News & Notes

By: tullykk on: July 23, 2013 3:03 pm | tullykk

We're happy to announce that the processing of the John H. James Collection, one of our largest manuscript collections, has been completed and finding aids for the collection are now available online.  The finding aids were written by two of our graduate assistants, Adrienne Chudzinski and Stacy Haberstroh, both Miami history graduate students, and we owe them a huge debt of gratitude for their work processing the collection.

John Hough James (1800-1881) was a native of Urbana, Ohio and a graduate of Cincinnati College.  Referred to as the "Buckeye Titan" by his biographers, William E. and Ophia D. Smith, James was a lawyer, banker, railroad builder, scientific farmer, stockbreeder, legislator, politician, editor, lecturer and writer.  A friend of both Henry Clay and William Henry Harrison, James advised Whig leaders in the General Assembly of Ohio and in the United States Congress in his work as a lawyer and politician.  James was a pioneer in the development of western banking and transportation. He was treasurer and president of the Mad River and Lake Erie Railroad, helping to build one of the earliest railroads in the country. He also pursued farming and stockbreeding. James founded Urbana University, the first Swedenborgian college in the world, giving the land for the campus and serving as a lifelong trustee for the institution.

John H. James married Abigail Bailey, the daughter of Revolutionary War printer Frances Bailey, in 1825 and the couple had four children.  Abigail and her children feature prominently in the collection and the family's letters to each other detail everyday domestic life for a close-knit, upper middle class family in nineteenth century Ohio.

Efforts until recently were largely focused on cataloging James's personal library, a rich collection of 17th-19th century European and American imprints. His personal papers, including diaries kept over sixty years of his life, extensive family correspondence, and business documents were available for research, but, until now, lacked comprehensive finding aids for interested scholars to use remotely before visiting the collection.  The collection opens up many avenues for historical inquiry on a variety of topics in the study of nineteenth century American life and culture, including political, economic, gender, social, and religious history.

In many ways, our newly available finding aids build on James's own meticulous organization of his diaries, correspondence, and business records.  He bound and labeled family correspondence and business correspondence annually and, it is safe to say, that he kept the originals or copies of almost every letter or document that crossed his desk, both at home and in his office.  When a house fire threatened his entire collection of personal records a year before his death, James dutifully described the incident in his diary entry dated May 12, 1880: “This diary business seems to be well nigh run out. Yesterday as I sat at my bedroom desk writing, I heard the crack of fire in my closet where I have kept all my diaries and my files of letters. A glass lamp was burning there on the top of my drawers and heating a little can of water hung above it. A fire happened, the lamp burst and spread its infernal fluid and the fierce flame ascended and spread. Nobody to blame. A loud call for my granddaughter Nelly, and for water, brought help.... My letter books burned in volumes (by the only hand I would trust). From 1814-1871 several were scorched and one or two more than scorched- and all my diaries from 1821- 1878 injured in the burning ... The worst of all, the first volume of letters from my son while in the army, written out by me from the letters when he first entered, so burned that I may not be able to replace it.”

Though much of the collection still bears the scars from that fateful fire, thousands of letters and documents, along with most of the diaries James kept between 1821 and 1881, are safe now here in Special Collections and I'd like to think that James himself would be very pleased with our stewardship of his collections.

Kimberly Tully
Special Collections Librarian

By: bomholmm on: August 27, 2013 4:19 pm | bomholmm

Google has released a native Windows Print Driver giving users access to cloud printing from desktop apps like Microsoft Word on their Windows PCs.

The cloud print driver will be available on all library PCs.

By: bomholmm on: July 23, 2013 2:29 pm | bomholmm

Miami University Libraries are now available in Google Indoor Maps. King Library,  Werts Art & Architecture Library, Music Library, Best Library(coming soon).

Indoor maps are best viewed in Google maps for Android or iOS(latest update).

By: hartsea on: July 16, 2013 8:55 am | hartsea

We have a new five volume set called African American Writing.  It's edited by A. Robert Lee and can be checked out from the second floor of King.  The call number is PS153.N5 A3368 2013.

The editor of this work is considered a leader in the field. He is Professor of American Literature at Nihon University, Tokyo.  Other books by A. Robert Lee include Designs of Blackness: Mappings in the Literature and Culture of Afro-AmericaBlack Fiction: New Studies in the Afro-American Novel since 1945, and Multicultural American Literature: Comparative Black, Native, Latino/a and Asian American Fictions.

This set is noteworthy because being five volumes long, it is able to trace African American writing from slave texts to recent Nobel Prize winning novels. Each volume includes different parts. Volume One includes African American literary-cultural statements, Overviews, and Theory perspectives.  Volume Two includes Oral tradition and legacy, Literary critiques and slavery studies, and Early and reconstruction African American texts.  Volume Three includes New Negro and Harlem Renaissance, Richard Writing, Chester Himes, Ann Petry, Frank Yerby, Margaret Walker, and John A. Williams, and finally Ellison and Baldwin.  Volume Four covers Modern African American fiction.  Volume five includes Modern African American poetry, African American drama, and African American autobiography.  Each part includes different essays written by scholars.

The entire set has a lot of valuable content, but several things especially stand out.  Part One of Volume One includes famous essays and speeches written by writers and intellectuals like Frederick Douglass, Zora Neale Hurston, LeRoi Jones, and Alice Walker.  Part Four of Volume Two includes a section on oral tradition, an important part of African American culture.  Volume Four is completely devoted to Modern African American fiction, so you get essays about not just the major names like Toni Morrison, but also essays about various other important writers, such as Ishmael Reed, Paule Marshall, Ernest Gaines, Octavia Butler, Barbara Chase-Riboud, Edwidge Danticat, etc.

There is also a selective historical chronology and a very extensive bibliography of African American writing.  Anyone wanting to learn more about African American writing would benefit from checking out this set of criticism.  Many important writers, theories, themes, and criticism are represented in these volumes.

By: bomholmm on: August 27, 2013 4:26 pm | bomholmm

Seamlessly print from your own devices with Google Cloud Print. The Miami University Libraries Google Cloud Printing service is now available. Simply click one of the links below to use our public printers with your Google account on any device that runs Google Chrome(PC/MAC/ANDROID/iOS).

King Printers

Best Printers

Music Printers

Art and Architecture Printers

More info on Google Cloud Printing

By: micheljp on: June 20, 2013 11:11 am | micheljp @jpmichel

We are happy to announce that we are currently in the midst of a trial of a new innovative iPad app titled Browzine. Go to the App Store and download it now for free and log in via your Miami University credentials. It allows Miami University students and faculty to:

  1. Easily read complete scholarly journals in a format that is optimized for tablet devices
  2. Create a personal bookshelf of favorite journals
  3. Be alerted when new editions of journals are published
  4. Easily save to Zotero, Mendeley, Dropbox and other services

This is a very slick new product. Take a look and let us know what you think! Email Jason Michel @ with questions and comments.

By: hartsea on: June 20, 2013 11:01 am | hartsea

We have a new four volume set called Asian American Literature.  It's edited by David Leiwei Li and can be checked out from the second floor of King. The call number is PS508.A8 A74 2012.

The editor of this book is a Professor of English, and Collins Professor of the Humanities, at the University of Oregon.  His other books include Globalization and the Humanities and Imagining the Nation: Asian American Literature and Cultural Consent.

This set focuses on valuable criticism.  As the editor explains in the introduction, "Students and scholars of Asian American literature should therefore consider this set of Asian American criticism a vital first-stop research and pedagogical resource from which to embark on further explorations" (23).

Each volume covers on a different aspect of literature.  Volume One covers Literary History: Criticism and Theory, Volume Two covers Prose: Fiction and Non-Fiction, Volume Three covers Poetry, and Volume Four covers Drama and Performance. 

The essays included here are written by a variety of critics, including Lisa Nakamura, Angela C. Pao, Cheryl Higashida, Gary Y. Okihiro, etc. Some of the authors that are analyzed in these essays include Maxine Hong Kingston, Gish Jen, Ha Jin, Jhumpa Lahiri, Ruth Ozeki, Laurence Yep, Amy Tan, Chay Yew, Myung Mi Kim, etc. 

By: hartsea on: June 10, 2013 11:02 am | hartsea

Lydia Davis has won the 2013 Man Booker International Prize.  You can read more about her and her win here, here, and here.

If you want to read some of the very short stories that she is famous for, check out some of the following titles:

Samuel Johnson is Indignant: Stories.  King Library (2nd floor) | PS3554.A9356 S35 2001

The collected stories of Lydia Davis.  King Library (2nd floor) | PS3554.A9356 A6 2009

Varieties of Disturbance: Stories.  King Library (2nd floor) | PS3554.A9356 V37 2007

Break It Down.  King Library (2nd floor) | PS3554.A9356 B74 1996

Almost No Memory.  King Library (2nd floor) | PS3554.A9356 A79 1997

You can also read her translations of Madame Bovary or Swann's Way, or her one novel called The End of the Story

If you find you enjoy her style of short stories, you might want to check out some of these "flash fiction" titles:

Flash Fiction: Very Short Stories edited by James Thomas.  King Library (2nd floor) | PS648.S5 F58 1992

Fast Forward: A Collection of Flash Fiction edited by K. Scott Forman.  King Library (2nd floor) | PS648.S5 F38 2008

Flash Fiction Forward: 80 Very Short Stories edited by James Thomas.  King Library (2nd floor) | PS648.S5 F577 2006

Field Guide to Writing Flash Fiction: Tips from Editors, Teachers, and Writers in the Field edited by Tara L. Masih.  King Library (2nd floor) | PN3373 .F53 2009

By: laddmm on: August 27, 2014 11:30 am | laddmm

Show Me The Awesome: 30 Days of Self-Promotion is an initiative by Sophie Brookover, Liz Burns, and Kelly Jensen to encourage librarian bloggers to think and talk about self-promotion. You can follow the series with the tag #30awesome on Twitter, Tumblr, Vine, and Instagram
As part of “Show Me The Awesome”, I want to step away from our usual fare and talk instead about the challenges of establishing a voice for yourself and your library in new settings. Being the newest member of our library staff, self-promotion for me is as much showing my worth to my peers as to our patrons. My challenge is to promote myself in a way that convinces my new coworkers to make room for me and my work. In parallel to establishing my voice here, I am also working to find a voice for our library in online communities. Much like being a new hire to the department, joining a social media community requires a degree of self-promotion to show that you are able to contribute to the conversation. One of the key elements to a successful social media presence for an institution is a feeling of personability; social media should not be treated as a bullhorn for attention, but rather as an opportunity to build connections. Consequently, it is important for the library to feel like an individual when engaging other users, and I cannot help but see an association between finding my voice among my new peers and finding the library’s voice online.
As with any new setting – physical or digital – the first (and often hardest!) step to making your voice heard is joining the conversation. It can be intimidating to enter a workplace community and show you can make valuable contributions, but some of the best advice I’ve been given about starting a new job was ‘remember that they hired you because you have something they’re missing’; the first hurdle to promoting your abilities is passed. However, when it comes to social media, there is no careful hiring process for quality control; for better or for worse, the Internet gives everyone a chance to make their voice heard. So how can a library promote itself and promise valuable contributions to online conversations?
Like the newcomer to the staff, the first step is knowing what your library has to offer that’s been lacking. By their nature, special collections libraries like mine have many things that are rare, unique, or even uncataloged – but by that same nature these are not materials that can leave the library. Developing a social media presence where awareness of these materials can be shared and gain popularity is a great opportunity to promote the library.
However, there is also a temptation to focus too much on showing off what you or your library has to offer. An early mistake I made in promoting the library with social media was relying on one-directional communication. Tumblr, a platform the university libraries had not previously engaged, was my first solo social media effort. Tumblarians – as the librarians, library students, and sundry bibliophiles on Tumblr call themselves – are a diverse group who welcomed me and the special collections blog warmly on my initial appearance. With some assistance from the excellent and helpful ex-tabulis, we got on a few lists of library blogs, and soon had a few dozen followers. But it wasn’t long until that number slipped. My mistake? I was talking too much and listening too little. I was researching what people were talking about and contributing from our collection, but that isn’t a conversation. As important as it is to show your own talents, part of promoting yourself is also showing that you are someone that can build connections and relationships.
At many libraries, the in-person interview process will involve lunches, coffee breaks, or other similar gatherings. While it might be a nice change after hours of presentations and questions, these ‘social interviews’ are every bit as important as the demonstration of your professional qualities. Libraries are collaborative environments and those social events demonstrate how you would fit in to the workplace community – do you seem to be someone they could write papers with, travel to conferences with, see every weekday for the next ten years? Similarly, social media users’ evaluation of your library and blog will not be based solely on your ability to formally present information, but their ability to feel some sort of connection to your institution.
Like the coffee break during the interview process, breaks from serious posting are important in developing your library’s presence online. To date, my single most successful Tumblr post (judging by the number of times it was liked and reblogged) was a photo of a bit of manuscript waste in a 17th century book – nothing overly rare or unique, but a joking exchange with another librarian (again ex-tabulis) about turning it into a historical mystery movie script saw it reblogged by around thirty other users. Hardly viral, but encouraging nonetheless.
What got the image of our book spread was not the value in it alone, but that little connection that was built in the brief back-and-forth conversation. Formal language does little in the way of effectively building social relationships, but relaxed, friendly language goes hand in hand with the lateral connections that social media relies on. Self-promotion is not only a matter of showing what you can do, but showing that you can fit into the community you’re joining.
Besides, even academic libraries need to be a place of fun sometimes.
See y’all online.
Marcus Ladd Special Collections Librarian

By: laddmm on: May 01, 2013 9:21 am | laddmm


Late last year a new book by Dr. John H. “Jack” White, Jr. (MU ’58) was published by the Indiana University Press.  Wet Britches and Muddy Boots: A History of Travel in Victorian America is noteworthy for many reasons, as the laudatory reviews now appearing make clear.

The book spans the millennia of human travel but focuses primarily on travel in the nineteenth century, when transportation was revolutionized by industrialization. It especially focuses on the experience of travel. What was it like to ride a stagecoach from one town to the next? Or travel by steamboat? What were roads like? Accommodations?  Food?  And how long did it take to travel distances we scarcely give a thought to today?

Jack has written the work as popular history; it is indeed highly readable and illustrated with a wide range of helpful and fascinating images. But it is also based on meticulous research. Jack, after all, retired as Senior Historian after a long curatorial career at the Smithsonian Institution in the Division of Transportation, Museum of History and Technology. His authority is well-established by a number of distinguished publications.


We in Special Collections are especially delighted with the book because Jack is a loyal friend and supporter and because he did much of his research right here. Our collections are rich in primary resources for the nineteenth century, and transportation is a particularly strong area. We know how much time and effort Jack invested in research and writing. So we take special pride in his achievement.

Jack’s achievement is also an achievement for the former Head of Special Collections, Janet Stuckey, who supported, assisted, and (according to Jack) occasionally pushed him to the finish line. Jack is generously donating the profits from the book to the Miami University Libraries Janet Stuckey Fund, which supports acquisitions for Special Collections.

So it’s a win-win. And win. That last “win” is yours when you read the book.

Elizabeth Brice
Assistant Dean for Technical Services and
Head, Special Collections & Archives