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Creating Study Spaces for Students

Nancy L. Baker, University Librarian

I am excited to report that the University is currently preparing to build an off-site high density archival collection facility for the Libraries. And, what exactly is that? For many years, the University Libraries have been severely overcrowded. As our collections have grown, book stacks have replaced study space. The fourth and fifth floor book stacks in the Main Library are shelved so tightly, it can be difficult to pull a book from the shelf without bringing along all of its neighbors.

All large research libraries have a certain portion of their collections that need to be preserved even though they are infrequently used. An off-site high density archival facility is designed to house these collections in a cost-effective, preservation-sensitive environment. In these kinds of facilities, books are arranged by size not by subject and are densely shelved to take full advantage of the space. The temperature and humidity is ideal for long-term preservation of print materials but is too cold for people to tolerate as a work space.

Because these books do not have to be retrieved frequently, the facility can be off-campus, leaving prime campus real estate to other uses. There are now at least 34 such facilities used by research libraries around the country because they are considerably less expensive than a traditional library addition and can house many more collections under better conditions in a smaller footprint. Service is clearly an important element. Books will be brought to campus as requested and whenever possible, individual articles will be digitized at the facility for electronic delivery to the requestor’s desktop.

By moving lesser used materials to this facility, the Libraries will free up badly needed space for users. The number of available seats in the University Libraries falls well below acceptable standards. It has been difficult to accommodate user needs for different types of work space, such as quiet areas, group study areas, and individual studies. During especially busy times in the semester, I have often seen small groups of students huddled in a circle on the floor of the Main Library so they can work as a group without disturbing others. Students regularly complain about the lack of quiet study space, void of cell phones, computers and conversation. The number of individual graduate studies has had to be severely reduced over the years, much to the dismay of graduate students.

So most important of all, this facility is a critical first step in the improvement of user spaces which is why this is such an exciting development for the UI Libraries.

Iowa Women: From Homemakers to Activists (Event Rescheduled)

The University of Iowa Libraries is celebrating Women’s History Month by highlighting archival collections about rural women and civil rights activists from the Iowa Women’s Archives (IWA). A selection of digitized photographs, correspondence, audio recordings and other artifacts documenting the lives of Iowa women is currently featured on the University’s Iowa Digital Library .

In addition to the online collections, two public events are scheduled in March to celebrate the history of women in Iowa. The Mujeres Latinas Project will be featured during a brown bag lunch “Latinas and the Emergence of a Grassroots Civil Rights Movement in Iowa” on Tuesday, March 27 at 12 p.m. in the Main Library as part of the campus-wide Latinos in Action Week: Honoring Cesar Chavez.

An event highlighting the African American Women in Iowa collections will be Wednesday, March 28 at 7 p.m. in the Afro American Cultural Center at 303 Melrose Avenue (this event has been rescheduled from March 20).

“Every month is a celebration of women’s history in the Iowa Women’s Archives,” says Kären Mason, Curator of IWA. “We’re happy to take part in the celebration of Women’s History Month, which gives us a chance to highlight some of the many exceptional women who have changed the course of Iowa history in ways large and small.”

The Iowa Digital Library, an online repository of the University’s locally created digital collections, is featuring the following digitized selections from IWA in honor of Women’s History Month:

Evelyn Birkby Collection of Radio Homemaker Materials
Wife, mother, homemaker, newspaper columnist, and radio personality, Birkby is a journalist with a passion for rural history.

Noble Photograph Collection
Mary Noble, a librarian at the University for over three decades, has collected thousands of historic photographs, postcards, glass plate negatives and other images of and by Iowa women.

Virginia Harper Papers
As a student at the University of Iowa, Harper helped integrate Currier residence hall in 1946; after graduation, she went on to become president of her local branch of the NAACP.

Shirley Sandage Papers
Activist Sandage managed a variety of social programs to help migrant farm workers, impoverished children, and people with disabilities.

Skhal Appointed Adjunct Assistant Professor

Kathy Skhal, Clinical Education Librarian at the Hardin Library for the Health Sciences, has been appointed Adjunct Assistant Professor in the Carver College of Medicine. This is a three-year appointment with the department of Internal Medicine.

Skhal will tailor her education sessions specifically to medicine students and faculty; she will coordinate and lead small group sessions on specific related topics; she will have lecturing responsibilities and she will help provide information resources.

“Kathy plays a valuable role within the medical school as a Clinical Education Librarian. She provides Course Directors with numerous resources that will be helpful to our students on a variety of topics,” says Dee Dee Stafford, Clinical Associate Professor of Medicine FCP IV Course Director. Kathy is extremely enthusiastic about medical education and in the dissemination of knowledge. She has the knowledge and commitment to trouble-shoot problems extremely well. She is very committed to helping out learners at all levels.”

Striking Anatomical Illustrations on Display at Hardin Library

The University of Iowa Libraries and the UI History of Medicine Society will sponsor an open house of one of the finest collections of notable anatomical illustrations in the United States from 3:30 to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 20, in the John Martin Rare Book Room of the UI Hardin Library for the Health Sciences.

MascogniThe exhibit, “So Divinely Built a Mansion: Six Centuries of Human Anatomical Illustration,” highlights the largest and most exquisite anatomical atlas ever produced — the rare work “Anatomia Universa” completed by Italian scholar Paolo Mascogni in 1823. The atlas is one of only five copies owned by libraries in the United States. Recently, the UI Libraries Conservation Unit painstakingly remounted 44 hand-colored lithograph plates into acid-free panels to protect Mascogni’s work and provide easier access.

The exhibit will also feature the groundbreaking book that revolutionized the study of anatomy during the Renaissance, “De humani corporis fabrica” (Fabric of the Human Body), produced by Andreas Vesalius in 1543.

The exhibit is free and open to the public. Light refreshments will be served at the open house. The event is part of a series of presentations sponsored by the UI History of Medicine Society.

For more information, contact Ed Holtum at 319-335-9154 or Susan Lawrence at 319-353-4681.

Happy Birthday William York Tindall

According to The Writer’s Almanac, today is the birthday of literary critic and James Joyce scholar William York Tindall, born in Williamstown, Vermont (1903). He was a literature student when he discovered James Joyce’s novel Ulysses (1922) while traveling in Paris. He became obsessed with Joyce, and read all of his works.

When he returned to the U.S., Tindall started teaching a course in modern literature at New York University, and he was one of the first professors in the United States to assign Ulysses to his students. The book was still banned in the U.S. at the time, so his students had to read a bootlegged copy that was chained to a desk in the library.

He may be interested to see the current exhibit in the Main Library, “Making No Compromise with the Public Taste,” which centers around the obscenity trials of Ulysses and Allen Ginsberg’s Howl. The title of the exhibit comes from a tagline used by Margaret Anderson on her literary magazine The Little Review. Ulysses was serialized in The Little Review until difficulties with obscenity distribution issues forced it to cease publishing.

Tindall later taught English at Columbia University in New York City where his papers are now archived. He died in 1981.

Find more of William York Tindall’s work on James Joyce. Director to Speak about Relevance in Web Searching

After email, searching for information is the second most popular activity on the Internet. Search has become central means to discover products, services, information and entertainment on the Web.

ask.comKaushal Kurapati, Director of Search Relevance & Quality at will present “Search Engine Internals” in the Department of Computer Science Colloquim Series on Friday, March 9 at 4 p.m. in 140 Schaeffer Hall.

There are four major general purpose search engines on the Web today:, Google, MSN and Yahoo. Kurapati will talk about how search engines work in general and discuss the challenges search engines face today. He will focus on various aspects of relevance in general and especially on one of the interesting and unique features at, “related search.”

Reception, with refreshments, takes place 3:30-4:00 in Muhly Lounge right before the presentation.

Former Peacemaker of the Year to Speak in Shambaugh

Frank LaMere, a Winnebago activist, will discuss “The People, Empowerment, and Change” at 10 a.m. Friday, March 9 in the Shambaugh Auditorium in the Main Library on the University of Iowa campus. The lecture is sponsored by Opportunity of Iowa and Support Service Programs and is free and open to the public.

LaMere has had extensive involvement with empowerment efforts of Native People throughout the United States. In 2001, he was named Peacemaker of the Year by the Nebraskans for peace for his work to stop the illegal flow of alcohol on to the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. He has been active in state and national politics since 1987 and chaired the Native American Caucus at the 2000 and 2004 Democratic conventions. He is former vice chair of the Nebraska Democratic Party and is currently a member of the executive committee of the Democratic National Committee. Frank has also been extensively involved in the ongoing Community Initiative for Native Children and Families (CINCF) and he was instrumental in the passage and implementation of the Iowa Indian Children Welfare Act of 2003.

For more information or special accommodations to attend this lecture, contact Marisa Moore, Opportunity at Iowa, at 319-335-3555.

Defending the F-word: Freedom!

Nadine Strossen, President of the American Civil Liberties Union, will present a keynote address “Defending the F-Word: Freedom!” of the Obscenity: An Interdisciplinary Discussion symposium on Saturday, March 3 at 7:30 p.m. in Shambaugh Auditorium of the Main Library. A reception and exhibit opening, “Making No Compromise with the Public Taste,” will follow her remarks in the North Exhibition Hall.

Strossen has written, lectured, and practiced extensively in the areas of constitutional law, civil liberties, and international human rights. Since 1991, she has served as president of the American Civil Liberties Union, the first woman to head the nation’s largest and oldest civil liberties organization.

The National Law Journal has twice named Professor Strossen one of “The 100 Most Influential Lawyers in America.” In 1996, Working Woman Magazine listed her among the “350 Women Who Changed the World 1976–1996.” In 1997, Upside Magazine included her in the “Elite 100: 100 Executives Leading The Digital Revolution.” In 1998, Vanity Fair Magazine included Professor Strossen in “America’s 200 Most Influential Women.” In 1999, Ladies’ Home Journal included her in “America’s 100 Most Important Women.”

Historic African American Artifacts Featured in UI Libraries’ Online Exhibit

A new online collection from the University of Iowa Libraries features digitized photographs, clippings, newsletters, and other historical materials documenting the experience of African American women in Iowa during the 20th century.

The “African American Women in Iowa Digital Collection,” on the web at, is a collaborative project coordinated by the Digital Library Services department of the UI Libraries. Featuring digitized material from the Iowa Women’s Archives and the African American Historical Museum and Cultural Center of Iowa, the collection includes items dating between 1924 and 1970 that were formerly owned by Iowans ranging from sorority girls to civil rights activists.

A highlight from the collection is AAHMCCI’s scrapbook of Althea Beatrice Moore Smith, an African American student at the University of Iowa from 1924 to 1928. Filled with photographs of Smith and her friends posed on the Old Capitol steps and other familiar locations around campus, the scrapbook’s 50 pages also contain invitations, concert programs, and autographed messages from her wide acquaintance among the local African American community.

“This scrapbook is a wonderful snapshot of what it was like to be African American, female, and a student at the University of Iowa in the 1920s,” says Susan Kuecker, Curator of the African American Historical Museum and Cultural Center of Iowa, located in Cedar Rapids. “The Museum staff and board are so pleased that this scrapbook will be placed online so that anyone with internet access can view it and appreciate it for the treasure that it is.”

Other items include materials from the Iowa Women’s Archives, which began an initiative in the mid-1990s to acquire papers and oral histories from African American women around the state. Among the docments currently digitized from these collections is a 1929 pamphlet for the Iowa Federation Home, created to house female African American students at the University before dormitories were integrated, and the mid- to late-1960s newsletters of the Fort Madison branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

“It’s exciting to see how the landscape of Iowa’s African American history has changed over the past decade. When we began preserving the documents and stories of African American women in 1995, very little historical material was available. Our work was a real act of discovery,” says Kären M. Mason, Curator of the Iowa Women’s Archives. “Since that time many groups have joined the effort to preserve and record this history. Now African American history in Iowa is not only available but visible in the African American museum, in a major published history: Outside In, and in these digital collections.”

The “African American Women in Iowa Digital Collection” is the latest in a series of projects coordinated by Digital Library Services for inclusion in the UI Libraries’ Iowa Digital Library web site, as well as the statewide Iowa Heritage Digital Collections consortium.

“This project demonstrates how technology can be used to preserve Iowa history and make it accessible to anyone in the state, from schoolchildren to scholars,” says Paul Soderdahl, Director of Library Information Technology and interim coordinator for Digital Library Services. “Through this collaborative effort, we can leverage the University Libraries’ technical infrastructure and digital library expertise to expose the diverse and precious collections of the Archives and the Museum”

To view more digital collections created from the UI Libraries’ archives, visit the Iowa Digital Library web site at

Frost Quoted in Forbes Magazine

UI Libraries Conservator Gary Frost was recently quoted in Jonathan Enfield, a lecturer at the University of Chicago, wrote “Stop Worrying About Copyrights” for the December 1, 2006 Special Report: Books.

“To the fear mongerers among the literati, the Internet is a threat to the paperbound book. It’s an electronic playground where copyrighted material can be exchanged among anonymous readers, destroying the profit-motive for writing and publishing. File-sharing has already eaten into music and film industry sales they figure, and publishing is as likely a victim.” more…