Glossary of Rare Book Terms Available

Special Collections staff has prepared an illustrated glossary of rare books terms. If you’ve ever wondered about the difference between engraving and etching, or what exactly a nonce volume is, then this is your chance to find out!

The glossary contains 130 definitions and 112 images of examples drawn from Special Collections’ holdings. The glossary was written by John Henry Adams and photographs were taken by John Henry Adams, Courtney Gillie, and Kelli Hansen.

John Henry Adams

John Henry Adams is a librarian in the Special Collections and Rare Books department. He provides instruction and reference for the history of the book in general, but especially for medieval manuscripts, early European printing, the history of cartography, and English and German literature.

home Special Collections and Archives The Classroom is Open!

The Classroom is Open!

After more than a year of online teaching, we are excited to welcome students and instructors back to in-person sessions in our classroom. A few reminders: 

  • Masks are required in the classroom for all participants. 
  • Thorough handwashing before class is required for all participants.
  • Hand sanitizer may not be used before or during class sessions. Handwashing after class is recommended.  
  • Use our online form to request a session.  

This fall, we are introducing a new online orientation module that students must complete before they visit. This module covers handling guidelines for materials in the classroom and will help students make the most of their time in Special Collections. If you’re teaching a class using Special Collections, please include this module in your syllabus or Canvas site, and require your students to complete it before your class session.

Kelli Hansen

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

home Events and Exhibits, Special Collections and Archives, Staff news New Fall Exhibit: Instagram Favorites

New Fall Exhibit: Instagram Favorites

Since 2016, Special Collections has used Instagram to share our collections with the world. To mark our fifth anniversary on the platform, and to welcome students and faculty back to campus, our fall exhibition celebrates two sets of favorite posts.

One of the exhibit cases highlights your favorites: the posts that were the most liked, commented, and interacted with over the past five years. As you will see, there are wonders to discover in Special Collections, from medieval manuscripts to nineteenth-century publisher’s bindings. These posts are just the beginning!

The other exhibit case highlights our favorites: posts chosen by Special Collections and Archives staff.  As these materials show, we envision a future in which Special Collections and Archives foster, reflect and inform an inclusive, diverse, and engaged community, locally and beyond.

This exhibition will be on view in the Ellis Library North Colonnade through fall 2021. For more, make an appointment to visit us in person, or follow us on Instagram.

Kelli Hansen

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

home Hours, Special Collections and Archives Special Collections Open by Appointment Only

Special Collections Open by Appointment Only

In August, the University Archives began the process of moving collections out of Lewis Hall and into Ellis Library. Later this semester, University Archives staff will join Special Collections on the fourth floor and share reading room and office spaces in Ellis Library. Because we are working out the timeline for these moves, the reading room will be open by appointment only until further notice. Microfilm readers in room 404 remain available on an appointment-only basis as well. Schedule research appointments through our website. 

For preservation and space purposes, many nineteenth-century materials and comics from Special Collections are now stored at the University of Missouri Libraries Depository (UMLD). These materials are among the most fragile in the collections, and the UMLD offers a consistent, stable low temperature and humidity that will preserve these materials much more effectively than we can in Ellis Library. To request these materials, simply make a research appointment! Please allow at least two business days for these materials to be made ready for research use. 

Kelli Hansen

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

home Databases & Electronic Resources, Special Collections and Archives, Staff news Digital Services Celebrates 10 years of Digitization

Digital Services Celebrates 10 years of Digitization

We are celebrating ten years of in-house digitization at the University Libraries! During its first ten years, we launched the MU Digital Library, further developed the MOspace Institutional Repository, and joined the HathiTrust (a shared digital library). The thousands of publications we have digitized are online and available for use by people at MU and around the world.


The in-house digitization production unit came to the University Libraries in 2011 when the four-campus Library Systems Office was dissolved. While other units in the library were digitizing items for patron services, the new unit focused on the digitization of library materials for broader outreach and for inclusion in MU digital repository systems. The digitization began with two staff members who transferred from the Library Systems Office and two scanners that were inherited from that office. Originally part of the Catalog Department, in the 2013 the digitization unit became part of a new Digital Services Department.


The Digital Services Department works with selectors, departments on campus, and others to identify and develop a variety projects that support teaching and research at MU and beyond. Scanning equipment has increased from two to seven scanners allowing the department to digitize a variety of paper material and items on microfilm and slides.


As of May, in this fiscal year our staff has digitized 1,266 items, which amounts to 31,500 pages – with a lot more yet to come! Some of our recent notable projects include Venable maps and English Short Title Catalog publications with Special Collections, books on typography with the Journalism Library, Shamrock yearbooks with the Engineering Library, the Muse annual with the Museum of Art and Archaeology, and MU course catalogs with the Office of the Registrar and University Archives.

Cheers to the first 10 years! We look forward to more partnerships and projects in the next 10!

home Ellis Library, Events and Exhibits, Special Collections and Archives Selections from the Hiller Collection on View in Ellis Library

Selections from the Hiller Collection on View in Ellis Library

Photographs from the Martin and Margaret Hiller Collection of Audiovisual Materials on China are now on view in the North Colonnade exhibit cases in Ellis Library. The Hiller Collection documents cities, industries, farming, and everyday life in China during the second phase of the Chinese Civil War. The collection contains over 1,900 glass and acetate slides, several reels of 16mm film, four reels of 8mm film, and magnetic audio tape created by Army Air Corps Capt. Martin Hiller while stationed with his family in Shanghai, China, from 1945 to 1948. These materials were donated to the University Libraries by the Hiller family in 2018. For more about the collection, see a digital exhibit curated by MU student Yueheng Lyu in 2019.

The images on view were printed from high resolution digital scans of slides created by Martin Hiller. Selections from this collection will remain on view through summer 2021.


Kelli Hansen

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

home Events and Exhibits, Special Collections and Archives, Staff news New student-curated online exhibits now available

New student-curated online exhibits now available

There are two new digital exhibits in Special Collections, curated by our spring 2021 interns: John T. McCutcheon: A Cartoonist in his Prime, 1930s, curated by Allison Cathey, and The Art of Cartography, Cartes-à-figures, curated by Lily McEwan. Our students have worked very hard over the past semester on these exhibits and now we’re ready to share them with you. Read on below for our interns’ descriptions of their projects. We hope that you enjoy the exhibits!

John T. McCutcheon: A Cartoonist in his Prime, 1930s

by Allison Cathey

My exhibit is formed around American cartoonist John T. McCutcheon and his work during the peak of his career at the Chicago Tribune. The exhibit showcases 11 of the cartoons that MU Digital Library has access to. The others can be found in the John Tinney McCutcheon Collection of Editorial Cartoons in the MU Digital Library or in person at the Special Collections if you wish to use them for further information.

The exhibit is focused on the use of cartoons in the 1930s during which some consider to be the prime years in John T. McCutcheon’s career as a cartoonist. Amidst the economic struggles of the 1930s, McCutcheon brought light to political, social, and economic issues. His ability to cover a variety of subjects showed his versatility and the reason that people refer to him as the American dean of cartooning. Additionally, in the 1930s McCutcheon was awarded an honorary doctoral degree and Pulitzer Prize for his exceptional work. He spent the last years of the decade beginning his autobiography that reflects on his personal and work life. The exhibit includes cartoons pertaining to McCutcheon’s view on: economics, American holidays, global politics, marriage and divorce, automobile crashes, administrative programs, local news, war, technological advancement, and treaty breaking.

The Art of Cartography: Cartes-à-figures

by Lily McEwan

I chose to create the digital exhibit The Art of Cartography: Cartes-à-figures as a passion project for my interest in art history. As a student studying Art History and Anthropology, I loved the hands-on opportunity to conduct research and over the course of the semester have gained valuable interpretive critical-thinking skills. The creative process and the designing element of an exhibit was a new experience that was thoroughly delightful. I have a new appreciation for librarianship and researchers – as there is a lot that goes on behind the scenes.

My favorite aspect of this experience was visiting the reading room! Seeing with my own eyes these wonderfully old and preserved maps has reconfirmed my interest in Art History and preservation work. I am grateful to have this opportunity as it will help prepare me for a life of research. In fact, this summer I will be attending archaeological field school in Pompeii under the direction of Dr. Kate Trusler for a month-long research endeavor in public sanitation.

I have thoroughly enjoyed my time as in Intern for Ellis Library’s Special Collections Department. I am so grateful to have had the experience in digital exhibition research, writing, and publication. I want to thank John Henry Adams, Kelly Hanson, Anne Stanton, and the entire department of Special Collections for assisting with research, guidance, and allowing me to have this opportunity in exhibition research.

John Henry Adams

John Henry Adams is a librarian in the Special Collections and Rare Books department. He provides instruction and reference for the history of the book in general, but especially for medieval manuscripts, early European printing, the history of cartography, and English and German literature.

home Ellis Library, Hours, Special Collections and Archives Special Collections Open by Appointment this Summer

Special Collections Open by Appointment this Summer

Due to upcoming collections moves, Special Collections will be open by appointment until the beginning of the fall 2021 semester. Visit the Special Collections website to set up appointments for the reading room or microfilm readers, and be sure to ask us if you have any questions.

Stay up-to-date on our moving projects by following us on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram!

Kelli Hansen

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

home Events and Exhibits, Special Collections and Archives, Staff news New Digital Exhibit: Places in the World: Treasures from the Venable Collection

New Digital Exhibit: Places in the World: Treasures from the Venable Collection

There is a new digital exhibit in Special Collections: Places in the World: Treasures from the Venable Collection, curated by John Henry Adams. As the title suggests, the exhibit showcases the recently acquired Gary E. and Janet J. Venable Antiquarian Atlas & Map Collection, a collection of 163 single-sheet maps and 79 bound atlases from the 16th through the 20th centuries. Digital Services is currently digitizing maps from the collection and uploading them to the MU Digital Library so that you can enjoy them even if you can’t manage a trip to Special Collections. 

The exhibit focuses on how we all use maps to understand places in the world. Maps organize our worldview and let us develop an idea of how different locations relate to one another, whether we have been there physically or only mentally. The twenty maps in the exhibit are mainly from the 1600s with a few highlights from the 1500s, 1700s, and 1800s. They include maps of Europe, Africa, Asia, the Americas, and the World, each of which is accompanied by a discussion of its context and a few points of interest, whether they be errors or artistic flourishes. We hope that the exhibit piques your interest and makes you look at maps, whether they be in your glove compartment, on your phone, or in Special Collections in a different light!  

Digital Services: Twenty for 2020

2020 was a busy and challenging year for the Digital Services Department at the University Libraries. Despite those challenges, we were able to start, advance, and complete an amazing array of projects. We present here twenty of our proudest accomplishments of 2020.

1: MOspace Grows by 12%

In 2020, we added 4,200 new items to MOspace, the online institutional repository for MU. This was the third largest number of new items added in a single year since MOspace was launched in 2008. MOspace now includes more than 35,000 research articles, presentations, theses and dissertations, maps, MU publications, etc.


2: New Scanner Enables New Projects

A generous donor provided funding for a new scanner, adding to our overall capacity to complete digitization projects of large and fragile materials. The Atiz Mark 2 also has a v-cradle which puts less stress on the material during digitization. We have completed the digitization of several items we could not previously have done.


3: Office of Undergraduate Studies Partnership

This year we partnered with the Undergraduate Studies to host the Undergraduate Research & Creative Achievements Forum in the MU Digital Library. Held in the spring, summer, and fall, the Forum highlights the scholarship of MU students, and included abstracts describing the project, posters, PowerPoint slides, and videos. While previous Forums were in-person events, the move to remote classes in the spring was the prompt for this new partnership.



4: Faculty Research is Focus of MOspace Collection

Faculty research at the University of Missouri is the focus of a new collection in MOspace. The collection includes research material already in MOspace that we are in the process of adding to the new collection. It also includes articles published with open access licenses which were added in Phase 1 of a library project to identify and make published articles by MU faculty available in MOspace.


5: More Rare Materials Now Available Online

Digitization of rare materials was put on hold during the campus closure. Still, during the spring and fall semesters we were able to complete the digitization of rare materials in the Special Collections and Rare Books Department and unique materials on loan from a private collection. These are now available in the MU Digital Library


6: Sanborn Maps of Missouri

The Sanborn Fire Insurance Map Company, established in 1867, compiled and published maps of United States cities and towns. The maps are large scale plans that were used by the fire insurance industry. In 2020, maps published in 1924, along with other 1924 publications, entered the public domain in the United States. While we did not get all of our 1924 Sanborn maps digitized, we were able to add the 1924 sheets for Liberty and the Webster Groves sheets issued as part of the St. Louis volume. They are now available in the MU Digital Library.


7: New Collection of Concert Programs

When the recently established MU Budds Center for American Music Studies asked us to partner on digitizing and making a collection of archival documents available in MOspace, we were thrilled. While this is an ongoing project, many MU concert programs, photographs, and posters, as well as miscellaneous publications are now in MOspace and available for use. Dates of items range from 1977 to1997. Check back for updates to this growing collection.



8: Global Journalist Archive Added to MOspace

In 2020, MOspace became the archive for audio recordings of the radio program, “Global Journalists.” As noted on the Global Journalist website: “Global Journalist covers press freedom, human rights and international affairs. The weekly, half-hour discussion is produced by faculty and students of the Missouri School of Journalism and Mid-Missouri Public Radio.” This is a growing collection, with 66 segments produced between 2002-2020 now available.



9: SISLT Webcast  Recordings

The School of Information Science and Learning Technologies produced webcasts between 2005 and 2015.  On each show practicing librarians and educators were interviewed about topics such as literacy, library positions, library programs, and educational technologies. 245 recordings now are archived in MOspace.


10: History of Missouri Place Names in Historical Theses

We are getting close to completion of a project to digitize 18 theses detailing the history of Missouri place names. They were written in the 1920s through the 1940s under the direction of Robert L. Ramsey, professor of English, and provide the origins of the names of counties, townships, post offices, rivers. branches, creeks, ridges, prairies, mounds, hills, valleys, gaps, churches, etc. These are great resources for historical information about Missouri.


11: MU Theses and Dissertations

MOspace is the online repository for MU theses and dissertations published since 2006. This collection highlights research being completed at MU. In 2020, we added more than 470 theses and dissertations issued in 2019-2020. In addition, we added 61 older theses and dissertations which we digitized as part of an ongoing project to make these available online. This collection is one of our larger collections, with 9,200 total items, 8,366 of which were issued after 2005. Note: Because Fall 2020 items have not yet been added and authors may request a one-year delay before publication, the 2020 numbers in the graph are not complete.



12: MU Publications in MOspace

In addition to the MU material mentioned elsewhere, we added current or historical items to several ongoing collections in MOspace, including:



13: Support for Remote Teaching and Learning

Since our unit focuses on creating and hosting online resources, we were able to support online teaching and learning by digitizing material and hosting online forums.

As an example, we digitized rare items for use in a history course and made the images available in the MU Digital Library:


14: University of Missouri Extension

Our MU Extension digitization project got a boost in 2020. As we prepared to move to remote work, we quickly digitized historical MU Extension publications that would provide opportunities for remote work. The publications we digitized were in good condition and could be fed through a scanner with a sheet-feeder, so we were able to quickly digitize a large number of them. Staff reviewed and edited images from their home worksites. In 2020 we added 1,280 MU Extension publications to MOspace. They cover a variety of topics including agriculture, homemaking, recipes, and annual reports.


15: Instagram Posts Highlight Work

Digital Services joined forces with the Special Collections and Rare Books Department to inform and entertain Instagram viewers by providing information about the work of both departments and of the resources available in the University of Missouri Libraries.



16: Celebrating MU Students in Digital Services

In Digital Services, our excellent undergraduate student workers do most of our scanning work. That productivity was missed when we moved to remote work. With a return to campus, we were pleased that two of our long-term students re-joined us in the fall and picked up digitization projects related to rare materials and MU publications.


17: Personnel

This year Digital Services saw a lot of new faces. We welcomed a new staff member, Antanella, to our permanent staff of four, and had temporary help from two library staff members – Mara and Peter — who contributed to specific projects. We rely on MU student workers to accomplish our work and were fortunate to have excellent help this year. In addition, in the spring we had two graduate assistants (one of whom was short-term) who helped move projects forward.



18: Campus Closure Prompts Move to Remote Work

With the rest of the campus, Digital Services moved to remote operations in March. In preparation, staff packed needed resources and made plans for virtual connections. Digital Services was fortunate in being able to continue its work off-site. Staff reviewed and edited digital images, added items to MOspace and the MU Digital Library and worked with others on campus to make their resources available. Other stories on this page feature some of these projects. Fortunately, we were able to return to campus in staggered shifts for the fall semester and resumed our on-site scanning work.


19: Mission, Vision, and Values

The members of the University Archives, Special Collections, and Digital Services Division collaboratively drafted mission, vision, and values statements with guidance from Julie Brandt (Institutional Research & Quality Improvement). These will be posted on a forthcoming division website. As part of that process Digital Services reviewed and refined its own mission statement, which is posted here.


20: Giving Back to the Library Community

Ying Hu and Felicity Dykas shared tips about supervising students at the 2020 statewide MOBIUS conference held virtually in June. The annual MOBIUS conference is attended by academic and public library workers and provides an opportunity to share with and learn from colleagues.


Looking Forward to 2021!

Many of our projects are ongoing and will continue into 2021. We also plan to resume activities that were put on hold due to the accommodations we had to make for Covid-19, including HathiTrust submissions. New in 2021: We will be launching a new site for digital exhibits and forums, such as online poster sessions. We will partner with others on campus to host their events and to develop digital exhibits.