Category Archives: People

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 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 , 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  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 and , 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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Filed under Manuscripts & Folklife Archives, People

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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Filed under Latest News, New Stuff, People

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 or (270) 745-6122.

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Filed under General, People

Brian Coutts gave Best Reference 2015 seminar

Dr. Coutts Best Reference 2015

Brian Coutts delivering Best Reference 2015 seminar

Brian Coutts gave his “Best Reference” seminar on Friday, May 13 at 10:00 a.m. in Helm 5. Best Reference is an annual selection he makes for Library Journal,  the nation’s oldest and leading library trade journals.  The article appears in the March 1, 2016 issue in both print and online.  This year’s list included 31  titles from 20 different publishers, including 10 university presses and some small publishing houses.  This is the 30th consecutive year Brian has been involved with this project either as a consultant, coauthor or author.  A reception followed with cake and coffee.

Best Reference 2015 seminar

Best Reference 2015 seminar


Cake at the reception

Cake and Coffee Served at the Reception

Best Reference 2015 flyer

Best Reference 2015 flyer

Photo Album

Best Reference Article

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Filed under Acquisitions, AskUs!, General, Past Events, People, Reference, Stuff, Uncategorized

Elaine “Penny” Harrison

Elaine "Penny" Harrison, 1924-2016

Elaine “Penny” Harrison, 1924-2016

WKU’s Department of Library Special Collections lost a valued former colleague with the May 6, 2016 death of Elaine “Penny” Harrison.

According to her family, it was while watching a movie that the young Elaine Maher and two childhood friends decided to assume the names of the film’s three heroines.  Thus was born Elaine’s lifelong nickname, “Penny.”

A Connecticut native, Penny met WKU alumnus Lowell H. Harrison while working at New York University.  After they married in 1948, she followed him to London on his Fulbright Scholarship, then to Texas, where Dr. Harrison taught at West Texas State University and Penny earned a master’s degree in history.  In 1967, Dr. Harrison returned to Bowling Green to teach at his alma mater and Penny joined the Kentucky Library (now part of the Department of Library Special Collections), where she served as manuscripts librarian until her retirement in 1986.

While at WKU, Penny earned a master’s degree in library science, completed special studies in archives at the University of Wisconsin, and developed a manual for processing manuscript collections at the Kentucky Library.  The first treasurer and archivist for the Kentucky Council on Archives, she was honored with a KCA fellowship in 1987 to recognize her outstanding contributions to the profession.  Special Collections Librarian Sue Lynn McDaniel says that Penny also enjoyed mentoring students in her field.  In fact, McDaniel recalls, “she gave me the career/education advice that allowed me to become her successor as Manuscripts Librarian at WKU.”

Penny and Lowell Harrison (who died in 2011) also gave generously to WKU and the Kentucky Library.  Acknowledging their financial support for collection development, then-Special Collections Department Head Riley Handy told them simply: “We have no better friends than you.”

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Filed under Manuscripts & Folklife Archives, People

WKU Library Professor Haiwang Yuan’s book was recognized with storytelling award

Yuan- official

WKU Libraries Professor Haiwang Yuan’s book Tibetan Folktales recently received an Honorable Mention in the Special Storytelling Resources category of the 2016 Storytelling World Resource Awards. Yuan coauthored the book with Awang Kunga, who is a native Tibetan, and Bo Li. Its  publisher is Libraries Unlimited, an imprint of ABC-CLIO. Incidentally, another of Yuan’s books Princess Peacock: Tales of Other Chinese Peoples won the same recognition in 2010.

For more than 20 years, the Storytelling World Resource Awards Program has a panel of judges who evaluate new books in the field and identify outstanding works to help storytellers connect with the resources that will be most impactful for their practice.

Tibetan Folktales contains more than 30 traditional Tibetan stories that give readers a taste of the land, people, culture, history, religion, and psyche of this remote region. The tales are gathered from contemporary Tibetan storytellers and translated from written sources that represent a rich oral and written literary tradition.

“I feel honored to get this recognition on a national level, and I believe my coauthors will feel the same way,” said Yuan. “I surely hope that this award will help my book reach a wider audience so that more people will be able to learn about a great people like the Tibetans and their wonderful culture and folklore.”

Yuan has been a member of Western Kentucky University’s Department of Library Public Services for 19 years. He has edited, authored, and contributed to several books and dozens of articles. Visit TopSCHOLAR to learn more about his works and his website about his other creative activities.

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Filed under General, Latest News, New Stuff, People

Former Fulbright Scholar Paul Griner awarded 2016 Kentucky Literary Award

The Southern Kentucky Book Fest partnership announced Paul Griner as the winner of this year’s Kentucky Literary Award for his book Hurry Please, I Want to Know, published by Sarabande Books (Louisville, KY). First awarded in 2003 and reintroduced in 2012 after a brief hiatus, the Kentucky Literary Award is a celebration of Kentucky Literature. Eligible books include those written by Kentuckians or books with a substantial Kentucky theme. Fiction and non-fiction books are recognized in alternating years, this year being the year for fiction.

2016 KY Literary Award

Griner’s book is a collection of short stories. Publishers Weekly says “Griner overlays tales of family, artistry, and parent-child relationships with elements of the surreal, in order to create, in the words of one character, ‘an undercurrent of mournfulness.’ The collection’s best stories…offer just enough detail to produce strong emotions while remaining cryptically open-ended.”

Paul Griner, a former Fulbright Scholar and current English professor at the University of Louisville, is the author of the short story collection Follow Me (Random House), a Barnes and Noble Discover Great New Writers pick, and the novels Collectors (Random House) and The German Woman (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt). His works have been published in numerous magazines, journals and anthologies, and have been translated into a half-dozen languages. He is the recipient of U of L’s Outstanding Teaching Award as well as the Graduate School’s Outstanding Mentor Award. He has a BA in History from the University of New Hampshire, an MA in Romance Languages and Literatures from Harvard, and an MA in Creative Writing from Syracuse University.


“Paul Griner has created an inventive array of characters found in amazingly varied circumstances in his short story collection Hurry Please, I Want to Know,” said Jonathan Jeffrey, department head of WKU Library Special Collections and member of the selection committee for the award. “His creativity is so pervasive that no one story even vaguely resembles the other and each one is enhanced by his tight, crisp writing.

The award announcement was made at the Knicely Conference Center at the Southern Kentucky Book Fest Meet the Authors Reception on Friday, April 22–the night before the main Book Fest event. Griner was recognized with a commemorative certificate and a monetary gift.

The Southern Kentucky Book Fest partners include Barnes & Noble Booksellers, Warren County Public Library, and the Western Kentucky University Libraries. The award was made possible with the generous support of Friends of WKU Libraries. For more information about the award, please visit

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Filed under Latest News, New Stuff, People, SOKY Book Fest

Diane King’s “Kurdistan on the Global Stage: Kinship, Land and Community in Iraq”

Kurdistan-on-the-Global-Stage (2)

WKU Libraries’ Far Away Places series featured Dr. Diane King, Associate Professor of Anthropology at the University of Kentucky. Dr. King spoke on her recent book Kurdistan on the Global State: Kinship, Land and Community in Iraq, published in 2014 by Rutgers University Press. The book explores how people in Kurdistan connect socially through patron-client relationships, patrilineage and citizenship. King offers a sensitive interpretation of the challenges occurring between tradition and modernity in a land where honor killings and female genital mutilation coexist with mobile phones and increasing education of women.

Photo Album | Sound File | Podcast RSS

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Filed under Events, Far Away Places, Flickr Photos, General, Latest News, New Stuff, People, Podcasts, Stuff, Uncategorized

The Meijer Used Book Sale produced high traffic to benefit SOKY Book Fest

Meijer Used Book Sale Meijer Used Book Sale held on Friday, March 3 through Sunday, March 5 had a great turn out at the Bob Kirby Branch. Hundreds of people showed up for the three-day sale, leaving with heavy bags and big smiles. Meijer sponsored the annual event offered to raise money for the Southern Kentucky Book Fest scheduled on April 22 & 23 at the Knicely Conference Center. For more details on the event, go to

 Photo Album


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Filed under Flickr Photos, People, SOKY Book Fest, Stuff

212° Academy students win Young Authors contest

212° Academy students Emma Jayne McGuffey and Shelby Cockrill have been selected as the winners of the SOKY Book Fest – 212° Academy Young Authors Contest. DSC_0485McGuffey, daughter of Karen and Steven McGuffey, wrote A Family of Spies: Sunrise – A New Dawn, and Cockrill, daughter of Wendy and Rhett Cockrill, wrote Game Warning. McGuffey is a 6th grader from Richardsville Elementary School, and Cockrill is a 6th grader from Oakland Elementary School.DSC_0466

SOKY Book Fest Coordinator Sara Volpi said there was a wonderful variety of books this year. “We were once again so impressed with the imagination and effort put into each book the 212° Academy students wrote,” said Volpi.

According to Jennifer Sheffield, teacher for the 212° Academy, the goal of this project was to experience the process of crafting a book for publication from start to finish.

“Students were given the assignment to write a book with an elementary school-aged reader in mind,” said Sheffield. “Each book was published through, an online book self-publishing website, printed in full-color and assigned an official library ISBN number.”

The contest is a combined effort between the Southern Kentucky Book Fest partners (Barnes & Noble Booksellers, Warren County Public Library, and WKU Libraries) and the teachers at the Academy. The two students will receive certificates of recognition and are invited to sign copies of their books at the Southern Kentucky Book Fest on April 22-23.

For more information, visit or contact Sara Volpi at (270) 745-4502.

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Filed under General, Latest News, New Stuff, People, SOKY Book Fest