“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.

 


Kornhauser Librarian Earns LGBT Health Competency Certificate

Ranked one of the most LGBT-friendly universities in the south, the University of Louisville provides a variety of supportive services for the LGBT community, and also training for those who serve or interact with these individuals.  One such program targets future doctors, dentists, nurses and health care workers and culminates in a LGBT Health Competency certificate.

Over the 2016-2017 academic year, Kornhauser librarian Jessica Petrey availed herself of this training, and recently earned her certificate by attending seven live and one online sessions.

The coursework aims to develop awareness and compassion for LGBT patients, and includes an overview of LGBT health; medical and legal disparities affecting LGBT patients; medical implications of prolonged cross-sex hormone therapy; how to create a welcoming environment to improve health outcomes, and other classes.

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UofL health care personnel who recently earned their LGBT Health Competency certificate. (Petrey is in the front row, third from the right, in a pink sweater.)

We caught up with Petrey to ask a few questions about her experience:

Q. How does this training augment your work as a clinical librarian?

A. Most people attending these trainings are either current or future healthcare providers, so my benefits as a librarian were a little different than the average attendee. In addition to the health information and clinical training we all received, I was able to pay attention to the kinds of questions other attendees were asking and make note of resources we could gather and make available to our patrons. It also gave me the opportunity to network with faculty and students and promote not only the electronic resource guides I have created for them as part of Kornhauser’s LGBT initiative but also my literature searching services on LGBT reference questions.

Q. What was the most difficult part of the training?

A. Stories of disparities, stigma, and discrimination are always the hardest—but perhaps most important—part of these kinds of discussions. Even for those of us who are at least somewhat aware in the abstract of statistics regarding violence, discrimination, and barriers to care, it’s entirely different and much more real hearing the personal accounts of people who have had and continue to have these experiences. The sensitivity to those experiences is so much more important in empowering attendees in providing competent care than any information a textbook could provide.

Q. What was the most surprising aspect of these sessions?  

A. I come from a very conservative area, so I was continually (and positively!) surprised at how well attended and supported each session was. It’s so great knowing that our university is working intentionally to reduce those disparities, and having buy-in from students and faculty from all four professional schools, campus offices, and the broader community is integral to that work being successful.

Q. Did you have a favorite session?

A. The variety of session structures and topics was one of the most positive aspects of the series, but my personal favorite session was the one with Dr. Koch. She is a trans woman who transitioned later in life, and was able to speak to both the technical clinical information about the transition process from a provider perspective and share her more personal experiences as a trans woman and patient. It was a privilege to listen to someone who could provide such a complete, enlightening picture of the whole process.

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Q. Biggest lesson learned?

A. Probably leaving space for people to assert their own identities, rather than making assumptions. For healthcare providers with patients in particular, maybe that means introducing yourself and mentioning your own pronouns to ask for someone else’s, asking people what an identifier means to them, providing blank space on intake forms to write in orientation and gender rather than checking boxes, mirroring a person’s own language when referring to partners and identities, or some other tangible step you can take to establish a rapport of acceptance and understanding with an individual. Even though the focus of this course was to train healthcare providers, I think curating an approach of understanding and acceptance is a skill that can and should translate to our personal lives as well.

 

 

 


Voices from Underground Music Scene Added to Archives

Across the country, a substantial number of academic musical archives are dedicated to folk, world, country, bluegrass, classical and other musical genres, while other popular forms – namely punk, hardcore, indie and rock – are left out of the mix.

Aiming to correct this imbalance, UofL’s Louisville Underground Music Archive (LUMA) was established in 2013 to preserve recordings, photographs, videos, ‘zines, set lists, fan mail, and other artifacts of the Louisville underground music scene from the late 1970s until the present.

Not only does LUMA not consider these musical genres to be chopped liver, it recently pursued and was given a grant of $1,800 by the Kentucky Oral History Commission (KOHC), allowing LUMA to add oral histories – interviews with individuals from the era – to its collection.

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Hard Times covered the hardcore/punk scene in Louisville.

“These oral histories will be an excellent way to round out our collection” said Heather Fox, co-director of the Oral History Center and archivist for manuscript collections with Archives and Special Collections. Eighteen-hundred dollars doesn’t sound like a lot of money, but it makes it possible for us to do this work,” said Fox, who will oversee the project.

Matched by funds from the ASC’s oral history budget, the project will be built with $3,600, most of which will go toward paying local journalist and former punk rocker Chip Nold to conduct interviews with musicians from the era.

Nold is not only an experienced journalist and interviewer, with a degree in history from Princeton, but was also the lead singer for Babylon Dance Band (aka “the Babs”), one of the first punk groups in Louisville, thus “the perfect candidate for the project,” Fox said.

“Chip had experience interviewing people for feature stories, but we made sure to train him on oral history methodology, and then sent him out with a trusty Marantz PMD 660 [a portable compact flash recorder] to get started.”

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Skull of Glee

“The oral history project fills in the gaps of our collection,” she continued. “It lets us discover what it was like to be playing music during that era, and what it felt like to be there then. This is something oral history is great at fleshing out.”

Among the first interview subjects  was a local music critic, with other musicians from the scene also on tap.

“LUMA is an effort to document part of Louisville’s culture that might not be documented otherwise. Music has played an important role in cultural life of Louisville and still does, and LUMA is filling in that gap.”

“When we’re collecting artifacts around a music scene, we’re less interested in the published material, because there are multiple copies of that. We’re more interested in finding unique items, like fan mail.”

As an example, LUMA has a collection of fan mail sent to Louisville hardcore band Endpoint. Mail addressed to the band came from fans in Louisville, around the U.S., and even Germany.

“Fan mail demonstrates the impact this music had on this community and in other parts of the country and world. . . .It documents the ways in which people communicated before the internet, which is really neat,” Fox said.

“There is fan mail from Louisville fans just across town to the guys in the band. I doubt that ever happens now. People are on Facebook or other social media and have immediate contact.”

Once completed, Fox will upload them to the digital collections where visitors will be able to search for specific passages within the recordings. Archives and Special Collections will be “integrating a new software that will allow us to index digital oral histories and then provide online access that will include a search box, to make the recording key-word searchable. It’s also time-coded, so you can go to the exact place in the audio to find that passage.”

“Ideally what we want is a full transcription of an interview; that’s the most time consuming thing of the process,” she continued.

Fox has eight years of experience with all aspects of oral history, including recording, transcribing and conducting such interviews. She also provided access to oral histories through her work at the Kentucky Historical Society on the Pass the Word website and at the University of Louisville’s CONTENTdm instance which provides online transcripts and streaming audio.

The LUMA advisory board is comprised of local musicians like Nathan Salsburg, musician and curator of the Alan Lomax Archive; musician and actor Will Oldham; Diane Pecknold, professor of popular culture who has written and edited books about country music (who is married to a member of the Louisville band Squirrel Bait); and other members of the community like John Timmons, owner of celebrated ear X-tacy, an erstwhile record store that employed many active participants in the scene, developed a list of active and well-known musicians in the scene during the early to mid-1980s.

Please browse the LUMA collection and find out more about Archives and Special Collections.


New Peer-Reviewed Journal in ThinkIR

By Rachel Howard

Most peer-reviewed academic journals are subscription-based: some require high fees from academic libraries and their institutions, while others charge authors directly if they want to make their content freely available to other scholars and researchers through open access. The University of Louisville recently launched its own open access, peer-reviewed journal, The Journal of Respiratory Infections, using ThinkIR, the University of Louisville’s institutional repository in University Libraries.

Released on January 30, the new journal is one of several open access journals planned for hosting in ThinkIR that will serve the needs of scholars and researchers worldwide regardless of their means and without toll barriers.

img_7675bestLeft to right: Rachel Howard, Sarah Frankel, and Jessica Petrey of University Libraries; Dr. Julio Ramirez, Dr. Bill Mattingly, Kimberley Buckner, and Matt Grassman of Division of Infectious Diseases.

Doctors in UofL’s Division of Infectious Diseases approached their Clinical Librarian, Kornhauser Library’s Jessica Petrey, last year about their idea to publish two open access journals: one focused on respiratory infections and the other on refugee and global health. They had thought through the aims and scope of these journals, and identified who within the division and the field they wanted to be involved, but they needed the Libraries’ help with hosting it and providing digital preservation of journal content – a prerequisite to getting it listed in PubMed.

Jessica put them in touch with Rachel Howard, Digital Initiatives Librarian, whose work involves digital preservation as well as open access. As a result of the work of Rachel, Sarah Frankel, the Libraries’ Open Access and Repository Coordinator, Dwayne K. Buttler, the Evelyn G. Schneider Endowed Chair for Scholarly Communication at UofL, and the Scholarly Communication and Data Management Work Group, the Libraries developed policies, procedures, and agreements to support the Division of Infectious Diseases as a pilot project for a new phase of repository development. Jessica expanded her support of the Division by serving as copy editor of the journal.

On January 30, 2017, the Division of Infectious Diseases celebrated the launch of Journal of Respiratory Infections Volume 1, Issue 1, with a party at MedCenterOne. Petrey, Howard, and Frankel were in attendance, where they were warmly thanked by Division of Infectious Diseases Chief Dr. Julio Ramirez.


Student Assistants Shine at Ekstrom Library

Most mornings, do you rise and shine, or just rise? When all-night studying, research, or parties compete for sleep, sometimes waking up is enough. Shining? Not so much.

But at Ekstrom Library, some student assistants are being asked to shine up – i.e., dress better than usual – once a week, on what is known as Shine Day. The program was enacted this Fall by Ekstrom’s Access and User Services (AUS) department to help student assistants look their professional best, and experience the real world of work.

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Bayne Lutz, Sophomore

Participating students dress in “business casual” for one day a week for an entire semester, an upgrade from the current requirement of “student casual,” which can range from neat and low-key, to downright rumpled.

So far the results have been positive, said Ashley Triplett, Student Supervisor for Access and User Services (AUS) at Ekstrom Library.

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Emily Rabilis, Senior

“So many of the AUS student workers have embraced the concept and are really enjoying it,” Triplett said. “They look so great, and when they dress up, even a little bit, they shine.”

“The purpose is to help students develop their professional identities and understand how appearance can affect performance,” she continued.

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Victoria Sledge, Sophomore

University Libraries student assistant Jun Ruan, a sophomore in the nursing program, said she feels more professional on Shine Days, and is even taken more seriously.

“One day I was dressed up a bit and went to the Speed museum. Several people started asking me for directions and about the museum because they thought I worked there,” she said.

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Katie Connor, Senior

The program’s success has led AUS to continue the practice into the Spring semester. Next time you visit Ekstrom, see if you can tell which students are shining.

(Photos by Ashley Triplett)


Libraries Program Adds Diverse Voices, Perspectives

On a recent rainy Thursday on the eastern steps outside UofL’s Ekstrom Library, a small group gathered, defying cold and noisy UPS cargo jets, to read and hear excerpts from I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Beloved and Slaughterhouse-Five, books banned at some point in the past.

The event was led by George Martinez, the 2016-17 Diversity Residency Librarian for the University Libraries, to commemorate Banned Books Week at Ekstrom.  Earlier in the week he’d staged a screening of Persepolis, an Iranian movie based on a banned graphic novel, and directed visitors toward the Writing Center, where they could create imaginative book covers.

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George Martinez, University Libraries 2016-17 Diversity Resident. (Photo by Ashley Triplett)

These tasks were among those Martinez eagerly embraced as part of his diversity residency, a Libraries’ initiative that gives a deserving individual from an underrepresented group a foothold in a competitive profession, where minority workers are trending up, but remain relatively scarce.

Unlike most internships, which are unpaid, the diversity residency provides a salary and on-the-job training; in return, the Research Assistance and Instruction department, where Martinez works, benefits from his expertise and training as a librarian and teacher.

“He brings a fresh perspective and lots of energy and enthusiasm for his work,” said Anna Marie Johnson, head of RAI.

“There is flexibility in the position,” she continued. “The resident can attend meetings and participate in the work of groups across the library to learn about the various aspects of the academic library. In addition, the residency comes with a unique opportunity, co-authorship on an annually produced bibliography of articles on information literacy which allows the resident to gain knowledge in this important area while also getting his or her name on a publication which is important in the academic library world.”

“There are only a handful of these types of librarian residencies throughout the country. It’s a great way for me to get my foot in the door of academic libraries.”

– George Martinez, 2016-17 Diversity Resident, University Libraries

The fact that the position exists highlights the Libraries’ commitment to diversity, says Martinez.

“There are only a handful of these types of librarian residencies throughout the country. It’s a great way for me to get my foot in the door of academic libraries and I would not have relocated from California to Kentucky without this opportunity. It was also very helpful to know that the Libraries cares about diversity and serving the entire UofL community.”

In 2015, 166,000 individuals were employed as librarians in the U.S.; of those 83% were female; 84% white; 8.5% black or African American; 2.8% Asian; and 4.8% Latino, according to the U.S. Dept. of Labor Statistics.

There are various reasons for the imbalance, says Martinez.

“It’s complicated to pin down why exactly librarianship is not diverse. One factor is that librarianship is not viewed as a high paying profession and that could deter people from investing in a master’s degree in library science, which is a prerequisite for librarians. Some of the other factors relate to cultural competency within libraries.”

It’s important that libraries diversify, to “properly serve their patrons and show that they welcome a variety of backgrounds and perspectives. If we can foster diversity in librarianship, then we can more easily connect with a wider range of communities.”

“The profession is aware of it and is working on it. The residency program is one way the UofL Libraries is tackling this,” he said.

The program began in 1999 as an internship that offered participants paid tuition to complete their master’s degree in library science. In 2008, the program changed to a post-MLS residency that supports librarians from underrepresented groups early in their careers, after they’ve finished their MLS degrees. In this way the Libraries align with the UofL 2020 Plan’s overarching goal of supporting diversity within the student body and solidifying its position as a nationally recognized metropolitan university.

The residency is designed to be limited in duration, to allow a greater number of participants. Martinez will be leaving in summer of 2017.

“I’m in a place of learning right now, I do more listening than talking. I can explore in this new part of the country. My family is on the west coast, so I do intend to go back after the residency is up.”

Martinez grew up in Salinas, California and lived there for many years.  He worked as a K-6 substitute teacher in the Los Angeles public schools, and taught English and writing at New York University where he received an M.A. in Educational Theatre.  His 2015 M.L.S. is from the University of Maryland.

“The ability to grow into my first position has been so important, just seeing how the library functions, learning the different responsibilities of my job, and getting concrete skills in teaching and library instruction has been huge.”

“I feel supported and fostered,” he said. “Everybody’s been extremely welcoming and helpful.”

The fact that he has been so well supported reflects well on Ekstrom’s environment: “A library has to be in a place where they can create that kind of atmosphere. This has given me a space to collaborate while I’m learning.”


Art Library’s Former Director remembers Bridwell as Central to Career and Creative Life

The Margaret M. Bridwell Art Library played a pivotal role in Elizabeth Douthitt Byrne’s life. Before she became its second director in 1970 – one of only four women to lead the 53-year-old library – she immersed herself in art, history, and librarianship, met her future husband in the slide library, and embarked upon an auspicious career.

This summer, Byrne (BA Art 1968) and her husband, Chuck (BS Design 1972), visited Art Library and toured the facilities, which have vastly changed. Not only has the library (named for its first director) been relocated, renovated and rebranded in the intervening years, but the collection has grown exponentially.  When she left four decades ago, the library only contained 24,000 items; it now has more than 90,000.

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Chuck Byrne, Dr. Dario Covi, and Elizabeth Douthitt Byrne

Her connection to UofL began in the 1960s when she enrolled as an art student and served as a Hite scholar from 1964-1968. During this time she worked as a student assistant in the Library, and after earning her MLS from Indiana University, she was hired as the director of Bridwell Art Library.

 

In an email, Byrne reflected on her history in the art department and with Margaret Bridwell, the Art Library’s first director:

Both Chuck and I were students in the Art Department many years ago when it was in the old administration building, and it was THE place for everyone in the Department—art, design and art history students, as well as faculty—to meet and hang out. Even after the Library moved to the basement of the then ‘new’ University Library (editor’s note: now Schneider Hall), it continued to be the gathering place for everyone, and Margaret Bridwell made it a welcoming and wonderful place.

I resigned in July 1971 when Chuck and I married and I moved to Detroit, where he was working, to join him. Chuck worked as a graphic designer and taught design for many years. I was an art/architecture/design librarian for 42 years. Our experiences with Mrs. Bridwell, the Art Department and the Art Library shaped our careers.

Byrne’s career included librarian positions at Detroit Public Library, the University of Cincinnati, and the San Diego Public Library. She concluded her distinguished career as the head of the University of California at Berkeley Environmental Design Library, a role she held for 30 years until her retirement in 2011.

During Byrne’s short tenure at the Bridwell Art Library, she made a significant impact.  In the late 1960s, much of the Art Library’s collections had been developed through personal gifts from faculty or alumni.  According to her annual report to the University Libraries’ head in 1970, Elizabeth initiated an intentional book purchasing plan in support of the expanding art department curriculum.  In particular, she purchased books on American art, architectural history, and photography.  The library is still known for its strengths in these areas today.

As the couple completed their recent tour of the Bridwell Library, they stumbled into an old friend and colleague, Dr. Dario Covi, retired Professor Emeritus of Fine Arts with UofL’s College of Arts and Sciences, who had stopped in for his daily visit (in his 90s, he still maintains office hours on campus). The couple had corresponded with Dr. Covi over the past 50 years but they hadn’t seen each other since they left Louisville. Long-time friends and colleagues were reunited in a pivotal locale that has held a special place in their hearts – the Margaret M. Bridwell Art Library.