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Libraries committed to supporting Miami faculty

Partner in exceptional education

As buzz continues to build ahead of a new academic year, the Miami University Libraries invite faculty – both new friends and longtime friends – to connect with the University Libraries’ services and our subject liaison librarians.

All faculty members are encouraged to collaborate with the University Libraries throughout the year to enhance the educational experience they provide for their students and advance their own research. Following are four great places to start:

  • Explore our faculty resources: Our faculty lib guide offers an overview of all the services and resources available to faculty. Bookmark it today!
  • Get to know your subject librarian: Your subject librarian is your portal to everything libraries. We build collections in your subject areas, work with you to develop research and critical thinking skills in students, and connect you to the most appropriate resources. Check out our subject and course guide for your respective area to find your subject librarian.
  • Integrate research skills into your classes: We have a wealth of resources available to support your classes, including information literacy modules designed for Canvas, instructional videos, class-specific research guides, and guidance as you design research assignments.
  • Let us know what you’re working on: The Libraries actively support faculty in their research. From our own rich collections to those we can tap into throughout Ohio and across the globe, we can find the scholarly resources you need. We also offer digital and data support through our Center for Digital Scholarship.

Around the Libraries – August 2018

Strategic Communications

- Welcome to the new Miami University Libraries Connections, staff eNewsletter. In addition to the new look, monthly event calendar and video staff spotlights, this Around the Libraries component will now feature short, need-to-know updates from around the division. This is still a work in progress, so let us know if you have suggestions or updates for future editions.

#MoveInMiami: The University’s annual day-of-giving campaign (separate from move-in day) – is Thursday, Aug. 23. This is a vital platform for telling the Libraries story to alumni and for building a long-term donor base. Vince is looking for volunteers to support the donor thank you effort – both thank you videos the day of and handwritten thank you notes in the week after. If you would like to participate with a gift (participation is far more important than the gift amounts) or want to learn more, check out

Access & Borrow

- Access & Borrow has four hiring searches underway at this time. Two (cataloging H-1 & Art/Arch G-2) are part way through the process and two (King G-1 and B.E.S.T. H-1) are still in the early stages.

- A&B summer activities including shifting collections for better access.

- On a behind-the-scenes level, Access & Borrow is starting a documentation initiative to ensure regular activities and important information are preserved in accessible places.

Create & Innovate

- The Create & Innovate Department is launching a Maker and Mobile (M&M) Lab, which will be taken out on campus to assist students and faculty in exploring, experimenting, building, deconstructing, analyzing, reverse engineering, and testing new ideas in safe, interdisciplinary environments. The M&M lab can be used to talk about and demonstrate concepts such as 3D, digital storytelling, multimedia production, virtual reality, coding for fun, and more. Stay tuned!

Steward & Sustain

- Steward & Sustain is excited to announce that Justin Bridges begins as the new Preservation Librarian on Sept. 3. He received his MLIS from Kent State with a focus on preservation and completed a 15-week preservation internship.

- The H1 position is posted and the search committee will begin reviewing applications next week.


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Dean's Update - August 2018


A leader is best when people barely know he exists, when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say: we did it ourselves.” 

-Lao Tzu

Dean & University Librarian Jerome ConleyWithin the higher education cycle, the month of August always signals a time of new beginnings.

During the fast-approaching move-in week of Aug. 20, we will see the obvious new beginnings – the first-year students, new graduate students and beginning faculty we welcome to King Library for our annual series of orientation events.

Most beginnings are continuations or new chapters of longer journeys.

Our master planning journey began more than a year and a half ago. Since that time, we have completed a restructuring of our organization, created a vision for the future of King Library that is being shared with our university leadership, and made significant progress in building and strengthening our team through impressive new hires and exciting new positions.

While ongoing and requiring patience, all of that work represents progress and lends momentum to the forward-looking library system we wish to build.

Another important phase began last month, with the start of leadership training for our lead team and department heads. Over the next month-plus, we will come together with Tom Heuer, a faculty member in the Farmer School of Business and executive leadership consultant, for four sessions aimed at reflecting on our strengths, weaknesses and responsibilities as leaders.

It is not enough to implement a new organizational chart and to pay lip service to platitudes about the type of organization we want to build. We need to actively invest in the type of leadership that will unleash our true power – the collective smarts, energy and drive of the best library staff in the nation.

That began during our June team member training with Kristen Hadeed, which brought out both our strengths and our opportunities for growth. Those investments will continue with additional team-member training and the work your leadership is doing to create an environment where every individual can thrive and know they make a difference.

Ultimately, that’s what we must build before we can have the premier library system we envision.

Still another journey approaching its next phase is the university-wide Boldly Creative initiative that is critical to building tomorrow’s Miami University. This represents a new state of mind that must be pervasive as we consider how we add value to the university’s mission of advancing student success.

I hope you are all not only thinking about the ways we can strengthen the university around us but also discussing and advancing those ideas within your departments. This is where your leadership is critically important.

We will talk more about all of this during our fall All-Staff meeting on Wednesday, Aug. 15.

Until then, I wish you some final moments of respite and reflection amid your intensifying preparations for another new academic year.

Thank you for all you do.

Jerome Conley
Dean and University Librarian


Six ways the Libraries can make grad school life easier

So, you're a new grad studentAs the start of the fall semester nears, the Miami University Libraries are excited to play an integral role in the scholarly success of our new graduate students.

For a complete primer on getting the most from the University Libraries during your time in graduate school, bookmark our comprehensive online LibGuide on graduate student resources.

To get you started, here are six ways the Libraries can make your grad school life easier:

  1. Your subject librarian: Need guidance on an advanced research project? We’ve got your expert. Each department features a subject librarian who knows your area of study and can assist you with everything from narrowing your research topic to finalizing your thesis. Have a quick general question between 9 a.m. – 9 p.m.? We offer a variety of options to just ask us.
  2. Technology: From technology basics for checkout and pay-for print services to state-of-the-art 3D printing services in our B.E.S.T. Library, the University Libraries ensure you have the tech tools you need to do your best work. The Center for Digital Scholarship can help you get started on digital projects and the Center for Information Management computer lab offers the software and hardware to complete a variety of projects, including movie production and poster creation.
  3. 24/7: King Library is open 24/7 during the fall and spring semesters to accommodate your prime working hours. The Libraries’ website also creates access to more than 500 online databases, many accessible anytime from anywhere.
  4. We can get it: If an article or book you need is not in our collection, we can track it down statewide through the OhioLINK consortium or worldwide through our Interlibrary Loan program. It is free for you and faster than you might expect!
  5. Take your time: There is no need to balance all those due dates in your hard-working mind. As a graduate student, you get to check out books for an entire semester at a time.
  6. A space that suits you: In addition to our open study spaces, which range from semi-social coffee shop to absolute quiet, the Libraries offer a variety of study and meeting rooms that can be reserved. As a graduate student, you also have exclusive access to the Polk Graduate Reading Room (King 230), which offers a focused place to get work done and lockers to secure your research sources. Check with the King Library circulation desk for access.

History’s Lost and Found: The story of Jerry Williams

Graduation Day: (From left) Associate Vice President Ron Scott, Provost Phyllis Callahan, University Ambassador Renate Crawford,
President Greg Crawford, Janis Williams, Jerry Williams, Jr., Lisa Williams and Dean Michael Dantley with Jerry Williams’ long-overdue
Miami degree during spring commencement 2017.














How a scholar's research and an 80-year old letter righted a forgotten wrong

By Vince Frieden, strategic communications coordinator, Miami University Libraries
Originally appeared in the February 2018 Illuminant & Annual Update

Within a yellowed manila folder, filed among the endless rows of vertical files and tidy blue boxes containing Miami University’s history, waited a heart-wrenching story in need of a voice.

It spoke of a time 25 years before the eloquently stated dream of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and it contained a now unthinkable wrong – long overdue for correction.

A story finds its storyteller

When Zeb Baker first visited Miami University’s campus in 2013 to interview for a job in the University Honors Program, he had a research project going on the side.

The son of a former Georgia Southern University athletic director, Baker was fascinated by the history of segregation in college football and was in the early stages of researching his upcoming book, “Playing the Game of Segregation: Race and College Football in the Postwar Midwest.”

As part of his visit, Baker stopped by the university archives. During the visit, then-university archivist Robert Schmidt offered a folder of materials about African-American students at Miami, hinting that Baker might find something of interest.

The folder included a pair of 1939 letters regarding an African-American student named Jerry Williams.

The exchange between Miami’s then-president Alfred H. Upham and an assistant superintendent of schools from Cleveland came at a time when Miami’s enrollment of 2,700 included only 15 African-Americans. In those days, African-American students did not receive housing in the residence halls, except for student-athletes who resided in the basement of Swing Hall.

It was also a time when student teaching in Oxford schools was not an option for an African-American.

The letter discussed Williams’ qualifications for certification as a teacher. President Upham spoke glowingly of the respect Williams had earned from his classmates and faculty while noting he had completed all required coursework. However, the university could not confer a degree because Williams had not completed his practice teaching – an opportunity unavailable to him because of his race.

By today’s standards, some of the language and inferences in the letter are offensive.

In his response, the clearly frustrated assistant superintendent openly questioned why a university would admit a student into a school of education without being obligated to provide practice teaching. He conceded, however; that without the required degree and teaching certificate, he could not permit Williams to teach.

“I was flabbergasted,” Baker said. “Having researched in some 190 different archives, I can authoritatively attest that I had never seen anything like the exchange between these two men.”

Uncovering a lost Miami legend

Jerry Williams carrying the ball for Miami's varsity football team.Baker, now senior associate director of Miami’s University Honors program, got the job and soon thereafter began pulling at the threads."

“I came to find that Jerry Williams was probably the most famous student at Miami during that period,” Baker said. “He was incredibly well admired by other students.”

Williams, considered Miami’s first African-American football standout, was a two-sport student-athlete, earning three letters each in football and track & field. A two-time All-Buckeye Conference back, he also was the place kicker for the 1936 Buckeye Conference football champions. On the track, he helped lead Miami to three conference titles.

Jacqueline Johnson, the current university archivist who succeeded Schmidt, became an ally in the effort to uncover Williams’ story.

From the original letter, they knew Williams had attempted to gain practice teaching by assisting in the instruction of an automobile course at Miami. Through another uncovered letter, they learned that Williams received National Youth Administration aid and worked in the Withrow Court athletics equipment room.

They already knew he had to be an excellent student to earn acceptance into college as an African-American during that time. Along the way, they discovered that Williams ran a leg of a state championship relay at Cleveland’s East Technical High School with the legendary Jesse Owens. The search also turned up Williams’ 1999 obituary.

“Historical research can be deeply personal work,” Johnson said. “It’s powerful and sometimes life-changing.”

“A great day”

There was never any hesitation about what needed to happen.

After verifying and re-verifying with the registrar that Williams had indeed completed all his required coursework, the conversation elevated to the president’s office, the provost’s office and to Michael Dantley, dean of the College of Education, Health, and Society.

In April 2017, Dantley placed a phone call to Janis Williams ’68, daughter of Jerry Williams. He explained the situation and informed her that her father would receive his Miami University degree, posthumously.

“I burst into tears right away,” Janis recalled.

Dantley presented the degree to the family during commencement activities on May 14, 2017. He introduced Williams’ story by announcing it was time to right a wrong.

“Jerry Williams’ story is a reminder that there is still a lot of work to do when it comes to making our world a more just and equal place,” Dantley said.

Conversations with Williams’ family and a treasure trove of documents discovered in the family’s attic, since donated to Miami’s archival collections, revealed the story of a deeply humble man who never backed down.

After another attempt at gaining professional teaching experience failed, World War II arrived, and Williams enlisted. He served as a master sergeant mechanic with the 99th Pursuit Squadron of the famed Tuskegee Airmen. Until an old Army buddy visited the house one day, his family never knew.

He left the military in 1947 and balanced two jobs for much of his life.

“He’d leave at 6:30 in the morning, teach all day, then work the 3-11 p.m. shift with the police department, Janis said. “I don’t know how he did it, but he always had time for us.”

While records and family recollections fail to tell the story of how Williams finally earned his teaching license, he eventually did and worked as a teacher at Central High School and Robert H. Jamison, Nathan Hale and Audubon junior high schools until his 1979 retirement. He also spent 25 years as an investigator with the Cleveland Police Department, working for a groundbreaking juvenile division.

“He was a dignified man, a good husband and a great father,” Janis said. “He was a man who never boasted about his accomplishments.”

A remarkable Miami man

In fall 2017, Williams received another honor when he took his place as a true pioneer in Miami University’s Athletic Hall of Fame.

Despite the wrong that Miami did not correct in his lifetime, Williams never voiced animosity toward Miami. Until Dean Dantley’s call, Williams’ children, Janis and Jerry Jr., never knew why their father did not graduate.

Now on display in the room where Williams used to sleep are a Miami University degree and a Miami flag, presented to the family by President Greg and University Ambassador Renate Crawford, which flew over Miami’s campus in Williams’ honor.

“I know how much Miami meant to dad. He loved this school, and he imparted that to us,” Janis said. “That’s why I was so emotional when Dean Dantley called. I thought, ‘You finally got it. And you deserved it.’ It was a great day.”

That is the story of Jerry Williams ’39 – a tale of redemption that might never have been if not for a nearly 80-year old letter that, in revealing a dark side of Miami’s past, opened the door to the shining example of a remarkable Miami man.  



Alia Levar Wegner begins role as digital collections librarian

Alia Levar WegnerWith a rich background in information science, exhibit curation and collection digitization, Alia Levar Wegner joined the Miami University Libraries as digital collections librarian on May 14.

In her role, Wegner will work as part of the Walter Havighurst Special Collections and University Archives team to manage the processing, digitization, organization and access of special collections and university archives materials. Her role is an integral piece of a larger University Libraries’ effort to digitally preserve the culture and history of the university and the Libraries’ collections.

Wegner holds a bachelor’s degree from Clemson University, a master’s in book history and material culture from the University of Edinburgh and a master’s of science in information from Florida State University. She also has completed coursework in digital humanities from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

Professionally, Wegner spent nearly three years as a rare book collection assistant in UNC’s Louis Round Wilson Special Collections Library. More recently, she was a full-time collections specialist in the University of South Florida’s special collections and metadata departments. Other experiences include time working in a law library, the Florida Holocaust Museum, and the American Dance Festival Archives.  

Wegner’s work in the digital sphere includes two years as an editorial assistant with the William Blake Archive, where she assisted with the textual transcription, illustration markup and color correction of digital copies of Blake’s illuminated books. She is currently exploring data mining applications of digitized special collections and continues to develop the longstanding project, Augmenting Special Collections, which applies augmented reality technology to special collections materials.

“I enjoy looking at historical materials in new ways, and digitization offers new avenues to make those materials accessible, learn more from them, and increase student engagement,” Wegner said. “The Miami University Libraries have great collections, and I’m excited to help expand our digital collections so that more faculty, students and community members can interact with our materials.”

The Walter Havighurst Special Collections are located on King Library’s third floor. Wegner can be reached at 513-529- 0462 or

Barbour earns Libraries' Distinguished Service Award


Heather Barbour, senior library technician, was honored Thursday as the Miami University Libraries’ 2018 Distinguished Service Award Winner.

One of 15 University Libraries’ staff members nominated by peers for the Distinguished Service Award, Barbour joined the Libraries in 2013. In her behind-the-scenes role, she helps make Libraries’ print and electronic resources available to the Miami community through a variety of roles ranging from processing and repairing items to collecting data on usage. Barbour also is a fixture on committees planning University Libraries’ staff events as well as on the Libraries’ broomball and curling intramural teams.

A familiar face on campus, Barbour serves the university as an usher on home football and ice hockey game days.

The three nominations for Barbour emphasized her uplifting attitude, efforts to build community within the University Libraries staff, and willingness to always pitch in. “Heather makes everyone feel at home and welcomed,” said one nominator. “Her energy is high, her smile infectious, her attitude is always the best. In short she is an excellent ambassador of the Libraries!”

Dean and University Librarian Jerome Conley, who is in his 25th year of service to the university and University Libraries, also recognized the following:

- Susan Hurst, business librarian, for 25 years of service;

- John Burke, director of the Gardner Harvey Library, Miami University Middletown, for 15 years of service;

- Jody Perkins, digital scholarship librarian, for 15 years of service;

- Jennifer Smith, senior library technician, for 15 years of service;

- And Elias Tzoc and Jacqueline Johnson for their appointments to principal librarian.

The event drew attention not only to staff service but also to the considerable creative and scholarly accomplishments the Miami University Libraries team has contributed over the past year.

The 2018 nominees for the Libraries Distinguished Service Award gather for a group photograph with Dean and University Librarian Jerome Conley

The 2018 Miami University Libraries Distinguished Service Award nominees gather for a group photograph during Thursday's Celebrating Our Own ceremony.

The University Libraries Distinguished Service Award and Celebrating Our Own event are in their fifth year. Nominations for the Distinguished Service Award come from Libraries staff and are reviewed by a committee consisting of previous winners and the Dean. The full list of 2018 nominees follows.

2018 University Libraries
Distinguished Service Award Nominees

- Kris Abney

- Heather Barbour

Jennifer Bazeley

Laura Birkenhauer

Lori Chapin

Tiffany Dogan

Vince Frieden

Susan Gray

Susan Hurst

Kevin Messner

Carla Myers

Masha Stepanova

Thomas Tully

Eric Weaver

John Williams

April 11 lecture explores campus memorial design

Robert Keller '73Miami University architect emeritus Robert Keller '73 closes out the Miami University Libraries’ spring lecture series Wednesday, April 11, with his presentation entitled "Defining campus memorials by their design concept.”

The lecture begins at noon in King Library 320 and will be available via Facebook Live through the University Libraries’ Facebook page.

Keller was university architect and campus planner at Miami University for nearly 25 years. Among his responsibilities were overseeing long-range capital planning and all phases of design and major construction for Oxford and the regional campuses. Now retired, Keller remains active as architect emeritus, leading special design projects and guest lecturing.

He has been instrumental in designing a number of prominent campus icons, including the Freedom Summer Memorial, the Great Seal within the Armstrong Student Center, and the recently completed Western College for Women Legacy Circle.

Using examples of built and unbuilt memorial and tribute designs, Keller will discuss the importance of site selection, defining intent, finding the best design concept, and integrating symbolism into the creation of a monument that fits within the uniqueness of the campus environment.

Sponsored by the Walter Havighurst Special Collections, university archival collections and the Western College Alumnae Association.

Staff Spotlight - Mark Dahlquist

Mark Dahlquist joined the University Libraries in February as humanities and social sciences librarian, bringing a rich history of experiences in higher education.

Where are you originally from? What's your educational background?

I’m originally from the Chicago area. My Ph.D. in English Renaissance literature and my MLIS are both from the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana.

What's your title? How would you describe your position at the Miami Libraries?

I’m a humanities and social sciences librarian, and I serve as liaison to the departments of English and media, journalism & film. My job is to make sure that students and faculty members in these departments have access to the information resources, including books, that they need, as well as to provide research support and instructional support for these departments. I also really enjoy providing reference services to library users outside these departments.

What drew you to work in a library environment? Why did you choose the Miami Libraries?

I’ve worked in a variety of libraries, including English, art, science, and rare book libraries. In every case, what drew me to the libraries are spaces where people come to learn from others and to consider and begin new projects of all kinds.

What's the best part of working in a library?

Meeting and working with people with different research interests and the constant exposure to ideas and information from unfamiliar perspectives.

What's one thing you wish college students knew about using a library?

Using library resources will result in you producing work that is better: work that will not only be more interesting to your readers, but also—and most importantly—more interesting to you. A little more research will often take you a long way further.

What are you most excited about tackling in your new role?

I’ve particularly enjoyed getting to know the research and creative focuses of individual students and faculty members here at Miami.

What's your favorite book?

I’m not sure that I have a favorite book. One I would mention, however, that I’ve had a lasting relationship with is Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s “Brothers Karamazov.”

Any hobbies?

I enjoy hiking and camping, and am looking forward to exploring Southwest Ohio.

What's something people don't know about you that might surprise them?

In high school, I interviewed the great science fiction author Frederik Pohl. I accidentally poked a hole in his armchair with my pencil.

Entries accepted for LAURE through March 16

Undergraduate students who are conducting research using the Miami University Libraries are eligible for special recognition and a cash prize through the Libraries Award for Undergraduate Research Excellence (LAURE).

A partnership between the University Libraries and the Dean of the Libraries Student Advisory Council, LAURE seeks to recognize undergraduate students who demonstrate excellence in library research. First place earns a $1,000 cash prize, with additional cash prizes awarded for second place ($500) and honorable mention ($100).

Submissions for the third Libraries Award for Undergraduate Research Excellence (LAURE) are being accepted through March 16, 2018.

To learn more about the award, evaluation criteria and how to submit an entry, visit the University Libraries’ LAURE webpage.