT TO YOU, FELLOW IOWANS: DOST THOU SPEAK MASTERLY? DO YOU LOVE READING SHAKESPEARE? Demonstrate your acting prowess at the closing event of First Folio! The Book That Gave Us Shakespeare, on tour from the Folger Shakespeare Library.


Here’s how you can participate:


No matter where you live, you participate by voting for a favorite scene from Shakespeare’s plays. The winning scene will be featured along with other live readings of Shakespeare by professionals, community members, and you! The event will also include a costume contest. Gather your troupe, choose your scene from Shakespeare’s plays, and register to deliver your lines on the Riverside Festival Stage at City Park in Iowa City.


This event is part of SHAKESPEARE AT IOWA (August 29 – December 30), a celebration hosted by the University of Iowa Libraries. SHAKESPEARE AT IOWA includes First Folio! The Book that Gave Us Shakespeare, which is a national traveling exhibition organized by the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, DC to commemorate the 400th anniversary in 2016 of Shakespeare’s death. It is produced in association with the American Library Association and the Cincinnati Museum Center. First Folio! has been made possible in part by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities: Exploring the human endeavor, and by the support of, Vinton and Sigrid Cerf, the British Council, Stuart and Mimi Rose, and other generous donors.



A Trip to the Conservation Lab – YouTube

Colleen Theisen took a trip up to the Conservation Lab to meet with Kristen Hartman to find out about two “batch treatments” that she had been working on. Large sets of similar books needing a similar repair. Large and small, they fix them all!

Part two of this series features the most adorable set of tiny Shakespeare tomes that needed some TLC to make it possible to squint again at the Bard’s famous words. Stick around to the end for the big reveal to see the repairs finished and the ingenious box that conservation staff member Heather Bain made for this set and their adorably tiny spinning bookcase.

These videos and more can be found on our YouTube channel. Hit the subscribe button there to get all of the updates!



Just in case you missed the last video, here is Kristen taking on a much larger set of treatments on some amazing natural history books that survived the library fire in 1897!



Sunday! Shakespeare Family Festival – Book Arts, Crafts, Fencing, and Celebrating Shakespeare

shakespearean actor in fencing stanceSHAKESPEAREAN FAMILY FESTIVAL

Hands-on demonstrations of book arts, acting, fencing

18 September 1:00 – 4:00 pm

Main Library, North Plaza

Rain location: Just inside the Main Library’s north entrance

Free of charge, open to the public



All are welcome to attend this event filled with activities for all ages. Come celebrate the art of book making and other Shakespearean delights, featuring a lively cast of actors, artists, scholars, book makers, and fencers. Roll up your sleeves for book art fun with paper making, book binding, and more.In Shakespeare’s time, all books were made by hand.  But that didn’t mean book craftspeople were slow.  A team of 3 papermakers could make 2000 or more sheets in a day!  Individuals and families are encouraged to come join us, have a chance to try various aspects of bookmaking, and take home a piece of paper, a printed sheet or a bound small book that you make yourself!

Papermaking—Form your own sheet of paper from wet pulp, press it, and take it with you to dry at home. Handouts will be provided for more information about papermaking history and how to make it at home.

Printing—Print a small keepsake on a hand press similar to the presses that were used in Shakespeare’s time.  The printed impression will be a piece of Shakespeare’s writing, with a bit of background on the Bard.

Bookbinding—Bind a simple pamphlet structure, using xerox copied Shakespeare text, and a handmade paper cover. Requires basic sewing with a (dull!) darning needle.

Visitors are welcome to take part in one, two, or all three activities!

Hands Making Paper



YouTube Series If Books Could Talk Finishes Final Episode

Colleen and HeatherIf Books Could Talk is a collaboration between Heather Wacha from History Corps, a digital public history project from the History Department at the University of Iowa, Colleen Theisen, Outreach & Engagement Librarian from Special Collections, and Katie Buehner, Head of the Rita Benton Music Library from the University of Iowa Libraries. Heather Wacha researched and wrote the episodes, Colleen Theisen served as the host, and Katie Buehner filmed and edited the series.

“If Books Could Talk,” explains that the paper, bindings, bookplates, repairs, stains, handwritten notes, stamps, and markings all leave traces that give clues to how they were made, where they have been, and can even tell about the lives of the people who have read them.

The final episode appears below. In it, Heather and Colleen examine two Medieval manuscript leaves and what we can learn from the layout, chapter headings, verse numbers and more. How does a Medieval manuscript Bible leaf differ from a Bible printed today, and what features have remained throughout the years?

Find out in the final episode of If Books Could Talk:


Or catch up on the whole series:

If you enjoy the videos, subscribe on YouTube.


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Special Collections Curator Peter Balestrieri Featured in “Archival Outlook”

Image of Peter Balestrieri in Archival OutlookCurator of Science Fiction and Popular Culture, Peter Balestrieri is featured in the Cover Story of the May/June issue of Archival Outlook from the Society of American Archivists.

“Archivists are artists,” Balestrieri remarks, reflecting on his punk rock gig with the Violent Femmes and how a life with music and libraries intertwined eventually led him to Special Collections.

Read the whole feature here on pages 8-9 and 26.




Prickman honored with Arthur Benton University Librarian’s Award for Excellence

[Reposting from UI Libraries]

Image of Greg PrickmanGreg Prickman, head of Special Collections at the University of Iowa Libraries, was honored March 31 with the 2015 Arthur Benton University Librarian’s Award for Excellence.

The Arthur Benton University Librarian’s Award for Excellence recognizes a member of the UI Libraries’ professional staff who has demonstrated outstanding commitment and leadership in furthering Libraries’ mission serve the University community.

The honor includes a $1,500 award for professional development that will support the recipient’s research projects or publications related to library services. This award was made possible by an endowment from Dr. Arthur Benton, Professor Emeritus in the Department of Neurology, University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics.

In letters of support for this award, the selection committee noted Prickman’s commitment to furthering the Libraries’ role in the University’s academic mission, as well as his professionalism and responsiveness to researcher needs.

Timothy Barrett, Director of the University of Iowa Center for the Book and Associate Professor in the UI School of Library and Information Science, nominated Prickman for the award. Barrett notes that Prickman’s work “resulted in the UI being selected as the site for the Folger Shakespeare First Folio traveling exhibit. Greg’s leadership shines in the midst of a complex but very promising event for the UI Libraries, all participating units, and the UI overall.”

Prickman also earned praises from Adam Hooks, Assistant Professor of English, who notes a climate of accessibility that Greg has created for scholars.

“Greg’s vision for the library has transformed the learning experience for students at the University of Iowa,” says Hooks. “Thanks to the significant digital projects sponsored by Special Collections, the intellectual and material resources at Iowa are accessible to students around the world.” Prickman was the catalyst for the Civil War Diaries Transcription Project that led to crowdsourcing platform DIY History, and he is the creator of The Atlas of Early Printing.

 Jennifer Burek Pierce, Associate Professor in the UI School of Library and Information Science, writes of Prickman’s ability to empower his staff to assist researchers. Burek Pierce notes that “those with whom we work in Special Collections clearly feel empowered to do their best work, to look for interesting and new ways to connect with users. As the head of Special Collections, Greg is instrumental in allowing this to happen, in the example he sets, in his development of responsive policies, and in hiring.”

The Arthur Benton University Librarian’s Award for Excellence Award is given annually. Past recipients include Kari Kozak, Jen DeBerg, Dottie Persson, John Forys, Edward Miner, Kathy Magarrell, Kären Mason, Dave Martin, and John Schacht.

Please join us in congratulating Greg Prickman!


March 30: Felicia Rice “Doc/Undoc” performance followed by a public conversation with Guillermo Gómez-Peña

Felicia Rice at Moving Parts Press

Felicia Rice at Moving Parts Press

Two artists, Felicia Rica and Guillermo Gómez-Peña will be on campus next week as Ida Cordelia Beam Distinguished Visiting Professors, working with students and appearing in several public performances. As part of this event series, Rice will perform on March 30th at 5pm in the Special Collections Reading Room, performing with Doc/Undoc, an incredible multi-media artwork housed in Special Collections. The performance will be followed by a conversation with Guillermo Gómez-Peña, who collaborated on the work. This is a unique opportunity to hear from the artists as they interact with the work. Following the performance, Doc/Undoc will remain on display in Special Collections through the month of April along with other Moving Parts Press work on loan from Felicia Rice.



“The book invites us to consider an ongoing tension as we navigate a world of politics

and appearance, racism and immigration, self and other.” —Jennifer A. González


Wednesday, 3/30: Felicia Rice, “Doc/Undoc” (lecture performance), followed by a public conversation with Gómez-Peña (5 p.m., Special Collections Reading Room, 3rd Floor Main Library).

DOC/UNDOC Documentado/Undocumented Ars Shamánica Performática is a limited edition artists’ book. The outcome of a seven-year collaboration, this edition of 65 books features Guillermo Gómez-Peña’s performance texts and Felicia Rice’s relief prints and typography, accompanied by Jennifer González’s critical commentary. Of these, a deluxe edition of 15 is housed in a hi-tech aluminum case containing a video by Gustavo Vazquez, an altar, and a cabinet of curiosities. Opening the case triggers light and Zachary Watkins’ interactive sound art.

docThis series of short monologues traces Rice’s metamorphosis from book artist/printer to artist/performer. The performance begins with the publication of DOC/UNDOC and wends its way through a series of experiences and epiphanies that reach back to her early years. DOC/UNDOC’s subtitle, Documentado/Undocumented, points to a painful dichotomy: “documentado” in Spanish implies having access to cultural traditions and rituals that flourish in Mexico, whereas the term “undocumented” in the United States implies a lack of citizenship, power, rights and knowledge. The second subtitle, Ars

Shamánica Performática, speaks of the very personal, transformative experience offered by the book and case, an invitation to “Choose an object, find a poetic way of using it. Reimagine yourself, tell a new story.” In some way every immigrant must reinvent his or her self, just as every artist must cross into the unknown and return to tell the tale.



More information on the event series:


Public History Partners Follow the Trail of a Dismantled and Lost Medieval Manuscript

Where are your other leaves? Re-discovering the Wilton Processional

Close up on the word cantrixEven a single page from a medieval book can hold many secrets. Sometimes there are enough clues to uncover a surprising history.

In March 2015, Heather Wacha, a PhD student in the History Department, and a member of History Corps, was assisting Special Collections in identifying a leaf that had been cut out of a medieval manuscript. Further investigation of this manuscript’s clues has since drawn together librarians, graduate students, and UNI professor Dr. Alison Altstatt. Together, they have uncovered a story spanning centuries of a manuscript that was once created, then lost, then broken by notorious book breaker Otto Ege, and is now finally, refound: The Wilton Processional.


Special Collections is very pleased to bring you episode five from the “If Books Could Talk” video series, Where are your other leaves? Re-discovering the Wilton Processional

Watch the 16 minute video below, and read Heather Wacha’s more extensive essay about this manuscript leaf on the History Corps website.

Further information: Alison Altstatt, “Re-membering the Wilton Processional,” in Notes: the Quarterly Journal of the Music Library Association 72:4 (forthcoming June 2016), 690-732.

Hosts: Colleen Theisen and Heather Wacha
Guests: Michele Aichele and Alison Altstatt
Written by: Heather Wacha
Edited by: Katie Buehner
Essay: Heather Wacha


Special Collections Weekly Update 3/4/2016



Star Trek logo

How has Star Trek impacted your life?

We want to hear from people who have lived in Iowa about the impact of Star Trek on your lives. Tell us a brief memory, a story, or submit a statement or a photo that about your history with Star Trek and those submissions will be compiled into a zine to be distributed as part of the 50th Anniversary of Star Trek exhibition.

Please email your submissions to by next Friday 3/11/2016.

(Specify if you wish to be anonymous).


Consultation and Advice sought: If anyone has experience making tribbles, please send an email to Colleen:


Upcoming Deadlines:

Upcoming Events:


Instruction Update:

  • In February, we supported 38 total class sessions
  • Maximum of 7 sessions in the same day

This Week’s Best from Social Media:

Special Collections is very pleased to announce that The John Martin Rare Book Room from the Hardin Library for the Heath Sciences has joined the UISpecColl Tumblr for a series of guest posts.

Check out the first post here:


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Special Collections Weekly Update 1/15/2016

Instruction: Spring Semester Sign Up

Update from Instruction Librarian Amy Chen

Students looking at a bookSpecial Collections librarians can support any aspect of class planning for teaching with rare books and primary source materials.

We had a record-breaking 2015, so sign up early or else our rooms and librarians may already be booked for popular times. Find our class request form here.


New Acquisitions

Update from Acquisitions & Collections Management Librarian Margaret Gamm

Pick Yourself Up From off the Ground by CubaPick Yourself Up From off the Ground by CubaPick Yourself Up From off the Ground by Cuba. One of a kind artist’s book with acrylic graffiti paintings, 2014.




From the University Archives

Update from University Archivist David McCartney

A video paging through a 100+ year old scrapbook from a woman from the class of 1915 who attended the very first Homecoming football game.

Staff Awards

Portrait image of Amy ChenSpecial Collections Instruction Librarian Amy Chen was selected to be featured as a “Bright Young Librarian” by Fine Books & Collections Magazine. Read the feature here.




From the Web and Social Media

In Case You Missed It: A Compilation of Recent Links & Posts 

  1. Blog post reporting on a research trip to Special Collections: Marbled Paper Connections by Emily Pazar.  See it here.
  2. Article about the Brinton early film collection: 100 Years Later, New Audiences Discover Legendary Outsider.  See it here.
  3. Center for the Book/Special Collections commercial that we filmed last August is finished and will air on the Big Ten Network.  Article: here  Video below:


“The Humanity in History”

January 8th-March 1st, 2016

Kelly Grogg, graduate student in the School of Library and Information Science and Special Collections senior Olson Graduate Assistant, has completed her capstone exhibition. It is on display now in the cases outside Special Collections on the 3rd floor.

“Every person featured in this exhibit has contributed to make the world a better place.  They may not have ever reached the level of recognition they deserved, but despite their humble beginnings and oncoming obstacles, they contributed to the world in a way that cannot be measured in a ‘neatly packaged, sanitized parable’.  These are the people who create history.”  – Kelly Grogg  

Read more.


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