News & Notes

By: Nick Kneer on: June 04, 2018 1:33 pm | kneerna

Libraries announce addition of two student success librarians

By Vince Frieden, strategic communications coordinator

With a renewed focus on connecting with new students and bolstering support of other key student constituencies, the Miami University Libraries are excited to announce the hiring of two new student success librarians within the Advise & Instruct Department.

Laura Birkenhauer, a 2010 Miami alumna who began with the University Libraries in 2011, assumes the role of student success librarian for campus engagement. Nate Floyd, an academic resident librarian at Miami since 2017 continues his Miami Libraries’ tenure as student success librarian for foundational learning. Both began their new roles on June 1.

“The emphasis on student success and engagement is not new to the University Libraries,” said Lindsay Miller, assistant head of Advise & Instruct. “These new positions increase our capacity to create meaningful, welcoming and supportive experiences for students engaging with Miami’s library services and resources. Their voices also will represent the Libraries in campus-wide discussions about student success.”

As student success librarian for campus engagement, Birkenhauer supports students via classroom instruction, workshops, events and other initiatives. She will collaborate closely with campus partners to enhance student engagement, success and academic well-being. The role seeks to enhance outreach to key campus constituencies, including first-generation students, international students, veterans and others.

Birkenhauer holds a bachelor’s from Miami and an M.L.I.S. from Kent State University. She joined the University Libraries as a senior library technician in 2011 and has served as academic resident librarian since October 2016. Much of her residency was dedicated to providing instruction, developing innovative programming and fostering campus partnerships to better serve first-year and at-risk student populations.

“Laura has already demonstrated her ability to thrive in this role,” Miller said. “She brings high levels of professionalism and enthusiasm to the position, and we are excited both by the ideas she brings to the table and her demonstrated ability to turn great ideas into realities.”

Birkenhauer works out of 214 King Library and can be reached at or 529-4148.

As student success librarian for foundational learning, Floyd supports the student transition from high school to college with a focus on integrating research skills and information literacy into the first-year student curriculum. He will also build upon programming and services that orient students to the University Libraries and engage them as active users of library resources.

Floyd holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Marshall University, an M.L.S. from Indiana University, and is nearing completion of a doctorate in mass communication from IU. For the past year, he has served the Miami Libraries by developing instructional sessions in information and media literacy.

“Nate’s interest, experience and enthusiasm make him a great addition,” Miller said. “His background in information literacy and journalism allow him to introduce and instill these skills to students in interactive and engaging ways. He has been impressive in the ways he has been able to keep up with and adapt to how changes in technology are reshaping this landscape.”

Floyd works out of 215 King Library and can be reached at or 529-4187.

“We are excited about these hires and the directions in which they will lead the futures of the Miami University Libraries and the Advise & Instruct department,” said Kevin Messner, head, Advise & Instruct. “Nate and Laura both offer insightful perspectives and direct experience in relation to student needs in and outside the classroom. Their roles and their abilities will actively build and contribute to Libraries’ and university programming.”


By: Nick Kneer on: June 06, 2018 9:45 am | kneerna

B.E.S.T., Amos Music, and Wertz Art & Architecture Libraries will close for the day on Tuesday, June 5, 2018.

On Tuesday, June 5, B.E.S.T. Library, Amos Music Library, and Wertz Art and Architecture Library will close for the day while staff attend training. King Library will remain open from 7:15 a.m. - 9 p.m., and online chat will be unavailable.


Tuesday, June 5
B.E.S.T., Amos, & Wertz Libraries are closed for the day
King Library open 7:15 a.m. - 9 p.m.

By: Nick Kneer on: June 11, 2018 9:15 am | kneerna

Alumni Weekend 2018: June 7-10

Welcome, Alumni!

As part of Alumni Weekend, Miami University Libraries are hosting a series of events and activities including Then & Now Tours, special collections and university archives, children's activities and a Libraries' alumni reception.

Schedule of events

King Library Then & Now Tours
King Library Lobby
Thursday - Saturday, 1 p.m. - 4 p.m.

Special Collections & University Archives
King 321
Thursday & Friday, 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. 
Saturday, 11 a.m. - 4 p.m.

King Library Kids Stuff
Instructional Materials Center, King Ground Floor
Friday, 7:30 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Saturday, 10 a.m. - 10 p.m.

Kids Creative Corner
King 134 (AIS)
Saturday, 1 - 4 p.m.

Libraries Alumni Weekend Reception
King First Floor
Saturday, 2 - 4 p.m. - free and open to all
Whether you are a retired Libraries employee, former student worker or an alum who once called the Libraries a second home, you are welcome to drop in during this fun, informal and free reception to connect with friends both old and new.

Have you registered as a former Libraries student worker?

Full descriptions can be found in the Alumni Weekend guidebook and app.

Libraries Alumni Weekend Hours

King Library
Thursday & Friday, 7:15 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Saturday, 10 a.m. - 10 p.m. (open during MiamiFest)
Sunday, 1 - 9 p.m.

Amos Music Library (CPA), B.E.S.T. Library (Laws), Wertz Art & Architecture Library (Alumni)
Thursday & Friday, 8 a.m. - 5 p.m.

By: Nick Kneer on: May 23, 2018 9:08 am | kneerna

Staff spotlight: Rachel Makarowski, special collections librarian

Rachel Makarowski joined the University Libraries in May as special collections librarian.


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

I am and always will be a Virginian. I grew up in Fredericksburg, Virginia and then did my undergraduate degree from the University of Virginia, majoring in Classics and Medieval Studies. I then went straight into my MLS at Indiana University with a specialization in rare books and manuscripts. I've also supplemented my education with a few classes at Rare Book School, on topics ranging from medieval manuscripts to the Book in China. 


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

I am the Special Collections Librarian in the department of Steward and Sustain, which is essentially the special collections and archives. I would describe myself as a "Jill of all trades" for special collections. I do a bit of everything, ranging from cataloging to reference to instruction, all of which help to make special collections more visible and accessible to everyone. I'll also be working with donors to help develop the collections and to promote the libraries.


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

I have wanted to work in libraries since I was a young girl, though I didn't decide that I was going to do so until I was an undergrad and was doing research with rare books. At that point I knew that I wanted to do something that would allow me to continue working with special collections because they're absolutely fantastic. Then someone close to me pointed out that if I became a rare book librarian, I could work with them every day, and it was a eureka moment. Libraries, especially in special collections, tend to foster this environment of continuous learning, which is the main draw for me. Miami University Libraries really exemplified this environment to me, and the people were so friendly that I knew I had to work here if given the chance. 


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

The best part? Definitely the constant intellectual stimulation and the wealth of knowledge. There is always something new to learn each day, and with coworkers who are so incredibly knowledgeable, it's easy to continue learning. Even normal conversations at the water fountain can lead to a new, fascinating fact, a touching story, or exciting new discoveries. 


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

I wish that students knew the extent to which they could use the library. A library can be used for more than just a place to study; it can be a place to create and innovate, and even, in the case of the special collections department, a bit of a time machine (though we sadly lack a TARDIS). And that might sound weird, or even a little crazy, but it's true. There are few places outside of a library where you can read the letters of Civil War soldiers, the diary of a girl describing her everyday life in the early 20th century, or see the marginal doodles in a manuscript from the Middle Ages, and do so from the actual object itself. They can pick it up, touch it, even smell it (unfortunately so, in some cases; some really smell awful). The collections in the library's special collections and archives can really help to transport you to another time and place. 


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

I am so excited to teach classes! Ridiculously excited. I think that there is a great potential to expose people to special collections in ways that they never thought possible. Most students when they sign up to come to college don't think about the fact that they might get to touch something that is 500 years old, or that they can see the book that helped to save eighteen of Shakespeare's plays from being lost forever. I have the chance when teaching, though, to bring out these objects and to teach them different ways to interact with them and examine them, and if I can make even one student's day by allowing them this chance in class, then I'll have been successful. 


What's your favorite book? What book character would you most like to be?

Like most librarians, I can't pick a single book. Some of my favorites include North and SouthPride and Prejudice, and Till We Have Faces. The most influential series for me when growing up though was Harry Potter and those books will always have a special place in my heart. As for who I would want to be, that's trickier. I think it's a tie between Margaret Hale of North and South, Lizzie Bennet of Pride and Prejudice, and Hermione Granger from Harry Potter. They're just such intelligent and spunky characters that I can't help but love them.


Any hobbies?

Reading (always, always, always), cooking/baking, and watching movies. 


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

I think a lot of people that I have met over the past four years would be surprised that I originally intended to major in physics and computer science when I entered college. Science has always been fascinating to me, and I loved math and science in high school, so I was pretty set on working fields related to those when I first went to college. That all changed when I fell in love with Latin/the Classics and then with medieval manuscripts. The background and love of science has been helpful though, since there are a lot of texts related to science in special collections libraries.

By: Vincent Frieden on: May 18, 2018 11:15 am | friedevt small twitter logo@ohiyote

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

By: Nick Kneer on: May 18, 2018 11:31 am | kneerna

Finals Week Library Hours

To support students preparing for final exams, the Libraries will extend their operating hours Saturday, May 12 through Friday, May 18.


  Saturday, May 12 Sunday, May 13 Monday, May 14 - Thursday, May 17 Friday, May 18
King 24 hours 24 hours 24 hours Closes at 5 p.m.
B.E.S.T. 9 a.m. - 10 p.m. 9 a.m. - 2 a.m. 7:30 a.m. - 2 a.m. 7:30 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Wertz Noon - 6 p.m. Noon - 11 p.m. 8 a.m. - 11 p.m. 8 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Amos 1 - 5 p.m. 1 - 11 p.m. 8 a.m. - 11 p.m. 8 a.m. - 5 p.m.


By: Nick Kneer on: May 07, 2018 3:02 pm | kneerna

Staff spotlight: Nick Kneer, communications specialist

Nick Kneer joined the University Libraries in March as communications specialist.


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

I am thoroughly Ohioan: I was born in Sharonville, grew up north of Dayton, graduated from the University of Toledo with a bachelor's in psychology, worked a summer in the Akron area, and finally moved back to the Cincinnati area around 2013. I'm living in Liberty Township now.


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

I am the Libraries' Communication Specialist, and it's my job to showcase the resources, programs, and people that make Miami University Libraries the academic heart of campus. One of the ways I'll do that is through visual storytelling, drawing on my background as a photographer and videographer. I'm also responsible for managing the Libraries' social media accounts, so give us a follow on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook to join the conversation.


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

In all honesty, I wasn't specifically looking to work in a library. I was initially intrigued by the role itself and the opportunities I'd have to tell stories, but the more I learned about what the Miami Libraries offered students and faculty, the ways it's innovating and meeting the needs of an increasingly digital and mobile student, and the truly fascinating programs it's developing, the more excited I became about being a part of that environment. Ultimately, after meeting the staff and touring the facility, I knew this was the place for me.


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

I love being surrounded by people who are insatiably curious, eager to share their knowledge and skills, and truly passionate about the work they do. It's not every workplace where you'll learn about the history of American cheese from a water cooler conversation with a web developer.


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

If you have an idea, but need a certain piece of equipment or expertise to make it a reality, chances are you can find what you need -- and someone to enthusiastically teach you how to use it -- at the library, free of charge. 


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

The Libraries offer so many truly exciting programs and resources, and I'm looking forward to not only learning more about them, but finding creative and engaging ways to share them with the campus community.


What's your favorite book? What book character would you most like to be?

Yeesh, that's a tough one. One of the most interesting fiction books I've read in the past year is Blindsight by Peter Watts. My favorite comfort series is Harry Potter, though.


Any hobbies?

Too many. I love music and theater, cooking and baking, computer gaming and programming, board games, and terrifying my wife with various home improvement projects.


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

One of my earliest assignments as a first-year staff photographer for the student newspaper at the University of Toledo was to cover a rally downtown for a little-known senator who was campaigning in the Democratic presidential primary, and that's how I got to photograph Barack Obama.

By: Nick Kneer on: May 02, 2018 3:00 pm | kneerna

By Vince Frieden, strategic communications coordinator

Rachel Makarowski poses for a photograph outside of the Walter Havighurst Special Collections suite at King Library.Rachel Makarowski joined the Miami University Libraries on May 1 as special collections librarian within the Walter Havighurst Special Collections and University Archives.

In the position, Makarowski will fill a variety of roles, including classroom instruction, curation of exhibits, cataloging and processing materials, and hosting and supporting library events.

“Rachel brings enthusiasm and passion for teaching and a desire to reach more researchers with Miami University Libraries materials,” said Bill Modrow, head of the Havighurst Special Collections and University Archives. “We are excited that the next chapters of her promising career will unfold at Miami.”

Makarowski holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Virginia and a master’s degree in library science from the University of Indiana, Bloomington.

She discovered her passion for rare books while taking an undergraduate course on medieval manuscripts and worked at Rare Book School (Charlottesville, Virginia) in a variety of capacities from 2014-2017. Makarowski, who is language proficient in modern French, Latin, Old French and Old Irish, also completed three courses at Rare Book School.

While completing her graduate work, Makarowski gained considerable work experience at IU’s Lilly Library, serving as a reference attendant and receptionist, assistant to the head of public services and reference librarian, and, most recently, as education and outreach intern. Her internship included researching and instructing class sessions using primary source materials.

“I was attracted to the position because it offered a variety of roles and experiences,” Makarowski said. “It is a great opportunity to grow professionally in what really came across as a team environment. I’m excited to start working with Miami’s faculty to design class visits that connect our students with the impressive materials available through our special collections and archives.”

The Walter Havighurst Special Collections are located on King Library’s third floor. Makarowski can be reached at 513-529-4140 or

By: Nick Kneer on: April 27, 2018 9:21 am | kneerna

Dr. Wietse de Boer, Ms. Godard’s faculty advisor, who accepted on her behalf as she currently studying abroad in Paris, France; Sydney Chuen; Abigail Culpepper; Emily Mendenhall; and Miami University President Dr. Greg Crawford pose for a photo at the Undergraduate Research Forum Luncheon on Wednesday, April 25, 2018.

Pictured, left to right: Dr. Wietse de Boer, Ms. Godard’s faculty advisor, who accepted on her behalf as she currently studying abroad in Paris, France; Sydney Chuen; Abigail Culpepper; Emily Mendenhall; and Miami University President Dr. Greg Crawford

By Nick Kneer, communications specialist

The four student winners of the Miami University Libraries’ Award for Undergraduate Research Excellence (LAURE) were announced Wednesday, April 25 during the Undergraduate Research Forum.

  • First place: Caroline Godard, junior, for her project “Andrea Alciato and the Politics of the Printed Image”
  • Second place: Sydney Chuen, sophomore, for her project “Europe or Bust: A Comparative Study on Human Smuggling in Nimruz, Afghanistan and Agadez, Niger”
  • Honorable mention: Emily Mendenhall, senior, for her project “Student Understanding and Navigation Patterns of Miami University Sexual Violence Webpages”
  • Honorable mention: Abigail Culpepper, junior, for her project “Metaphors We Love By: A Cognitive Linguistic Analysis of Conceptual Metaphors of Love in Metropolitan French and American English”


The annual award, now in its third year, honors Miami undergraduates who demonstrate excellence in library research conducted in support of a student project. Lindsay Miller, LAURE committee member and assistant head of the Libraries’ Advise & Instruct department, presented the first place, second place, and two honorable mention winners at the Undergraduate Research Forum Luncheon.

“All of the winners mentioned an element of serendipity in their essays – whether it was finding the perfect book on the shelf at King Library or stumbling upon on online resource that they didn’t know they were looking for,” said Miller. “That’s something that really stood out to us: that they really let the research process lead them instead of the other way around, and they were open to that serendipity and that inquiry.”

Applicants submitted an essay detailing their research strategies and use of library tools, resources and services, bibliography, and project files. Submissions were judged by an eight-person panel of faculty, librarians, staff and one student on the researcher’s use and evaluation of information sources, use of the library, demonstration of an effective research process, and use of both digital and analog research tools.

The award-winning projects will be uploaded to Miami University Scholarly Commons and become part of the Undergraduate Sponsored Research and Scholarship Collection.

In addition to their recognition, the LAURE’s first place winner receives $1000, its second place winner receives $500, and its two honorable mentions each receive $100.

By: Nick Kneer on: May 01, 2018 8:42 am | kneerna

Julia Shepherd poses for a photograph outside the book shelves of King Library

By Vince Frieden, strategic communications coordinator, University Libraries

Senior Julia Shepherd is the recipient of the 2018 Miami University Libraries Outstanding Student Employee of the Year. 

Shepherd, a linguistics and Spanish major from Mason, Ohio, was one of 47 senior or graduate student employees recognized at the Libraries’ annual Student Recognition Dinner Sunday night. During her four years in King Library, she worked at the circulation desk, Center for Information Management, Center for Digital Scholarship and Instructional Materials Center. 

She was presented the honor by Jerome Conley, dean and university librarian; Kris Abney, manager of access and circulation; and Bryan Partner, senior library technician. Her nomination emphasized her passion for library work and her always positive attitude.

“Julia arrived at the Libraries four years ago wanting to be a librarian. She has done everything she can to prepare herself for that goal, including working in four different areas within the University Libraries,” the nomination read. “She has worked overnights, weekends, holidays and numerous breaks with a smile and a great deal of enthusiasm.”

The Outstanding Student Employee of the Year award and Libraries Student Recognition Dinner began two years ago as a way of thanking and recognizing the University Libraries’ senior student employees. Across four campus locations, the University Libraries currently employ more than 100 student workers.

“They are in many ways the faces of the University Libraries, whether connecting patrons with resources from the circulation desk or carrying out behind-the-scenes tasks that keep everything running smoothly,” Conley said. “But they give us so much more than the tasks they perform. They are like family.”

Other featured speakers included Phyllis Callahan, provost and executive vice president for academic affairs, and Bradley Mascho ’02 M.A. ’03 a former Libraries student worker who is chief AI officer for NCI.

The full listing of all University Libraries’ student employees who will graduate in spring, summer or fall 2018 is as follows:

Meeta Bhardwaj

Carly Bieler 
Early Childhood Education/Teaching English Language Learners

Margaret Breidenbaugh
History (master’s)

Mike Carson 

João Castro

Libby Crook
Speech Pathology & Audiology/Spanish

Benjamin Cushing
History/Integrated Social Studies Education

Sophia Del Valle
Early Childhood Education

Heng Gao 

Chantel Gates

Jack Hallett

Julia Harrelson 
Sport Leadership and Management

Austin Bryana Lee-Anne Hogans 

Ryaan Ibtisam 

Brant Imhoff 
Statistics (master’s)

David Lau 

Hannah Liming 
Early Childhood Education

Taylor Manning 
Speech Pathology & Audiology (master’s)

Chad Miller 
Political Science

Madyson Murray 
Marketing/Business Economics

Arthur Newberry 
Graphic Design/Film Studies

Colin Nguyen Dinh
Finance / Analytics

Sherif Owusu 
Public Administration

Parth Patel 
Electrical Engineering

Shervani Patel 
Marketing/ Comparative Media Studies

Kassie Paul 
Middle Childhood Education

Gaby Perez 

Jalana Phillips 

Candace Pine
Library and Information Science

Annie Prior 

Rachel Marie Reeves 
Political Science


Ardin Reinhart 
Statistics and Analytics

Stephenie Richardson 

Michael Richart 
Integrated English Language Arts Education

Delaney Roberts
Music Education

Sarah Robison 

Kaylie Schunk 

Meghan Shaughnessy 
Accounting (combined bachelor’s/master’s)

Caitlin Sheehan 
Social Work

Julia Shepherd 
Spanish / Linguistics

Katherine Shirley 
Integrated English Language Arts Education / Spanish

Amanda Smith 
Public Administration and Urban Planning

Maria Taylor 
Creative Writing/English Literature

Remy Willocks

Madelaine Wood 

Rebecca Wyma 

Coco Zhang
Accounting / Information Systems