Farewell to the Stairwell Party

Libraries faculty and staff joined students preparing for finals to say goodbye to Ekstrom’s steps at the Farewell to the Stairwell event on April 17. Adorned with poetry and color, their demolition imminent, Ekstrom’s stairs were feted by the small crowd, who shared cupcakes, frosted in UofL colors, and viewed architects’ renderings of the changes to come.



Please take a look at the photo album.

Ekstrom says Farewell to the Stairwell

Cupcake Celebration April 17 Commemorates Ekstrom’s Evolution to 21st Century Library

Just as Michelangelo removed everything that wasn’t David, the first floor of Ekstrom’s east wing will be artfully hewn into comfortable, exciting and tech-savvy space. The transformation takes place this summer, with the new first floor to be completed by the Fall seFarewell sign text jpegmester. The changes are part of the Libraries’ Strategic Plan to transform relationships, collections and spaces so that the U of L Libraries become a nationally recognized model of user-focused, research library services.

As a first “step” in the renovation, the large, iconic, concrete staircase, which has greeted visitors for 34 years, will be removed. In honor of their past service, the stairs will be painted with poetry and color over the week of April 13th.

On April 17th from 3-5 p.m., the Libraries will host a “Farewell to the Stairwell” event, with cupcakes and commemorative buttons available for all visitors.

Please come and help us celebrate Ekstrom’s rebirth.

University of Louisville Libraries Faculty Present at Annual Library Conference

With trends shifting in technology and scholarship, University of Louisville Libraries’ faculty and staff are finding meaningful ways to transform their libraries. At last week’s Association of College and Research Libraries Conference in Portland, Oregon, U of L Libraries faculty presented their research and led roundtable discussions on a variety of issues pertinent to the changing landscape.

Libraries Dean Robert E. Fox, Jr. led several research presentations including one on best practices in managing student advisory boards to help increase their value to the library. Additionally, Fox and Associate Dean and Ekstrom Library Director Bruce Keisling led a roundtable on locating academic support services within the library to enrich students’ experience.

Other lecture topics included best practices on integrating new employees swiftly and seamlessly into their vocational culture. Melissa Laning, Associate Dean, and Keisling asked the question: “After payroll and parking, what do new librarians really want to know about their new jobs and places of employment?” The two also led a roundtable discussion on the topic.

Libraries Diversity Residency Librarian Rosalinda H. Linares led a lecture on “delivering value through innovation, leadership, and inclusion” and highlighted cutting-edge projects produced by current and former residency librarians. Residency librarians are new graduates who work for limited times, typically a year or more, in a University Library to gain experience in their new profession.

A full description of topics follows:

Paper presentation by University of Louisville Libraries Dean Robert Fox
Successful + Sustainable Student Advisory Boards
(With Meg Scharf, University of Central Florida, and Ameet Doshi, Georgia Tech)
Libraries use effective student advisory boards to receive ideas, feedback, and constructive criticism. But with good management, a student advisory board can increase its value to the library. This presentation discusses the key elements of successful student advisory boards and identifies best practices in board management in use by three libraries. The purpose of the board, recruitment of members, conducting meetings, creation of a comfortable, open meeting environment, and member communication practices are presented.

Roundtable led by Dean Robert Fox and Ekstrom Library Director Bruce Keisling
Partners Not Tenants: Co-Locating Student Academic Support Services in the Library to Promote Student Success
Colleges and universities are increasingly focused on helping their students achieve academic success, and the library is a logical academic support venue. Based on their experiences the facilitators will lead a conversation about building academic support services in the library by developing successful partnerships with non-library units and reorganizing spaces to integrate those units into the library.

Poster Presentation, Dean Robert Fox and Ekstrom Library Director Bruce Keisling
Build Your Program by Building Your Team: Inclusively Transforming Services, Staffing and Spaces
Having quantitative data can be an important step in planning any type of organizational change but it’s also important for leaders to gather input by listening and incorporating feedback from users, staff, and campus partners. Based on their experience in one university library, the presenters will demonstrate successful techniques for leading a sustainable transformation of services, staffing, and spaces that combined study data along with a highly inclusive planning and implementation process.

Poster Presentation, Associate Dean Melissa Laning and Ekstrom Library Director Bruce Keisling
Creating Organizational Community: The Role of New Employee Onboarding Practices
After payroll and parking, what do new librarians really want to know about their new jobs and places of employment? What do they wish their employers would learn about them? Based on interviews with academic librarians who have been in their current positions for less than three years, the presenters will share their findings about how academic library employee orientation programs can create a more cohesive organizational community and where improvements can be made.

Roundtable led by Associate Dean Melissa Laning and Ekstrom Library Director Bruce Keisling
Creating Community: What do you Really Want to Know the First Year on the Job?
After payroll and parking, what do new librarians really want to know about their new jobs and places of employment? Do orientation programs cover those issues? Based on their recent review of onboarding programs, the facilitators will share some findings about how academic library employee orientation programs can create a more cohesive organizational community and lead a conversation about enhancing new employee orientation.

Poster Presentation by Rosalinda H. Linares, Diversity Residency Librarian, University of Louisville
Library Residents on the Bleeding Edge: Delivering Value Through Innovation, Leadership, and Inclusion
(With Sara Arnold-Garza, Residency Coordinator, Towson University; Ariana Santiago, Instruction Librarian, University of Houston)
This poster highlights cutting-edge projects produced by current and former residency librarians. Projects will illustrate the pillars of a residency experience: the role of the residency librarian as a catalyst for innovation, the importance of leadership skills for imagining and executing work in new areas of academic librarianship, and the value of a diversity perspective to sustaining programs and services that support the variety of campus communities.


A new exhibit has opened in the Photographic Archives this month: HomeLands, by Robb Hill. The photographs are documents from a long-term project examining how a person’s identity is informed by the land on which they live and what happens when the connection is severed by alterations to that land.


Hill grew up just outside the town of Utica, Indiana. This area is now changing dramatically because of the I-265 extension but Hill’s project began before the construction. “HomeLands started as a documentary project, to record the land where I grew up before big machines erased it. I have been returning to Indiana several times a year for the last ten years to hike the trails and fields I played in as a kid. With each footstep I looked for signs of the world I once knew so well.”


The panoramic, black and white, landscape photographs of HomeLands are a meditation on the idea of home. Hill posits that by shaping the land people create their sense of self and asks, “When the bond between land and people is broken what happens to identity?” The connections Hill photographs range from natural changes and decay to man-made alterations of the landscape he remembers. “I believe land makes people who they are. The relationship you have with the land you’re on sets the cornerstone of your being.”

More than simply nostalgia for Hill, HomeLands connects with viewers through rich images and icons, current and disappearing, of our region’s past and present.


HomeLands will be on display in the Photographic Archives Gallery, in Ekstrom Library, from March 12 through May 22. The gallery is open from 8am – 5pm, Monday – Friday.

A Royal Visit

My typical day as director of Archives and Special Collections (ASC) is interesting and varied: a discussion with a potential donor, a meeting to plan an exhibit, creating catalog entries to facilitate discovery of our collections… Last Friday was interesting in an entirely different way.

Merv Aubespin and Ken Clay at entrance to exhibit

Merv Aubespin and Ken Clay at entrance to exhibit

ASC has a long-standing partnership with Ken Clay and Merv Aubespin (also known as Legacies Unlimited), who, with Blaine Hudson, authored Two Centuries of Black Louisville. Many of the historical photographs in this book came from the University of Louisville Photographic Archives, and we mounted an exhibit when the book came off the press in 2011. We’ve recreated this exhibit as part of the “Celebrating the Legacy of Black Louisville” events at the Kentucky Center for African American Heritage for the last two years.

We were told a couple of weeks ago that the Prince of Wales and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall would be visiting the Center, and that our exhibit would be a featured attraction. It was a huge honor, and required that we (and when I say we, I really mean Marcy Werner) had to reprint all of the images so they could be framed and reinstalled.

A portion of the Two Centuries exhibit

A portion of the Two Centuries exhibit



It also meant that we were invited to be at the exhibit when the royal couple came through. I am not normally all that interested in royalty – I was old enough to be very much aware of the Prince’s wedding to Diana, and I didn’t even try to watch it on television. But even I couldn’t pass up the chance to see what a royal visit is like. We were given some ground rules on the morning of the visit: don’t reach out to them, but you can shake their hand if they reach out to you; call them both “your Royal Highness”; and something about cell phones. I think we weren’t supposed to be taking pictures, but… everyone was taking pictures.

Crowd of people at the Kentucky Center for African American Heritage

Crowd of people at the Kentucky Center for African American Heritage

When I agreed to attend the event, I knew there were a large number (30-40) of other exhibitors, and I expected them to be promoting the Commonwealth’s industries and agriculture. Instead, the event focused on health, innovation, sustainability, and — in our case — history. There were students and teachers from local schools demonstrating projects and organizations that promote sustainable agriculture, as well as University of Louisville’s FirstBuild. There were choirs, bands, and the Louisville Orchestra. It was very impressive, and something that the University should be proud to have been a part of.

As it turned out, Camilla (but not Charles) toured the Two Centuries exhibit, guided by Ken Clay and Merv Aubespin. I was not permitted into the gallery when she was viewing the exhibit, so I can’t gauge her level of engagement, but she stayed longer than I expected. Our collections helped a member of Britain’s royalty understand something about Louisville’s history – this is a departure from our usual daily activities, to say the least. While it was fun to be part of the hoopla, and I am proud we were asked to participate, it wasn’t nearly as satisfying as the day-to-day work that we do: things like working with academics from all over who want to study the Stryker papers; neighbors who want to stroll down memory lane via old photos of department stores that are no more; and students who have to write a paper on a UofL building.

The Beginnings of the UofL Band

by James Procell

first uniforms

UofL Band displaying their first uniform, on the front steps of Grawemeyer Hall, E.J. Wotawa, conductor, 1928

The University of Louisville Band began in 1928 when E.J. Wotowa came to the University of Louisville from Male High School to teach music. He recruited musicians for his all-male band by offering college credit for participation in the ensemble. Robert Worth Bingham, a local newspaper owner, also provided funding for the band. In the Fall of 1933, the UofL band began performing at football games. Shortly after, Wotowa stepped down as director, and was followed by a string of other successful directors. In 1937, the band received a standing invitation to play My Old Kentucky Home at the Kentucky Derby. To this day, the band continues to attend the Derby and perform the song to an audience of millions.

In 1938, Ernest Lyon was hired as director of the band. Though World War II caused a decline in the band’s activity, he worked very hard to resurrect the program in the early and mid-1940s. In 1947, UofL president John Taylor gave the rebuilding effort a boost. He set up an independent Division of Bands, and Lyon was allotted a large number of $50 per semester scholarships to encourage musicians to join the band. Under Lyon’s direction, the band quickly grew to over 100 members, and included female members for the first time. In 1947, the band travelled to Hattiesburg, Mississippi to attend the UofL vs. Southern Miss. football game. The band, previously known as the “Best Dressed Band in Dixie,” had to abandon that title after it was discovered that another university band held claim to the title. The band then became known as the “Marching Cardinals,” a title that it still holds today.


UofL Band in formation in front of Grawemeyer Hall with Hilda Gay Mayberry, majorette, holding her Miss Majorette of America 1952 certificate

The late 1940s through the early 1950s were a particularly active time for the band. Fans at Manual and Parkway Stadiums were treated to spectacular halftime shows, including amazing twirling performances by Hilda Gay Mayberry, who was named the nation’s best majorette in 1952. Outside of the marching field, the concert band commissioned many new works via the work of Ernest Lyon and the newly-formed music fraternity Pi Kappa Omicron, which was founded at the University of Louisville. Works commissioned by the fraternity include Vincent Persichetti’s Psalm for Band and William Schuman’s Chester, amongst many other works which are now considered standard repertoire for concert bands.

The photos are from the music library’s UofL Historic Band Collection, which includes hundreds of photographs, clippings, recordings, and other early band memorabilia. If you are interested in learning more about the history of the band or this wonderful collection, please contact music librarian James Procell.


UofL trumpet players in uniform pose for photo with Thinker statue in front of Grawemeyer Hall, early 1950s

Women’s History Month: Library Resources

March marks Women’s History Month. As noted last week regarding African American History Month, the University of Louisville Libraries provides access to a host of sources for learning about women’s history, particularly from a local perspective.

Explore the Guide to Women’s Manuscript Collections in the University Archives & Records Center (UARC) to start researching women’s lives in Louisville through history. The Women’s and Gender Studies research guide links to primary and secondary sources on this topic.

Digital Collections includes images and oral histories relating to women, including The Kate Matthews Collection by a pioneering woman photographer from Pewee Valley, and Jean Thomas, The Traipsin’ Woman, Collection documenting Kentucky folk culture.

The University of Louisville’s Hite Institute of Art is now home to the International Honor Quilt. Watch this blog for upcoming news about this resource for women’s history, art, and craft.


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