3 Cavaliers: Marginalia Project Uncovers “Ghosts” and Sheds Light on Past Readers

3 Cavaliers interviewed Andrew M. Stauffer, Caroline Janney, and Kristin H. Jensen, of the Book Traces Project.

The project fosters:

“Discovery of and research upon previously-unnoticed marginalia in 19th-century books on academic library shelves in Virginia; emphasis on reading and memory in the Civil War era.”

Watch now:

Three people smile while sitting in a small studio. Image has a play button overlayed.

The 3 Cavaliers program is a rapid seed funding program at the University of Virginia enabling creative, collaborative, consequential research ideas.


Virginia Tech posts Director of Information Policy Brandon Butler’s Open Access Week talk 2019″

This week the Virginia Tech Library published “What’s the Big Deal? Global Trends and Movements Shaping Higher Ed,” a recorded talk by Brandon Butler, UVA Library Director of Information Policy. In the talk, given as part of Open Access Week 2019, Butler describes how and why libraries and universities around the world are thinking differently about the journal subscription packages known as “Big Deals.” The combination of unsustainable price increases, declining value, and diverging values makes this a turbulent time for libraries and publishers trying to find common ground, Butler argues.


Library Opens Access to Early Folksong Recordings Collection

The University of Virginia Library has opened streaming access to a collection of early folksong recordings created between 1932 and 1938 by the Virginia Folklore Society (VFS). Recorded on aluminum discs, these represent one of the earliest folksong collection projects in North America to use the then-new grooved disc technology.

Digitization of these 173 discs was funded by Recordings at Risk, a national regranting program established in 2017 and administered by the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) to support preservation of rare and unique audiovisual materials of high scholarly value through digital reformatting. The grant program is made possible by funding from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Ethnographic recordings hold diverse research interest from anthropologists, ethnomusicologists, and historians of media, and access to these recordings and improved descriptions of them will provide important context to the early study of folksong by both academics and enthusiasts.

Digitization and documentation make for easy online access

Aluminum direct-cut or instantaneous discs were the earliest available format for making grooved disc recordings in the field, pre-dating lacquer by several years. Grooves were embossed into the soft metal (as opposed to being cut via a subtractive process), and recordings were intended to be played back with specialized needles made of bamboo or cactus fiber.

New, digitized master files of these discs were created and wedded with existing metadata drawn from the research of VFS members. An improved finding aid has been created for the Society’s archival collection which also features sheet music, newsletters, and photographs. Disc-level records with streaming audio, freely accessible to all, are available through the UVA Library’s local instance of Avalon Media System.

History of the collection and research implications

Founded in 1913, the VFS gathered ballads and folklore in tandem with the earliest state societies conducting similar projects. Arthur Kyle Davis, Jr., a professor of English at the University of Virginia, directed the society beginning in 1924. After compiling and publishing the early volume Traditional Ballads from Virginia (1929), he sought out new technology to create phonographic records, and in 1932 began to use emerging technology to record some of the singers, primarily in southwestern Virginia, from whom the VFS had previously collected songs. UVA’s Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library now holds these unique aluminum instantaneous discs created in the field by Davis and others to document ballads and folksongs previously preserved through oral tradition.

These recordings feature unique variants of popular “Child ballads” and other songs, but also include many tunes which are largely unknown. Apart from information documented in the collector’s notes, little is also known about many of the musicians and singers. However, this collection features the earliest known recordings of folk musicians such as Horton Barker, Abner Keesee, and Texas Gladden. Perhaps the most famous of these is Gladden, from Saltville, Virginia. Gladden was recorded in 1941 by the ethnomusicologist Alan Lomax, who called her “one of the best American ballad singers ever recorded.” The discs in this collection feature what are almost certainly the earliest recordings of her work.

Increased awareness of this collection will have considerable research implications, as knowledge of field recording expeditions in the South are currently dominated by the 1933 work of Alan Lomax and his father John A. Lomax. This newly accessible collection laid the groundwork that helped make possible the more well-known recordings made by the Lomaxes and others.

For more information on the project, contact Steven Villereal, UVA Library Audiovisual Conservator.

Therapy Dog Ruth dispenses calmness in Brown Library at Exam time

Since 2014, Mary Brackett, senior associate with UVA’s center for Organizational Excellence, has been teaming with her Australian Shepherd/Lab mix, Ruth, to relieve student stress in libraries at exam time.

The word “ruth” is defined in the dictionary as — among other things — pity, compassion, mercy, tenderness, and sympathy.

Each of the past five years, Ruth has been on-Grounds in the holiday season, dispensing calmness, not asking where you’re from or what your politics are, just wanting a pat on the head, a scratch behind the years or under the chin.

Below are a few pictures of Ruth spreading her special brand of holiday cheer in the Charles L. Brown Science and Engineering Library. Enjoy!Portrait of therapy dog Ruth, an Australian Shepherd/Lab mixRuth being petted by two smiling studentsRuth surrounded by student admirers petting herRuth enjoying the attention of a student petting her on the headRuth enjoying some hands-on therapy from students

Mira Waller to Join UVA Library as AUL for Research and Learning Services

The University of Virginia Library is pleased to announce that Mira Waller will join the Library as Associate University Librarian (AUL) for Research and Learning Services. Waller will begin at UVA on March 30, 2020.

As AUL for Research and Learning Services, Waller will serve on the Library’s Senior Leadership Team, providing leadership for the subject liaison program, the teaching and learning program, faculty programs, and specialized user services. She will guide the Library’s information services, including reference, reserves and circulation, and will ensure that the libraries provide a consistent, pleasant, and productive experience to all researchers and Library visitors. Waller will also oversee the development of services and programming for new and evolving teaching and research tools and methods, including those for digital scholarship, multimedia production and use, and data management and analysis.

Photograph of Mira Waller

Waller is currently the Head of the Research Engagement Department in the North Carolina State University Libraries. She leads and oversees a department that provides expertise and services to enhance research and academic engagement; coordinates management of the Libraries’ high-tech spaces; and explores ways to partner with the NC State community throughout the research and academic enterprise.

Waller came to the NC State University Libraries as Associate Head, Collections & Research Strategy, a role in which she shared management responsibility for the department and for the Libraries’ collections budget. She has been an active participant in the movement to re-envision the role of the subject liaison, both at NC State and nationally, contributing to the development of tools and training to enhance support for research.

Before joining the NC State University Libraries, Waller was Director of Publishing Services for Project Euclid, an online community and publishing platform for mathematics and statistics scholarship, managed jointly by Cornell University Library and Duke University Press. Previously she served as Assistant Director of Archives, at Duke University Medical Center Library & Archives. Waller has a long track record as a collaborative leader, and has published and presented widely on topics related to libraries, archives, and academic publishing.

“I’m thrilled to be joining the UVA Library during this time of tremendous opportunity and change in higher education,” said Waller. “And I look forward to collaborating with my outstanding colleagues in the Library, our accomplished faculty and talented students, and other campus stakeholders to advance the research, teaching, learning and service missions of UVA.”

Ruth the Therapy Dog is coming to Fine Arts and Brown libraries during Exams

The Library’s favorite therapy dog, the Australian Shepherd/Lab mix Ruth, is returning to the Fine Arts Library and Brown Science & Engineering Library during exams with her human, Mary Brackett.

If you’ve visited Ruth’s Facebook page, you know she wants your attention. So take a break from your studies, come over, pet her, and you’ll go back feeling better. It’s Ruth’s job and she loves her work!

Mary Brackett and Ruth will visit the Fiske Kimball Fine Arts Library on Sunday, Dec. 8, 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Mary and Ruth will be in the Charles L. Brown Science & Engineering Library on Wednesday, Dec. 11, 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.

Who could resist a face like that?

Portrait of Ruth the therapy dog