Banned Books Week

Another blog post is live on
Lilly Library News & Notes!

This time it’s celebrating Banned Books Week… featuring Fruits of Philosophy by Charles Knowlton.

Fruits of Philosophy (Photo curteosy Lilly Library, Indiana University)
Fruits of Philosophy (Photo courtesy Lilly Library, Indiana University)

Banned Books Week is put on by the American Library Association in which they celebrate the freedom of reading whatever you want – the freedom of choice.

More information on Banned Books Week: www.ala.org/bbooks

Take a second to check it out!

Internship – Week 5

As part of the coursework, interns have to keep a weekly journal of our experiences. Blog entries are acceptable and I thought this would be a great way to keep everyone updated on my library activities at the Lilly Library!

September 21 – September 25

Monday, September 21st (3 hours):
I began this shift by setting up my first Lilly Library blog post in the WordPress dashboard. It was published on Tuesday and you can see it by clicking here! Hobbit Day was/is September 22nd and the Lilly has a great copy of The Hobbit, or There and Back Again by J. R. R. Tolkien. It was quirky and not too serious, though interesting information is passed on in the blog. I then spent some time updating a Social Media calendar that I created. It’ll give anyone the chance to look at it and potentially post something via the Lilly’s Twitter account (coming soon!). One of the staff members asked for me to put all of the US presidents’ birth and death dates on the calendar; he wants to tweet presidential information in the year leading up to the US presidential election (November 2016). Perhaps, something like this:

William Henry Harrison (Lilly Library images)
William Henry Harrison (Courtesy the Lilly Library, Bloomington, Indiana)

I put away some manuscripts and worked on the next blog post about ALA’s Banned Books Week. I also answered a reference email question: she was looking for an article in a manuscript collection stored off-site at the ALF (Auxiliary Library Facility). I ordered the box and responded that I was working on her question!

Wednesday, September 23rd (3 hours):
There will be a follow up post to “Happy Birthday, Bilbo Baggins!” that shows the Denham Tracts pamphlet where “hobbit” is first mentioned as a creature. Several years ago the Oxford English Dictionary contacted the Lilly Library looking for an original of this pamphlet; that’s how I found the information in the librarian’s class notes. I called up the bound volume, marked the page, and will have it in a blog post soon. I helped put away comic books from a class and then answered a reference email concerning the Philippine manuscript collection. At this point, I learned that the Philippine mss. can only be accessed with the help of an in-house guide. Every library is going to have little quirks that only the experienced librarians will know about; it’s definitely beneficial to ask questions.

Friday, September 25th (5 hours):
I started the day by learning the materials for a class I will be teaching twice next week. It’s Hispanic culture items for an undergraduate course and contains some really awesome materials! Rebecca, my adviser, has been teaching this class for the past several years and knows it very well. This recitation of materials may prompt my memory for Monday and Tuesday…

-We start out with some basic Spanish history: there’s a Quran, which shows the Arabic influence on Spain; a facsimile of a 12th century games book; a Spanish Missal; and a letter from Queen Isabel.
-Next is the New World: a print of a Christopher Columbus letter; books by Spanish conquistadors; maps of Mexico; and European propaganda on American natives.
-Finally, there’s some materials that are just pretty: Cervantes Don Quixote and a beautifully illuminated family document book.

I’ll let you know how the classes go next week!

Later I assisted Rebecca giving a library tour, worked on exhibition labels/bibliographic citations for the Hispanic culture class, registered some new patrons in the Reading Room, and wrote more blog posts. I’m finding that I want my Lilly Library blog posts to be concise. I’m taking a vlogbrothers view, in that I want the information to be bite-sized and easily consumable (unlike these Internship posts). People in today’s society don’t want to sit there and read a long blog post or watch a long video; they don’t have the time. These posts are more of an introduction or appetizer; if readers want to know more, they can do personal research or contact us directly. This up-and-coming Lilly Twitter account  should be similar, though that forces us to keep tweets under a certain amount of characters.

Happy Birthday, Bilbo Baggins!

It’s live!

My post concerning Hobbit Day is active on the Lilly Library News and Notes blog page.

J. R. R. Tolkien's impression of the literary character Bilbo Baggins, as seen in Tolkien's illustration of Bag End. Drawn by Tolkien for inclusion in illustrated editions of his 1937 novel The Hobbit. (source)
J. R. R. Tolkien’s impression of the literary character Bilbo Baggins, as seen in Tolkien’s illustration of Bag End. Drawn by Tolkien for inclusion in illustrated editions of his 1937 novel The Hobbit. (source)

Take a minute to check it out!

Internship – Week 4

As part of the coursework, interns have to keep a weekly journal of our experiences. Blog entries are acceptable and I thought this would be a great way to keep everyone updated on my library activities at the Lilly Library!

September 14 – September 18

Monday, September 14th (3 hours):
I spent the entire day working on reference inquiries. One inquiry was a matter of marking pages to be scanned. That was a simple enough task, just a little time consuming. Once that was completed I began work on the next question. A researcher wanted to know if we had letters from a certain person in our manuscript collections. He was able to give me a starting place, though, of the Bingham, W. collection. I first looked up the Lilly’s online Manuscript Collection Guide and selected “B.” Upon selecting the Bingham W. mss. I could see there was a finding aid available. (Not all collections have this). The finding aid took me to Archives Online at Indiana University where I scrolled down to find where these letters might be located. Luckily some where already digitized and the other few were easily found. To find another letter I had to turn to the card catalog. I searched the manuscript cards for the collection, didn’t find what I wanted, and turned to the cards arranged by correspondence. Success! I found the materials in the card catalog, found and retrieved the materials in the stacks, used paper markers to signal the letters to be scanned, and replied to the person by email. This whole process took the entire three hours. It’s amazing that librarians can answer so many reference questions in a day!

Card catalog at the Lilly Library (via K. Emmons)
Card catalog at the Lilly Library (via K. Emmons)

Wednesday, September 16th (3 hours):
Today a special group visited the Lilly Library. The librarian teaching the class has been working with a Visit Bloomington representative as liaison for this group. Unfortunately the liaison told the librarian to pull the incorrect time period, so she had to spend the entire morning pulling new materials and figuring out how they were significant! What’s normally done in a few days took place in a few hours. Things like that are bound to happen in a library setting. Information can be lost in translation and flexibility is key. Those situations can be stressful, but I sat through the presentation and thought it quite went well! Joel Silver, the director and curator of books, joined us to describe the Lilly’s history and answer any questions. Visiting groups can be a coin-toss: some groups are super engaged, excited about the materials, and ask a lot of questions; other groups can be very quiet and are there because an instructor told them go; sometimes there’s a mix. This group, to my mind, was a mix of people. A few had great questions about the library and seemed genuinely interested, others wanted to promote themselves or their work, and others were simply passing the time until dinner. I enjoy these classes, because I learn something new each time… but that could only be because I’m a relative green at all of this.

Friday, September 18th (4 hours):
I started out today by doing file renaming. I may have mentioned this before, but the Public Services department at the Lilly has a large folder containing notes from past classes – a vast collection of notes. I’ve separated the documents into pre- and post-2012, then renamed the useful files with topic/class/teacher/semester. The not useful files (lists of call numbers) were moved to a file called “Delete.” I returned some manuscripts to their appropriate shelf… I even returned a folder than had been homeless for the past few weeks! The true hero in that instance was a manuscripts archivist, Craig; he looked up the collections and suggested the likely home and he was right! I’ve worked a little more on a potential blog post for the last week of September too; that will be on the ALA’s banned books week. Then a class came in to see pre-1750 music materials. I helped Isabelle set up for the class and browsed through the materials while we waited for them to arrive. It was a smaller class, around 12 people, and she was able to have more of a conversation with the group about the materials. It wasn’t a lecture. It was more of a collaboration… they knew some things about the music that she didn’t, and so on. It was fun!

Internship – Week 3

As part of the coursework, interns have to keep a weekly journal of our experiences. Blog entries are acceptable and I thought this would be a great way to keep everyone updated on my library activities at the Lilly Library!

September 7 – September 12

Wednesday, September 9th (3 hours):
I spent a very large amount of time working on potential posts for the Lilly Library blog. I want to do a post for “Hobbit Day,” which celebrates Bilbo and Frodo Baggins’ fictional birthday. The Lilly Library has some great Tolkien materials and there’s some really interesting information to say. Such as, where the origin of “hobbit” came from or the differences between the first British edition and first American editions (plural) of The Hobbit. Hopefully I’ll have that approved next week and then posted the following week. I’ll link that information to this post when completed! Another potential blog post is for ALA’s Banned Book week at the end of them month. The Lilly has a lot of materials that have been challenged for one reason or another and it would be nice to highlight a few.

J. R. R. Tolkien's impression of the literary character Bilbo Baggins, as seen in Tolkien's illustration of Bag End. Drawn by Tolkien for inclusion in illustrated editions of his 1937 novel The Hobbit. (source)
J. R. R. Tolkien’s impression of the literary character Bilbo Baggins, as seen in Tolkien’s illustration of Bag End. Drawn by Tolkien for inclusion in illustrated editions of his 1937 novel The Hobbit. (source)

Friday, September 11th (4 hours):
I started out by shelving manuscripts since they were beginning to pile up a bit. It’s nice being able to return a folder or box to it’s home. Spaces might be a little cramped between shelving units, but I’m starting to learn where the bigger collections live! I then spent more time writing the blog posts. Also, I started compiling a calendar of materials that could be featured when the Lilly’s Twitter page get’s up and running. I’ll have more information for you when that gets started! Yay, social media!

Saturday, September 12th (4 hours):
Today was my first weekend shift – it was voluntary, though. There was a freshmen seminar class from a visiting university and a booksitter was needed. Their class was on early book history (pre-1450), so group visited the Lilly in order to see the primary materials. I’ll admit that I didn’t know much about some of the things that I laid out and watched over… I’ve only taken the book history class post-1450 (that’s generally the date that we associate with printed materials). They started out looking at some very early materials: cuneiform tablets (2000 b.c.), a Roman tombstone, papyri fragments, and an early Qur’an. The next set of materials were early East Asian writings; and the last set were Books of Hours from the 15th Century and a chained book from the 12th Century. I enjoyed hearing more information about these early materials since I know little about them.

Internship – Week 2

As part of the coursework, interns have to keep a weekly journal of our experiences. Blog entries are acceptable and I thought this would be a great way to keep everyone updated on my library activities at the Lilly Library!

August 31 – September 4

Monday, August 31 (3 hours): File renaming! I sat for quite a while at the computer moving and renaming files in the Public Services folder. There were 15 years of research notes for classes and my job was to go through them to determine which were worth saving. I organized the files by date and moved all of the pre-2012 files into a folder. Going into that folder I started at the top of the list, opened the file, looked at what information was inside, and either renamed  the document (class name, professor, librarian, semester) or dumped it in a “Delete” folder for my adviser to peruse. It was super interesting to see the level of detail that many of the documents held! Many of the classes are usually one-offs and the level of detail depends on the audience, the length of class, and familiarity with the materials. For example, elementary students need to know different amounts of information than graduate students. Some of the documents that I sifted through only had catalog records; these were lists of possible materials for classes or reminders of what to pull… I put those in the delete folder.

Tuesday, September 1 (5.5 hours): This was a super chance to meet with several of the librarians and the director of the library. Rebecca, my adviser, wants to expose Sarah and me to as many different people in the library as possible to see how the cogs in the machine fit together. Today we met with Rebecca, Isabel, and Erika to receive a teaching demo and compare their different styles. They took turns delivering their treasures speech and showing us 2 or 3 of their favorite Lilly treasures. Here’s a quick summary:

“Silmarillion” book sculpture by Philip Smith (photo via K. Emmons)

There were slight differences because each had different interests and backgrounds to emphasize. Rebecca has an English literature background; Isabelle has an history/art background; Erika has an art history/fine arts background.

Later we met with Joel Silver, the director of the Lilly, to learn how the library was organized. Today, the library is divided by the type of service: public services and technical services. Public services are the librarians who answer reference questions, give tours, teach classes, and interact with patrons in the Reading Room. Technical Services are those who catalog the materials, organize the stacks, and maintain the collections. Obviously these are generalizations and both areas do more than what I’ve outlined, but this gives you an idea of them. Well,  Joel told us that this division only occurred in the mid-1990s. From the 1960s when the Lilly Library was opened to the mid-1990s, the library was divided by Book and Manuscript departments. The Book people weren’t allowed to touch the manuscripts, and vice versa. Certain materials in the collections are shelved oddly because of these past divisions: books are with the manuscript collections if the Manuscript Curator took an interest, etc. Every library will have its quirks and I think it’s important for new librarians to learn the history – even the dirty, gossipy history because those “truths” can reveal how materials are organized.

Friday (2.5 hours): I got to look at two illuminated books from 1478 and 1490! Specifically, I was looking at the watermarks in the paper for a patron who emailed us. We sent him a digital photo of a single watermark from each book, but he wanted to know if there were multiple kinds within the books. My job was to determine the answer.

Example of a watermark (By Rodak (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons)
Example of a watermark (By Rodak (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons)
**Spoiler: there WERE multiple watermarks used in each book**
I replied with my answer… now we wait to see how he wants to continue. The librarians I’ve been working with think that sending him a single image of each of the watermarks isn’t too much to ask, but if he wants to know how many pages, or some other more intense question that it starts to get into research territory. We’re only here to help with reference work, not research work. It’s a grey boundary that can be difficult to define, but is important to determine. I also did some manuscript reshelving!