Jean Nelson

About Jean Nelson

Jean Cardinale Nelson is the head of the UConn Libraries' Public Programming, Marketing & Communications efforts.

The Chicken of Tomorrow and the Land Grant University


The Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) connects people with the rich history found in the public institutions across America. As you may remember, the UConn Library, which runs the Connecticut Digital Archive, officially joined the DPLA as a hub for CT history in March. This is another article from Greg Colati on the kind of information you can find now that we have access through this new platform.

Written by Greg Colati, Assistant University Librarian for University Archives, Special Collections & Digital Curation

Winner of Chicken of Tomorrow Contest. (1946) Retrieved from the Digital Public Library of America.

Created originally by the Morrill Act of 1861, a designated college in each state was given grants of Federal land to sell that would then be used to support practical education in agriculture and industrial arts. Although not the original Land Grant college in Connecticut (that’s another story that you can learn about here), Storrs Agricultural College was given Connecticut’s Land Grant designation in 1893, a little more than 10 years after its founding in 1881 as the Storrs Agricultural School.

Land grant universities take their practical educational and extension programs seriously, and through the 19th and 20th centuries they led the transformation of American agriculture from traditional to more scientific approaches, often running contests and competitions to encourage adoption of modern methods. “Chicken of Tomorrow” contests held throughout the country in the mid-twentieth century encouraged farmers to use scientific methods to breed larger and more meaty chickens. Contrary to what you might expect from the name of the competition, at the UConn the chickens were typically displayed butchered, plucked, and ready for cooking.

Chicken of Tomorrow Contest (Colonial Poultry House), University of Georgia. (1951). Retrieved from the Digital Public Library of America.

Similarly unlucky chickens were featured at the University of Georgia’s contest held at the Colonial Poultry House at the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences in the 1950s. And, although the chickens held by these two boys in North Logan, Utah were definitely alive, they probably met the same fate as their Eastern cousins soon after this photo was taken.

Dennis Funk, Sam King, and Larry Nyman (Chicken of Tomorrow), North Local City Library. (1910-1929) Retrieved from the Digital Public Library of America.

Arranged on tables with proud farmers and their families posed behind them, or serious student judges contemplating quality, photos of the Chicken of Tomorrow contests tend to elicit laughter from modern observers. But in their time, they were an important part of a national modernization of agriculture that fed a hungry and growing nation in the post-WWII era and illustrated the optimism and faith in science and technology that was a hallmark of that era.

Paws to Relax – Spring 2019

Paws-to-Relax returns for finals! All dogs will be on Level 1 in Homer Babbidge so stop by for a study break and relieve some stress.

And THANK YOU to all the dogs and their handlers for taking time out of their days to come and visit, and to Carolyn Mills for organizing it all for us!

Monday, May 6
1:00-2:00 – Kathy and Kammi (Keeshond)
2:00-3:00 – Claudia & Tegan (Welsh Springer Spaniel)
3:00-4:00 – Lauren & Wrigley (Newfoundland)
4:00-5:00 – Jeanne & Benny (Shih-Tzu)

Tuesday, May 7
1:00-2:00 – Laura & Penny (Chihuahua Mix)
2:00-3:00 – Laura & Summit (English Lab)
3:00-4:00 – Diane & Meka (Keeshond)
4:00-5:00 – Ed & Sawyer (Golden Doodle)

Wednesday, May 8
1:00-2:00 – Lauren & Dream (Rottweiler)
2:00-3:00 – Sandy & Grant (Golden Retriever)
3:00-4:00 – Robyn & Bo (Golden Retriever)
4:00-5:00 – Octayvia & Boo (Golden Retriever)

Thursday, May 9
1:00-2:00 – Christine & Bo (Lab Mix)
2:00-3:00 – Peter & Andy (Golden Retriever)
3:00-4:00 – Rebecca & Hunter (Labradoodle)
4:00-5:00 – Mary Beth & Witness (Golden Doodle)

Friday, May 10
1:00-2:00 -Sandy & Nutmeg (Golden Retriever)
2:00-3:00pm – Karen & Shadow (Cocker Spaniel)
3:00-4:00pm – Colin & Fireball (Golden Retriever)
4:00-5:00pm – Cheryl & Cassie (Golden Retriever)

**We make every effort to keep the schedule, but you know, dogs can have crazy schedules and you never know when they need to be somewhere else…

Humidity: What Is Damaging Your Collections?

In honor of Preservation Week, our Special Collections Conservator, Natalie Granados is sharing some of the work she does to ensure that all of our collections are getting the care and maintenance they deserve.

Humidity: What Is Damaging Your Collections?

Written by Natalie Granados (@natartlie). Special Collections Conservator – Uconn Library.

How temperature and humidity work together to affect your paper-based objects is a topic that has been discussed and devoured by conservators since the 80s. Join me in this series covering common damages to paper and books such as handling, temperature, humidity, pests and pollution.

RELATIVE HUMIDITY
“How is humidity measured?” you may wonder. This is where the term Relative Humidity (RH) comes into play. RH refers to the amount of water vapor in the air, expressed as a percentage of the maximum amount the air could hold at the same temperature. When warm air is cooled, the RH goes up. When cold air is heated, the RH lowers.

Cellulose, as the raw material of paper, is hygroscopic. This means it responds to changes in relative humidity by expanding when humidity levels are high and contracting when they are low. Paper has an attraction to water since it contains water on its surface and within its chemical structure. Surface water is eliminated first when RH is low. Once this supply is exhausted, structural water is given up.

This action caused by low RH results in shrinkage, cracking and desiccation of paper and adhesives and flaking of photographic emulsions. Desiccated paper is more easily torn when handled. It must be noted, that structural water, unlike the surface kind, cannot be regained. Other damages caused by low RH include stiffening and flaking of adhesives and emulsions on photographs.

High humidity on the other hand, can lead to insect activity, delamination, bleeding of watercolors,distortions, adhesions of coated paper, ink transfer and mold growth. Mold stains and weakens paper and leather.

Similarly, to temperature, fluctuations in RH can also lead to damage. However, the damage occurs when various parts of an object respond at different rates. Composite objects such as books, photographs and paper adhered to stretchers, cloth or board, as well as material with partial constraints like repairs and mounts, among other objects are easy targets for fluctuating RH damage.

The Canadian Conservation Institute’s (CCI) Damage Caused by Incorrect Temperature and RH guide notes that the swelling and contraction of paper in response to humidity does not cause damage in and of itself. As previously mentioned, it is the fluctuation in addition to the presence of a secondary or tertiary incompatible material that leads to trouble.

SO, WHAT’S MY RELATIVE HUMIDITY GOAL?

The 2011 Specification for Environmental Condition for Cultural Collection released by the British Standards Institute describes that below 25% RH, the risk of physical damage increases rapidly and at 75% RH and above, the dimensional change due to each 5% rise in RH increases exponentially.

Now that that’s out of the way…
The recommended RH lies between 45-65% With an allowed fluctuation of ±5%. The safe RH boundary usually cited to prevent mold growth is below 65%, although 70% has also been cited. Photographic materials require an RH between 30% and 40%.

HOW TO PROTECT YOUR BOOKS AND PAPERS FROM HUMIDITY
Similarly to protect from extreme temperatures, storing your objects in an archival box, folder or envelope will provide a barrier from humidity fluctuations. If box making or purchasing archival boxes are not feasible, consider interleaving book pages with acid free tissue to slow down acid degradation which is what causes paper to be fragile, yellow and crack easily.

 

 

 

 

 

Should I be freaking out about the fluctuations in RH in my stacks?
The short answer is no.

Although the goal is to keep a steady RH between 45-65%, fluctuations are inevitable due to the change of seasons or a lack of means to invest in a sophisticated HVAC system.

In Stefan Michalski’s Agent of Deterioration: Incorrect Relative Humidity “proofed” fluctuation is discussed. This is the largest fluctuation that the object has ever witnessed. The “proof” is in the pudding. What this means, is that any fluctuation smaller than the proofed will cause less damage than what has been caused in the past (if any at all). The good news is that even minor changes in spaces where fluctuations have occurred, will reduce the risk of damage to your collection.

Resources:

British Standards Institute (BSI). 2011. PAS 198:2011. Specification for environmental conditions for cultural collections.

Fahey, M.2002. The Care and Preservation of Documents and Works of Art on Paper. Michigan: The Henry Ford.

Fahey, M.2016. The Care and Preservation of Archival Materials. Michigan: The Henry Ford.

Grattan, D., and Michalski, S. 2015. Environmental Guidelines for Museums. Ontario:Canadian Conservation Institute (CC).

Library of Congress. The Deterioration and Preservation of Paper: Some Essential Facts.

Michalski, S. 2016. Agent of Deterioration: Incorrect Relative Humidity. Ontario: Canadian Conservation Institute (CC).

Michalski, S. 2016. Agent of Deterioration: Incorrect Temperature. Ontario: Canadian Conservation Institute (CC)

National Information Standards Organization (NISO).1995. NISO TR01-1995. Environmental Guidelines for the Storage of Paper Records.

National Parks Service (NPS). 2003. Part I: Museum Collections. Appendix J: Curatorial Care of Paper Objects.

National Parks Service (NPS). 2016. Part I: Museum Collections. Ch. 4: Museum Collections Environment.

Northeast Document Conservation Center (NEDCC). The Environment. 2.1 Temperature, Relative Humidity, Light, and Air Quality: Basic Guidelines for Preservation.

Temperature: What Is Damaging Your Collections?

In honor of Preservation Week, our Special Collections Conservator, Natalie Granados is sharing some of the work she does to ensure that all of our collections are getting the care and maintenance they deserve.

Temperature: What Is Damaging Your Collections?

Written by Natalie Granados (@natartlie). Special Collections Conservator – UConn Library.

On this post we’ll discuss temperature and how it affects your collection material. Knowing what causes common problems in books and paper will help you protect your treasures. Join me in this series covering common damages to paper and books such as handling, temperature, humidity, pests and pollution.

LET’S START WITH SOME SAD FACTS:It must be noted that the quality of the paper itself can be one of its causes of deterioration. Inherently acidic pulp, acidic inks, bleaching and unstable sizing all speed up degradation. Paper that presents these characteristics benefits from cold storage to slow down the chemical process causing the decay.

CHEMICAL DAMAGE
The unseen changes within paper is what concerns conservators. Hydrolysis and oxidation being the big bad wolves in this scenario.

Hydrolysis is a chemical reaction between a substance and water, resulting in the breakdown of the original substance and the formation of one or more new substances. In paper, acid hydrolysis is a continuous process that decreases flexibility and increases the susceptibility to damage of the object. Because the activity itself creates acid, the damage will increase as the process progresses.

Oxidation is a reaction between a substance and oxygen, resulting in physical breakdown. It can be caused by light, heat or pollutants and it leads to discoloration (yellowing) of paper.

TEMPERATURE
Library and archive materials respond to temperature by expanding in heat and contracting in cold. Heat accelerates damage, causes permanent distortion, cracking, change of sheen and melting of adhesives and paint. In addition, insects reproduce faster and eat more at higher temperatures.

Alas, very cold temperatures are not any better. These can make paper liable to break easily, crack or flake. Extreme variations can also be a problem. Extremes that occur faster than the paper’s rate of adjustment can lead to cockling, wrinkling, and planar distortions as well as cracking of emulsions on photograph.

GOT IT. NOW WHAT TEMPERATURE PARAMETERS SHOULD I BE LOOKING AT?
Glad you asked, the recommended temperature for spaces where human comfort is a factor is between 60-77°F. For storage of paper records with only occasional retrieval,a constant temperature within the range from deep freeze to about 64°F would be suitable as per the National Information Standards Organization (NISO) Environmental Guidelines for The Storage of Paper Records. For film and color photographic material, a suggested temperature of 35°F or below has been stated.

 

Handling Books & Papers

In honor of Preservation Week, our Special Collections Conservator, Natalie Granados is sharing some of the work she does to ensure that all of our collections are getting the care and maintenance they deserve.

Handling Books and Papers

Written by Natalie Granados (@natartlie). Special Collections Conservator – UConn Library.

Improper handling and incorrect storage can have negative effects on the lifespan of your books and papers. In addition, damage is often cumulative and can go unnoticed till it’s too late. Good handling practices will reduce common damages as well as the need for a conservator. The downloadable guide (Collection Handling: Quick Tips) that accompanies this post provides tips to help you care for collections and ensure their survival for future generation’s use. Below you’ll also find general information on the books and flat materials and how they are affected by improper handling. Like the cultural superhero that you are though, you know that handling everything with care even if it doesn’t look fragile is the way to go.

Books
Keep in mind that books are subject to structural stress. Few bindings can open completely flat. For this reason, they should always be supported (with book cradles, for example) when open. When opening new or newly bound books, try not to open them from the center, as this can break the structure. Start from the front and then back, and open them gradually, section by section till you reach the middle. This slowly eases them open and flexes the new structure gently.

Flat Material
Paper is highly susceptible to physical damage such as creasing or tearing. In addition, if graphite, charcoal, pastel and/or watercolor pieces are abraded, the damage is permanent. Consider storing and moving this type of material in an enclosure or over heavy-weight paper or board.

Speaking of Enclosures
Besides protecting from temperature and relative humidity variations, light, pollutants and insects, enclosures (boxes, portfolios, sleeves and envelopes) can protect valuable and fragile material from accidents and incorrect transportation. Since objects are most vulnerable to damage when they are being moved, planned movements and proper housing will lower the chances of accidents. Make sure you have a clear route and a place to set your items ahead of time. The photos are an enclosure made to ship some materials from our Alternative Press Collection on loan.

Clean Hands and The Use of Gloves
Sometimes clean hands aren’t quite as clean as we may think. You’ll notice “Please wash your hands” signs in cultural institutions providing access to collections, but what is often not mentioned are lotions, creams, and alcohol-based hand sanitizing gels. These leave behind oils that attract dirt and dust and can stain material. Make sure to wash any residue from lotions or gels off your hands to avoid causing damage to collections.

Bear with me here while we dispel the “white glove” myth. Cotton gloves are not our buddies all the time and have fallen out of favor in the conservation community. These types of gloves are cumbersome and ill-fitting, making proper handling difficult. In addition, cotton gloves have small hairs that can catch on edges and expand tears. Finally, cotton as an absorbent material, can pick up dirt and dust and deposit it on your collections. Exceptions are made when handling photographic material, as the oil on your fingers can damage the emulsion. For everything else, handling material with clean, lotion-free hands is preferable.

Stay tuned for her next post – Temperature: What Is Damaging Your Collections?

A Sleeping Giant Wanders the Country

The Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) connects people with the rich history found in the public institutions across America. As you may remember, the UConn Library, which runs the Connecticut Digital Archive, officially joined the DPLA as a hub for CT history last month. In honor of DPLAFest2019, which happened over the last two days, we have another installment from Greg Colati on the kind of information you can find now that we have access through this new platform.

A Sleeping Giant Wanders the Country

View of Mount Carmel across fields, Hamden. The Connecticut Historical Society. (1890) Retrieved from the Digital Public Library of America.

View of Mount Carmel across fields, Hamden. The Connecticut Historical Society. (1890) Retrieved from the Digital Public Library of America.

Have you ever seen the Sleeping Giant? From certain perspectives, this natural rock formation in Hamden, CT resembles a man lying on his back. The story of a natural feature being the remains of a slumbering human giant is a part of the mythology of almost every culture, from Norse legends, to Greek mythology, North American creation stories, and Polynesian folk tales.

According to the legend as told by Connecticuthistory.org, our Sleeping Giant received its name thanks to a local Native American creation story. They believed that “the giant rock formation embodied Hobbomock, an evil spirit who became angry at the neglect of his people. In his rage, Hobbomock stamped his foot near the current location of Middletown, which caused the course of the Connecticut River to change. A good spirit named Keitan is said to have cast a spell on Hobbomock that caused him to sleep forever, preventing any further damage to the area.”

Sleeping Giant and Sheep Creek wilderness study/environmental impact statement, draft. (1990) University of California. Retrieved from the Digital Public Library of America.

Sleeping Giant and Sheep Creek wilderness study/environmental impact statement, draft. (1990) University of California. Retrieved from the Digital Public Library of America.

The Connecticut Digital Archive contains more than 100 different references to the Sleeping Giant. Looking into the DPLA we can find the Connecticut version of the Sleeping Giant combined with Sleeping Giants from:

Colorado
Wyoming
Montana
Thunder Bay, Ontario
Minnesota

to name just a few.  All of them offer a variation of on the theme of the evil spirit being subdued by sleep. Judge for yourself which one most resembles a recumbent human. These stories and more are available from the Connecticut Digital Archive and the Digital Public Library of America, brought to you by the UConn Library.

Written by Greg Colati, Assistant University Librarian for University Archives, Special Collections & Digital Curation

Tracking History Through Primary Sources: The CTDA and the DPLA

Written by Greg Colati, Assistant University Librarian for University Archives, Special Collections & Digital Curation

Charter Oak, J.E. Burkhart. The Graphics Collection, The Connecticut Historical Society, Hartford. (1859) Retrieved from the Digital Public Library of America.

Charter Oak, J.E. Burkhart. The Graphics Collection, The Connecticut Historical Society, Hartford. (1859) Retrieved from the Digital Public Library of America.

Every Connecticut schoolkid learns the legend of the Charter Oak and understands why so many things in the state are named “Charter Oak….” What we don’t always realize is just how far the Charter Oak story has traveled out from Connecticut as the American population moved West from the original 13 colonies.

The continuing story of the Charter Oak was revealed recently when the Connecticut Digital Archive, a program of the UConn Library,  joined its 1.3 million digital resources about Connecticut history with the Digital Public Library of America’s 33 million images, texts, videos, and sounds from across the United States.

When we query the DPLA for “Charter Oak” we find not only the expected results from Connecticut, but some others that at first seem odd until we do some additional digging.

Charter Oak Stove & Range Company, Catalogue no. 9. Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh. (ca. 1909) Retrieved from the Digital Public Library of America

Charter Oak Stove & Range Company, Catalogue no. 9. Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh. (ca. 1909) Retrieved from the Digital Public Library of America

For example, take the catalog of the Charter Oak Stove Company of St. Louis Missouri . The Charter Oak stove was one of the most popular cooking stoves of the Victorian Era, it was manufactured by the Excelsior Stove company beginning in 1851. Giles Filley, founder of the company was born in Bloomfield, CT and named the stove after the Charter Oak to emphasize his support for the anti-slavery cause in border-state Missouri.

Charter Oak Dedication. Worthington Libraries. (1976-05-26) Retrieved from the Digital Public Library of America.

Charter Oak Dedication. Worthington Libraries. (1976-05-26) Retrieved from the Digital Public Library of America.

Planting oak trees as a symbol of liberty was brought along with the settlers from Granby, Connecticut who founded Worthington, Ohio in 1803. The tradition was still alive in the bicentennial year of 1976 when the Worthington Chapter of the DAR gave the Worthington High School an oak tree which was planted in soil from the site of the Charter Oak in Hartford.

Charter Oak, Iowa was founded by the American Emigrant Company of Hartford Connecticut in 1869. The Crawford County history website relates a story about the founding of Charter Oak, Iowa that has a ring of familiarity:  “Our town received its name from the American Emigrant Company which was organized at Hartford, Connecticut. The story is told that, during the time the territory was being surveyed by that company, a sudden heavy cloudburst made it imperative for the surveyor to protect his maps and papers. He bundled them up and thrust them into a hollow spot of a large oak tree.” The Charter Oak Bank of Charter Oak Iowa issued bonds with patriotic scenes, but oddly no image of the Charter Oak itself.

View of the community building at Charter Oak Park. California Digital Library. (1964-01-27) Retrieved from the Digital Public Library of America.

View of the community building at Charter Oak Park. California Digital Library. (1964-01-27) Retrieved from the Digital Public Library of America.

Finally, we arrive at the Pacific Ocean, to Charter Oak Park, in the Charter Oak neighborhood of Covina California, a suburb of Los Angeles. According to local legend, and in an unusual twist to the Charter Oak tale, “lore suggests the tree towered above the rural rancho landscape of the 1800s, and served as a marker where Mexican officials buried a purloined American flag, important documents and gold.” And although there is some controversy in Covina about which tree is the actual Charter Oak, the naming of the neighborhood after the Connecticut Charter Oak is undisputed.

This story and many, many, more can be found among the primary sources available in the Connecticut Digital Archive, and the Digital Public Library of America.

 

UConn Library Exposes Connecticut’s History through Digital Public Library of America

Rows of chicken coops on Horsebarn Hill, 1923. From the Jerauld A. Manter Collection, UConn. © University of Connecticut

Historical collections from over forty cultural heritage institutions across Connecticut are now available alongside more than 33 million images, text, videos, and sounds from across the United States through the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA).

The Connecticut Digital Archive (CTDA), a program of the UConn Library, serves up over 75,000 digital items relating to Connecticut history from state-wide heritage institutions including the Barnum Museum’s artifacts and ephemera and the Connecticut State Library’s collection of nineteenth century newspapers. You will also find UConn archival collections such as the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg and the Hartford Medical Society Collection at UConn Health.

Professor Bob Asher’s car rolls into Duck Pond (now known as Swan Lake), 1972. From the UConn Photograph Collection. CC BY-NC

The UConn Library recently celebrated the 5th anniversary of the CTDA and our commitment to preserving not just UConn’s history, but Connecticut’s too. Today’s announcement furthers our work, putting us alongside giants such as DigitalVirginias and Digital Commonwealth.

“Being a Service Hub for the DPLA is a great way to connect the storied history of Connecticut with so many people, from the serious researcher, to history buffs, and everyone in between,” noted Anne Langley, Dean of the UConn Library. “It affords us the ability to expand access to the rich historical resources of UConn and across Connecticut.”

Bonded (slave) Child Labourer Carrying Clay
© Robin Romano / GlobalAware

What is just a mouse-click away when searching the CTDA? You can find glass negatives taken by brothers Clinton and Frank Hadsell capturing everyday life in the town of Avon at the turn of the twentieth century from the Avon Free Public Library. How about films from the collection of Hartford Black Panther Party co-founder, Butch Lewis, documenting community leaders during the Civil Rights Era from the Hartford History Center at the Hartford Public Library? For human rights researchers, the U. Roberto (Robin) Romano Papers housed in the UConn archives, documenting his ground-breaking work to raise awareness of children’s rights and child labor around the world are available.

We continue to work with institutions across Connecticut interested in the programs of the CT Digital Archive and are looking forward to the resources that will be added in the months and years to come. There are new materials to be discovered all the time so check it out today!

UConn Set to Publish First Open Textbooks

Conversations around Open Educational Resources (OER) and, more specifically, open textbooks and how they provide high quality learning while reducing student costs, are turning into action as UConn is set to publish two new open textbooks in Physical Chemistry and Mathematics.

Professor Dr. Challa Vijaya Kumar, professor of Chemistry recently completed the manuscript for his open textbook titled Modern Molecular Thermodynamics to be published in OpenCommons, UConn’s online repository for scholarship and creative works. The textbook is one of the world’s first OER textbooks in physical chemistry with original content by a sole author. “Education is a birthright,” says Dr. Kumar. “We should do everything possible to remove the economic barriers to make this affordable to everyone on the planet. Period.”

Mathematics faculty teaching Probability (Math 3160), an upper level course in the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, have been working with open source materials for three semesters. Over the past semester alone, it has saved students an estimated $30,000 and evaluations of the class have been positive. One student wrote, “The book was easy to understand and explained things clearly and I felt confident that I could find anything that I was looking for in the text, which is not common for most books.” Led by Alexander Teplyaev, the textbook is scheduled to be published in OpenCommons in 2020.

Publishing a textbook under CC BY licensing allows future educators and learners to reuse, revise, remix, redistribute, and retain the material as needed for updating, customizing, or specialization.  Both are also written for upper division courses, where textbook costs can soar due to the specialized nature of the content.

Behind the scenes, the UConn Library has provided support for the publishing. In January, 2018 the UConn became a founding member of the Open Textbook Network Publishing Cooperative, a program designed to publish new, openly licensed textbooks. Three UConn librarians along with staff from eight other higher education institutions received training on aspects of open digital publishing from editing to textbook design and accessibility. When published, the books will be available in many formats through UConn’s online repository.

“The commitment by members of UConn’s faculty to do what they can to improve student learning and simultaneously reduce their costs is truly wonderful,” noted Anne Langley, Dean of the UConn Library. “We are excited to keep the forward momentum going.” More information about Open Educational Resources at UConn can be found at www.open.uconn.edu.

Director of University Libraries, Emeritus Norman D. Stevens

The UConn Library is a special place to many people but we can’t think of anyone that has dedicated more of their life to the Library and the institution of librarianship, than Norman Stevens. Our former director passed away Saturday and since that time we have been reflective on his life and legacy. Anyone who knew Norman will not be surprised to know his obituary, which is below, was well organized and full of details that sum up the many positions he held, accolades, and accomplishments. What he left out, in our humble opinion, is the true sense of loss we feel as an institution for a man that would do anything for the UConn Library, and the loss we feel personally in our hearts as we share this.

Our condolences to Nora, David, Sara, Elizabeth and all his family and friends. We are a better library, and a better people, for knowing Norman.

 

Norman Stevens, 1987. Courtesy of Archives & Special Collections.

Norman D. Stevens, 86, son of the late David and Ruth Stevens, completed his life on December 15, 2018. He is survived by his wife Nora, son David (wife Sandra), daughters Sara, and Elizabeth (husband Thomas Breen); grandchildren Chelsea (husband Patrick Leishman), Nathan Breen (wife Oana), and Zoe Breen; and great-grandchild Luca Breen.

Norman was born and raised in Nashua, NH and began his library career in 1949. He worked at the Library of Congress while attending American Univ. part-time. He received his B.A. in Government from the Univ. of NH in 1954 and spent a year at Victoria Univ. College in New Zealand as a Fulbright Scholar. He received an M.A. in Library Service from Rutgers Univ. in 1957 and received their first Ph.D. in Library Service in 1961. In 1989 he received the university’s Distinguished Alumni Award.

Norman worked at Rutgers University Library from 1955-1957 and was Acting Director of Howard Univ. Libraries in Washington, D. C. from 1961-1963. He was a member of the administrative staff of the Rutgers Univ. Libraries from 1963-1968. He started at the Univ. of CT in 1968, where he held various administrative positions before being appointed as Director of University Libraries. He was honored as Director of University Libraries, Emeritus in 1994 upon retirement. He served as Acting Director of the newly created Thomas J. Dodd Research Center until 1995.

Norman was an early advocate of computer technology in libraries for data management, shared cataloging and research applications. He served on the Board of the New England Library Information Network and was president of the board from the late 1960s through the early 1980s. He was a member and chair of the Board of the Connecticut Library Information Network during its formative years and oversaw the UConn Libraries participation in OCLC: Online Computer Library Center.

He participated in planning and implementing UConn’s Homer Babbidge Library from 1975-1978, the largest new university research library building in the nation at that time. He oversaw the renovation of that building in the 1990s. He directed the planning and construction of the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center and the Music Library. He was involved in the early planning to improve library facilities at the university’s regional campuses.

CT Children’s Book Fair, 2013. UConn Library photo.

Norman, as administrator, was active in establishing and developing the Northeast Children’s Literature Collection (NCLC) in the Dodd Research Center, now among the nation’s major collections of books, original art and manuscripts from distinguished children’s authors and illustrators. He was an active member of the American Book Collectors of Children’s Literature and served as president. As a member of the University Libraries Exhibits Committee, Norman organized dozens of exhibits in both the Babbidge Library and the Dodd Center, continuing to volunteer into his retirement.

Norman was an informative and entertaining contributor to the professional library literature for 60+ years. He authored seven books, hundreds of articles and reviews, and an assortment of library ephemera. In the mid-1950s he and a colleague established the prestigious Molesworth Institute, a fictional organization devoted exclusively to the promotion of library humor. As Molesworth Director, he wrote many satirical articles on aspects of librarianship, and the Institute’s Library Humor Archives are housed with his personal papers in the University Archives at the Dodd Research Center. Dr. Stevens is now Director, in Perpetuity, of The Molesworth Institute at The University of the Great Beyond.

Norman and Nora Stevens, 2006. UConn Library photo.

Norman assembled a collection of thousands of postcards, commemoratives, souvenirs and artifacts relating to the history of librarians, library collections and library architecture, which are housed in the Canadian Centre for Architecture in Montréal, and wrote A Guide to Collecting Librariana, the first book on the subject. His voluminous collection of children’s literature about books, reading, librarians and libraries is part of the NCLC. Norman collected crafts, inspired in part by the activities of the League of New Hampshire Craftsmen. Since the 1970s he supported awards and donated objects to the league’s permanent collection. Norman’s hand-carved 9” wooden spoon collection and related documentation will become part of the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, MA.

Initiated in 2005, the spoon collection illustrates Norman’s special ability to discover and support the work of creative people. It required him to identify and contact hundreds of talented artisans from around the globe, enlisting them in the creation of a unique and beautiful collection, forging lasting friendships along the way. Norman’s endlessly inventive mind and his kind and generous personality will be remembered by everyone who had the good fortune to know him.

In lieu of flowers, please share a reminiscence on Norman’s page at www.potterfuneralhome.com. A celebration of Norman’s life will be planned for the Spring.