Tom Owen wins Top Award from Kentucky Historical Society

University of Louisville Libraries Archivist and Historian Tom Owen was awarded the Distinguished Service Award, the top honor of the Kentucky Historical Society (KHS), at its annual awards ceremony on November 10.

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UofL Archivist Tom Owen with Constance Alexander, president of the Kentucky Historical Society Governing Board.

A former Louisville Metro Councilman and caretaker of Louisville lore and history, Owen was cited for his “service to history, to UofL and to Louisville; his work as an archivist, making UofL’s records and archival collections available to researchers; and his walking tours—both the physical tours and their recordings. He made the city his classroom.” He was also praised as a “scholar who popularized history and . . . elevated history’s importance for many people.”

Owen is known for his walking tours, which capture the color and history of a particular corner of the city as part of a series on local public television, titled Tom Owen’s Louisville. Recently, he also offered weekly tours of UofL’s Belknap campus, detailing the background and stories of various buildings and areas.  His research in this area led to the recent publication of a book in collaboration with Archives colleague Sherri Pawson, University of Louisville Belknap Campus.

Owen is also well-known as a politician locally, having served as a Louisville Metro Council member from 2003 until his retirement in 2016, and prior to that, on the old Board of Alderman from 1990 to 1998.  He has been an archivist with UofL for 42 years.

The Distinguished Service Award is the highest honor the Kentucky Historical Society presents. DSA winners have provided great services to Kentucky and the field of history in their professional or personal lives.  The ceremony was held at the Thomas D. Clark Center for Kentucky History, 100 W. Broadway, in Frankfort, Ky.

Additional recipients included:

Service/Special Awards

  • Tom Owen, Louisville, Distinguished Service Award
  • Filson Historical Society, Louisville, Thomas D. Clark Award of Excellence Award
  • Donna Russell, Oldham County, Award of Distinction Award
  • Ken Reis, Campbell County, Frank R. Levstik Award for Professional Service Award
  • Kurt Holman, Boyle County, Lifetime Dedication to Kentucky History Award
  • Scott Clark and Brian Mabeltini, Boyle County, Brig. Gen. William R. Buster Award
  • Kentucky Humanities Council, Community Impact Award
  • Hannah O’Daniel, Louisville, Kentucky Public History Intern Award

Publication Awards

  • David J. Bettez, “Kentucky and the Great War: World War I on the Home Front”
  • Shawn D. Chapman, “Removing Recalcitrant County Clerks in Kentucky”
  • Ronald Wolford Blair, “Wild Wolf: The Great Civil War Rivalry”
  • John David Miles, “Historic Architecture of Shelby County, Ky, 1792–1915”
  • Journal of the Jackson Purchase Historical Society
  • 43rd Annual Hopkins County Yearbook

Education Awards

  • Charles W. Logsdon Historic Downtown Walking Tour, Elizabethtown
  • Jeff Crooper/Logan County Genealogical Society, “The Future of Indexing”
  • James Graham Brown Foundation and John Kleber, Brown Fellows Program, Kentucky Connections Handbook

KHS also honored Jennifer Faith, an Eastside Middle School (Shepherdsville) teacher who was Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History Teacher of the Year for Kentucky, and Collins Award recipient Andrea Smalley, associate professor, Northern Illinois University. The Collins Award goes to the author of an article from The Register of the Kentucky Historical Society judged to have made the most outstanding contribution to Kentucky history. Smalley’s article, “‘They Steal Our Deer and Land’: Contested Hunting Grounds in the Trans-Appalachian West,” was in the summer/autumn 2016 issue of The Register.


Honoring U.S. Veterans at the University Libraries

For Veteran’s Day (November 11), we wanted to acknowledge the Libraries personnel who served or currently serve our country in the armed forces.

Senior Business Center Assistant Tiffani Belin served in the U.S. Air Force from 2007-2013, beginning as an Airman Basic (E-1) and was promoted to the rank of Staff Sergeant (E-5) in 2012.  From 2007-9, she was stationed at RAF Mildenhall in England, and from 2009-13 at Langley Air Force Base in Virginia. Below, Tiffani is congratulated at her Airmen Leadership School graduation; this training allowed her to sew on her 4th stripe, indicating Staff Sergeant rank.

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The Libraries’ Lead Fiscal Officer Karen Nalley served as a Lance Corporal in the Marines from 1977-79, working as a personnel clerk. She was stationed in Paris Island, South Carolina from December-May 1977; served in Camp Pendleton, California at various times; and was among the first women stationed in Okinawa, Japan from 1978-79. She is shown below at the Cow Palace on Dixie Highway wearing her summer uniform.

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Andy Huff, Interlibrary Loan/RRS Coordinator, joined the U.S. Army National Guard as a specialist in 2013, a position he holds to this day. Since April he has served in Harrodsburg, KY, and in Louisville prior to that. He plans to attend Basic Leadership training in July of 2018 to be promoted to the rank of Sergeant.  All this while earning a degree in Computer Science at UofL (estimated graduation date of December 2018), working full-time and raising four children.

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And our very own University Libraries Dean, Bob Fox, served in the Navy prior to his pursuit of a career as a librarian and administrator.

KUDOS and THANKS to you all.


“Which bridge did Muhammed Ali throw his medal off of?” and other interesting questions answered by the Research Assistance & Instruction Department

By Anna Marie Johnson

Imagine a job where you were able to learn about all kinds of different and fascinating topics in the process of helping someone answer a burning question that they have. That is part of the work of the Research Assistance and Instruction (RAI) office. Librarians, professional staff, and peer research assistants answer questions like these (and much more prosaic ones such as “Why can’t I access this journal article I need?”)  via e-mail, chat, phone, or face-to-face:

  • How many buildings are there on Belknap Campus?
  • How did St. Paul come to be a Roman citizen?
  • What is the childhood address of Hunter S. Thompson?
  • What was the roll call vote for the Kentucky senators and House members for the Civil Rights Act of 1964?
  • Can you help me research design for justifying the excavation of a privy?
  • What are the cultural reactions regarding American Indians during the Gilded Age and Progressive Era (1870-1929)—particularly in how American Indians and the related federal policies were represented in the media?
  • Where can I find industry and consumer data for Gillette Fusion?
  • What are the general prosodic characteristics of English and Spanish?

Over the years, we have helped with questions that ranged from the esoteric (journal articles on the dead Sabaean language, from someone wanting to piece together the language and write a book about it) to the downright impossible, such as the patron who wanted a copy of the WHAS Radio broadcast license from 1927, or the patron researching obscure magicians and street performers from Europe.

“What’s the best book you’ve ever read?”

While we go to great lengths to track down an answer, sometimes there’s a little luck involved. One day, a call came in to Rob Detmering, the librarian responsible for Film Studies. The caller was looking for one of the original copies of a 1972 film called Asylum of Satan. The film had reportedly been shot here in Louisville and the out-of-state caller thought that the university might have a copy. Rob asked around to the Archives, the Art Department, and a few other campus contacts that he thought might know something,

“How many theaters exist in the Palestinian territories occupied by Israel?”

but to no avail. Rob did some digging in the online database for the Courier-Journal that the library subscribes to and discovered the film had been shown at a film festival in 2008 at Baxter Avenue Theatre. Rob called the theater and spoke with someone who not only knew the film but knew the location of the copy that they had used in the showing.

We often learn a lot as we’re helping.  Our former Libraries Diversity Resident George Martinez received a question from a faculty member asking about the history of the African American Theater program at UofL. He looked through some microfilm and consulted with our colleagues in the Archives & Special Collections to find articles that traced the history of a controversy over how money generated by the Fiesta Bowl was being used for scholarships. The results of that controversy was the increase in hiring and scholarship distribution to increase the diversity at UofL.

Got Questions? Ekstrom’s RAI Department can help you track down your answer! Oh, and there is some doubt as to whether Ali ever threw his medal off any bridge, but the closest answer is the Clark Memorial.

 


Presentations at the Kentucky Library Association Annual Conference

Several faculty and staff will represent the University of Louisville Libraries at the upcoming Kentucky Library Association Conference this weekend at the Galt House in downtown Louisville. Following are some of the presentations and presenters at this year’s event, which runs from September 21-23.

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ETDplus:​ ​Guidance​ ​for​ ​Graduate​ ​Students’ Research​ ​Output

Rachel​ ​Howard,​ ​Digital​ ​Initiatives​ ​Librarian, and Dwayne​ ​Buttler,​ ​JD, Endowed Chair for Scholarly Communication

The​ ​IMLS-funded​ ​ETDplus​ ​project​ ​has​ ​produced guidance​ ​documentation,​ ​workshop​ ​materials, and​ ​software​ ​tools​ ​for​ ​students​ ​and​ ​staff​ ​to​ ​use in​ ​managing​ ​complex​ ​digital​ ​objects​ ​such​ ​as research​ ​data​ ​sets,​ ​video​ ​installations,​ ​websites and​ ​music​ ​recitals.​ ​These​ ​intellectual​ ​works cannot​ ​be​ ​captured​ ​in​ ​words​ ​alone​ ​and​ ​implicate copyright,​ ​metadata,​ ​file​ ​formats,​ ​versioning, and​ ​other​ ​research​ ​and​ ​practical​ ​challenges.​ ​We will​ ​demonstrate​ ​these​ ​freely​ ​available​ ​resources and​ ​their​ ​potential​ ​uses.

Renovations​ ​and​ ​Innovations:​ ​Merging Departments​ ​and​ ​Unit​ ​Cultures

Matthew​ ​Goldberg,​ ​Head, Access & User Services,​ ​Ekstrom​ ​Library; Ashley​ ​Triplett, Student Supervisor and Social Media Library Specialist, ​Ekstrom​ ​Library

This​ ​is​ ​the​ ​story​ ​of​ ​Ekstrom​ ​Library​ ​at​ ​the University​ ​of​ ​Louisville​ ​and​ ​its​ ​renovations​ ​during 2015​ ​and​ ​the​ ​experiences​ ​we​ ​had​ ​merging​ ​nine separate​ ​sub-departments​ ​into​ ​a​ ​single​ ​unit called​ ​Access​ ​and​ ​User​ ​Services.​ ​What​ ​may​ ​seem like​ ​a​ ​challenging​ ​process​ ​turned​ ​into​ ​an opportunity​ ​for​ ​growth​ ​and​ ​development.​ ​We will​ ​explore​ ​how​ ​we​ ​reexamined​ ​how​ ​the​ ​public desks​ ​prioritized​ ​our​ ​patrons​ ​and​ ​how​ ​we​ ​grew from​ ​several​ ​disjointed​ ​departments​ ​into​ ​a​ ​single unit​ ​with​ ​a​ ​unified​ ​department​ ​culture.

Kentucky​ ​and​ ​the​ ​Great​ ​War:​ ​Filling​ ​and Operating​ ​Military​ ​Camp​ ​Libraries

Jonathan​ ​Jeffrey,​ ​Department​ ​Head,​ ​Manuscripts Coordinator,​ ​Western​ ​Kentucky​ ​University; and Delinda​ ​Stephens​ ​Buie,​ ​Curator​ ​of​ ​Rare​ ​Books, Archives​ ​&​ ​Special​ ​Collections

The​ ​American​ ​Library​ ​Association​ ​provided library​ ​services​ ​in​ ​U.S.​ ​military​ ​camps​ ​during WWI.​ ​To​ ​fill​ ​those​ ​libraries,​ ​Americans​ ​donated​ ​3 million​ ​books​ ​in​ ​1918​ ​with​ ​Kentuckians contributing​ ​generously.​ ​Louisville’s​ ​Camp Zachary​ ​Taylor​ ​was​ ​part​ ​of​ ​the​ ​ALA’s​ ​work​ ​to provide​ ​wholesome​ ​activities​ ​in​ ​the​ ​training camps.​ ​They​ ​also​ ​sought​ ​to​ ​show​ ​the​ ​value​ ​and even​ ​“manliness”​ ​of​ ​libraries.​ ​Perhaps​ ​ironically, much​ ​of​ ​the​ ​work​ ​at​ ​Taylor​ ​was​ ​done​ ​by​ ​women from​ ​the​ ​Louisville​ ​Free​ ​Public​ ​Library.

Research​ ​DIY:​ ​Enhancing​ ​Online​ ​Learning Through​ ​Strategic​ ​Planning​ ​and​ ​Collaborative Professional​ ​Development

Robert​ ​Detmering,​ ​Information​ ​Literacy Coordinator,​ ​Information​ ​Literacy​ ​Coordinator; Amber​ ​Willenborg,​ ​Online​ ​Learning​ ​and​ ​Digital Media​ ​Librarian

We​ ​enhanced​ ​and​ ​expanded​ ​our​ ​online instruction​ ​program,​ ​while​ ​building​ ​buy-in​ ​within a​ ​departmental​ ​culture​ ​that​ ​was​ ​not​ ​enthusiastic about​ ​this​ ​work.​ ​Through​ ​strategic​ ​hiring, staffing​ ​reallocation,​ ​and​ ​collaborative professional​ ​development,​ ​we​ ​created​ ​general and​ ​customized​ ​online​ ​tools​ ​and​ ​services, including​ ​course-embedded​ ​content.​ ​We​ ​will share​ ​our​ ​team-based​ ​creative​ ​process, promotional​ ​activities,​ ​and​ ​initial​ ​assessment data​ ​for​ ​our​ ​homegrown​ ​research​ ​DIY​ ​site, Discover​ ​It​ ​Yourself.

 


Note to Shelf: A Book’s Journey

One of life’s greatest pleasures is browsing bookshelves, searching for topics at random, finding the unexpected, neglecting all commitments to ponder at leisure.

Anyone seeking such non-digital delights can visit libraries on the Belknap or HSC campuses, or for virtual browsing, our website. But how did these physical and virtual books make it to the stacks and website, to be discovered by inquiring eyes and fingertips?

Each book’s journey to the shelf is deliberately egalitarian, says Tyler Goldberg, Head of Technical Services and Print Collection Development. Anyone affiliated with the University may request books, videos, recordings or other materials via this link on the Libraries’ website (http://library.louisville.edu/forms/order-recommendation). Allowing suggestions from University-affiliated individuals aligns with the Libraries’ mission to provide free and open access to information for our patrons.

After a request comes in, Tyler and Technical Services Acquisitions Specialist John Burton confer to determine: 1) whether we already have an item; 2) whether it meets basic criteria for inclusion in our collection; 3) if so, where to order it; and 4) how to pay for it.

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Shelves of book labels in Tech Services’ basement offices in Ekstrom Library.

After searching Amazon or other online sites, John orders an item, inspects it when it arrives, and ensures it is as advertised, i.e., not ripped, not missing pages, published in the wrong language, or another book altogether. (These errors have all happened.) Before the book is ordered, John has to choose a fund from which to order the book, either from an endowment or gift*, or from the main Libraries budget.

Continuing the journey, a book, DVD or other item arrives at a Technical Services staffer’s desk, to be barcoded, cataloged (added to Libraries’ online catalog), and passed to a staff member for labeling, stamping, and a final check. Items without records or incorrect information are bounced back to Tyler. For those items without records, she creates and adds a record to the WorldCat database.

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Tyler Goldberg (photo, Ashley Triplett)

After final processing, materials arrive at their final destination, perhaps the Browsing Collection on the third floor of Ekstrom Library, or the African American Collection on Ekstrom’s second floor, or the general stacks — wherever it will be among its counterparts, waiting to be gazed at fondly by browsing eyes.

So there you have it. Our librarians and staff deal with machinations behind the scenes so you can study, research, write that scholarly paper, or continue in the simple pleasure of book browsing.

 

*Many of our loyal and fantastic donors have contributed funds for general materials and specific genres, and the Libraries depend upon these gifts to augment our collections. Some of these funds support specific subject areas, such as Asian studies, humanities, engineering, women’s studies, finance, children’s literature, biology, American literature, and even railroads. Given the budget cuts to collections, these gifts are more valuable than ever.

 


Happy birthday, Ekstrom Library!

Happy birthday to Ekstrom Library, which first opened the doors of its current location on August 28, 1981.

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From Ekstrom Library’s opening ceremony in 1981.

Named after Dr. William F. Ekstrom, a noted English professor and the first Academic Vice-President of the university, Ekstrom Library was built to house an expanding collection that had outgrown its former location in what is now Schneider Hall.

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William F. Ekstrom, an English professor and the library’s eponym.

The University Library grew from an original donation of Dean John Letcher Patterson’s personal collection in the early 1900s; by 1956, library moved into its own building to accommodate the growing collection, and by the end of the 1970s, the University Library had over 200,000 items in its collection, prompting plans for a new $14 million library.

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Ekstrom Library’s West Side

Coincidentally, Ekstrom Library director, Associate Dean Bruce Keisling shares a birthday of August 28. Happy birthday to both!

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Associate Dean and Ekstrom Director Bruce Keisling

 


“Storyteller Extraordinaire” who Mentored Hundreds of Students During Library Tenure Retires

When Ben King started working for the University Libraries in 1977, conveniences like computers, printers and scanners hadn’t yet made their way into the workplace. For instance, identifying labels with call numbers affixed to books’ spines had to be typewritten, and King remembers doing so painstakingly, on an old Remington typewriter.

“I’m so sorry I got rid of it,” King said. “It would be worth something now.”

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Ben King and his former student assistant Stacey Alvie stand in King’s decorated office in Ekstrom Library.

Now, book labels are generated automatically, students and researchers access books and materials online, and a Robotic Retrieval System in Ekstrom Library, installed in 2006, houses seldom-used materials to free up study space. And, following a satisfying and storied career with the Libraries’ Technical Services department, King is retiring. Sometime this Friday, it will have been exactly 40 years to the minute since he first started.

He’s seen many changes, from Belknap campus infrastructure, to library service, to Ekstrom Library, which opened in 1981, and to the faces of student assistants who helped him sort books and stock shelves over the years.

“I’ll leave with a ton of memories,” he said.

By far the best part of his job has been working with student assistants, King said. “I feel uniquely honored to have worked with some amazing students. The students were my life.”

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King mingles with co-workers at a retirement ceremony on June 24.

As a supervisor of shelf preparation, he has worked with UofL student assistants from over 11 countries, including India, Bangladesh, Libya, the Philippines, France, Iran, Belarus, South Korea, Viet Nam and Armenia.  Some have become like family.

“We’ve played laser tag, board games. I get invited to a lot of stuff, like birthday parties, graduation, etc. That’s why I came to work. A student said to me, ‘You’ve been more like a father than my real father.’”

One young student complained to King that her vacuum cleaner had broken. He had an extra one and brought it to work to give to her.  Five students made a tribute to him on YouTube.

“I probably have worked with a couple hundred students over the years.”

Stacie Alvey, a former student assistant who worked alongside King for over six years from 2010-2016, now works as a librarian for McFerran Preparatory Academy. Her choice of career arose largely as a result of having worked with King.

“I knew after working here with Ben that I wanted to do this as a career. Anybody who has ever worked for Ben remembers Ben. He’s a storyteller extraordinaire. I could repeat his life story. I loved it! He’s like family to me.”

“I feel the same way,” said King. “I was so glad she came to see me. I was so sorry when she left but really happy that she was able to work with JCPS, and nearby, too.”

Technical Services held a retirement ceremony for King on Monday morning, with donuts, coffee cake, fruit and lots of memories. Paying tribute to King, Technical Services Head Tyler Goldberg said, “We’ve all worked with you for many years, and we’re truly grateful for your many, many years of service.”

“And we want to welcome you to come back and volunteer with us at any time.”

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“If I’d known we were going to have a ceremony, I wouldn’t have taken down all the stuff the students have given me over the years,” he said.

King said Alvey, the last student assistant he’s worked with, helped him research some of his family genealogy. While he knew much of his mother’s history (she is one of 13 kids), he knew little of his father’s background until Alvey’s research uncovered some interesting facts, including that he is one of six other paternal relatives named Benjamin Franklin King.

“I’ve been here through many natural disasters,” including the 1981 sewer explosion when Ralston Purina leaked hexane from its former soybean processing factory into the sewers around Old Louisville and the Belknap campus; after a car’s engine ignited the gas in the early morning, major explosions along the sewer lines decimated cars, streets, and buildings, but surprisingly left no casualties.

The Libraries administration gave King several gifts for his service: two vinyl record albums: one the newly remastered Sgt. Pepper’s album by the Beatles (first released the year King entered high school, 1967), Bob Dylan’s Greatest Hits, and, in an apparent reference to King’s timeliness, a UofL clock with the Cardinal bird’s wings pointing to the time.

King’s future plans include volunteer work with the Parklands of Floyds Fork and traveling with his family.