home Cycle of Success Student Worker Awarded for Making Maps More Accessible

Student Worker Awarded for Making Maps More Accessible

Last fall, Gabriela Ionita, a former student worker in the MU Libraries’ Digital Media and Innovation Lab (DMiL), received a Lee Henson Access Mizzou award for the work she did on making the library’s web maps more accessible. The Lee Henson Access Mizzou Awards, named after a former Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) coordinator at MU, honor students, faculty and staff who work to make the university a more inclusive place for people with disabilities.

Her supervisor Nav Khanal, MU Libraries head of teaching and learning, stated, “I am very proud of Gabriela’s initiative and her dedication and attention to detail to make the maps Color Accessible for our users.”

Gabriela, a biological sciences major, was recognized for her map of the seating arrangements in Ellis Library. While the original map had similar shades of green, blue, orange and pink, Ionita’s revised map uses shades of brown, yellow, blue and black so that people who are colorblind or visually impaired can more easily distinguish between the colors.

“Maps are meant to guide you, not confuse you,” Ionita said. “I wanted to create something that would make people smile and ease their everyday lives. I am grateful I was given the opportunity to express my ideas and make Mizzou a better place for everyone. I also want to thank Nav Khanal, Joey Sabo and Guilherme Ferreira for always supporting and giving me feedback. They deserve recognition for their continuous work in the accessibility world.”

The Digital Media and Innovation Lab in Ellis Library provides innovative technology and resources for creative projects.

home Cycle of Success Congratulations to the 2024 Undergraduate Research Contest Award Winners

Congratulations to the 2024 Undergraduate Research Contest Award Winners

The University Libraries Undergraduate Research Contest seeks to recognize and reward outstanding research conducted by undergraduate students at the University of Missouri.

This year the winners of the first place prize of a $500 scholarship are Rosie Johnson and Cailey Southard. Their project was “Explorative Materials & Sustainable Fashion in the Fashion Industry.”

The second-place winner and recipient of a $250 scholarship is Nina Schmolzi. Her project was “A Symphony of Suffering: Exploring Masochistic Love in Lady Mary Wroth’s ‘Urania.'”

Both of these papers will be archived in MOspace, MU’s digital repository. You can see their projects, as well as past winners’ projects, here.

Special thanks to the Friends of the University of Missouri Libraries for their support of this award.

Cailey Southard
Rosie Johnson
Nina Schmolzi
home Cycle of Success Marie Concannon Receives American Library Association Award

Marie Concannon Receives American Library Association Award

Marie Concannon, head of government information and data archive at the MU Libraries, is the recipient of the 2024 James Bennett Childs Award. This honor, which is awarded by the Government Documents Round Table of the American Library Association, is a tribute to an individual who has made a lifetime and significant contribution to the field of documents librarianship.

From the award letter: “The Awards Committee noted that the support letters for your nomination focused on your dedication to the profession and your lifetime of service. Your role in Government Documents practice has been exemplary. Your work with Prices and Wages by Decade has been beneficial not only to the government information community, but to the wider community as well. It is a privilege to honor you with this award for your years of dedication and service to Government Information.”

home Cycle of Success MU Libraries Integral to Research on Kafka

MU Libraries Integral to Research on Kafka

Assisted by the MU Libraries, humanities researcher Carsten Strathausen is constructing a comprehensive visual database encompassing all adaptations of Franz Kafka’s “The Trial.” This resource aims to serve scholars and students for years to come.

Research Librarian Anne Barker consulted with Carsten on the project by identifying and acquiring materials, suggesting strategies for gathering data, and pointing him to other library staff who could assist. Seth Huber, head of cataloging acquisitions and collection development,
searched for and downloaded the catalog records of versions and translations of “The Trial.”
In addition, Steven Pryor, director of digital initiatives, developed a Python web-crawler to gather metadata on these resources and played a key role in organizing the dataset. He also helped to created an Excel sheet containing vital information to track advancements, which will be useful to continue these research endeavors.

The Interlibrary Loan team played a crucial role in acquiring numerous adaptations of “The Trial” from around the globe, including artworks, films, graphic novels and more. Ivy Hui, head of the ILL Borrowing/Requesting Unit, and her dedicated team maintained regular communication with Dr. Strathausen, updating him on their progress in locating these elusive adaptations of Kafka’s text.

Dr. Stathausen is continuing his work with a grant from the MU Center for the Humanities and is organizing an international symposium on “Digital Kafka” that will take place this fall at Georgetown University.

For more information on this project and an interview with Dr. Strathausen, visit Research, Innovation and Impact.

home Cycle of Success Welcome to Jara Anderson

Welcome to Jara Anderson

The MU Libraries are pleased to announce that Jara Anderson has been hired as the research and instruction librarian for agriculture, natural resources and Extension. Jara has a Master of Library and Information Science from the University of Missouri and a Bachelor of Arts in English from Columbia College. She taught in Prague, Czech Republic, for three years before returning to Missouri for graduate school. She has been with MU Libraries since 2021, including as a graduate assistant in Digital Initiatives, library information assistant at the Health Sciences Library, and most recently as the senior library information specialist at the Veterinary Medical Library. Jara also has nearly eight years of experience as a freelance copywriter and grant writer, and she has helped numerous agricultural businesses across rural Missouri gain funding to expand their operations.

home Cycle of Success Welcome to Katie Rahman

Welcome to Katie Rahman

The MU Libraries are pleased to announce that Katie Rahman has been hired as the systems librarian. Katie has a Master of Library and Information Science from San Jose State University and a Master of Arts in East Asian Studies from the University of Minnesota. She has previously worked as a systems librarian and a systems manager at Wyoming State Library. As systems manager, she oversaw the integrated library system, and integrated third-party products and the online catalog.

Vice Provost for Libraries and University Librarian to Retire

Deb Ward, Vice Provost and University Librarian

Deb Ward has served for more than 25 years in a variety of roles

University of Missouri Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Latha Ramchand announced today that Deb Ward, the vice provost for MU Libraries and University librarian, will retire on May 31, 2024. Ward’s more than 25-year career has spanned key roles, culminating in her appointment as interim and then permanent vice provost for MU Libraries and University librarian.

Before accepting the position of vice provost, Ward served as the director of the J. Otto Lottes Health Sciences Library. During her tenure, Ward played a pivotal role in advancing the integration of electronic information delivery into health care, introducing clinical librarian services, and promoting the use of evidence-based information in healthcare delivery.

As the leader of MU Libraries, Ward navigated challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, ensuring uninterrupted library services while implementing safety protocols and managing a shutdown. Additionally, Ward spearheaded strategic space planning initiatives for Ellis Library, serving as the project director for an NEH challenge grant aimed at upgrading the West Stacks for Ellis Library to create a permanent location for distinctive collections.

One of Ward’s enduring legacies is her unwavering commitment to tailoring library services to meet the evolving needs of students and faculty throughout her years at MU.

“It has been an honor to serve the MU community and contribute to the growth and evolution of our libraries,” Ward said. “I am grateful for the opportunities and support I’ve received throughout my career. As I step into retirement, I look forward to witnessing the continued success and innovation of MU Libraries under new leadership.”

The university will commence a national search for a new vice provost for Libraries, with the desired start date of June 1, 2024. A number of constituent groups will be contacted for input and feedback on potential search committee members.

home Cycle of Success Welcome to Nicole Merzweiler

Welcome to Nicole Merzweiler

The MU Libraries are pleased to announce that Nicole Merzweiler has been hired as the continuing resources cataloger librarian. Nicole has a Master of Library and Information Science from Kent State University. She has previously worked as the cataloging librarian at Northeast Ohio Medical University. Nicole’s professional interests include inclusive cataloging and user experience.

home Cycle of Success Welcome to Jill Kline

Welcome to Jill Kline

The MU Libraries are pleased to announce that Jill Kline has been hired as a student success librarian. Jill has a Master of Library and Information Science from MU and a Bachelor of Secondary Education from Union College. Jill has been working in libraries since 2013 starting as a student worker. After graduating from Union College, she worked as an English, art and yearbook teacher in Centralia, MO, then worked as a public services and outreach librarian at Union College for two years. She has also worked as part of a TRiO Student Support Services program at Doane University.

home Cycle of Success, Resources and Services, Special Collections and Archives A Resource for the Study of Early Printed Plays in Spain: Comedias Sueltas USA

A Resource for the Study of Early Printed Plays in Spain: Comedias Sueltas USA

by Diana Vasquez

Comedias Sueltas USA is a website dedicated to the study of Spanish plays, primarily by means of its comprehensive database which maintains and compiles records of comedias sueltas printed before 1834 and are currently held in the collections of academic and research libraries across the United States. Referred to as chapbooks in English, sueltas emerged from printing centers of Spain mainly in the 18th century, and they continued to be produced well into the 19th century. Key characteristics of comedias sueltas include quarto format printed in double column. These singly printed three-act plays were often 32 to 64 pages in length resulting in 4 to 8 gatherings that were later stab- stitched. Many have a printed number on the upper portion of the first page by which printers kept track of the inventory. A primary place for decoration was the area around the title and the author’s name. One finds arrangements of metal ornaments such as fleurons, stars, ivy leaves, and manicules, or elaborate woodcut tailpieces at the very end. Booksellers also took advantage of pages following the end of the play to advertise other titles they had for sale. Early examples of sueltas often lacked imprints and can be dated only through typographical analysis, however, over time dates appeared gradually in the colophons of sueltas.

The first page of Las Bizarrias de Belisa by Lope de Vega Carpio.
The first page of Las Bizarrias de Belisa by Lope de Vega Carpio.

These ephemeral works have managed to survive in significant numbers, as printers and publishers maintained these titles in print for the theater-going public. The theater-going public also enjoyed amateur performances and often purchased multiple copies of sueltas for reading at home. From the colophons we see that printers operated in all the major cities in Spain (Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia, Seville, and Salamanca), as well as in some of the smaller cities, and sold some of their sueltas through booksellers all over Spain. It was an active and thriving business.

Director Szilvia Szmuk-Tanenbaum and the team at Comedias Sueltas USA hope that the Database and some of the other features of the website will serve as a valuable resource for students and scholars exploring different aspects of the Spanish theater, book history and the printing culture of the hand-press period in Spain. This comprehensive census includes records and images. As an ongoing process we will continue to enhance records with new data as it emerges. Our objective is to bring awareness and accessibility to these collections, enabling scholars to analyze trends, document change, and provide context allowing for a deeper understanding of the time periods in which they were created. To this end, in addition to accurate bibliographic records, we are including copy specific images of the first and last pages of each play from its holding institution for exact identification.

Other resources available on the website include:

  • An extensive Bibliography that consists of publications supporting the study of sueltas in connection with specific items or collections, comprehensive bibliographic resources covering literature that integrates material on comedias sueltas, and references to printers or booksellers of suelta editions, as well as broader insights into printing history that illuminate the practices applicable to suelta
  • A Glossary of terms, a recent addition still a work in progress, compiles a list of terms that scholars are likely to encounter in our bibliographic records, essays, or general literature about comedias sueltas. Additionally, the diagram of the anatomy of a comedia suelta serves for easy identification of parts and their proper name.
  • The Websites of Interest section assembles a list of various platforms, mostly from Spain, useful for researchers engaged in the study of Spanish history, theater, or literature.

Comedias sueltas USA has identified just over 100 academic and independent research libraries in the United States that have holdings of comedias sueltas. The size of these collections varies, with approximately one-third of the libraries holding only a few titles, several more holding 11-975 titles, and about 8 collections hold more than 1000 titles. For instance, the University of North Carolina boasts a collection of over 2200 titles and similarly, the Hispanic Society Library and Museum in New York possesses nearly an equivalent number.

At the time of this writing, the team at Comedias Sueltas USA has uploaded 69 collections of sueltas into its database and many more are getting ready to be uploaded. We very much appreciate Kelli Hansen’s assistance by providing images of the first and last pages of each item in the Ellis library Spanish play collection. We feel that having the 62 titles, some of which we haven’t seen before, really adds to the completion of the census.

A cover of one of the factitious volumes in Ellis Library's collections.
A cover of one of the factitious volumes in Ellis Library’s collections.

The sueltas in the Ellis library database offer good examples for teaching the history of printing ephemera. These are generally single plays, but we also find them bound as factitious volumes. The term factitious volume is used to describe some randomly bound volume (usually of 12 plays) selected by a collector, bookseller, or librarian. These bound volumes were thought to be easier to handle than the ephemeral pamphlets. The Moreto plays Confusión de un jardín and San Franco de Sena, with no imprint dates, seem to be the earliest in the collection. The most recent suelta in the collection, Sancho Ortiz de las Roelas by Cándido María Trigueros was printed in 1814. A selection of Trigueros’ works are 18th-century adaptations of plays originally written by Lope de Vega. Curiously, nearly half of the Ellis collection is authored by Lope de Vega, a prominent Spanish playwright and poet of the Golden Age. By closely examining this collection students can observe first-hand the printing styles across the 17th -19th century.

Looking at these plays in chronological sequence, it is easy to observe change in typography and orthography. For example, the use of long s (a letter that looked almost like an f) transitions to a modern short s during this period. Other aspects of spelling become modernized as well. The use of a short s but with an early date in the colophon indicated a “concealed reprint” which was done to avoid paying the fee a printer should have paid for reprinting an earlier work.

Women played an important part in the world of 18th century Spanish printing. Seven of the 62 plays in the collection were produced by women printer/booksellers. Women often assumed the reins of their late husband’s or male relative’s business. As was the case with Viuda de Quiroga (Manuel de Losada Quiroga’s widow) and Antonia Gómez (José de Orga’s widow). In addition, there was Teresa de Guzmán who was a printer and bookseller in her own right in Madrid from 1733-1737.

It is important for Special Collections to bring the history of the book and older printing practices to the attention of its users. Plays that students now read in modern paperback edition or electronically did not appear that way to their first readers two or three centuries ago. It is important to have them touch the paper that was made one sheet at a time during this era of printing and even to feel the bite of the type as the raised letter was formed. Experiences such as these bring a deeper understanding to the evolution of printed materials. We hope that faculty, students, and researchers at the University of Missouri will see the value of their Spanish plays collection.


To access comedias sueltas or any other materials in Special Collections, schedule an appointment through the Special Collections website.

Kelli Hansen

Kelli Hansen is head of the Special Collections and Rare Books department.