- Welcome tothe 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 lib.MiamiOH.edu/MIM.
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.
“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.”
Within 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.
The series kicked off with “Apps for Academic Success” on Wednesday, Aug. 29 and runs through Oct. 10, when it concludes with “Present like a Pro.” Pre-registration is available through the Rinella Learning Center, but please feel free to drop by!
Regardless of the time and the tool, the heart of our University Libraries remains the same. We reach beyond majors (and the ability to pay) to empower our students with the resources and skills they need to thrive academically and for the rest of their lives.
We are excited to offer two great initiatives for your #MoveInMiami consideration:
To get you started, here are six ways the Libraries can make your grad school life easier:
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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
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.
The Miami University Libraries are pleased to welcome Abi Morgan to the Advise & Instruct Department, where she began as social sciences librarian on July 2.
Morgan provides library services including consultation, instruction and collection development for faculty and students in social sciences departments across the College of Education, Health, and Society; the Farmer School of Business; and the College of Arts and Sciences.
“We’re excited to be able to position the library to provide additional subject specialist capacity for the Farmer School of Business as well as the Department of Teacher Education,” said Kevin Messner, head of Advise & Instruct.
Morgan holds a bachelor’s in history and anthropology from Ohio University, a master’s in library and information science from the University of Maryland, College Park and a master’s in adolescent and young adult education from Ohio University. She most recently served as senior library technician at Miami’s Wertz Art & Architecture Library since July 2017.
Prior to joining Miami, Morgan worked as librarian and project manager with the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and served as interim Upper School library assistant at Sidwell Friends School in Washington, D.C. She also taught World Studies and U.S. History as a long-term substitute at Miller High School.
“Abi has a terrific breadth of experience in the applied social sciences between her classroom experience in middle and high school teaching and her prior role as a federal government librarian. It is a bonus that she starts her new role already acquainted with Miami and the library system,” said Messner.
“This role is a wonderful opportunity to utilize all my previous work experiences and enhance my connections with the great library team at Miami. I’m excited to spend more time on instruction and to collaborate with students, faculty and staff on their research,” said Morgan.
Morgan works out of B.E.S.T. Library in 219E Laws Hall and can be reached at email@example.com or 529-2789.
From the threat of nuclear war to Korea and Vietnam to unrest on campus, the Cold War years marked a notable and turbulent time in Miami University history.
A new exhibit in the Walter Havighurst Special Collections & University Archives, located in King Library 321, explores the various chapters and sides of this era through photos, letters, memorabilia and even a children’s game.
In this three-minute video, Elizabeth Maurer, library technician in the Havighurst Special Collections & University Archives, introduces “We Were There: Miami in the Cold War” and talks about a few notable items and their place in Miami history.
“We Were There: Miami in the Cold War” is available for viewing – free of charge – in King Library room 321. The Havighurst Special Collections and University Archives are open 8 a.m. – 4 p.m., Monday-Friday.
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.”
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.”
“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.”
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.