Wednesday, June 24


All sessions will take place at the Oakland Marriott unless otherwise indicated.

7:30am – 8:30 am  Scholarship Breakfast [by invitation] (Skyline)

A breakfast for RBMS scholarship recipients will be held from 7:30-8:30am at the Oakland Marriott Skyline room.  Scholarship winners will have a chance to meet one another as well as RBMS and ACRL leadership.  This event is by invitation only.

Sponsored by Atlas Systems

7:30 am – 4:00 pm  Registration (Atrium)

8:30 am – 10:00 am  Opening Plenary: The Big Picture (Grand Ballroom)

The opening plenary will present broad issues in the humanities in conjunction with recent trends in higher education.  It will consider how forces in both arenas affect special collections librarianship and, in particular, how they provide opportunities for special collections to shape the future of liberal arts education.  Speakers will approach special collections as the raw materials of the liberal arts and sciences.  They will consider the meaning and impact of special collections when they are made available in physical spaces designed to foster formal collaboration and informal exchange, and also when technological resources are leveraged to create virtual research environments where students and scholars interact with these raw materials to inform humanistic inquiry.


1) Janice Radway, Walter Dill Scott Professor of Communication Studies and Director, Gender and Sexuality Program, Northwestern University

2) Elaine Tennant, James D. Hart Director of The Bancroft Library and Professor of German, University of California, Berkeley

Discussant: Neil Safier, Director and Librarian, John Carter Brown Library and Associate Professor of History, Brown University

Sponsored by Bonhams

10:00 am – 10:45 am Beverage Break with Booksellers (Convention Center Hall East 1)

Sponsored by William Reese Company

10:00 am – 4:00 pm ABAA Booksellers’ Showcase (Convention Center Hall East 1)

10:45 am – 12:15 pm Seminar A: Fugitive Bits: Taking Born-Digital Records From Up in the Cloud Down to Earth (Grand Ballroom ABCD)

The challenges of born-digital records are well-known to most archivists by now.  For years professional literature, workshops, and trainings have informed us of the complexities and issues around these materials.  But what happens when theory meets reality?  How do you transform high-level guidelines into practical procedures within your institution’s capacity?  What kinds of collections are we actually encountering, and what are the real-life equipment and workflows that repositories are using?  What are the choices being made?  This seminar will include representatives from three repositories that have had actual experience curating, ingesting, and storing born-digital material for access by researchers.  They will share their struggles, their solutions, and lessons learned.  We also hope to get input and participation from attendees.

Speakers: Lara Friedman-Shedlov, University of Minnesota; Aaisha Haykal, Chicago State University; Arvid Nelsen, University of Minnesota; Jaime Schumacher, Northern Illinois University

Moderator: Naomi Nelson, Duke University

Sponsored by Charles Babbage Institute, University of Minnesota

10:45 am – 12:15 pm Seminar B: A Balancing Act: Collaborative Instruction in the 21st-Century Special Collection  (Grand Ballroom EFGH)

This seminar will bring together speakers whose experience in instruction and collaboration takes on a variety of aspects.  One will speak on the planning of subject-specific individual sessions with a concentration on the creation of instructional documentation as a means to cope with the growth in teaching requests and facilitate internal collaboration among librarians with instructional duties.  Another will speak on her experience of developing and team-teaching a semester-long class, and the issues of how to balance this commitment with her daily library-based responsibilities.  The panel will also include a speaker who is not embedded within an academic institution, and whose methods of collaboration in terms of instructional pedagogies and audience can be radically different.

Speakers: Charlotte Priddle, New York University; Alison Clemens, Yale University; Sarah Sherman, The Getty Research Institute

Moderator: Kyle Triplett, New York Public Library

10:45 am – 12:15 pm  Papers Panel 1: Partners in Pleasure: Special Collections and the Humanities  (Jr. Ballroom 2 & 3)

As universities grapple with student debt and the need to turn out career-ready graduates, the humanities have felt increasingly isolated. This panel will argue that special collections and the humanities should be “partners in pleasure,” co-advocates for the intangible goals of higher education, such as beauty, justice, and indeed, pleasure. It will also challenge special collections librarians and archivists to step beyond the “show and tell” paradigm. As the humanities take an archival turn, we have the opportunity to inform the future of the humanities research and teaching.

Moderator: Sean Quimby, Columbia University

“Historical Scholarship 2.0: The Way We (Could) Live Now,” Michael F. Suarez, Rare Book School, University of Virginia

“On Being Creative,” Lucy Mulroney, Syracuse University

“Irrepressible Feelings: Digital Pedagogy, Archival Sources, and the American Civil War,” Thai Jones, Columbia University

10:45 am – 12:15 pm  Papers Panel 2: Mapping the Way through Special Collections  (Jr. Ballroom 4)

Moderator: Lois Fischer Black, Lehigh University

“Mapping Audubon: Tracking John James Audubon and His Birds,” Erika L. Jenns, Indiana University

This presentation discusses mapping as a unique method of digitization and preservation for materials in special collections libraries and emphasizes simple-to-use, open source programs. Using John James Audubon’s journals and collections of his sketches, data on his location as he was drawing the birds he included in The Birds of America (1827-1838) was collected and plotted on a map using Story Maps. With the Lilly Library as a laboratory, the map tracks Audubon across North America. It includes digitized images from the volumes, and each point links to a post on a WordPress site with excerpts from Audubon’s Ornithological Biography (1832). This presentation demonstrates how mapping can be used to draw attention to special collections and to offer new access points to materials for patrons.

“Plotting the Course: Using Historical Maps in the Special Collections Classroom,” Isabel Planton, Indiana University

This case study on the use of rare maps and atlases for an undergraduate class visit to the Lilly Library will describe how an Anthropology instructor at Indiana University brought her GIS in Archaeology class to the library to learn about historical maps. The items ranged from the 1482 Ptolemy Cosmographia to a 16th-century Latin American manuscript map to the political cartoon map Serio-Comic War Map for the Year 1877. The goal of the class was to encourage students to think about the ways that maps can represent information and the ways that historical maps may lend themselves to modern research questions. This presentation will report on the effectiveness of the session in terms of relevance to the course and students’ understanding of map-making history.

“Maps for Our Maps: Improving Access to Historic Maps with Interactive Indexes,” Theresa Quill, Indiana University

The Herman B Wells Library at Indiana University digitized its collection of Soviet Military Topographic maps. During World War II, some were captured by German forces and later captured by the U.S. Military.   After the fall of the Soviet Union, many arrived in American libraries, including IU. To find topographic maps, users read an unclear index to determine the appropriate sheet. Maps of Eastern Europe present challenges, where borders and place names changed frequently in the early 20th century. The panelist used GIS to create an online, interactive index for this map set which allows searching, panning, and zooming in an online map environment. Digitized maps will be linked to the interactive index and included in a collaborative index project hosted on ArcGIS Online.

10:45 am – 12:15 pm  Participant-Driven Session 1: Everything You Always Wanted to Know About the Rare Book Trade (But Were Afraid to Ask)  (Jr. Ballroom 1)

Are you a librarian, archivist, or curator with new collection development duties, or with an interest in professional growth in that area?

Are you a bookseller with an interest in learning more about how to work with institutions and the developing trends in institutional collecting?

If so, please come to this discussion session with your questions, ideas, experiences, and suggestions.  This will be a free-flowing conversation, with no topic off-limits — expect frank talk on prices, provenance, deaccessioning, and many other subjects.

Discussants: Lorne Bair, Lorne Bair Rare Books; Cristina Favretto, University of Miami; J. Kevin Graffagnino, University of Michigan; Elizabeth Svendsen, Walkabout Books.

Sponsored by Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association of America

12:15 pm – 1:45 pm Lunch Break

12:15 pm – 1:45 pm New Members’ Lunch Meet Up (Meet in hotel lobby and walk to City Center Plaza)

New to the Section?  Been away from the conference for a while?  Get to know fellow RBMS members over a lunch meet up.  Join members from our Executive Board, committees, and other active RBMS members for an informal lunch.  We’ll chat about our experiences with the Section and explore ways that you can become more involved in the community.   New members will be grouped with a more seasoned member and head off to a local food court for lunch and conversation.

1:45 pm – 3:15 pm  Seminar C: Ladies and Gentlemen, Put Your Hands Together: Successful Technical Services and Public Services Collaboration  (Grand Ballroom ABCD)

Have you ever wondered how to enhance cross-departmental collaboration and enhance the dynamics of the workplace by the sharing of common interests — high quality cataloging, reduction of backlogs, efficient access/retrieval, outreach and education, and patron services?  This seminar is designed with a variety of attendees in mind– public and technical services staff, curators, and directors — or anyone interested in facilitating a fruitful collaboration between departments.  Three speakers will share their experiences on making the most of interdepartmental cooperation and communication.

Speakers: Morag Boyd, The Ohio State University; Erika Dowell, Indiana University; Margaret Nichols, Cornell University

Moderator: Lori Dekydtspotter, Indiana University

1:45 pm – 3:15 pm  Seminar D: Curating Relevance: Engaged Collection Development (Grand Ballroom EFGH)

Special collections librarians work at the intersection of collection development and patron relations.  Through our engagement with campus, community, and the book trade we build relevant collections that are used in teaching, learning, outreach, and research.  This seminar featuring four panelists will explore specific strategies of how engaged collection development is accomplished: understanding user profiles, building close relationships with donors/supporters and book dealers, working with advisory boards, becoming a known resource for faculty and community organizations, curating collections for future users based on demographic trends, and more.

Speakers: Thuy Vo Dang, University of California, Irvine; Giordana Mecagni, Northeastern University; Sharon Carlson, Western Michigan University; Jae Jennifer Rossman, Yale University

Moderator: Blynne Olivieri, University of West Georgia

Sponsored by Simon Beattie, Ltd.

1:45 pm – 3:15 pm Papers Panel 3: Branching Out: Special Collections and Institutional Collaboration  (Jr. Ballroom 2 & 3)

Moderator: Jane Gillis, Yale University

“Meeting at the Crossroads: Intersections between Special Collections and Digital Humanities,” Heather Dean, University of Victoria

This paper explores how special collections can actively promote and participate in the digital humanities. The University of Victoria (UVic), a leader in digital humanities, is home to the Electronic Textual Cultures Laboratory. Special Collections and University Archives is well situated to both reflect and support the work of digital humanists. Approaches range from building collections that respond to requirements of digital scholars to providing support for the long-term preservation of dynamic media produced as scholarly outputs. New collecting areas will provide an unprecedented opportunity for collaboration between the library and the academic community on campus. How can the library, for example, participate in training future digital humanists? This paper investigates how libraries can engage in digital scholarship in meaningful ways and as key partners.

LLILAS Benson Latin American Studies and Collections: A New Model of Institutional Collaboration at the University of Texas,” Julianne Gilland, University of Texas-Austin

This presentation will highlight the partnership between the two established anchors of Latin American research and scholarship at the University of Texas, the Nettie Lee Benson Latin American Collection and the Institute of Latin American Studies (now the Teresa Lozano Long Institute of Latin American Studies) as an innovative model for integrating special collections and related digital initiatives directly into the scholarly enterprise of a major center for humanities, social sciences, and area studies.

The Impact of Saying Yes: The James Ford Bell Library as Liberal Arts Laboratory,” Marguerite Ragnow, University of Minnesota

The James Ford Bell Library, University of Minnesota, has developed into a laboratory for the Humanities. The library is a partner in a new Mellon-funded Consortium for the Study of the Pre-modern World at the U of M, together with two College of Liberal Arts centers, with the aim to re-imagine graduate education on campus. The Bell Library has become the locus for a weekly seminar, the project site for a digital pre-modern workshop, and will soon become the project site for a digital humanities project, “Global Minnesota.” This paper will share participants’ experiences, offer some insights, and raise some questions for other special collections staff to consider when thinking about integrating their collections into the flow of liberal arts education more directly.

1:45 pm – 3:15 pm Papers Panel 4: Students and Partners: Undergraduate Education and Special Collections (Jr. Ballroom 4)

Moderator: Annie Johnson, Lehigh University

“Undergraduates on the Loose: The University of Miami’s Cuban Heritage Collection’s Undergraduate Scholars Program,” Meiyolet Mendez and Maria Estorino, University of Miami

The University of Miami Undergraduate Scholars Program began as part of a grant-funded initiative to raise awareness and use of the Cuban Heritage Collection (CHC), and partnered with the College of Arts and Sciences. In 2012, the CHC partnered with the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies and refined the program to include faculty grants for teaching with CHC holdings. By seeking partnerships with key stakeholders outside of the library, the CHC implemented a robust research program for undergraduates illustrating the importance of special collections in an undergraduate education.

This paper will outline the context for, and administrative considerations related to the Undergraduate Scholars Program; share best practices in special collections instruction gleaned through the Program; and share a participating teaching faculty member’s perspective.

“’With wonderfilled eyes devouring the words’: Engaging Undergraduates in DH through Historic Journal Transcriptions,” Robin Imhof, Anett Jessop, and Michael Wurtz, University of the Pacific

Like the Smithsonian’s use of “citizen transcribers” to digitize 137 million objects, the University of the Pacific relies on crowd-sourcing to transcribe digitized versions of naturalist John Muir’s journals. This initiative spurred the interest of faculty who wanted students to gain an understanding of the themes in Muir’s writing and the value of creating searchable online resources. A teaching collaboration was formed to go beyond a routine introduction to Muir and an orientation to Special Collections. The course was expanded to include a Muir transcription and students were also informed of the value of their contributions toward future Muir scholarship by way of a brief introduction to the digital humanities. The panelists will each speak about their role in the project and the lessons learned.

“Leveraging Exhibitions as a Needs-Based Skill Development Program in Libraries: a Case Study at Vanderbilt University Libraries,” Sara Sterkenburg, Vanderbilt University

In 2014, Vanderbilt’s exhibition team discussed changing its curatorial model to be less aligned with the museum model, and more oriented toward the 21st century technologies demanded widely by our users. We designed the current season around this idea, leveraging ourselves as a skill-development program. We focused on teaching XML markup, version control using Github, copyright, open access, and descriptive metadata.
Challenging budgets push many institutions to rely on webinars to teach new concepts, often with minimal results. The big learning curve of some technologies calls for hands-on learning in a project environment. This can be jump-started by exhibition programs in special collections libraries, often with few people and at minimal cost. I will discuss our process, talking about workflow, training, roadblocks/troubleshooting, and takeaways.

2:00 pm – 3:00 pm Tour of the ABAA Booksellers’ Showcase, hosted by Daniel J. Slive, Bridwell Library (Jr. Ballroom 1)

This informal introduction to the showcase will allow attendees to meet with various dealers, examine items, and consider how materials on the market can be utilized for instruction and research as well as in building collections.

3:15 pm – 3:45 pm Beverage Break with Booksellers (Convention Center Hall East 1)

Sponsored by William Reese Company

3:45 pm – 5:15 pm Seminar E: Endangered?  Hold?  Fold?  SOLD!  Survival, Adoption, Sale, Mothballing, and Abandonment of Rare Collections and Unique Materials  (Grand Ballroom ABCD)

Don’t think it can’t happen to you. When research institutions close or merge, what will become of their unique collections?  The London School of Economics “rescued” The Women’s Library, only to receive mixed responses from its activist community. The Pacific School of Religion consigned its Howell Bible Collections and other rarities to an established dealer, a change in stewardship welcomed enthusiastically. In contrast, the Senate House triggered an international uproar when it proposed to “auction off” its Shakespeare Folios. Booksellers, collectors, librarians, and archivists must prepare to ensure survival of socially important artifacts in an increasingly unstable environment. Speakers and attendees in this seminar will discuss responsible (and negligent) re-appraisal and deaccessioning.

Speakers: Cynthia Davis Buffington and David Szewczyk, The Philadelphia Rare Books & Manuscript Company; Elizabeth Chapman, Vote100

Moderator: Jennifer Schaffner

Sponsored by Archival Products

3:45 pm – 5:15 pm Seminar F: Working with Publishers’ Archives from Acquisition to Access (Grand Ballroom EFGH)

This seminar provides an introduction to working with publishers’ archives covering the evolving standards for organizing and processing these unruly collections over the past few decades; an overview of strategies for managing and preserving the multiple formats publishers’ archives tend to include – from original artwork to digital assets; suggestions for how to adapt to new research approaches in our reference work, online interfaces, and cross-repository collaborations; and a review of the rights and permissions concerns.  While focusing on the range of publishers’ archives held by many institutions, many of the principles discussed will apply to other large and complex archival collections.

Speakers: Jim Green, Library Company of Philadelphia; Carrie Hintz, Emory University; Lucy Mulroney, Syracuse University Libraries; Karla Nielsen, Columbia University; Richard Oram, The University of Texas at Austin

Sponsored by Arthur Fournier fine & rare

3:45 pm – 5:15 pm Papers Panel 5: Teaching with Special Collections: The Classroom as Liberal Arts Laboratory  (Jr. Ballroom 2 & 3)

Moderator: Julie Grob, University of Houston

“Shifting the Timeline: From Past to Future in Special Collections,” Gabrielle Dean, Johns Hopkins University

How do we shift the timeline in the pedagogical use of special collections from an exclusively historical perspective to one that includes the present and the future? In this presentation, the panelist will offer as a case-study a semester-long undergraduate class taught about the history and future of libraries, based in special collections and tied to a public lecture series. Students first surveyed the history of libraries and the history of the book. Then its focus shifted towards the present and the future, relying on digital collections, contemporary printed books, and artist books.  After reflecting on lessons learned and the value of shifting the timeline, the speaker will show how this class could also be “unbundled” into individual components for possible use at other institutions.

“Flipping the Special Collections Classroom,” Kasia Leousis and Greg Schmidt, Auburn University

“Flipping the classroom,” where students are exposed to concepts prior to class and then use class time with the support of their peers and instructor to process and refine their learning, is a growing trend in the academic classroom and in information literacy sessions led by librarians. For instruction sessions involving hands-on experience with original rare books and manuscripts, a flipped classroom environment requires creative planning but is equally rewarding to both students and teaching faculty. This session will discuss how the art librarian and special collections librarian at Auburn University have planned and conducted flipped classroom experiences for humanities courses, incorporating active learning and assessment tools. Session participants will have the opportunity to engage in an active learning exercise modeled after those discussed.

“Designing an Undergraduate Book History Course,” Megan Mulder, Wake Forest University

This paper will present a case study describing how a librarian designed a standalone, 1.5 credit History of the Book class for undergraduates at Wake Forest University. It will also describe what has worked well and what has not, sparking a larger discussion of how book history can be taught as an interdisciplinary undergraduate class.

3:45 pm – 5:15 pm Papers Panel 6: The Glue that Binds Us: Special Collections and Community Partnerships (Jr. Ballroom 4)

Moderator: Meghan Constantinou, The Grolier Club

“Macaroni Loaf, Stuffed Pickles, and Anchovy Tricorns: Cooking up a Digital Humanities Project,” Jennifer Brannock, University of Southern Mississippi

This presentation will provide an overview of The Mississippi Community Cookbook Project and highlight the ways in which Special Collections at USM engages faculty to provide continuing support for digital humanities projects. This project provides the social and cultural history of cities in Mississippi as represented through cookbooks. The library provides materials, digital access, cookbook transcripts, publicity, and research material about local communities. At the soft launch of the project, the library hosted a talk on the stereotypical representations of African Americans in a 1952 cookbook. Along with the talk, the library worked with a history undergraduate organization to prepare refreshments from the cookbook. The talk promoted the Project, but it also publicized Special Collections’ services, collections, and encouraged community cookbooks donations.

“Engage the Archives! Bringing Historical Materials to Life Through Campus and Community Collaboration,” Laura Drake Davis and Lynn Elizabeth Eaton, James Madison University

This paper will explore the Shenandoah Living Archive – a project that encourages students, faculty, and the community to participate in capturing and preserving lived experience and culture in the region. The goal of the project is to reflect the vivid tapestry of past and present life in the Valley by combining oral histories and video with historical artifacts such as diaries, books, and personal papers. Key collaborators will discuss the role of Special Collections in identifying relevant materials; talk about the technologies used to create digital content, publish scholarship and preserve the Archive; and examine the pedagogy of community engagement and how students used the materials and technologies to prototype the Shenandoah Living Archive.

“At-Risk Youths as Community History Ambassadors: The Young Achievers Digitizing Greensboro History Explorers,” David Gwynn and Stephen Catlett, University of North Carolina at Greensboro

In 2014, the UNCG University Libraries applied for an IMLS Sparks! Ignition Grant for the Young Achievers Digitizing Greensboro History Explorers Program. The program exposes at-risk teens in Greensboro to the history of their communities and train them to uncover documentary materials from a variety of sources unlikely to be housed in repositories and then to make that material available online. UNCG will partner with the Hayes-Taylor YMCA, which has historically supported underserved communities. The project has four main components: Educational; Hands on in the field; Hands on at the YMCA; and User needs survey of community participants. This case study presents the initial activities, results, and findings of the first stages of this project and details expectations and operational plan for the final stages.

3:45 pm – 5:15 pm  Participant-Driven Session 2: Reading Group: The One with the Homework (Jr. Ballroom 1)

A facilitated conversation of an emergent publication related to special collections, rare books, manuscripts, etc., to be read in advance by registered participants.  Publication for discussion: Carter, Lisa R., and Beth M. Whittaker.  “Area Studies and Special Collections: Shared Challenges, Shared Strength.” portal: Libraries and the Academy 15.2 (Apr 2015): 353-373.

Final version (requires Project Muse access):
Pre-print version (freely accessible):

Maximum of 16 participants.

Facilitator: Will Hansen, Newberry Library

6:00 pm – 7:30 pm Humanities Happy Hour at the Oakland Museum of California

Our evening reception will be held at the Oakland Museum of California, an easy walk from our conference hotel, from 6:00-7:30pm.  The Museum presents collections and exhibitions designed to generate a broader and deeper understanding of California’s environment, history, art, and people.  It will open its California History gallery to reception attendees.  Drinks and appetizers will be served.

Sponsored by Hollinger Metal Edge & Preservation Technologies, L.P.