Southern Kentucky Book Fest 2016

2016.04.22_ bookfest _lewis-0032The Southern Kentucky Book Fest celebrated its 18th year this past April, welcoming over 140 authors and illustrators to the Knicely Center in Bowling Green for two full days of celebrating readingMTA-pubedit and the love of books. With dozens of panels and presentations on Saturday, book fans were able to learn from and interact with best-selling authors representing all literary genres. On Friday, aspiring teen and adult writers attended writing conferences with authors, focusing on everything from writing with the 5 senses to character development and more.

DSC00476SOKY Book Fest events are free and open to the public, and we’ve got plenty of exciting programs to celebrate literacy throughout the year. Visit our website sokybookfest.org, or find us on facebook, twitter, and Instagram for updates and announcements. If you have any questions, send an email to Book Fest coordinator and Literary Outreach Coordinator Sara Volpi at sara.volpi@wku.edu.

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A Historic “Hotel Impossible”?

Albert Shirley's hotels

Albert Shirley’s hotels

After the Civil War, the Pool and Shirley families of Metcalfe County, Kentucky added hotel-keeping to their many commercial ventures.  Albert H. Shirley (1842-1895) operated the Garnett House in Richmond, Kentucky, and later the Hotel Shirley in Glasgow.  In 1876, when his cousin James W. Pool (known as “Gee”) and his father William C. Pool leased a hotel property in Hart County, Albert drew on his own experience to offer advice to this new family enterprise.

As the risk of being “officious,” Albert wrote Gee, he had thought “a great deal” about the business and believed it would be a success if managed properly.  His greatest concern, however, was that his cousin would be too soft-hearted: “Your entire patronage almost will be acquaintances and friends, . . . & I have feared you would pass too many without charging them any bill.”  Only friends paying a “special visit” should expect a complimentary stay; the rest, Albert believed, should not look for such indulgences and ought to be charged the same as any other business.

Albert had another suggestion: When a drummer (that is, a traveling salesman) stopped in, he should get “the very best room.”  Able to spread the word quickly about a bad experience, these customers were the equivalent of a hotels.com review.  “I have often heard your predecessor, Mr. Biggerstaff,” wrote Albert of the hotel’s previous proprietor, “abused for his dirty rooms and especially mean beds.”  Albert also urged his cousin to drive a hard bargain with food suppliers, for it was at the dining table that he could make a good profit from his hungry guests.

Finally, in what sounded like the pilot for a 19th-century reality show, Albert told Gee of his wish to make an on-site visit and “be with you for about half a day, I could then say a good many things to you that would be of service to you.”

Albert Shirley’s letter is part of the Howard and Anne Doll Collection in the Manuscripts & Folklife Archives unit of WKU’s Department of Library Special Collections.  For more of our family collections, search TopSCHOLAR and KenCat.

 

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A Tribute to a former Kentucky Librarian: Jeanette Farley

Jeanette Farley (Nov. 5, 1920 – June 13, 2016) always had a welcoming smile for everyone! That message was the “take-away” theme from her memorial service today. No one that knew her did not know Jeanette’s smile lit up the room.Jeanette Wilson Farley (1920-2016)

I first met Mrs. Farley when I was an undergraduate student using the Kentucky Library. Her desk was in the middle of the research room. She was so approachable by a student new to the use of Library Special Collections. My respect for her grew when I became a student worker; she was never too busy to help me. She was a role model of how librarians should work with researchers and mentor historians and future librarians. In 1982, she retired from WKU Libraries.

Always a life lesson teacher, Mrs. Farley gave her sons the following poem as she approached her senior years.

Given to her sons as Mrs. Farley began her 70s.I

We will miss you, Mrs. Farley, you serve the Kentucky Building well.

 

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Land of Contrasts

Iceland 5 krona banknote (Frank Chelf Collection)

Iceland 5 krona banknote (Frank Chelf Collection)

June 17 marks the official anniversary of the 1944 founding of Iceland as a republic independent of Denmark.  Two Kentuckians had the opportunity to experience this nation of “extreme contrasts” (to quote its web site) both before and after its independence, and their impressions are recorded in the collections of the Manuscripts & Folklife Archives section of WKU’s Department of Library Special Collections.

In January 1942, Hopkins County native Jim Wooton, then serving in the U.S. Army, was ordered to Iceland to help staff a transfer station for troops and equipment being sent to England.  He and 1,200 other men experienced a rough, late-winter crossing in a 300-foot United Fruit Company “banana boat,” but arrived in Reykjavik unmolested by German U-boats.  Hunkered down with his fellow soldiers in reinforced Quonset huts, Wooton vividly recalled the howling winds that gusted as high as 120 miles per hour.  He returned from his 9-month tour of duty understanding the reason for the island nation’s high literacy rate: “everyone stays home and reads.”

In August 1977, Bowling Green’s Clara Hines, the widow of cake mix magnate Duncan Hines, visited Iceland as part of a tour of several Nordic countries.  Her experience, needless to say, was starkly different from Wooton’s.  The intrepid 73-year-old hopscotched around the island by bus and small plane, viewing lakes, forests, lava formations, natural hot springs and waterfalls as well as picturesque villages.  The weather was warm and sunny most of the time–she only found the wind “very cold” on the walk from her hotel to the airport.  She spent her krona on a souvenir doll and a figure of the god Thor fashioned from lava, and pronounced herself tired but exhilarated by the sights in this “fantastic country.”

Click on the links to access finding aids for Jim Wooton’s and Clara Hines’s impressions of Iceland.  For more accounts of travels by Kentuckians, search TopSCHOLAR and KenCat.

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Summertime and the Researchers are Exhilarating!

Summertime for many people marks a time of relaxation, peace and quiet, but not if you are at the Research Assistance Desk for Library Special Collections. In the last five days, I have explored the wealth of information WKU Libraries has collected in the last 90 years with researchers from Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, North Carolina, and Logan County, Simpson and Warren Counties in Kentucky.

On Monday, I taught by phone the Logan County Historical Society’s newsletter editor how to use kencat.wku.edu to fill her research need. To make certain she answered the specific question of the day, I also e-mailed her the link to the appropriate catalog record in KenCat. As a researcher who appreciates online access, she later e-mailed:

Phoebe Ann Pittman Flowers of Logan County, KY

Phoebe Ann Pittman Flowers of Logan County, KY

“Boy, do you know how to ruin a person’s day ! ! ! I’ll be on this site until my eyes give out! Thank you SO VERY MUCH. . . Back to the computer screen ! ! ! Forget the dust and the weeds in the garden ! ! !”  When describing her discovery at our page http://www.wku.edu/library/dlsc/discovery.php , the researcher said she spent the rest of the day looking at various items. Later she sent me an electronic copy of her newsletter using the photograph of Phoebe Ann Pittman Flowers.  Its citation points more  Logan County researchers to kencat.wku.edu.  The second Monday researcher got so excited at finding her information that she hugged me (a first in my 31 years as an archivist and librarian).

Wednesday by phone I taught online research via KenCat to a Floridian seeking to complete her Daughters of the American Revolution application with a family Bible’s genealogical pages that our family surname files.  Our second phone call of the day was from a  researcher who spent his Bowling Green  research day repairing his car’s alternator rather than searching for an obituary of a Bowling Green woman who was run over by a train on a Bell County, Kentucky, railroad bridge in 1919.  His expertise in genealogy had made him hope he could solve a question nagging his neighbor about the death.  The Louisiville Courier-Journal lacked the detail he hoped to find in a local newspaper.  Unfortunately few Warren County newspapers before 1922 were saved; thus far, our holdings search has been in vain.  Perhaps someone will bring us an original from their attic soon.

On Thursday, our Mississippi researcher was on her second trip to Library Special Collections. Three years ago, she learned in Butler County about a family history that WKU has one of six known print copies.  By teaching her to search KenCat, she also made use of Drucilla Jones’ years of genealogical research.  Upon seeing a chart in the Wilbourn file from the Drucilla (Stovall) Jones collection, she exclaimed:  “What a treasure!”

Among our favorite researchers are those who arrive, having found KenCat.wku.edu and TopScholar.wku.edu , to view primary sources.   At 8:55 a.m., a North Carolina couple literally could not wait any longer for our doors to open.  They knew they wanted the Enochs Mine store ledger from MSS 29.  In it they found proof that their ancestor worked and lived in Ohio County, Kentucky from July 1886 to 1891.

Here he is!

Here he is!

We invite you to explore our online catalog for non-book materials. KenCat has a new homepage, navigation, and search system.  You do not have to be interested in genealogy or history to find the “random image” or original item that delights you.

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WKU Libraries receives national recognition for public relations and social media campaigns

GameChangerWestern Kentucky University Libraries received the “Award for Excellence” in the Library Public Relations Materials and Social Media Campaign categories at the awards banquet for the Academic Library Advancement and Development Network (ALADN) conference held in Boston, Massachusetts June 2-4.SurveyIcon190x240

The ALADN conference is an annual conference bringing together professionals from academic libraries across the United States and Canada to share innovations, best practices, and organizational successes related to fundraising for libraries, including communication and marketing strategies. As part of the conference, the Communication Awards program allows academic libraries to enter a marketing competition. With a maximum of three entries allowed, WKU Libraries won two of the fourteen categories.

The public relations materials were a continuation of the previous year’s campaign, featuring WKU students from different colleges and disciplines on campus in an effort to highlight the student and his/her major, bringing a general awareness to the libraries. WKU Libraries Marketing Coordinator and campaign organizer Jennifer Wilson said the advertising targeted the campus community and displayed the promotion on digital screens across the university, advertisements in the WKU student newspaper College Heights Herald, images on the library website, large 22×30 inch posters in the main campus library commons area, through social media,  and the athlete ad was in  Leadership_Homepage250x315the sports magazine at the home football games. The social media entry was a summary of three focused areas, including a homecoming photo booth, a spring egg hunt in the libraries, and photos displayed from special collections, creating a theme of “Then and Now.”

According to Christopher Cox, Dean of Library Services at the University of Northern Iowa and co-chair of the awards committee, the selection committee was comprised of a mix of marketing, communications, and fundraising professionals employed outside the university setting. “The quality of entries was quite good,” said Cox. “The new social media award and competition for the videos show a movement in the profession toward digital marketing and philanthropy.”

Contributors to the awards included WKU Libraries Dean Connie Foster; Marketing Coordinator Jennifer Wilson, Library Graphic Design Assistant Patric Peters, WKU Photographers Clinton Lewis and Bryan Lemon, WKU Glasgow Student Affairs Coordinator John Roberts, and Social Media Committee members Shaden Melky (chair), Sara Volpi, Crystal Bowling, Katie King, Carrie Jacoby, Suellyn Lathrop. Ex officio members included Library Professor Haiwang Yuan and Library Technical Services Department Head Deana Groves.

 

 

 

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Gordon Wilson’s Love of Birds

Dr. Wilson's field glasses and some of his bird checklists.

Dr. Wilson’s field glasses and some of his bird checklists.

“Tiny Treasures,” curated by Special Collections Cataloger, Joseph Shankweiler, contains several pieces related to Dr. Gordon Wilson, former professor and head of WKU’s English Department as well as avid bird watcher.  The exhibition features miniature books from the Department of Library Special Collections (DLSC), and one case highlights several bird identification guide books.  To enhance the case, the curator chose a pair of field glasses (loaned by the Kentucky Museum) that Gordon Wilson used on his well-known bird watching expeditions.  Also included in the case are several bird checklist cards, produced by the Kentucky Ornithological Society, on which birders could mark the specific birds they spotted on individual treks.  These two small cards, from a collection of close to 1000 similar cards in Dr. Wilson’s papers, document a trip taken in 1964 to Mammoth Cave National Park.

Alexander Gordon Wilson was born on 14 October 1888 in New Concord (Calloway County), Kentucky. He attended local public schools and Clinton College and afterwards taught in the rural schools of Hickman County.  He entered the Western Kentucky State Normal School, now Western Kentucky University (WKU), Bowling Green, Kentucky, in January 1908 and received a life teaching certificate in 1913.  He then matriculated at Indiana University, where he received his bachelor’s degree in 1915, a master’s degree in 1924 and a Ph.D. in 1930.  The two later degrees he earned while teaching at WKU. Wilson became an English instructor in 1915; he was formally appointed department head in 1928 and held that position until his retirement in 1959.  Besides teaching the classics, Wilson was nationally recognized as a folklore expert.  A finding aid to Dr. Wilson’s collection can be found by clicking here.

A typical bird checklist from the Wilson Papers.

A typical bird checklist from the Wilson Papers.

Wilson was an accomplished amateur ornithologist. He began observing birds around 1909 and recording information about his nature walks and sightings while he was at Indiana University. Upon returning to Bowling Green, he became more serious about the avocation and published his first major article on birds in The Auk (1921).  His fieldwork concentrated on south central Kentucky and he published several articles and pamphlets about the area’s birds.  Wanting to share his information with fellow enthusiasts, Wilson helped found the Kentucky Ornithological Society in 1923 and edited its publication, The Kentucky Warbler, for a number of years. In recent years, DLSC, in cooperation with the Kentucky Ornithological Society, has digitized copies of The Kentucky Warbler. They can be accessed by clicking here.

“Tiny Treasures” will be on exhibit through December 8, 2016, in the Kentucky Building’s Jackson Gallery.

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GARMENT WORKERS WANTED!! Your voices and your memories, that is.

Lisa K. Miller of WKU Libraries is doing an oral history project on garment workers of Southcentral  KY, particularly those who are retired, or worked for companies that are no longer in business here.  We are interested in documenting what your workplaces were like, how things were done before mechanical and technological improvements, and your personal memories of your working life.  These digital audio interviews will be archived on our website, and will be freely available to anyone.  If you are interested in participating, please contact me at lisa.miller@wku.edu or (270) 745-6122.

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An American Odyssey: Photos from the Detroit Photographic Company, 1888-1924

An American Odyssey: Photos From the Detroit Photographic Company 1888-1924

An American Odyssey: Photos From the Detroit Photographic Company 1888-1924 cover

A child asleep in a cotton field. Jupiter and Minerva Terrace, Yellowstone.  A Pike’s Peak prospector. The Battery, Charleston. Acoma Pueblo, New Mexico. Emancipation Day in Richmond, Virginia.  The glorious azaleas at the Magnolia Plantation.  Weighing sugar cane in Havana. Dinner hour on the docks, Jacksonville. Unloading bananas in Mobile.  The Liberty Bell. Child coal miners. All these remarkable historical images, and hundreds more, are collected in this new Reference acquisition (FOLIO REF TR 820.5 .A44x 2014).  “The archive of the Detroit Photographic Company (DPC) is probably the most important ever created on the subject of North America between 1888 and 1924…”  so begins the brief history of the company that produced the images in this extraordinary work.  Many of these were colorized with an early process known as Photochrom; therefore you can see a color image of the Grand Canyon 10 years before the invention of color photography.  The images of Kentucky show the tobacco markets and warehouses in Louisville.  Page 100 depicts White Sulphur Spring, Saratoga Lake, New York, and shows people drinking the “miraculous” sulphur water. Grab this weighty and wonderful tome, find yourself an afternoon, and dive in.

Blog entry by Lisa Miller

The Statue of Liberty in photochrom

The Statue of Liberty in photochrom

The Sagamore dock, Green Island, Lake George

The Sagamore dock, Green Island, Lake George

In the surf at Old Orchard, Maine (photochrom)

In the surf at Old Orchard, Maine (photochrom)

Gardens by the lake on the Magnolia Plantation, South Carolina (photochrom)

Gardens by the lake on the Magnolia Plantation, South Carolina (photochrom)

Arrowmaker, Ojibwa Brave, photochrom

Arrowmaker, Ojibwa Brave, photochrom

“Out for a good time” Long Beach, California

“Out for a good time” Long Beach, California

Hotel Green (top) and the Colorado Street Bridge over Arroyo Seco in Pasadena, California

Hotel Green (top) and the Colorado Street Bridge over Arroyo Seco in Pasadena, California

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Little Nemo comes to WKU Libraries

littlenemo

Front cover of “The Complete Little Nemo” two volume collection, recently added to the WKU Libraries collection

Spanning more than 20 years and three different newspapers, “Little Nemo” is the story of a boy, Nemo, and his journey through Slumberland. Creator Winsor McCay’s use of bright colors, imaginary figures and anthropomorphic animals combine to create a fantasy world that still often mirrors the “real” world. Nemo’s dream world, where he plays many roles and wears elaborate dress, is in sharp contrast to his reality. The last panel of each cartoon is repetitive and simple, showing Nemo waking in his bed, wearing his nightshirt and often being scolded by his parents. While first published over 100 years ago, “Little Nemo” has cultural relevance today. It has influenced authors from Europe and Asia as well as being referenced on the American television show “The Simpsons” in 2011, at least two music videos, and in 2012, Google featured the strip in its homepage (v2, 140).

Those interested in reading Nemo’s adventures can see WKU Libraries’ copy of The Complete Little Nemo by Winsor McCay, compiled by Alexander Braun (Folio PN6728 .L49 M33 2014) and its companion volume The Complete Little Nemo: Winsor McCay A Life of Imaginative Genius (Folio PN6728 .L49 M33 2014 v. 2).

— Blog post by Kathy Foushee

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