WKU Libraries Blog

News and events from WKU Libraries

WKU Libraries Blog - News and events from WKU Libraries

Sookie Stackhouse series author Charlaine Harris and two-time Caldecott Medal winner Chris Raschka to headline Southern Kentucky Book Fest this month

BFSliderNew York Times bestselling author Charlaine Harris will headline the Southern Kentucky (SOKY) Book Fest on Saturday, April 26, 2014 at the Knicely Conference Center. With more than thirty years of writing experience, Harris is best known for her Sookie Stackhouse series. The series was so well-received, it was the inspiration for the HBO seriesTrue Blood.” Harris will be one of the featured speakers in the morning and available for book signings after her program.  Chris Raschka, a two-time Caldecott Medal winner and author and illustrator of A Ball for Daisy, will be headlining Children’s Day on Friday, April 25. Raschka will be presenting on Friday and signing books on both Friday and Saturday.

“We are very excited about the upcoming SOKY Book Fest,” said Kristie Lowry, Coordinator for SOKY Book Fest and Literary Outreach Coordinator for WKU Libraries. “We have over 140 authors and illustrators participating this year from a full slate of genres. Lots of Harris fans along with many other book lovers have been inquiring about the day.”

For individuals eager to talk to their favorite authors, there is a ticketed “Meet the Authors” event scheduled for Friday, April 25. For ticket information, contact Kristie Lowry  at 270-745-4502 or email kristie.lowry@wku.edu.

In addition to Children’s Day, the Kentucky Writers Conference will be held at the Knicely Conference Center on Friday, April 25 from 9 am – 3:30 pm. Children’s Day is from 9 am-2 pm and the Kentucky Writers Conference is from 9 am-3:30 pm. There is no charge for either event; however, registration is recommended for the Kentucky Writers Conference. Visit sokybookfest.org to register online.

The Southern Kentucky Book Fest is made possible through its partners, including WKU Libraries, Warren County Public Library, and Barnes & Noble Booksellers. For detailed listing of the authors, presentations, and programs, go to sokybookfest.org.

WKU Libraries participates in World Book Night; Friends membership donates books to Warren Regional Juvenile Detention Center

wbn2014_logo_672x652In celebration of World Book Night, WKU Libraries—a designated giver for the program–will be giving 30 copies of 100 Best Loved Poems to the Warren Regional Juvenile Detention Center on Wednesday, April 23. To allow every student in the Center to have a book, twenty books will be donated by World Book Night and ten will be donated by the Friends of WKU Libraries.

World Book Night U.S. (WBN) is an ambitious campaign to give thousands of free, specially-printed paperbacks to light or non-readers. Collectively, there will be half a million free books in more than 6,000 towns and cities across America given away in an effort to spark an interest in reading.

“We are excited to have been selected as a World Book Night giver this year,” said Kristie Lowry, Literary Outreach Coordinator for WKU Libraries. “WKU Libraries is committed to spreading the love of reading through its many community projects, and working with the staff and kids at the detention center is always a pleasure.”

In conjunction with the donated poetry books, there will also be a poetry workshop for the Center’s students, made possible by the support of Friends of WKU Libraries, led by WKU upperclassman Joshua Johnston. Graduating this May with a degree in Creative Writing, Johnston has been accepted and plans to participate in the MFA graduate program at Indiana University this fall.

“We are very pleased to be a part of this great opportunity.  Several of our students have become disillusioned with school and anything that is connected to education.  Through the support of our community and WKU, our students are learning to appreciate the written word and to enjoy reading good literature. ” said Dr. Becky Painter, Programming Coordinator at the Warren Regional Juvenile Detention Center.

DAC Chapter Meets in Library Special Collections

DAC PhotoJonathan Jeffrey, Manuscripts & Folklife Archives Coordinator in the Department of Library Special Collections met with members of the Cumberland Trace Chapter of the Daughters of American Colonists in the Kentucky Library Research Collections area to discuss local material available for genealogical research. He put particular emphasis on the Library’s family files and manuscript collections that contain genealogical materials, including the Mildred Eubank Collection which covers Simpson, Allen, and Logan Counties, the Drucilla Stovall Jones Collection that specializes in southern Logan County, and the Nora Young Ferguson and Lloyd M. Raymer collections which document northwestern Warren County and Butler County. He also discussed the usefulness of TopSCHOLAR for searching Warren County’s marriage records and equity court records. You too can search any of these finding aids by clicking on the links.

The Great War in Russian Memory

Our next speaker in our Far Away Places series on Thursday, April 17 at 7:00 p.m. at Barnes & Noble Bookstore will be Russian historian, Karen Petrone, Professor and Chair of the History Department at the University of Kentucky in Lexington.


Karen Petrone, Chair, Dept of History, University of Kentucky

 A graduate of Harvard University, Petrone received her PhD from the University of Michigan and joined the faculty of the history department at the University of Kentucky in 1994.  Her first major monograph Life Has Become More Joyous Comrades: Celebrations in the Time of Stalin was published by Indiana University Press in 2000 as part of its series in Russian and East European Studies.  In it she used previously  inaccessible Soviet archives to  explore how in the Soviet Union in the 1930s, public celebrations were more than a mere diversion but rather part of a reward system that valorized some citizens “as the best people of the Soviet Union” while encouraging others to follow the example of these heroes.

 In her second major work The Great War in Russian Memory published in 2011 by Indiana University Press, she uses memoirs, literature, films, military histories, and archival materials to show  that that World War I,  while never officially commemorated, was the subject of “a lively discourse about religion, heroism, violence and patriotism” during the interwar period.  In November, 2013 Karen received the Heldt Prize for the “Best Book By a Woman in Slavic/East European/Eurasian Studies at the Annual Meeting of the Association for Slavic, East European, and East Eurasian Studies convention in Boston.

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Poster, Deni and Dolgorukov, “The Kitchen of War”


Drawing by Leonid Pasternak “The Price of Blood”

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Poster, “To the Struggle against Imperialist Wars”

She’s contributed articles for the Encyclopedia of Russian History (Macmillan Reference, 2004) including one frequently cited on “Lenin’s Tomb” , coedited  The New Muscovite Cultural History: A Collection in Honor of Daniel B. Rowland and Gender Politics and Mass Dictatorship: Global Perspective.  Her newest publications include  a chapter “Models of Selfhood and Subjectivity: The Soviet  Case in Historical Perspective” in Mass Dictatorship and Modernity published in print in November, 2013 and online in February 2014 and this spring’s  Everyday Life in Russia Past and Present from Indiana University Press.

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Cover of Moisei Georgievich Gromov’s World War I novella “For St. George Crosses”

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Grigorii’s first kill, lithograph by G. Korol’kov, 1935, in Mikhail Sholokov’s “Quiet Flows the Don”

Her primary research interests include Russian and Soviet history, gender history and cultural history.  She recently taught a new class “Reimagining Russia” as part of the UK’s “Passport to the World Series.”  Students reviewing her classes noted “she’s brilliant in the classroom.”


Event Flyer

Fading Away: How to Preserve Your Treasures

ManWithCatIn conjunction with National Preservation Week, WKU Library Special Collections faculty Nancy Richey and Allison Day will be holding a workshop titled “Fading Away: How to Preserve Your Treasures” on Monday, April 28 from 5-7 pm in the Western Room of the Kentucky Building on Western Kentucky University’s campus.

 According to Nancy Richey, WKU Visual Resources Librarian, several topics will be covered, including storage supplies, best locations for storage, dealing with damaged materials, how to prevent deterioration, and simple scanning and digitization steps.

 “This workshop caters to anyone in the community interested in preserving old pictures and keepsakes,” said Richey. “Individuals are welcome to bring samples of materials that they may have concerns or questions about.”

 The Department of Library Special Collections houses and archives primary research materials containing pertinent historical, cultural, university, and general materials from local, national, and international resources.

 “We are happy to bring our faculty’s preservation expertise to the community,” said Jack Montgomery, Interim Department Head for Library Special Collections. “This is a wonderful opportunity for anyone interested in maintaining family or an organization’s materials for future generations.”

For more information on the workshop, contact Nancy Richey at 270-745-6092.

Thoughts of Battercakes

Cadet Thomas Woods

Cadet Thomas Woods

Born in Wahalak, Mississippi, Thomas Rawlings Woods was only a year old when his mother and three young sisters died in 1863 of diphtheria.  His father, John Dysart Woods, remarried and in 1871 moved his family, which now included another son and three daughters, to Glasgow, Kentucky.

Nineteen-year-old Thomas entered the U. S. Military Academy at West Point in summer 1881.  His first letter home was full of news about his preliminary exams, his temporary lodgings with “Mother Stewart,” an elderly woman who taught the Bible to cadets and still railed against “Jeff Davis, the traitor,” and the mild hazing he witnessed, especially toward the “stuck up or smart chap that comes here.”

Thomas was struck by the attrition rate among his classmates.  “Of 145 candidates that have applied with me only 87 have remained this long,” he noted a few months into his term.  But overall, he was happy with his circumstances.  His demerit count was respectable, he was keeping warm with the help of a shawl sent from home, and was adjusting to Academy life–including the martial atmosphere in church, where there “were no old ladies who come half an hour early” and “no young folks who come in after the services are half over.”

Nevertheless, Thomas waxed nostalgic for the comforts of home.  “I never really knew how happy we were,” he wrote his half-sister Elizabeth.  Mother Stewart reminded him of his grandmother, and Sunday evening leisure time brought memories of his family’s “Mississippi talks,” when they would “get after Papa to tell some of his recollections of ‘when he was a boy.’”  His roommate’s breakfast choice made him think of visits to an uncle, where “[we] used to pile our plates with battercakes and have them almost floating in molasses.”

Thomas’s life after West Point, sadly, was short.  In 1883, John Woods moved the family to Bowling Green, where he became editor of the Bowling Green Gazette.  Thomas appeared ready to follow his father into journalism, but died that same year of typhoid fever.

The letters of Thomas Rawlings Woods from West Point are available to researchers as part of the Lissauer Collection in the Manuscripts & Folklife Archives section of WKU’s Special Collections Library.  For other collections relating to military life and service academies, search TopSCHOLAR and KenCat.

Faraway Flix film “A Separation”


A group of 50 students and campus community members enjoyed the Faraway Flix film “A Separation” featuring the country of Iran in the Faculty House last Friday, March 21. Dr. Soleiman Kiasatpour, Associate Professor in WKU’s Political Science Department, gave an introduction to the film and led a discussion following the movie.


Prior to the film, a special Iranian meal was prepared by the family of Zahra Doostmehraban, WKU freshman from Tehran, Iran. Her mother and father are currently visiting and graciously prepared the food called Khoresht, Khalal, and rice.

To Speak of All Things As They Are

Spirit of the TimesDetermined to start a non-sectarian, non-political newspaper in Bowling Green, Kentucky, William B. Kilgore issued a broadside in late-1826 soliciting subscribers.  In the advertisement he declares “it almost unneccesary to say any thing of his political opinions”, because the paper was “not intended to be established for political purposes.”  Contrary to his stated resolve, Kilgore quickly  avers ”himself in favor” of the Old Court, referencing a political imbroglio that devisively affected Kentucky politics for decades. 

Instead of political diatribe, Kilgore committed his paper to presenting “current news of the day, interspersed with poetical, moral and amusing pieces, as are common to impartial village journals.”  The veracity of his reporting was reflected in his paper’s motto:  “To speak of things as they are.”  Kilgore implored those interested in such a publication to “enroll their names without delay,” and if enough subscribers enlisted he promised he would deliver a newspaper “as soon as practicable.”  Subscribers could pay $2.50 in cash within the first six months of publication, or they could delay payment until the end of the year and pay the full subscription of $3.00.

Kilgore acquired enough subcribers to initiate his endeavor, for on Saturday, 25 November 1826, the first edition of his Spirit of the Times appeared.  Like most local papers of the era, it contains little  local news.  In a town of less than 800 people, everyone already knew each other’s business.  Still, advertisements for local businesses, governmental notices, political announcements, and lists of those having letters at the local post office are of great interest to local historians and genealogists.  The remainder of the newspaper was filled with serialized stories, old national and international news, poetry, and even less noteworthy filler.

One item of interest in the first issue related to the newspaper’s appearance.  “We regret to have occasion to apologize,” wrote Kilgore, “for our maiden sheet not appearing in as handsome dress as we intended in consequence of an unlucky oversight in those who furnished us with type not sending a sufficient quantity of the letter (w) which renders the balance of the fount [font] useless for a time. The deficiency we hope will be supplied in two or three weeks at farthest.”

This fascinating piece of Bowling Green history was discovered as the Lanier Family Papers were being processed in the Manuscripts & Folklife Archives unit within the Department of Library Special Collections.  Fortunately the Kentucky Library Research Collections owns what is believed to be a complete run of the newspaper, in both original copy and microfilm, from its maiden issue to November 1827.  To find other collections related to Bowling Green’s past or to the history of Kentucky journalism, search finding aids to our collections in TopSCHOLAR.


Lions of Baghdad

Operation Iraqi Freedom (Paul Ratchford)

Operation Iraqi Freedom (Paul Ratchford)

Eleven years ago today, on March 19, 2003, U. S. and coalition forces initiated Operation Iraqi Freedom with bombing strikes on Baghdad.  Army engineer Mike Peloquin was among the first troops to enter the country, moving heavy equipment ahead of the main force to make a passable route for the thousands of vehicles that would follow.  Then, on May 2, he wrote “greetings from Baghdad” (from Saddam Hussein’s presidential palace, no less) to Roland and Mary Frances Willock of Bowling Green.  Using recovered Iraqi Republican Guard stationery, Peloquin described his experiences in detail–the massive assembly of tanks and armored vehicles, “our first tragedy” after a soldier died in a collision, a missile attack that left him “leery of … the sound of an unexpected detonation,” and the looming tasks of maintaining order and restoring services to Baghdad’s six million people.  A peculiar challenge was dealing with the city’s animal population.  “Lions are a big thing here,” he wrote, and “one of Saddam’s sons has three in the palace next door.”  Other animals had to be sacrificed to feed them, but a few of the lions themselves were shot when Iraqis allowed them to escape their cages.

Realizing the historical value of accounts like Peloquin’s, Pat Hodges, then the Manuscripts & Folklife Archives Coordinator at WKU’s Special Collections Library, began soliciting more contributions of letters, e-mails, diaries, photos and other materials documenting participation in the conflict by Kentuckians and others.  After spreading the word through media outlets across the state, Mrs. Hodges was contacted by National Public Radio and gave an interview about the project to Neal Conan’s Talk of the Nation program.  As a result, more materials began to come in from soldiers like Paul Ratchford, spouses like Michelle Hale, and civilians like William “Buster” Tate, all of whom experienced the war in different ways.  The outreach even secured some collections of letters from other wars.

Operation Iraqi Freedom (Paul Ratchford)

Operation Iraqi Freedom (Paul Ratchford)

Click here and here to learn more about the Manuscripts & Folklife Archives collecting project on Operation Iraqi Freedom.  To access finding aids for other collections relating to the Iraq War, search TopSCHOLAR and KenCat.