My Favorite Things (a la Special Collections) by Hannah Hacker
For the past two and a half years, I have had the honor to work as a graduate assistant at the University of Iowa Special Collections. I am thrilled about graduating from my Library Science and Book Arts program this semester, and I am excited to see what adventures I’ll embark on next, but I will certainly miss my Special Collections family. I am thankful for the friends I have met here and the opportunities that I was given. I’m not the best at waxing emotional, so, instead, I will leave you all with my own little rendition of a classic, “My Favorite Things”:
And sketches of spaceships
Bright crimson wax on some very aged papers
Gray Wonder boxes high on the shelves
These are a few of my favorite things
Cream-colored parchment and crisp comic pages
Dress swords and old maps
And Medieval doodles
Really small books with tiny wood-prints
These are a few of my favorite things
Kids in the classroom with handwritten letters
Red rot that stays on my shirts and nice sweaters
Staple-bound fanzines and pulp magazines
These are a few of my favorite things
When the day’s long
When the class is done
When I’m feeling sad
I simply remember my favorite things
And then I don’t feel so bad
Thanks to Hannah for the hard work, laughs, and pure librarian magic that you brought Special Collections!
Below is a reflection from Micaela Terronez, Olson Graduate Assistant, on the “Manuscripts at Special Collections” open houses.
Can I really touch it?
One curious visitor asked this question in amazement as they gazed at one of the twenty-one visiting manuscripts from Les Enluminures, a gallery of unique text manuscripts with locations in New York, Paris, and Chicago. As a part of the program, “Manuscripts in the Curriculum,” Les Enluminures temporarily loans a select group of unique manuscripts to educational institutions. Fortunately, The University of Iowa Libraries’ Special Collections was able to host the manuscripts, covering various contexts and locations from the 13th to the 19th century. In addition to classroom integration, Special Collections planned a series of open houses for the University and broader community to have hands-on experience engaging with these one-of-a-kind pieces. From August to November, around 200 visitors viewed the visiting manuscripts—along with a couple favorites from our own collections.
Logistically speaking, each open house exhibited 10 to 12 manuscripts aligned with a pre-decided theme. The themes included: Signs of Production, Decoration and Illumination, Script and Scribe, Manuscripts Outside Latin West, Medieval Society, Vernacular Texts, Music, Medieval Authors, and Bestsellers. This diverse set of themes allowed us to highlight certain texts each week without exhausting the materials or the visitors. The open houses were marketed through classroom instructions, social media, departmental networking, events, newsletters, and blogs. These efforts garnered an audience of students, scholars, and outside community members of various ages and backgrounds.
At the open houses, guests were given brief guidelines to handling the manuscripts and were encouraged to turn the leaves by the margins. Like the curious visitor above, many could not believe that they could touch, let alone, move through the leaves of a codex to see every script and image. However, in cases with a large number of visitors, guests were advised to admire the manuscripts without touching as to protect the longevity and structure of the manuscript. During these events, special precautions were taken to make sure the manuscripts were handled carefully, while also allowing the viewer to engage and ask questions. Non-flash photographs were highly encouraged, and many patrons took away some amazing captures to keep and share with friends and family. We also offered an interactive matching game of medieval authors, temporary tattoos, buttons, and bookmarks for visitors to take home.
Because of an increase in public visitors, the fall semester was a whirlwind of planning, marketing, curation, learning, and teaching. For example, Elizabeth Riordan (Outreach and Engagement Librarian) and I created specially made description cards for each manuscript on display—that’s a lot of writing and research! The description cards served two purposes. First, it was the perfect way for us to learn more about the visiting manuscripts, along with the interesting details and histories. This knowledge proved highly valuable during open houses and classes. Secondly, visitors were able to easily understand the terminology, history, production, and uses of the items exhibited. These descriptions also helped to spur questions and discussions throughout the weeks. Riordan and I also enjoyed choosing manuscripts from our own collections to feature alongside the visiting manuscripts. In this way, we were both able to think more contextually about the manuscripts from Iowa and what themes can be highlighted throughout them. In addition to our visitors, we both walked away from the open houses more knowledgeable about medieval manuscripts, their features, and histories.
There were several other benefits and take-aways from these open houses. Perhaps most importantly, we learned a great deal about the value of increasing access and visibility of the manuscripts through hands-on exploration. Patrons made incredible observations about the texts, while also initiating fruitful discussions amongst themselves and with staff. They also inquired about the contexts, materiality, users, producers, and authors. More so, visitors were able to actually feel the hair of the parchment, translate scripts, study the bindings, and so much more! With calm medieval chants playing in the background, many also took the events as an opportunity to relax and purely admire the artistry behind the texts. I would say friendships and interactions were created among these beautiful works, an effect that perhaps wouldn’t have happened without the hands-on experience with the manuscripts.
The open house series ended with one last exhibit, as well as a visit and talk titled “People and the Book: the Voices of Manuscripts from the Middle Ages” from Laura Light of Les Enluminures. These final events allowed visitors to ask intriguing questions about the visiting manuscripts from Light, an expert historian on medieval works. As November comes to a close, it is now time to say goodbye to these works. I, for one, am going to miss the manuscripts very much. Here are a couple of photographs from my favorite visiting manuscript, a “Roll of Arms” created during the Elizabethan period in England. The manuscript features stunningly detailed shields, illustrated crowns, and stylized arms shaking hands to signify marriage. Like myself, I am sure many visitors appreciated the work and talent that went into these lovely pieces.
The successful planning and implementation of the open houses was a team effort of the library and conservation staff, and we were incredibly grateful for the opportunity to engage with the community, students, and faculty during these open houses. Thank you to all that visited Special Collections, asked questions, and made us ponder the creation and use of these manuscripts. We hope you continue to visit us in the future, whether it is for research, exploration, or just admiring a cool book or leaf.
Driving along Highway 77, there is a small sign indicating the way to Rubio, Iowa. I nearly miss it, but catch the sign in time to make a sharp turn down what looks to be the main road in this town of 35 people. I pull into Carroll Steinbeck’s driveway. He’s waiting for me, announcing that I have, indeed, found the right spot.
Carroll, who will be 95-years-old this November, was born and raised in Rubio, the house he grew up in just across the street from his current home. Familiar with small town Iowa myself, I can see Carroll’s pride in his hometown. The first time he left home was to study at the University of Iowa, followed shortly to fight in WWII.
He ushers me into his home, and we sit down at his dining room table. Carroll has laid out a few pictures of him in uniform from the 1940s for us to look at. While WWII ended 63 years ago, Carroll is still able to recall memories from those days with utter clarity. He joined the army after his sophomore year at the University of Iowa, entering the 66th Division as a mortar gunner. Carroll landed in England on his 21st birthday.
While Carroll had several stories to share about his time at war, what I loved hearing the most was his love story, something that doesn’t seem to match our images of war. Carroll came home to Rubio before shipping off to Europe. While home he went on a picnic with friends and met Evelyn, who was studying to be a nurse and also home for a short time before leaving for more training. With a grin, Carroll tells me he had one date with his future wife, but that was all that was needed. They started corresponding while he was overseas, their letters now part of the Stories Worth Telling exhibit. When he realized he was likely to come home safe, he sent Evelyn a proposal from France, and she said yes. Carroll still gripes that he had to wait 20 whole days after coming back home to marry her. Just one date lead to 56 years of marriage.
On November 2nd, the University of Iowa is fortunate enough to have Carroll Steinbeck come share his stories with us starting at 2pm in Shambaugh Auditorium at the Main Library. From 3pm to 3:30, there will be a tour of the exhibition Stories Worth Telling: Marking 20 Years of the Greatest Generation with curator, Elizabeth Riordan, and Head of Special Collections Margaret Gamm. This event is free and open to everyone. Come share these stories with us.
The University of Iowa Libraries Special Collections is looking for the next Olson Graduate Research Assistant. If you are a graduate student, or an incoming graduate student, find out more here.
However, you might be asking what does being the Olson Graduate Research Assistant actually mean? Well, who better to explain that then those with the experience. Hannah Hacker was Special Collections’ Olson GA from 2016-2018 and will be graduating with her Masters in Library and Information Science this winter. Micaela Terronez has been our Olson GA since 2017, and she will be graduating May 2019 with a Masters in Library and Information Science. Below they explain what it means to be an Olson GA and the experiences and opportunities that come with the job.
From Hannah Hacker:
Being an Olson is like being at a buffet, but with rare books and archives. You get a little taste of everything in special collections librarianship. If an aspect of the department gets you really excited, you can dive right in and have a big helping.
For me, the areas that I dove into were instruction and reference. My passion for librarianship stems from the enthusiasm of a student or patron who discovers something for the first time or is eager about researching a particular topic, and that happens the most when I’m in a classroom or at the front desk. Talking with people one-on-one and listening to what gets them excited is one of the main reasons why I’ve enjoyed my time as an Olson as much as I have. It’s those small moments with people that get me fired up about being a full-fledged librarian some day.
From Micaela Terronez:
This past year as the Olson Graduate Research Assistant has been a wonderful opportunity for me to gain practical knowledge and experience in the work of special collections and archives. For example, I have learned about the day-to-day operations and responsibilities of a large university special collections — an experience that nicely complements my MLS coursework and previous professional work. Additionally, I cannot express how thankful I am for working alongside such incredible and supportive coworkers. Through this fellowship, I’ve been lucky to gain several mentors that have taken the time to listen, discuss, and collaborate with me as a new staff member.
Thus far, my favorite experiences in this position have been in the Special Collections classroom where I’ve had the opportunity to instruct courses utilizing library materials — a responsibility that I was completely terrified to do originally! But because of the support and training I received as the Olson, I’m more comfortable than ever to conduct classes and experience some great moments with students. One of these moments was with a group of 20 Latinx high school students from Upward Bound, a program that brings first-generation students from the state to experience life as a college student for six weeks. The students gravitated toward stories of migration and underrepresented individuals that could be seen in several collections from the University Archives and the Iowa Women Archives. By far, this was one of my favorite classes because I saw firsthand how archival materials can resonate with students and the effect it can potentially have on their self-identity.
For more information about the Olson Graduate Research Assistant position or application, please contact Lindsay Moen. The deadline is October 29th, 2018 at 5:00pm.
As we get ready to celebrate Herky’s 70th birthday, curator of the “Hatching Herky” exhibit, Chloe Waryan, looks back on her experiences and Iowa mascots of old.
In the summer of 2018, I was fortunate enough to be awarded an internship at the University of Iowa Special Collections and University Archives in which I was tasked to design an exhibit celebrating the 70th birthday of Herky the Hawk. I am so touched by the kindness that I received from University Archivist David McCartney, Director of Development Mary Rettig of the Center for Advancement, and donor Jane Roth. I am happy to report that I had a lot of fun learning about the history of the University of Iowa during this internship too!
Though the pre-Herky mascots didn’t make it into the exhibit, their history is fascinating. With the popularity of St. Burch’s Tavern, a new downtown restaurant, many Iowa Citizans may already know that our first mascot was a real live black bear cub named Burch. The significance of a bear as an emblem of UI is unknown, though we do know that the Chicago Cubs also had a black bear sent to them to serve as a mascot around this same time. When Burch became a full-grown bear, he broke out of his cage in the City Park Zoo (yes, City Park once had a zoo), and fled to the riverbank where he was later found dead. On March 10, 1910, the Press Citizen released an article titled “Burch is Found with Taxidermist,” detailing the plans of taxidermist Homer Dill who did work for the University of Iowa Museum of Natural History. However, after talking to Cindy Opitz, current Collections Manager of the UI Museum of Natural History, we learn that if he did indeed drown, Burch’s head was probably bloated and therefore not suitable for taxidermy. According to a Press Citizen article on April 8, 2018, Trina Roberts, Director of UI’s Pentacrest Museums, does not know where Burch’s head or bones may be.
Almost 20 years later, the University adopted a 200-pound Great Dane named Rex as their next mascot. Lieutenant Colonel Converse K. Lewis, head of the UI Military Department, originally gifted the dog to Alpha Sigma Phi. Rex wore a tailored band uniform at football games and acted as the UI mascot until his death in 1933. Following Rex’s death, the University received another dog (either a Great Dane or St. Bernard) which they cleverly named Rex II. The University also used a real hawk as a mascot before Delta Tau Delta’s own Larry Herb donned the first Herky costume in the late 1950’s. From then on, Herky was always cast as a Delta Tau Delta until the fraternity lost their UI charter in 1998 due to drug and alcohol use. Tryouts for Herky the Hawk opened up to the entire student body of UI. In 1999, Angie Anderson and Carrie MacDonald were the first female students chosen to be the mascot. Anderson was injured while playing Herky when an Ohio State band member wielded a 3-foot foam banana at her head. She filed a lawsuit against Ohio State and in 2002, Anderson was awarded $25,000. Shortly after, Herky’s “human identity” was kept a stricter secret and security members were also hired each year, in order to keep the mascot safe.
As a graduate of the UI School of Library and Information Science program, I learned through this internship many things about collaboration in libraries. I was welcomed onto the Herky Birthday Committee with open arms. I formed a great partnership with the Spirit Coordinator of UI. I learned about the awesome physical education collection at the Iowa Women’s Archives. All in all, I will truly treasure my time at the Special Collections. Even the rainy days were fun!
Join us September 14th, 2018 for a special Open House to celebrate the history of Herky. Event starts at 11AM and runs till 2PM, 3rd Floor of Main Library. Herky will even be joining us for the party starting at 12PM! All are welcomed to join!
Photo Credits: Burch from Press Citizen, Rex from Regalia and Artifacts Collections (RG 31.01.01), and Dean Sieperda as Herky from F.W. Kent Photograph Collection (RG30.0001.001)
With the new school year beginning, Special Collections has brought in 21 new manuscripts for the fall semester for professors, students, and enthusiasts to enjoy and learn from.
These manuscripts are on loan from Les Enluminures, a company with locations in Paris, New York and Chicago. Les Enluminures was created to offer a large and wide-ranging inventory of text manuscripts on the market. They developed a program that allows educational institutes in North America to borrow some manuscripts, giving more people the opportunity to see these wonderful books. The program is called “Manuscripts in the Curriculum.”
Some institutions do not have a collection of manuscripts for students to learn from and use as primary sources in their papers. Even though we are fortunate to have a Medieval Manuscript collection already, by acquiring these on loan for the semester, we are allowing students to gain a broader understanding of the Middle Ages and to experience something new.
Special Collections will be welcoming the manuscripts to their collection for the Fall 2018 Semester, arriving on August 27th and leaving mid November.
The manuscripts were written throughout Europe from the 13th century to the 19th century, and each manuscript has a diverse subject including the lives of the saints, school books, humanism, liturgy and canon law.
One of the manuscripts, Lotario Dei Segni’s De miseria humanae conditionis (On the Misery of the Human Condition), has been cited by famous authors, including Chaucer and Christine de Pizan. This medieval manuscript is a reflection on the Middle Ages.
Saint Benedict’s Regula sancti Benedicti and Saint Augustine’s Regula sancti Augustini episcopi are pocket-sized manuscripts containing foundation documents of early Western monasticism. Even though monks were not allowed any personal property of their own, there is still evidence that a Benedictine monk or abbot had owned the manuscript in the 15th century.
Along with these manuscripts, there may be some that have missing leaves. However, those missing leaves add more to the story than if they were still bound with the manuscript.
An incomplete Noted Choir Psalter and Hymnal is bound out of order and is missing numerous leaves; however, it still represents the opportunity to acquire a liturgical manuscript from Northern Italy.
There is so much to learn from these manuscripts, and we hope you can come in and enjoy them. In addition to the manuscripts coming to Special Collections for classroom use, every Tuesday from 4 p.m.-7 p.m. Aug. 28- Nov. 13, we will showcase a few manuscripts during our open houses.
This fall brings several big changes to Special Collections that we are excited to share with you!
We will soon be introducing Aeon, our new reading room management tool. This new system for patrons will be used in Special Collections, the John Martin Rare Book Room at Hardin Library, and the Cantor Rare Book Room at the Music Library.
Using Aeon, you can:
Set up an account in advance of your visit. This only needs to be done once, so there’s no more paperwork each time you use a new manuscript collection.
Request material before your visit to the reading room, making your visit more time efficient.
Record past visits, helping you keep track of material you have already viewed or wish to revisit.
Order scans or photocopies more easily, and retrieve scans more quickly.
While Aeon will change how some things are done, don’t worry! Staff will be on hand with resources to help you navigate this new system.
In tandem with the introduction of Aeon, Special Collections will be changing its reading room hours. Starting July 30th, Special Collections reading room will implement the following hours:
Monday: 10 am- 5pm
Tuesday: 10am- 7pm
8 am to 10 am Monday-Friday remains available to patrons by advance appointment. Feel free to contact us to set up one of these appointments whether you are traveling across the country or across the campus!
Iowa Women’s Archives reading room hours will remain the same as they have been.
If you have questions or want to schedule an appointment, reach out to us at email@example.com or call (319) 335-5921
The University of Iowa Libraries is delighted to announce Margaret Gamm as the new Head of Special Collections. She replaces Greg Prickman, who leaves on July 2 to become the Eric Weinmann Librarian and Director of Collections at the Folger Shakespeare Library after serving as Head of Special Collections since 2011.
Gamm joined the UI Libraries in 2013 as the Special Collections Librarian in the Map Collection. In 2014 she was appointed Acquisition and Collection Management Librarian for Special Collections, and this past year served as Assistant Head of Special Collections.
Gamm arrived at the University of Iowa having interned at the Smithsonian Institution Libraries and the University of Georgia Georgiana Collection, and served as a research assistant in the Rare Book Collection at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Over the past five years, she has overseen the acquisition of new materials, supervised staff, managed budgets, led the implementation of new software programs, and curated rare works–particularly medieval manuscripts, incunabula, cartographic works, and artists’ books. Gamm has also worked to bring Special Collections further into the UI community, teaching sessions on book and cartographic history, working closely with donors, and devising new engagement opportunities for patrons.
“I am thrilled to begin my new role as Head of this incredible department that has accomplished so much,” said Gamm. “We have a lot of momentum here in Special Collections that will carry us into the future, and I am so excited to lead us there. I am already looking forward to a busy year filled with new exhibits, visiting medieval manuscripts, the debut of an online patron registration system, and so much more.”
As a dedicated and visionary librarian, Gamm maintains a staunch commitment to the evolving staffing needs of a 21st century Special Collections, as well as the dynamic spaces required to house and showcase the UI Libraries’ remarkable holdings. Looking ahead she sees great potential for new collaborations across campus and within the Libraries to advance understandings of and access to these collections.
A 2010 graduate of the University of Georgia, Gamm majored in English and History, before obtaining her Master of Science in Library Science with a concentration in archives and records management at UNC-Chapel Hill. In 2015, Gamm was named a “Bright Young Librarian” by Fine Books & Collections magazine.
Special Collections is excited to see Gamm as the new head of the department and cannot wait to see what the next chapter will bring.
It is with a mix of sadness and joy that Special Collections bids goodbye to Colleen Theisen as she leaves to start her next big adventure. Colleen has accepted a job at Syracruse University as their Chief Curator of Exhibitions, Programs, and Education. Although we are sad to see her go, we cannot help but feel excited for this new chapter in her life. While at Iowa, Colleen helped create the group Historic Foodies, curated the exhibit “The Land Provides: Iowa’s Culinary Heritage” at Old Capitol, grew Special Collections instruction program, and brought national attention through NBC Nightly News and Atlas Obscura to our collections. Colleen’s last day will be June 1st, and we wish her the best of luck!
Taking over as our new Outreach and Engagement Librarian is Elizabeth Riordan. A recent graduate from the University of Iowa’s School of Library and Information Science, Riordan has been involved with Special Collections for the past two years, working as the Brokaw Graduate Research Assistant this past year. A Des Moines native, Elizabeth received BAs in Anthropology and in Theatre Arts from Augustana College in Rock Island, IL. A self-diagnosed silent film nut, Elizabeth is excited to work more with the Brinton Entertaining Company Collection and other film-related material here at Special Collections. She looks forward to getting involved with the community and finding ways to bring the collections out of the stacks for all to see.