Zoë Webb is a graduate student at the University of Iowa in the School of Library and Information Science and is also pursuing a Book Studies certificate at the Center for the Book. As a student worker in Special Collections, she was recently appointed Processing Intern for the L. Falcon Media Fandom Collection. Below Zoë shares some of the amazing things she has found, as well as the experiences and lessons learned working with this collection.
Special Collections recently acquired the L. Falcon Media Fandom Collection (MsC1108). Since processing collections often require a serious time commitment, the collection’s donor also gave the library a generous gift to allow a student more time to focus on the Falcon collection and be thorough with the processing. That lucky student was me, Zoë Webb. I’ve been spending a portion of every week as a student worker in Special Collections organizing and identifying the weird and wonderful material found within this collection.
This collection consists of books and annuals, zines, fan art, article clippings, scripts, and a couple of recordings. The fandoms range from the 1960s to the 2000s, and are mostly science fiction, with some fantasy and war stories in the mix. Topics covered include Star Trek, Star Wars, Doctor Who, Blake’s 7, Fantastic Journey, War of the Worlds, Rat Patrol, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, Man from U.N.C.L.E., The Avengers (the 1960s British spy Avengers, not the tight-suited American Avengers that grace our screen today), The Professionals, The Sandbaggers, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Captain Scarlet, and Due South, just to name a few.
Over the past months I have come across some great, albeit odd, gems that I’d like to share with all of you out there reading this. Below is just the tip of the iceberg of what this collection holds. Thanks to the generous donation from the Falcon family, I have been able to focus my attention on this collection, learning not only more about the world of fandom, but about the skills needed to process and sort such unique material in an archival setting. In the next month, you will be able to enjoy this collection for yourself by searching everything on ArchivesSpace and visiting us.
Do you have an interest in bookbinding? Have you always wanted to be a boy or girl scout but never took the opportunity to join? Or maybe you miss those scouting days? Well, now is your chance to earn your Bookbinding badge and join the Book Scouts.
Curated by Olson Graduate Assistant Laura Michelson, graduate student Zoe Webb, and graduate student Damien Ihrig, How to Earn Your Book Scouts Merit Badge is an exhibit now on display in the reading room of Special Collections.
This exhibit breaks down the process of bookbinding in chronological order, starting with a 1950’s Official Boy Scout Bookbinding Kit, which they discovered up in the Conservation Lab of the Main Library. From there, the three graduates display the materials used in making books, including parchment and minerals used in making different colored paints and dyes. The exhibit continues with displays of several historical book binding models, as well as their own creations from their classes in Center for the Book.
“There’s more to the creation of books that people don’t understand sometimes,” Michelson said.
The addition of their own bookbinding work brings their curation of this exhibit to a personal level.
“It does a good job of capturing the specific things that we’re interested in individually,” Ihrig said.
Michelson, Webb, and Ihrig are three graduate students in the School of Library and Information Sciences with a graduate certificate in Book Studies (BLIS). They were asked to create an exhibit about their experiences in the BLIS program and they found that bookbinding was something they all had in common.
But, what made this exhibit really come to life was the boy scout bookbinding kit.
“We weren’t sure how to set up the exhibit,” Webb said. “We had a lot of the pieces but it was still a little confused, and the kit made everything fall into place.”
They also wanted to add an element of interactivity with the exhibit because the boy scout bookbinding kit included a checklist on how to earn the badge in bookbinding. So, they created their own list for participants to earn their book arts badge for the new Book Scouts.
Along with the list, there will also be a pop-up exhibit on March 6th from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. where people can make their own book and check-off an item on their list to get their badge. Other items include visiting the exhibit, visiting Special Collections, attending a bibliophiles talk and then submitting a form by April 2nd. Then you could be an owner of a Book Scouts Merit Badge.
You can download the list here or pick one up at the front desk at Special Collections. Once filled out, turn it into the Special Collections front desk to receive your own badge!
How to Earn Your Book Scouts Merit Badge is currently on exhibit and will be up until the mid-to-late April.
I was hired at Special Collections to shelve things. Books, boxes and everything in-between. As time went on, I began putting away newly acquired books as well as gathering the material for classroom use.
There are so many books and material passing through my hands each shift I complete, and each book or item is unique. Some test the true definition of what a book should be, or what our image of a book is. So, in no particular order, here are my ten favorite books I have found in the stacks:
Winnie ille Pu by A.A. Milne (xPZ5.M65 W512)
This is a Latin version of A.A. Milne’s Winnie the Pooh. This silly old bear is still a favorite of mine, and I love that it is so popular that it even comes in a dead language. The cover also depicts Pooh and Piglet wearing Roman battle gear.
Paper Samples 1966 by Glen Dawson (Smith TS1220.D27 1966)
This is one of our many miniature books, but it is one of my favorites because it is a mini-book with little paper samples in it. That’s it.
The Perfect Martini by Emily Martin (Szathmary N7433.4.M364 P47 1998)
I really enjoy this artist book because it makes you consider what a book to be. This is literally a martini glass with an olive in the bottom. The only words are on the box it is encased in, saying: “Place ice in a shaker, fill as needed with gin. Observe a moment of silence for the vermouth. Strain into a martini glass. Add olives and serve. Instructions may be repeated.”
Complete Works by William Shakespeare (Smith PR2754.E5 1904 v 1-40)
Shakespeare is one of my favorite authors to study, so it’s only fitting to put him in my list. This book I listed is actually all of his plays, but they’re mini!!! And they come with their own rotating bookshelf! I love everything about this set, including the floral end-paper.
Global Perspectives by Christian Science Publishing Society (Maps G3201.A67 1968 .C5)
This one is from our Maps Collection. We have so many different maps, but this one stuck out to me because it’s the United States seen from the perspective of Canada.
God Created the Sea and Painted it Blue So We’d Feel Good on it by Michelle Ray (xN7433.4.R39 G63 2013)
This was one of the first books I came across while working here, and it has stuck with me during my two years here. It isn’t the book that is the wow factor, but the box that holds the book. It is simply beautiful. The detail included on it and the way you can feel the water moving makes it a special piece.
Autumn; or: The Causes, Appearances, and Effects of the Seasonal Decay and Decomposition of Nature by Robert Mudie (QH81.M93 1837), Spring, or: The Causes, Appearances, and Effects of the Seasonal Renovations of Nature in All Climates by Robert Mudie (QH81.M933 1837), Summer, or: The Causes, Appearances, and Effects of the Grand Nuptials of Nature in All Its Departments by Robert Murdie (QH81.M934 1837) and Winter, or: The Causes, Appearances, and Effects of the Great Seasonal Repost of Nature by Robert Murdie (QH81.M935 1837)
I had to group all four of these together because it is just too hard to pick one. If you do pick one, then you pick your favorite season. I don’t like these books for the words or the cover, but for the image that is hidden on the spine. When you fold the pages of the book a certain way, an image is presented to you. That image is a season; four books for four seasons.
El Taco De Ojo = Easy on the Eye by Edward H. Hutchins (Szathmary N7433.4.H88 T33 2000)
I couldn’t tell you exactly why I like this book so much, or why it made it to the list instead of other books. I mean, it’s literally a book in the shape of a taco. And who doesn’t love tacos?
Plotted: a Literary Atlas by Andrew DeGraff (Maps PN56.M265 D44 2015)
Now, this is an interesting piece because it also comes from our Maps Collection, but it isn’t a map of a place you can visit physically. This book contains different maps of famous literary tales, including the short story “The Lottery” and The Odyssey.
Curtis’s Botanical Magazine by John Sims (xQK1.C9 any volume)
These are simply beautiful. They have illustrations of different flowers in it and its gorgeous. It makes me wish I had the talent to do something like that. And all of the volumes are created that way.
Special Collections student worker Seth Torchia spent a fascinating summer interning at the National Archives. We are excited for Seth to have had this wonderful opportunity and asked him to share his experiences below.
This summer, I interned at the National Archives assisting with the Lincoln Archives Digital Project. The Lincoln Archives Digital Project is a website that posts documents used during Lincoln’s presidency that are stored at the National Archives. Throughout the summer, I was in charge of the letters that were used to discharge immigrants from the Union Army because they were not yet legal citizens of the United States. The letters were issued to Edwin Stanton, the Secretary of War, from Secretary of State William H. Seward, informing Stanton of their discharge. The majority of these immigrants came from modern-day Germany and Great Britain and were living in either Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, or Maryland.
My duties included taking inventory of all of the letters, scanning and photoshopping the letters for the website, as well as typing out the software coding for the letters to be posted onto the website. Apart from myself, I worked with 3 other students, who were working on their own document collections, and with my supervisor and founder of the website, Karen Needles. On Mondays we would work at the National Archives facility in College Park, Maryland where we would focus on the website programming. The following Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays, involved working at the main building in Washington, D.C. where we would continue our work on inventory, scanning, or photoshopping.
During my internship, I had time do my own research, and I found Abraham Lincoln’s signature in regards to a pardon case. I also discovered my great-grandfather’s promotion notice during his service in World War I. Working at the National Archives was a surreal experience as I was working in one of the world’s largest archival facilities, as well as one of the most historic places in the United States. I gained new skills during my internship, such as advanced computer knowledge, and feel I have really improved my research skills. I also got to see three of my professors who have taught me in previous classes here at Iowa. They were doing their own research, which I thought was neat to see.
As well as my internship, I had plenty of time to explore Washington, D.C. My favorite things in D.C. were visiting the Library of Congress, touring the FBI Building, spending the 4th of July on the National Mall, and watching the Washington Capitals win the Stanley Cup. I had a great summer living in D.C. and my internship will be an experience I will never forget!
University of Iowa Libraries’ staff this year donated to a new Libraries’ Student Employee Scholarship fund to support competitive scholarships open to students working in the University of Iowa library system. Special Collections’ own Stacy Garrard was awarded one of the two scholarships.
Stacy is a freshman majoring in Speech and Hearing Sciences and works in Special Collections where she loves looking at the historical pieces of art, literature, and letters as well as assisting patrons with general inquiries and more in-depth research.
Stacy has been invaluable to us in Special Collections. Stop by the Reading Room on the third floor to join us in congratulating Stacy!
It has only been a few months into my new position as Department Liaison, and one of my major job duties is to supervise the student employees. I did not anticipate that the hardest part of this new job would be watching wonderful students graduate and leave the department.
This Fall 2015 semester, two outstanding students graduated: Zoë Webb and Mallory Price. Both students will be sorely missed, and I think I can speak for the entire department when I say, they will be hard to replace!
Zoë Webb graduated this semester from the University of Iowa School of Art and Art History with a degree in Art, and finalized her undergraduate career with a BFA show titled “Don’t Stray From the Path”. Zoë’s show featured a room not only filled with her original artwork, including some impressive metal works, but it also included artistically placed trees and leaves to give the viewer the sense of walking through an ethereal forest inhabited by faeries.
Zoë began her Special Collections journey in January 2012, where she has completed a wide variety of projects in the department. She’s made spine labels, processed books, including hundreds of science-fiction paperbacks, and helped with some major shifting projects in her many years here. I will definitely miss her shared love of fandom, expert artistic skills, and knack for finding amazing things on accident.
Mallory began working in the Special Collections department in May 2014, and during her time here has been our primary front desk student. Along with assisting patrons with numerous questions, ranging from helping them to use the scanner, to detailed research questions, Mallory has proved herself to be a huge asset in all things reference! I will miss her expertise in helping others, her positive attitude, and friendly smile!Mallory Price graduated this semester from the University of Iowa School of Music with a Bachelor’s degree in Music, with a focus on Music Therapy. An outstanding violin player, Mallory finalized her undergraduate career with a Senior Recital, playing music from Beethoven, Fritz Kreisler, and Dvořák.
On behalf of the entire Special Collections and University Archives Department, we wish Zoë and Mallory the best of luck in the future!
This week I’m finishing up my summer internship at Special Collections. I’ve had so much fun here this past month and no two days have been exactly the same. I’ve done all sorts of things, from helping with reference questions and pulling materials, to listening to Oral History interviews and exploring the collections. One of my favorite things I had the opportunity to do was create a series of Tumblr posts featuring postcards from the World’s Fair Collection. I even got to create a display for the display case in the reading room with the postcards from my posts.
Another thing that I really enjoyed was getting to meet with all the people in the department individually. Through these meetings I learned so much about what each person does and how they got here. I loved hearing everyone’s stories and I have a much greater appreciation for all the work everyone does here.
I also had the opportunity to pull items for the upcoming comics program for the Iowa City Public Library summer reading program. The nerd in me loved going through the boxes of old comics to help chose what to show at the event, (I especially loved the Dazzler comics). Everyone here must have really strong arm muscles though, because some of those boxes are very heavy.
This internship has given me a greater appreciation of all the work that goes on behind the scenes, that most people never see, and all the amazing people that work here. I’m so thankful to have had this opportunity and I’m going to miss coming in every morning. Have a wonderful summer everyone.
We certainly enjoyed having Emily with us this summer, and we miss her already! If you’d like to check out Emily’s wonderful tumblr series, follow this link!
by Shawn R. Conley – student worker in Special Collections
With the election year in full swing and Election Day looming, most of us will be making our way to that legendary voting booth with the fancy curtains to cast our vote and take part in yet another one of our civic duties. Most of all, and assuredly most rewarding, is having the liberty to have taken part in a Presidential election that was established in our country nearly two-and-a-half centuries ago. Delusions of Americana aside, many of us are just glad to get that sought-after “I Voted” sticker one we’ve finished.
As millions of men and women flood the voting booths across the nation, the arduous task remains: how does one count these millions of votes? The task of an accurate and speedy vote count is something our forefathers have been tackling since our country was founded. During the 19th century, a flurry of new ideas and machines arose to combat this problem. One of these companies attempting to deliver “…a fair vote and an honest count” according to their brochure from over a century ago, was the Glenn Voting Machine Company of Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
While sorting and cataloguing my way through a collection of papers and letters from E.J.C. Bealer, a very prominent businessman and stone quarry magnate from Cedar Rapids, I came across a large number of stock certificates from as far back as 1898 from long defunct companies like the Tykoon Mining Company and the American Gold Production Company. Tucked between these certificates was a little blue book with gold letters titled, “The Glenn Voting Machine.” Mr. Bealer had quite an investment in this company through the many stock certificates I found.
“Why use Glenn Voting Machines?” asks the third page of the brochure. During this time in American history, the entire logistical process of voting was changing directions. Through the evidence exhibited by this brochure, one can see how appealing casting a vote by machine would be. All one must do according to page nine is to “place the pointers on the names of the candidates of your choice — walk out.” Not only would the mechanical voting machine make voting much simpler, but it might even make voting fun or appealing which is something political scientists try to figure out to this day.
Taking a look at the illustrations of the machine, one can make out the presidential candidates of the 1904 election: Theodore Roosevelt and Alton B. Parker. The simplicity of the machine is hinted throughout the brochure, ensuring that every gentleman’s vote is precise. Sorry ladies, your time hasn’t arrived just yet…give it a few more years. Towards the end of the brochure are many newspaper articles and clippings, exhibiting how the Glenn Voting Machine promises “Fast Returns!” and “desirability” of a mechanical voting machine as compared to old-fashioned paper ballots.
So when you finally do make your way to the voting booth, pull those fancy curtains shut, and cast your vote for President of the United States, remember that it was through the inventions of companies like the Glenn Voting Machine Company of Cedar Rapids, Iowa that allow us to ever so conveniently cast our votes on LED screens and receive “Fast Returns!”
The thunderous noise in the halls near Special Collections & University Archives is not an approaching storm, (we have had enough water for a lifetime), but rather the sound of cart wheels rolling back and forth carrying shelves. The Books are on the Move all over the Main Library and Special Collections is no exception. Our basement storage area is infamous from the 2008 flood, when hundreds of volunteers from across the campus and the community joined in an effort to relocate 14,000 linear feet of books and manuscripts to higher floors. Now, as a consequence of the upcoming renovation work in the Main Library, we have an opportunity to honor their contribution by ensuring it will not likely be needed again. We are moving all of the collections up from the basement to the third floor. Our collections will all be housed together, greatly increasing our ability to page items quickly for our patrons.
We are undertaking this move internally so yesterday our dedicated student workers finished replacing small shelves with larger ones that will safely hold Special Collections materials and archival boxes. Our students, trained in handling rare materials and familiar with our storage locations proved themselves this summer when they shifted thousands of volumes in our third floor stacks in far less time than we planned for the project. Lindsay Morecraft has helped with both moves and she thinks student movers have advantages. “We know these materials and know that they have to be taken care of. We can see them as individual items and not as just objects to be moved so we can handle the materials better and be sure nothing gets lost, out of order, or damaged. It’s a lot of work, but in the end not going down to the basement and having everything in a central area will be a big help.”
Our heartfelt thanks go out to all of our student workers and volunteers. Though their work is hidden, today, like every day, the paging, shelving, processing, and moving are what make it possible for everyone from visiting classes, to researchers in the reading room, to junior high students working on National History Day projects, to be able to see and learn from our collections and contribute to the life of the university and our UNESCO City of Literature, Iowa City.