WKU Libraries Blog

News and events from WKU Libraries

WKU Libraries Blog - News and events from WKU Libraries

Faraway Flix featured Brazilian film in November


On Friday, November 20, a good crowd of 40 plus students, faculty, and staff turned out for the Brazilian film The Way He Looks at the Faculty House. Ashley Givan, International Enrollment, introduced Brazilian students Felipe Fabricio and Sarah Pereira Martins who led discussion about their native country. Prior to the movie, students enjoyed fried polenta along with specialty breads common in Brazil. After the film viewing, Fabricio and Martins answered questions regarding their Brazilian culture, and door prizes were handed out.

Faraway Flix

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Evelyn Thurman Young Readers Book Award

Wildflower, written by Alecia Whitaker

Friday, November 20, YA author Alecia Whitaker was honored at a reception at the Kentucky Building on Western Kentucky University’s campus for winning the Evelyn Thurman Young Readers Book Award for her novel Wildflower, featuring a teen girl from Kentucky.

Prior to the luncheon, Ms. Whitaker visited three middle schools in the area to talk to students about writing and what it takes to publish a book. Ms. Whitaker was pleasantly surprised to be serenaded by the student body at Moss Middle who sang the main character’s featured song “Notice Me” from the book.

This program is made possible by the Evelyn Thurman Children’s Author Fund, the Southern Kentucky Book Fest partnership, and WKU Libraries.

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Professor Haiwang Yuan of WKU Libraries was recognized last month at his alma mater Nankai University in Tianjin, China for his contributions to the academic development of the College of Foreign Languages (CFL). On October 22, the College of Foreign Language held a Book Donation and Guest Professorship Ceremony for Yuan with Dean of the Foreign Language College Yan Guodong presiding, along with several professors and graduate students from the English Department at the University. Dean Yan Guodong presented the Guest Professorship Letter of Appointment to Yuan and received the books donated by Yuan to the CFL.

“It was an honor to be recognized by one of most prestigious universities in China,” said Yuan. “I am thrilled that I was invited back to the place where I first taught English 30 years ago.”

Yuan thanked his alma mater and gave a presentation on English writing and answered questions. Yuan was a 1977 undergraduate of the College of Foreign Languages Department of Nankai University. Upon his graduation, he taught at the department until 1988. He attended Indiana University and received his Master degrees of History and of Library and Information Science in 1990 and 1995. Professor Yuan has published several monographs and translated works, as well as dozens of research articles. The monographs include The Magic Lotus Lantern and Other Tales from the Han Chinese, Princess Peacock: Tales of Other Peoples of China, Tibetan Folktales, and This is China: The First 5,000 Years.


Advice from Miss Margie

Margie Helm, her ancestors, and "Jiggs"

Margie Helm, her ancestors, and “Jiggs”

As we process the papers of Margie May Helm (1894-1991) in the Manuscripts & Folklife Archives unit of WKU’s Department of Library Special Collections, we are learning more about the woman who played important roles in building both the campus library system and the Bowling Green Public Library.

A native of Auburn, Kentucky, Margie Helm moved to Bowling Green as a teenager and was valedictorian of the first graduating class (1912) of Bowling Green High School.  She received her library training at New York’s Pratt Institute and later earned a master’s degree from the University of Chicago.  She joined WKU in 1920 and retired from her post as Director of Library Services in 1965.  Today, the Margie Helm Library, the Margie Helm Award, the Margie Helm Library Fund, and the Rodes-Helm Lecture Series remind us of the contributions of Miss Margie and her family to quality education at WKU.

“Aunt Margie,” remembered her niece Jane (Helm) Baker, “had three great loves in life: Family, the church, and Western.”  Indeed, her papers document not just her closeness to her parents, her three brothers and their families, but her spirituality (she was the first woman elder of the Bowling Green Presbyterian Church) and her heritage.  Research and correspondence traces Margie’s descent from no fewer than 8 Revolutionary War patriots, a lineage that made her a high draft pick for membership in the Daughters of the American Revolution and the Colonial Dames of America.

The keepsakes in her papers also show us a more personal side of Miss Margie: the wisp of blonde hair clipped from her 22-month-old head; poems and party favors; and photos of her adored fox terriers “Peter,” “Jiggs” and “Topsy.”  We also find her “notes to self” in which she contemplates the ingredients of a life well lived.  “While I was out walking with Jiggs tonight,” she scribbled on a piece of paper in 1941, “I decided that these were the essentials for happiness: 1. A clear conscience; 2.  A desire to do something for other people; 3.  A lively interest in something and at least some opportunity to develop it.”

After her death in 1991, her niece found this advice from Miss Margie, written on a small slip of paper:

My Philosophy

 1.  The golden rule.

2.  Make things simple and harmonious.

3.  Don’t be sensitive.  People are not thinking about you.

After processing is complete, Margie Helm’s papers (and wisdom) will be available to researchers, and a collection finding aid will be accessible through TopSCHOLAR and KenCat.

That Muhlenberg Sound

WKU’s Department of Library Special Collections recently acquired a rare set of newsletters that highlight the richness of Southern Kentucky Music and the loyalty of its followers. Journalist, author and Muhlenberg County, KY native, Bobby Anderson produced for several years, a newsletter KL026devoted to “that Muhlenberg sound.” The newsletter, by the same title, was “published every once in a while, and sometimes not that often.” It began in 1994 with Vol. 1, No. 1, featuring discussion of a musical documentary on coal mining, an Everly Brothers festival in Central City, KY and the “Home of the Legends” thumb picking contest winners. Other issues include articles about such varied topics as: a new cassette by the late thumb picker Bobby Barber of Sale Creek TN, Mose Rager Day, “Home of the Legends” thumbpicking open class, Les Haney (former Merle Travis picking buddy) cassettes, National Thumb Pickers Hall of Fame inductions and history. Other issues showcase “behind the scenes” stories such as the tale of how Merle Travis and his wife were married when a couple of other fellows became their “pappies.”

See this newsletter and other Southern Kentucky music related items at the Special Collections library. Search the collection by using KenCat, TopSCHOLAR and the One Search online catalog.


The English Club and WKU Libraries host “Poetry Open Mic”


Late in the afternoon on Tuesday, November 10, members of the English Club began trickling through the doors at Java City, notebooks and hand-written pages in hand, backpacks crammed with brick-sized volumes of literature; the words of poets past and present buzzing in the air between the scent of brewing coffee and cinnamon roll samples. You may have seen the “Poetry Open Mic” fliers dotting tables and bulletin boards in the library (if not, you missed out; they were pretty cool).

The English Club and WKU Libraries teamed up to host this open mic on a small stage near the entrance of Java City. Eight student readers representing a broad swath of English interests and specialties took to the stage to read their wares to an audience that waxed and waned during the hour long event. Passersby and patrons tuned their ears to hear passionate verse exploring everything from heartbreak to politics to culinary obsessions to The Simpsons. A choral ensemble even showed up and showered the crowd with some lovely South African-themed song.

The impetus behind an event like this is pretty simple. Open mics and similar opportunities to share the written word encourage students to nix stage fright and get their work out there to a larger audience. It’s also just great reading practice to cultivate that poetic voice. Not only does this help poets practice rhythm, it builds community and creates a fun atmosphere where writers can be comfortable in sharing their writing with no judgment or criticism.

Next time there’s an open mic, don’t be afraid to share your work. You don’t have to be a Creative Writing Major – all are welcome. We’d love to have you join!     

Do you have a literary event you’d like to bring to the library? Want to see more Open Mics and the like? Send Sara Volpi an email at sara.volpi@wku.edu, and she’ll help you out!

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You Belong to Us: One Baby, Two Sets of Parents

You-Belong-to-Us (9)

Bowling Green author Molly McCaffrey was the speaker in the Kentucky Live! series on November 19, 2015 at Barnes & Noble Bookstore. She talked about and read from her newest book You Belong to Us: One Baby, Two Sets of Parents, a memoir which tells the story of her experience meeting her biological family just after her thirtieth birthday.

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WKU Founders Day 2015

Henry Cherry

Henry Cherry

November 16 was designated as Founders Day by the WKU Board of Regents in 1930. In recognition of the 85th Founders Day, please enjoy this public affairs video from Founders Day 1974. This video was digitized and made available earlier this year as part of a WKU Archives Video Digitization Project.

Blog post written by WKU Archives Assistant April McCauley

Raggedy Ann is 100!

For generations, Raggedy Ann has been an ageless playmate for children and collectors. In 2015, she celebrated her 100th birthday. Now thanks to the inspiration of Lesley Montgomery, the Western Room in the Kentucky Building is exhibiting books from Library Special Collections and the co-curators’ loaned dolls.  A total of ten children’s stories written by Raggedy Ann author Johnny Gruelle in the 1920’s are also featured in the exhibit.

Still very collectable, this Raggedy Ann in her original package was for sale on eBay on November 13, 2015

Still very collectible, this Raggedy Ann in her original package was for sale on eBay on November 13, 2015.

Lesley is donating the 1947 edition of Raggedy Ann Stories by Johnny Gruelle (published originally in 1918), a favorite since her aunt gave it as a Christmas present to her as a three-year-old in 1959. Lesley’s loaned pair of “Fifties” Raggedy Ann and Raggedy Andy dolls sit on the top shelf. Santa brought co-curator Sue Lynn Stone McDaniel’s Knickerbocker Raggedy Ann in 1973. Coincidentally, the child’s soda fountain chair in which Sue Lynn’s doll sits was a

The back of this original box on eBay shows the many sizes of dolls.

The back of this original box on eBay shows the many sizes of dolls.

Christmas present to Sue Lynn’s aunt in 1921 and passed down to Sue Lynn before 1977, giving her doll a comfortable chair. Sophie Trent, a Kentucky Museum student employee, is bringing her pair of dolls to join the exhibit after Thanksgiving, once again proving the enduring joy these dolls bring to kids of all ages.

The second case exhibits children’s stories Johnny Gruelle wrote and a book entitled Johnny Gruelle, creator of Raggedy Ann and Andy. Several of WKU Library Special Collections’  books are one of less than ten reported to WorldCat.

We encourage readers to comment on this blog with your own stories about your Raggedy Ann books and/or dolls.  The exhibit will be open through December 11, 2015.

DLSC Volunteer Receives Summit Award

Louise Sauerland

Louise Sauerland

At WKU’s Summit Awards dinner on November 5, volunteer Louise Sauerland was recognized for her work in the Manuscripts & Folklife Archives section of the Department of Library Special Collections.

A native of Philadelphia, Louise and her husband Dave have lived in Bowling Green for 15 years.  Since 2008, Louise has logged almost 700 hours helping to conserve, organize and process everything from 19th-century court documents to large collections of papers like those of the Clements family of Owensboro, Kentucky; a completed finding aid for the latter has been uploaded to TopSCHOLAR and can be accessed by clicking here.

Louise is currently at work on a collection of research documenting the history and genealogy of the Van Meter family.  “Disorganized” is how she charitably describes this mass of material, assembled over many years by Bee Spring, Kentucky resident J. C. Van Meter after extensive correspondence with far-flung members of the family.  With its aging newsprint and onion skin paper, the collection presents as many conservation as organizational challenges, but when processing is complete will offer a valuable resource for anyone interested in the history of this venerable family.

Congratulations to Louise on a well-deserved award, and thanks to all our volunteers for their service!