Monthly Archives: December 2015


The Department of Special Collections recently added a first edition of a book composed of a beautifully illustrated poem by Madison Julius Cawein.

Madison-J-CaweinThe poem, “Let Us Do The Best We Can,” is one of the works produced by this prolific Kentucky poet. He was popular in his lifetime (b. March 23, 1865, d. December 8, 1914), but he is not a familiar name to many Kentuckians.  He was known as the “Keats of Kentucky,” and acclaimed as the great nature poet of his time.  He loved and praised the beauty of  the flora and fauna of his native Kentucky and showcased a deep love and appreciation of the same. Cawein said of his poetry that “the dreams which any true poet presents to the world may not be of that imperishable stuff that makes for immortality, but they help humanity for the time being, and that is sufficient, is all he hoped for them; dreams of a beauty that has never died, and that will never utterly perish from the earth, as long as the aesthetic sense is a part of the spiritual nature of man” (Rothert, O.A., 1921, The Story of a Poet.) 

From “Let Us Do The Best We Can”:

Let us do the best we can, I say

and have done with the failures of yesterday:

Let us do our work, whatever it is

Let us do our work, or hit or miss

and the world will take from our hearts its tone

and echo the song that’s in our own,

for happienss lies in the work we do,

whatever it be, or old or new:

And whatever the work, whatever the way,

Let us do the best that we can, I say!35827

See this book and other poetry written by Cawein at the Special Collections library. Search the collection by using KenCatTopSCHOLAR and the One Search online catalog.

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Fall 2015 Library Student Assistant Scholarship

Western Kentucky University (WKU) senior Katie Gamble from Hopkinsville, has been selected as the recipient of the WKU Library Student Assistant Scholarship.  Gamble is a senior who will graduate in May 2016 with a B.S. in Communication Disorders, completing her degree in only three years.fall15studentacholarshipPictured: Doug Wiles, Gamble, and Dean of WKU Libraries Connie Foster.

According to her supervisor Doug Wiles, Gamble has worked as a Stacks Management student for two-and-a-half years.  “During that time, I have noted Katie’s motivation to be exceptional in every endeavor: academic, work-related, and personal,” said Wiles. “Katie has been a leader in several projects, including a significant transition for Stacks Management to staff  the Helm Information Desk.”

Gamble has performed at a superior level academically, maintaining a 4.0 grade point average while working in WKU Libraries and volunteering in the Kelly Autism Program. In addition, Katie was the first student employee to serve on the WKU Campus Library Advisory Council.

“I take pride in telling people that I am a WKU Libraries Student Assistant and am very thankful for the opportunity to work here,” said Gamble. “I can genuinely say that being a student assistant has strengthened my time management skills and has made me more independent.”

Katie was recognized at a reception on Wednesday, December 9 in Cravens Library. The scholarship is sponsored through funding from the Friends of WKU Libraries. For more information on the Friends program, go to and click on “Support Us.”

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The Holiday Spirit in Japan

One of many interesting features of the papers of WKU librarian Margie Helm, available in the Manuscripts & Folklife Archives unit of WKU’s Department of Library Special Collections, is documentation of Margie’s unique friendship with Hana (Kato) Kaku, her Japanese-born classmate at the Pratt Institute Library School.

Kaku family Christmas card to Margie Helm

Kaku family Christmas card to Margie Helm

Fluent in English and in Western ways, Hana returned to Japan to help in the rebuilding of its libraries following the devastating earthquake of 1923, but soon left the profession to care for her ailing husband, retired diplomat Michio Kaku.  Then World War II brought economic destruction, driving the couple from their comfortable life in Tokyo to subsistence farming in a small village at the foot of Mt. Fuji.  Hana made extra money as a translator and craftsperson, but was never able to fulfill her desire to return to library work.

For years after the war, Margie Helm sent Hana and her family gifts of clothing, medicine, toiletries and food (Hana’s stepdaughter June was delighted by a gift of marshmallows, for she didn’t know that “such a delicious thing existed,” and ecstatic when she received her first new dress in seven years).  Their many letters of thanks included descriptions of the difficult conditions for ordinary citizens in postwar Japan: inflation, food and housing

Kaku family Christmas card to Margie Helm

Kaku family Christmas card to Margie Helm

shortages, and a “moral mess” that was tempting some to embrace communism.  After Hana’s sudden death in 1951, her husband Michio told Margie that her support had been Hana’s “oasis” in a life filled with deprivation and sacrifice.

The upheaval in their country and the postwar communist threat also made the Kakus receptive to Christianity–Michio would formally convert in 1953–and the beautiful Japanese Christmas cards they sent Margie spoke to their evolving faith.  Over the years, Margie received Christmas cards from other Japanese friends, tributes to her continuing interest in her former classmate’s country.

Click here to access a finding aid for the Margie Helm Collection.  For more collections, search TopSCHOLAR and KenCat.

Christmas cards to Margie Helm from Japanese friends

Christmas cards to Margie Helm from Japanese friends

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Arlis O. Harmon & WKU Folk Studies Intern’s Success

Graduate student intern's depiction of Harmon's life as a composer

Graduate student intern’s depiction of Harmon’s life as a composer.

In Library Special Collections, we have been fortunate to have Angela Arvizu from the Folk Studies Department as a graduate student intern beginning in June. Ms. Arvizu added 171 created the metadata records for Arlis O. Harmon’s original compositions of sheet music (which will soon be approved and internet accessible at, researched and documented an exhibit’s contents using Past Perfect Collection Management software, and created a case exhibit which will remain on display until January 26, 2016 in the Special Collections Library of the Kentucky Building.Harmon Exhibit by Angela intern
Of her internship, Angela wrote: “The experience of being an intern at Kentucky Library Research Collections was gratifying….Harmon who died in 1992 was a composer and poetry writer from Kentucky. The work done during my internship organized and protected his collection of compositions. I appreciated the opportunity to work with Sue Lynn McDaniel and the Special Collections Library in this project.”

A closeup of items in Manuscripts, our Photograph Collection and our Sheet Music Collection

A closeup of items in Manuscripts, our Photograph Collection and our Sheet Music Collection

Often these internships and student work opportunities serve our WKU students well as they seek employment after graduation. Thank you, Angela, for a job well done!

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WKU students receive undergraduate library research awards

Fall student assistant 10

Western Kentucky University undergraduate students Daulton Cowan, Maggie Flanagan, and Jefferson Sanders were honored for winning undergraduate research awards at a recognition ceremony in Cravens Library on Monday, November 30.  WKU Libraries and WKU University Experience faculty offer the awards in an effort to recognize the important role of good undergraduate research in college academic success.

“Information literacy and library skills are essential for student success at any level, and I am happy to be a part of introducing the importance of college-level research skills to our first year students,” said Sara McCaslin, University Experience Coordinator.

Cowan, a first-year student from Bowling Green, Kentucky, received the award for his annotated resource list project for the University Experience class on the main campus. His work featured the TED Talk “How to Start a Movement” by Derek Sivers. His instructor was Aaron Peters.

Flanagan, a first-year student from Russell Springs, Kentucky, received the award for best annotated resource list in a major-specific area. Representing the College of Health and Human Services, her project featured her area of interest titled “Nursing: The Career that Saves Lives.” Her instructor was Marsha Hopper.

Sanders, a first-year student from Nashville, Tennessee, representing student essays of the South Campus University Experience class, was recognized for the best career essay titled, “Sports Broadcasting News Analyst.”  His instructor was Dr. Anne Heintzman.

Students received a monetary gift along with a plaque honoring their achievements. The winning documents, along with those of past recipients, are posted on TopSCHOLAR–WKU’s research and creative database—at

Photo Album

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Your Discovery!

WKU’s Department of Library Special Collections (DLSC) recently added a discovery sharing page to its website that allows patrons to share items that they found in Special Collections and how the material aided their research.  Our first respondent was Michelle Dilliha, a local CPA and owner of Front Porch Rentals.  Dilliha has been responsible for adapting historic properties into multi-family living arrangements.  Most of these properties have been in the College Heights Historic District.  Before purchasing another property in which her company was interested, Dilliha came to Special Collections to see if the house’s original drawings existed.


DLSC owns over 1500 sets of architectural drawings, chiefly from Bowling Green.  Although a number of architects are represented, the majority of them come from James Maurice Ingram (1905-1976), Frank D. Cain (1922-1994), Joseph P. Wilk (1926-1994), and Bill Finley (b. 1939).  By providing some details about the property including the address of an early resident–which Michelle gleaned from city directories–the DLSC staff was able to locate the drawings by James Maurice Ingram.  The original drawings provided information about the structure that was helpful in evaluating how the house had evolved over the years and the best way to handle several unusual details during renovation.

Dilliha was happy to find the drawings and was equally impressed with DLSC’s staff who were “extremely helpful” and “went above and beyond” expectations.  A basic database for searching the architectural drawings is available in-house; approximately 25% of the drawings have been cataloged in DLSC’s catalog KenCat.

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Out of the Box – November

100 Years Ago – The Elevator, Vol. VII, No. 2, Nov. 1915

  • The Chestnut Hunt
  • An Evening with Poe
  • The Turkey Trot and much more

75 Years Ago – Le Cercle Francais Club Bulletin No. 3, 1940

  • Le Pique Nique du 12 Octobre (Picnic held Oct. 12)
  • Reunion D’anciens (Homecoming)
  • Calendrier francais (French holidays)
WKU Faculty/Staff 1965

WKU Faculty/Staff 1965

50 Years Ago – Faculty / Staff Group photo, 1965

  • See how many people you can recognize
  • See how small the administration was

25 Years Ago – Student Honors Research Bulletin, 1990

  • Ritalin Controversy
  • 1988 Presidential Primaries
  • Gay & Lesbian Couples
  • Popcorn and Salt or Salt Substitutes and much more

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