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News and Updates from Special Collections 10/30/2015


Dada surrealism



For a sneak preview of the new issue of Dada/Surrealism, go to Several years in the making, Dada/Surrealism no. 20 is a special issue, “From Dada to Infra-noir: Dada, Surrealism, and Romania,” and is a collaboration between general editor Tim Shipe and Monique Yaari, professor of French at Penn State. This is a “soft launch”—the articles are being published incrementally, and we will announce the “official” publication when the remaining contents have been uploaded.


New Acquisitions

Goodacre, Selwyn. All the Snarks: The Illustrated Editions of the Hunting of the Snark. Inky Parrot Press, 2006.

The first page of this book quotes Lewis Carroll’s 1896 quote regarding the meaning behind The Hunting of the Snark: “I’m very much afraid I didn’t mean anything but nonsense.” The illustrations in this book are indicative of the sentiment, though they come together nicely here. A check list near the back of the book provides numbers of Snark editions in English, French, Swedish, and other languages.

Event Recap

Greg Prickman introducing the exhibition spaceWe are thrilled to announce that the renovation of the gallery space, made possible by a generous grant from the Roy J. Carver Charitable Trust*, is now complete. On Sunday, October 22nd there was a sneak peek of the new gallery space for our “Friends of the Libraries” group. On display were items from throughout the University of Iowa Libraries’ collections. The UI Libraries’ Exhibition Team is now preparing the first exhibition about James Van Allen and the newly digitized space data sound recording tapes. Look for the new exhibition and Grand Opening early in the spring semester.


 * A previous version of this text erroneously identified the total budget for the renovation as being $500,000, whereas $500,000 was the total of the Roy J. Carver Grant


Image of students looking at Alber's bookThis week, Sue Hettmansperger from the School of Art and Art History took her painting class to Special Collections to see the work of Josef Albers, from the Bauhaus School in Germany and the Black Mountain College in the United States. Together, Hettmansperger, her students, and librarian Amy Chen explored the texts Interaction of Color and Formulation, Articulation. This class became extra fun when students compared and contrasted the original plates from the Interaction of Color with how the plates were depicted on the app for this title created by Yale ( This photo depicts students placing the two side-by-side. Amy downloaded this app to her personal iPad to allow students to try out different color theories digitally while also critically reflecting on the way in which archival holdings can be adapted/translated into new media.


From the Web & Social Media

An unsettling animation

Animated GIF of optical illusion

Department Liaison Lindsay Moen found an appopriately unsettling 18th century reminder of mortality to feature for the Halloween season.

Dance of Death,or Todten-Tanz, wie derselbe in … Basel als ein Spiegel menschlicher Beschaffenheit künstlich gemahlet und zu sehen ist. Published in 1744,  the Minns “Dance of Death” collection is set in the famous city of Basel.

To see a collection of images from this text and to see this optical illusion animated, head over to our Tumblr.



Important Dates

bibliophiles logoNovember 11th, Iowa Bibliophiles Meeting, 7PM

December 9th, Iowa Bibliophiles Meeting, 7PM

If you would like to receive a monthly email with a reminder about the Iowa Bibliophiles talk/event in Special Collections please send an email to be added to the list.​



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News and Updates from Special Collections 10/23/2015

Upcoming Events

Halloween Event in the Learning Commons

Cover of "Japanese Fairy Tales" bookThis Halloween, join Special Collections and University Archives as we create a pop-up museum featuring items by American writer and artist, Edward Gorey, along with some of our more literally gory books.  You’ll even be able to take a bit of our collections with you, in button form!  We’ll have the library’s button maker available for you to create a gory (or Gorey) button of your very own.

We’ll be in Group Area D from 3:00-6:30pm in the Learning Commons on Tuesday, October 27th so head on over and prepare for some Gor(e)y sights.


Staff Awards and Recognition

Janet Weaver Receives League of United Latin American Citizens Builder Award

Image of Janet WeaverWeaver, who works as the assistant curator of the Iowa Women’s Archives, has conducted hours of interviews and research to create the Latino historical archives and the Mujeres Latinas project at the university to ensure that the history of LULAC’s Eastern Iowa councils is not lost.



Event Recap

40th anniversary ICON Science Fiction Convention

ICON logoSpecial Collections had a large presence at the 40th anniversary ICON Science Fiction Convention that took place last weekend in Cedar Rapids. ICON was founded forty years ago by students in Joe Haldeman’s science fiction class at the University of Iowa, and Rusty Hevelin was closely tied to this convention family.  Librarians from Special Collections participated in four ways:

  1. Official presentation of a check for $1,955 at the opening ceremonies. The community raised the money last year in an auction to support digitizing Rusty Hevelin’s fanzines.
  2. Had a table in the dealer’s room to give updates about the Hevelin Collection fanzine digitization.
  3. Appeared on many panels throughout the convention including an update about the digitization project, educational panels about science fiction topics, and they also hosted a panel about getting the most out of the library as a writer in partnership with librarian Lisa Martincek.
  4. Participated in a collaborative fanzine making project throughout the weekend teaching how to use traditional technologies such as typewriters and ditto machines. This project had an unexpectedly huge response from the community with contributions from multiple generations of fans ranging from children to award winning authors. A full report of this project will follow in a later blog post.

Special Collections is already looking forward to ICON 41 next year!


New Acquisitions

An Alice in Wonderland Acquisition for the 150th Anniversary of its publication

Carroll, Lewis. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Sesquicentennial Edition. Inky Parrot Press, 2015.

This sesquicentennial edition of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland hosts a variety of creepy yet intriguing illustrations, juxtaposing Japanese artistic interpretations of Alice with Welsh interpretations, English, Italian, South African, Russian, Indonesian, and more.


News and Announcements

Oberman Center House Logo

“Alt-Ac” Newsletter

Amy Chen is working with a team at the Obermann Center to set up a newsletter on alt-ac careers that will go out a few times a semester. The newsletter will link to articles on the topic and it will also cover upcoming events, speakers, and contacts that would be of interest to alt-ac inclined graduate students. To make sure this newsletter is successful, she needs to locate the students who would be interested in receiving this information.

If you want to learn more about alt-ac careers, please complete this sign-up sheet:


Upcoming Campus Events of Interest

Image from Aristotle's book which is the subject of the lecture2015 Brownell Lecture on the History of the Book | Center for the Book

Mary E. Fissell on “Making Babies: A Look at an Early Sex Manual”

Thu, 11/05/2015 – 7:30pm, W151 Papajohn Business Building (PBB) 

Aristotle’s Masterpiece was the bestselling book about making babies on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean from the late 17th to the early 20th century—but the book isn’t by Aristotle, and it’s not usually considered a masterpiece…



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News From Special Collections 10/16/2015

Librarians in the Wild:

ICON Science Fiction Convention October 16-18th, 2015

Image of the front cover of the first ICON convention program

ICON Program, 1975

The ICON Science Fiction convention began 40 years ago, born from a passionate group of fans that met in a science fiction class taught here at the University of Iowa by the Hugo and Nebula award winning author Joe Haldeman, and the same group who formed a U.I. student group called S.F.L.I.S. (Science Fiction League of Iowa Students). This weekend marks the convention’s 40th Anniversary. (See the program booklet for the first ICON convention from 1975: Here).

The 40th Anniversary convention is taking place this weekend at the Doubletree in downtown Cedar Rapids.  (There is still time to register). A partner exhibition is being held at the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art including works created by each Artist Guest of Honor that has been a featured guest in the history of the convention.

Special Collections staff with an oversized checkAt the opening ceremonies Friday night, University of Iowa Librarians Peter Balestrieri and Colleen Theisen will be officially presented with a check for $1955.00 that was raised by the community in an auction last year to be used to support the digitization of the 1930s-1950s fanzines in the James L. “Rusty” Hevelin Science Fiction Collection. Rusty was a beloved member of the ICON community, and the community came together both donating items to be auctioned and bidding on those items in a heartwarming display of support for the University of Iowa’s role in carrying on the care and legacy of Rusty and his collection.

You will be able to catch the University of Iowa librarians throughout the weekend at the convention, both at a table in the dealer’s room where you can pick up our zine detailing the current status of the Hevelin Fanzine Digitization Project, and also at various panels throughout the weekend about Science Fiction and zine history, about using a University Library for research as a writer, and as co-conspirators for a project to make a mimeographed fanzine over the course of the weekend.

Read more about the Fanzine Digitization Project: Slate article or Official FAQ.

Read more about the donation: Here


Event Recap:

Iowa Bibliophiles October Meeting

Image of John Fifield Presenting about the library at the Recoleta

Wednesday, October 14th, John Fifield, one of our current Olson Graduate Assistants, presented about his work this summer at the Convent of the Recoleta in Arequipa, Peru, where he assisted with identifying and cataloging early printed books in the convent’s collection.  In the photo on the screen (click thumbnail to enlarge) you can see images of the exquisite handcrafted display cases in the convent library that were built by Bill Voss, of the University of Iowa conservation lab, on an unrelated trip in years past. Thanks to everyone who attended, especially the many new faces this month! The lively Q&A that followed the talk had to be cut short due to time constraints, so any unanswered follow up questions can be directed to

An example from UI Special Collections of a typical 17th-century Peruvian book will be in the case just inside the doors of Special Collections for the rest of October if you would like to stop by and learn about printing in Peru during the Spanish Colonial period.



From the Web and Social Media:

1. This month’s Old Gold column

1960 U I Football Team Photo

Remembering a time when postseason play was limited: 1960 Hawkeye football squad loses once, misses out on Rose Bowl

University Archivist David McCartney’s monthly Old Gold column tasks him with being a sports writer this month.

Photo: The 1960 Hawkeye football team. Image courtesy of University of Iowa Yearbooks collection, Department of Special Collections and University Archives, UI Libraries.


2. Weekly Dada related posts on Instagram – #dadagrams

Tim Shipe, curator of the International Dada Archives, has been posting about Dada on Instagram once a week on Thursdays. The #dadagram series will continue as a lead up to the 100th Anniversary celebration in 2017.  Fans of Dada should definitely keep tabs on this series on Instagram.


3. Milestone Reached – 20,000 likes & reblogs

Sometimes it is nice to step back and recognize milestones. This animated GIF of re-sewing a text block on single raised cords upstairs in the UI Conservation Lab is now one of the most popular social media post we’ve ever made. With comments like “OMG, I’ve wondered how to do that for the longest time!”, it’s clear that even a momentary snippet can bring to light some of the otherwise invisible work that happens behind the scenes in the library.


New Acquisitions:

1. Georg von Logau. Hoc volumine continentur…poëtæ tres egregii. Augsburg 1534

Latin classes return to Special Collections every semester to survey the material history of the transmission of Latin authors through time. We hope to see this little book used in many Latin classes over the years. Featuring work by Gattius , Nemesianus, and Calpurnius, it focuses on hunting, fishing, sporting dogs, and country life, and should be a very approachable text for even brief visits.

2. Peter and Donna Thomas The Renaissance Pleasure Faire Broadsides, 1974-2011.

A retrospective collection of ten typographic broadsides that Peter and Donna Thomas made when working at the Renaissance Pleasure Faire. The broadsides were all letterpress printed on Peter’s handmade paper. They were illustrated with linoleum cuts and watercolor rubrication by Donna. An introductory broadside and a book they published in 1988 with a photographic history of the Faire are included with the broadsides.

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News From Special Collections 10/5/2015 – 10/09/2015

From the Web and Social Media

Looking for a fun way to celebrate the University of Iowa’s Homecoming week? Check out our Historical Hawkeyes series, compiled by our Olson Graduate Research Assistant, Kelly Grogg.

Staff Changes

photo of Lindsay Moen standing next to the libraryWe are all very pleased to announce that Lindsay Moen has been hired as our LAIV in Special Collections, taking over Department Liaison responsibilities from Kathy Hodson, following her retirement. Lindsay has worked in Special Collections since she was an undergraduate, and she brings to the position years of experience with all manner of projects, collections, and circumstances. She has spent the past year as a temporary librarian working with our implementation of ArchivesSpace for finding aids.


New Acquisitions

Firrufino. El Perfeto artillero. Madrid 1648

While the focus of this book is on artillery, we selected it because of its interesting assortment of illustration styles. With 30 engravings and 131 woodcuts, the publisher’s focus on economy, while still maintaining a high quality of work, will start many discussions in classes on book and printing history.

Student Scrapbooks in the University Archives. 1912-1916.

Alveda (Eva) and Jennie Markle, sisters from New Hampton, attended the State University of Iowa between 1912 and 1916. The liberal arts majors were also meticulous record-keepers of their time as students. Recently their family donated the sisters’ scrapbooks to the University Archives, a collection that gives us a closer look at student life from a century ago. Iowa Fights!

Upcoming Events

bibliophiles logoJohn Fifield talk, “A Summer at the Recoleta”

Wednesday, October 14, 2015
6:30PM: Please join us for conversation as light refreshments are served

7PM – Talk by guest speaker, John Fifield

The newly-appointed Olson Graduate Assistant in Special Collections will recount his experience at the Convent of the Recoleta in Arequipa, Peru, where he assisted with identifying and cataloging early printed books in the monastery’s collection in the summer of 2015. He will describe the collection and comment on its place in the history of the transatlantic Spanish book trade.

Special Collections Reading Room, 3rd Floor Main Library, 125 W. Washington, Iowa City, IA.

Updates from Instruction

an image of students looking at Fluxus materials in the Special Collections classroomThis week, we had ten classes visit Special Collections and University Archives. One of these classes was Stephen Voyce’s New Media Poetics, a graduate course in English. This visit was the second of three they are making over the fall semester. First, they came to learn about the Dada Archive from curator Tim Shipe on September 10. On October 6, this Tuesday, they enjoyed hands-on time with objects within the Fluxus collection under the supervision of Amy Chen, the instruction librarian. On October 13, they’ll return for their final session, during which the students will help Jacque Roethler, processing coordinator, arrange and describe Fluxus periodicals. We’re glad to have classes come in for multiple trips to gain a wider understanding of our holdings as well as to complete different types of assignments and learn from variety of expertise we offer.

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News from Special Collections 10/6/2015

Staff Changes

Image of Kathy HodsonOur beloved Department Manager Kathy Hodson has retired after more than 16 years of dedicated service to the UI Libraries. Friday, October 2, 2015 was her last day. Please join us in wishing her the best for all of her new pursuits.




New Acquisitions

Brochard. Musæum selectum. Paris 1729

One question we are asked frequently is “where do you get your stuff?” Books like this help answer that question from a historical perspective. This catalog of Michel Brochard’s collection is a slice of book history, containing not only Brochard’s classification system of his library, but also annotated prices and purchasers of each book dating from when the collection was sold after Brochard’s death.


From the Web and Social Media

1447758898384217747The Science Fiction website io9 featured photos of pulp magazine covers from the Hevelin Collection Tumblr.  All photos are from Laura Hampton. You can see the article here.





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News From Special Collections 9/19 – 9/25/2015

From the Web and Social Media:

Slate logo

Slate featured the Hevelin Collection Fanzine Digitization Project this week.  You can read their coverage of the UI Libraries’ work digitizing 1930s-1950s science fiction fanzines here.




New Acquisitions:

Agricola. Trattenimenti sulle vernici. Ravenna 1789.

This book bridges several of our collection areas, covering a very broad array of topics; overall, it could be considered an early “how to” guide. Painting, printmaking, sculpting, cartography, conservation, cooking, gardening, rat extermination, and stain removal are all addressed, and are accompanied by an extensive bibliography.


Staff Publications:

Image of Amy Chen

Amy Chen led a group of current and former Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) postdoctoral fellows to write a piece for a CLIR report that is now available online here.

Changing and Expanding Libraries: Exhibitions, Institutional Repositories, and the Future of Academia, by Amy Chen, Sarah Pickle, and Heather Waldroup appears in The Process of Discovery: The CLIR Postdoctoral Fellowship Program and the Future of the Academy, edited by John C. Maclachlan, Elizabeth A. Waraksa, and Christa Williford.



University Archivist David McCartney assisted in the production of this documentary.

11423656_875087552576529_3006066007393295911_nMonday September 28, 2015, 5:00 pm at FilmScene in Iowa City –  “Iowans Return to Freedom Summer” (Iowa PBS, 2014, 48 mins).  In the summer of 1964, hundreds of predominantly white college students answered the call from Civil Rights leaders to volunteer for Freedom Summer. They joined with voter registration efforts, taught in freedom schools and worked in community centers in towns throughout racially segregated Mississippi. This documentary features five native Iowans sharing why they felt compelled to volunteer. Following the screening there will be a discussion with producer Patti Miller and historian Shel Stromquist, both of whom were among the volunteers.  


Event Recap:

NVRDStaff from Special Collections including the Iowa Women’s Archives participated in an event for National Voter Registration Day in the Learning Commons on Tuesday, providing a display of historic voting and suffrage related materials.  In partnership with the League of Women Voters (LWV) of Johnson County, we registered 82 voters here in the Library, and a total of 171 overall at the four host locations (ICPL, Coralville PL, and Kirkwood).   #CelebrateN​VRD​



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New Acquisition: The Battle Creek System of Health Training

By Jacque Roethler

The Battle Creek Sanitarium was opened in 1866 by John Harvey Kellogg and his brother W. K. Kellogg, promoting health through a regimen of dietetics, exercise, hydrotherapy, phototherapy, thermotherapy, electotherapy, mechanotherapy, and enemas. They were joined in this enterprise by C.W. Post. In some areas they were ahead of their time, such as their emphasis on a low fat diet including whole grains, fiber-rich foods, and nuts, as well as getting lots of fresh air and exercise. But other areas were on the fringe and were open to ridicule, such as the treatment the Sanitarium received in the book and movie The Road to Wellville, the title of which is a spoof of John Harvey Kellogg’s book The Road to Wellness. The Sanitarium suffered during the depression and was scaled back in 1933 and permanently closed in 1952. What lives on are the cereals created by the Kelloggs and C.W. Post Companies, derivatives of the healthy foods promoted by the Sanitarium.

2015-09-02 11 33 03In the Brinton collection we recently found these books, entitled The Battle Creek System of Health Training. While not emanating from the Sanitarium, the books are from Battle Creek’s Health Extension Bureau and carry a publication dates of 1922 and 1924, during the height of the Sanitarium’s popularity. There were seven volumes in the series: 1) Making Life Worth While; 2) Taking a Health Inventory; 3) The Digestibility of Different Foods; 4) Foods and Feeding; 5) Diet in Disease; 6) Weight Regulation; and 7) Simple Remedies for Common Maladies.

The books in this collection are in near perfect condition. Unfortunately volumes 3 and 4 are missing so this is not a complete set. On a search in OCLC First Search, only four other libraries were named as having these volumes.


News from Special Collections 9/18/2015

New Staff:

Image of Alonso Avila

Alonso Avila is a new librarian and will begin his residency at the University of Iowa Libraries by spending a year working in Special Collections & University Archives. In May 2015, he received his Master’s degree from the Graduate School of Library and Information Science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC). Prior to UIUC, Alonso worked as a special education tutor at a charter high school in Chicago, and also served two years in Peace Corps Jordan. Alonso’s research interests include the intersection of youth culture and social justice, as well as the interrelationship between librarianship and hip hop’s 5th element, knowledge AKA information literacy. While at The University of Iowa Libraries, he plans on building and gaining a new set of skills that will help him become a successful academic librarian whether in Chicago or any other institution around the world.


From the Web and Social Media:

1. Iowa Public Radio Interview

Image of Peter Balestrieri holding zines


Librarians Peter Balestrieri and Laura Hampton were interviewed on Iowa Public Radio this week about digitizing 1930s-1950s science fiction fanzines. You can hear the four minute interview or read the transcript here.





2. Cheryl Jacobsen Calligraphy Video

Image of Calligraphy

Cheryl Jacobsen, professional calligrapher and Lettering Arts instructor for the University of Iowa Center for the Book spoke about historic black letter hands from Medieval manuscripts at the Iowa Bibliophiles meeting last week. While there, she did a calligraphy demonstration and Colleen Theisen put together this short video of her work.



New Acquisitions:

1. Emblem book

Paradin. Devises Heroïques. Lyon 1551.

This is the first edition of the first illustrated book of devices, or emblem book. Iowa has a growing collection of emblem books, which are frequently used for class sessions, but none are quite like this. Paradin’s devices went without explanation until  the second edition was printed in 1557 with more text. This first edition, with its complete lack of explanation, is oddly appealing in its vagueness.

2. Facsimiles of Historic Bindings

Two wonderful new facsimiles have arrived that are extremely high quality reproductions of early types of medieval manuscripts and their bindings.

The first is Historia Langobardorum by Paul the Deacon which is a 9th century text that is fundamental to understand the relationship between the Lombards, the Franks, the Byzantine Empire and the Papacy.  The bare boards binding allows students to view how the quires are assembled and sewn in the text.

The second is Liber Precum, a facsimile of a 16th century book with a girdle style binding.  The manuscript combines two Latin texts, each written and decorated separately and apparently unique in the forms found in this book: the first portion of the manuscript is a series of prayers on the life and Passion of Christ, and the second is a set of sermons and prayers in prose and verse, many attributed to distinguished spiritual authors, among them Saints Anselm, Gregory, Bernard, Jerome, and Thomas, as well as Jean Gerson and others.  It includes 41 full page miniatures.


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Special Collections Week in Review, 8/28 – 9/4, 2015

 Recently on the Web and Social Media:


1930's Science Fiction Fanzines

The Hevelin Fanzine Digitization Project was featured on The Verge.  The University of Iowa Libraries is digitizing science fiction fanzines from the 1930s-1950s.




hallAugust Old Gold column from University Archivist David McCartney, Harrison Hall, the Residence Hall That Never Was. 

The planned 1,100-student high-rise, proposed in 1966, never got off the ground.



An artists book with three spoons in the binding

A Culinary Alphabet by Annie Tremmel Wilcox, published in 1998 was featured on our Instagram page. This culinary artist’s book has three spoons as part of the binding.  [Szathmary N7433.4 W524 C8 1998]





Upcoming Events:


1. The first Iowa Bibliophiles meeting of the 2015-2016 season

Cheryl Jacobsen Image

University of Iowa Center for the Book calligraphy instructor Cheryl Jacobsen will present about calligraphic hands featured in Medieval manuscripts held in Special Collections.

6:00PM – Stop by to view a repeat showing of the livestream video of Alison Altstatt’s September 4th talk

6:30PM – Refreshments served

7PM – Cheryl Jacobsen’s talk

Special Collections Reading Room, 3rd Floor Main Library, 125 W. Washington, Iowa City, IA


2. Special Collections Editions featured in Old Capitol Museum Exhibition


donqOpening Reception for The Quest Begins: Quixote at 400

Thursday, September 17, 2015 – 5:00pm to 7:00pm

Old Capitol Museum


Exhibition: Illustrations of Don Quixote: Interpretation of Imagination

September 17, 2015 to January 3, 2016

Old Capitol Museum Keyes Gallery for the Arts, Humanities, and Sciences

Explore artistic interpretations of Cervantes’ tale from the 1600s to the 1930s through collected images from editions of Don Quixote from the University of Iowa Libraries.


Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to attend all University of Iowa sponsored events. If you are a person with a disability who requires a reasonable accommodation in order to participate in this program, please contact the sponsoring department or contact person listed in advance of the event.


New Acquisitions:


1. A new acquisition for our collection of miniature books.

Miniature book - view of the coverAmos Paul Kennedy, Jr., Descent of Mount Gadam, Jubilee Press, 1993.  Adapted from a folktale of the Mensa Bet-Abrehe people of northern Ethiopia. Includes a linocut outline map of Africa.


2. A new addition to the University of Iowa Libraries’ map collections for studying World War I.

World War 1 mapThe Markets of the World. Open to Great Britain: Closed to Germany, London : Roberts & Leete Ltd., [1916].  This map shows sources of import for Britain during 1916.


Just for Fun:

Our graduate assistants made a parody of our new acquisition unboxing videos we’ve been making on the social media site Vine.

Please welcome our “new acquisition,” graduate assistant John Fifield.


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Jillian Sparks’ Report from the SHARP Conference

What follows is one final blog post from our former Olson Graduate Assistant, Jillian Sparks, who attended the SHARP conference July 7-10, 2015 to present a poster related to her cataloging work here in Special Collections.


The Society for the History of Authorship, Reading, and Publishing (SHARP) is an international organization dedicated to book history and print culture. SHARP describes their research focus as, “the composition, mediation, reception, survival, and transformation of written communication in material forms from marks on stone to new media. Perspectives range from the individual reader to the transnational communication network” ( There are over a 1,000 members from more than 40 countries who provide a truly global perspective of book history. Due to its large international community, the conference location rotates between the Western and Eastern hemispheres each year—typically North America and Europe.

I first learned about SHARP while attending the Digital Humanities Summer Institute in 2012. Adrian van der Weel, the keynote speaker and my course instructor, highly encouraged joining SHARP if we were interested in book history. I joined the same afternoon and after three summers, I was finally able to attend the annual conference this summer in Longueil/Montreal as a master’s student poster presenter. I presented my final poster from the University of Iowa’s School of Library and Information Science program titled “Regenerating the Local Catalog: An Approach for Augmenting Bibliographic Information for Early Printed Texts.” The theme this year was “The Generation and Regeneration of Books” and was hosted by the Groupe de recherches et d’études sur le livre au Québec, the University of Sherbrooke, McGill University and the Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec. The conference was truly a bilingual event with presentations in both French and English. Over 350 people traveled to Québec to participate.

Scholars from all disciplines and librarians alike attend SHARP, and the conference program reflects this diversity. I attended sessions on special collections instruction, cataloging, and pivotal collectors. “Old Books and New Tricks: Regenerating the Library Visit” has been the most helpful session on special collections instruction out of all the conferences I have attended. Gale Burrow from Claremont College presented on how to turn a one-time visit into a two part lab series that focuses on primary research in the first lab and the secondary sources in the second lab. Karla Nielsen demonstrated how Book Traces, a crowd-sourced web project aimed at identifying unique copies of 19th- and early 20th-century books on circulating library shelves, was successfully carried out at Columbia University. CLIR postdoctoral fellow at Southwestern University, Charlotte Nunes, discussed the emotional connection her students experienced while transcribing Latino oral histories and the importance of capturing the students’ oral histories on their project work. The last presenter, Amanda Watson from Yale, showed how she has collaborated with special collections to integrate technology into the class visit. All four presenters illustrated creative methods of teaching that I look forward to incorporating into my professional career.

Jillian Sparks and her poster

Jillian Sparks and her poster

Because of my interest in copy specific cataloging and in relation to my own work on cataloging 16th-century books at the University of Iowa, the panels on “Pivotal Collectors” and “Early modern Women and the Book (II): case Studies in Ownership, Circulation, and Collecting” served as interesting comparisons. In the first panel, presenters discussed the familiar issues of how to catalog and organize famous personages’ personal collections. In the second panel, speakers addressed the problem of how to find someone’s books after the collection has been separated and sold. In her presentation “Finding Frances Wolfreston in Online Public Access Catalogues: How Electronic Records Can Lead Us to Early Modern Women Readers,” Sarah Lindenbaum demonstrated how Frances Wolfreston’s unique signature as noted in various catalog records enabled her to trace the dispersion of her books. The discussion surrounded the general value of provenance notes and included mention of Provenance Online Project also known as POP.

Other presentations on embroidered bindings (Amanda Pullan) and the history of dog-earing books (Ian Gadd) were equally exciting and all of the SHARP panels appealed to my love of book history. The most fulfilling aspect of the conference was SHARP’s dedication to encouraging emerging scholars. There was a specific dinner for master’s and PhD candidate presenters. The poster session and PhD candidate papers did not conflict with other sessions, thus allowing all conference attendees to engage with their research. I personally benefited from the feedback and encouragement I received during the poster session. Most importantly, I left SHARP feeling welcome and excited to be a member of the organization and enthused about book history as a discipline.

Relevant links:

Sparks, Jillian A. Regenerating the Local Catalog: An Approach for Augmenting Bibliographic Information for Early Printed Texts

Accompanying digital exhibit:

SHARP’s website:

SHARP 2015 conference site:

Book Traces:

Provenance Online Project (POP):