Volume 1, Issue 1             November 2010                                                                                                                                                    Archived Newsletters

University Archives and Special Collections Provides Rare Look into YSU History

What was it like to be a YSU student in the 1960s? How did the Dana School of Music become a nationally recognized program? What issues concerned student government in the 1950s? Why did the University’s sports teams adopt Pete the Penguin as their mascot? When did the tradition of painting Kilcawley Rock begin and why? These questions–and many more—can be explored by visiting the Archives and Special Collections Department of the Maag Library. Our staff is particularly interested in helping faculty integrate the use of archival sources into their classroom instruction and assignments. We also maintain a digital repository, Digital.Maag, which can be used for archiving important work by students and faculty. Our collections include:
Above: In Febuary of 1955, YSU students Jim Traveline (kneeling), Bill Petrick, Marilyn Korody and Tom Moran created this snow penguin.
  • Over 3,000 rare books on a variety of subjects with a few volumes published as early as the sixteenth century. (These items may be found in MaagNET.)

  • Oral history interviews of over 1,100 individuals focusing on the local African American experience; immigrating to Youngstown; working in local industries; surviving the Holocaust; fighting in World Wars I and II, Korea and Vietnam; union organizing; radio broadcasting; campus history; and local politics, business, religion, health care, and entertainment as well as many more topics. To read these, visit the Oral History Digital Collection.

  • Historic documents tracing the University from its origin as an educational program within the Youngstown YMCA in 1888.

  • More than 500 historic photographs. Many photographs illustrating the history of YSU can be viewed on the YSU Timeline.

  • Copies of a variety of University publications, including yearbooks (1931-2006) and the Jambar (1931-2009).

  • Personal papers of several members of the faculty and Congressman Michael J. Kirwan.

  • Over 1,000 YSU theses and dissertations.

Much of the online content mentioned above and many more digitized documents relating to YSU and Youngstown area history can be accessed via Digital.Maag.

Archives and Special Collections is open to the public from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday, and by appointment. All Archives and Special Collections materials must viewed in our fifth floor Reading Room to preserve these unique items for future generations. If you are interested in donating historic material related to YSU or the Youngstown community, please contact us. For further information, email or call Ben Blake ( or 330-941-3788).

Above: Ben Blake reviews historical texts in the Archives Reading Room
Ten years ago I began my archival career as an intern at Western Reserve Historical Society (WRHS). Previously, I had earned a BA in Social Science from Hampshire College and an MA in History from Cleveland State University, with a growing interest in labor and industrial history. At CSU my Masters work focused on Ohio steelworkers during the Depression era. After graduation my WRHS internship allowed me to continue my historical research on the Ohio steel industry and led to my appointment as Assistant Curator of Manuscripts. At WRHS my primary responsibility involved accessioning and managing new collections. This work included a project appraising the historic records of LTV Steel Corporation. Ultimately, over 2000 cubic feet of documents were selected for preservation including a large set of Youngstown Sheet and Tube Company records, which is now part of the holdings of the Youngstown Historical Center of Industry and Labor.

In 2004, due to a severe budgetary crisis, I was one of eighteen employees laid off from WRHS. To continue working in archives, I decided to return to school to earn my MLIS at the University of Pittsburgh. During my graduate archival studies, I focused on labor archives and worked as a student intern for labor archivist, David Rosenberg, and as a graduate research assistant for Professor Richard J. Cox. My work at the University of Pittsburgh allowed me to gain archival experience by processing a number of historical collections related to industrial relations, including records of United Steelworkers and United Mineworkers locals.

After graduation I obtained a position as a photograph archivist at the Hagley Museum and Library in Wilmington, Delaware. At Hagley I was primarily responsible for providing reference and scan-on-demand services. In addition, I participated in three digitization projects involving aerial images, ship building photographs and a collection of Hagley’s most popular pictures.

In 2008, while I very much enjoyed working at Hagley, I decided to accept a new position at the Labor Archives and Research Center, San Francisco State University (LARC). There I was able to focus exclusively on labor archives, returning to general collection management and reference work.

Two years later I decided to make another move when I felt state budget cuts would sooner or later result in the elimination of my position at San Francisco State University. When I saw the posting for the YSU University Archivist position, I was very excited at the prospect of returning to my home state to serve a community with a very rich industrial heritage.

Since arriving on campus I have been struck by how friendly and helpful everyone has been to me. This assistance has extended from the Parking Services staff person who expedited my parking pass to virtually the entire Maag staff who often have helped orient me to various library systems even before I could ask for help. Paul Kobulnicky, the University Librarian, even offered to put me up at his home if I had trouble finding an apartment. Within two weeks, I was even able to meet with President Cynthia Anderson and Provost Ikram Khawaja who gave me several good ideas for initiating new digital archives projects and stressed the importance of providing students with meaningful work and internship experiences.

I have also been impressed with the state of the University Archives, University Records Management, Special Collections and the Rose Melnick Medial Museum—my areas of responsibility. Past University Archivists and the current staff—Brian Brennan, Lisa Garofali and Cassie Nespor—have done excellent work establishing and sustaining a fundamentally sound program and creating one of the largest university-based digital repositories and collections of historical medical artifacts in the country. My job will be to build on this solid foundation. One area I especially hope to improve is collaborative work with the Mahoning Valley Historical Society, Youngstown Historical Center of Industry and Labor, and the YSU Working Class Studies and Applied History programs. I also hope to develop new ways to digitally archive historically important campus and community events virtually as they happen. Overall, I would like to see the YSU program continue to develop as a national leader in digital archives, documenting the University’s history—including the work of students, faculty and staff–and making the industrial history of the region accessible to researchers from around the world.

Ben Blake, University Archivist

Need Info On the Go? Text a Librarian

In response to the popularity of text messaging, students, faculty and staff at Youngstown State University can now ask questions and get information from Maag Library by text message.

On average, Americans text message almost twice as much as they talk on mobile phones, according to a recent Nielsen Mobile Survey, making it a preferred means of communication while on-the-go. The new service provides an easy-to-use interface for our librarians and maintains the privacy of our patrons’ information.

For patrons who are unable to ask a librarian in person or online or for those who simply prefer texting over talking, the Text a Librarian service provides a convenient option to get information on their mobile phone from the helpful reference librarians at Maag Library

With Text a Librarian, patrons ask questions by sending text messages with their mobile phones and librarians answer on a web-based interface, keeping a “live archive” of questions and answers. The service does not display phone numbers and generates an anonymous ID for each patron in order to reference conversation history.

Text a Librarian was developed by Mosio, an award-winning mobile technology company that enables companies and institutions to harness the power of mobile communications.

“Mobility is a way of life for most students and increasingly for society in general, making the way in which we stay connected a central issue for many libraries,” said Noel Chandler, Mosio CEO. “Text a Librarian makes it possible for students and patrons to tap into the wealth of knowledge of local librarians from their mobile phones, while keeping patron information private and secure.”

Librarians will answer your text almost immediately during reference desk hours. After-hour texts will be answered the following day. Hours will vary during breaks, holidays, and the summer.

The University Archives and Special Collections unit at Maag Library welcomed Ben Blake, its third University Archivist, on September 29. On the occasion of his arrival it is timely to look at the strategic role of a University Archives in today’s largely digital information environment.

Ben is our third Archivist in six years. Vic Fleischer led the development of the University Archives in 2005 and Sal Barragan was our Archivist from 2007 to 2009. Through their creativity and immense talent, both individuals helped to build what is now regarded as one of the best state-of-the-art Archives units in the State of Ohio and even in the country. Our success is due, not only to the creative staff that have developed our program, but also to two other important factors.

Prior to 2005, YSU had no formal Archives program, a blessing in disguise as it turns out. Since we had no significant program in place, we did not have to change anything, but rather we started from scratch focusing on the present and the future rather than the past. Secondly, we recognized early on the impact of technology and the need to focus our practices on the archiving of documents and materials that were digital in nature. Thus, we developed important practices in digital curation, digital preservation and digital access that many now are working to emulate.

As more and more information becomes digital in nature and as traditional publications struggle with the transition from the economics of traditional scholarly publishing, more materials that form the bulk of library resources will take on the characteristics of digital archives. Therefore, Maag Library is strategically placed to build important basic collections that are responsive to the changes that are taking place in both publishing and University scholarly activities.

What was once viewed as the dusty curio section of the library is rapidly becoming its focus. To prove how successful we have been, both previous Archivists were recruited away to higher profile positions because of the work that they did at YSU. We will strive to maintain our leadership position in this critical area.

Paul Kobulnicky, University Librarian

Kindles and iPad Go for a Spin

The Maag iPad and both Kindles are quite often being “taken for a spin.” Circulation statistics for the iPad from approximately the past 2 months show it was borrowed 117 times. Most patrons who have used iPad expressed a great desire to purchase one of their own but have indicated that cost makes this prohibitive. Nonetheless, some patrons indicated that after testing the Maag iPad they have purchased the devise. In general the iPad has an immediate turn-around time and is rarely on the reserve shelf.
By contrast, the library’s two Kindles have a two-week check out period. Circulation statistics during the past 2 months show six usages for each unit. Given the longer loan period the Kindles, like the iPad, are checked out all the time. Several patrons have indicated that, based on their use of a Maag Kindle, they have decided to buy one.

YSU junior Justin McIntyre reads a book on the Amazon Kindle in the reference room of Maag Library.
Welcome Week 2010 Quick Statistics

Maag Library participated in the welcome week festivities during the first week of classes this September. Activities included a barcode drive, Plinko prize board, and free nachos with cheese. Below are some of the statistics reflecting our kick start to the fall semester.

Library staff member, Franklin Stout watches with a student to see which prize he’ll win from the Plinko board set up outside of Maag Library.
  • Over 2,000 prizes given away during two days of activities.

  • Free nacho servings using 33 boxes of chips and 26 cans of cheese were distributed to students.

  • A total of 456 barcode slips were entered into the drawing for a Sony E-reader.

  • Our grand prize pack included $200 worth of items: a Sony E-reader, book light, carrying case, and gift card to purchase books.

  • Four local businesses supported the students through gift cards and prize donations: Jazzman’s Café, Coyoacan, University Pizzeria, and The Lemon Grove.

  • Cassandra Nespor: Objects Curator at the Rose Melnick Medical Museum—Attended Museums Making Connections in Cleveland and a workshop titled Navigating Through the Copyright Maze sponsored by the Society of Ohio Archivists at the University of Akron. She also finished a new exhibit called Tools of the Trade: The History of Medical Instrumentation for the Rose Melnick Medical Museum.

  • Jim Kapoun: Associate Director and Head of Information Services—Attended the annual Academic Library Association of Ohio (ALAO) conference in Columbus.

  • Kevin Whitfield: Catalog Librarian and Interim Head of Collections Services—Attended the Academic Library Association of Ohio/Northern Ohio Technical Services Librarians' Technical Electronic and Digital Services Interest Group Resource Description and Access (RDA) presentation and meeting in Wooster, Ohio.

  • Robert Ault: Microforms Librarian—Attended The U.S. Congressional Serial Set sponsored by the State

  • Jeff Trimble: Systems Librarian—Serves as the official editor of the DSpace Institutional Repository software documentation for release 1.7. This is the document that programmers, administrators and staff use to implement DSpace around the world. This will be his fourth time as editor.

  • Shelly Xiaoli Zhu: Electronic Services Librarian—Attended the National Forum of the Library and Information Technology Association (LITA), a subdivision of the American Library Association (ALA) in Atlanta.
    Cassandra Nespor, Objects Curator of the Rose Melnick Medical Museum, stands beside the opening window of her new exhibit, Tools of the Trade: The History of Medical Instrumentation.

    Muhammad and the Believers: At the Origin of Islam
    by Donner, Fred M
    Call #: BP55 .D66 2010

    The origins of Islam have been the subject of increasing controversy in recent years. The traditional view, which presents Islam as a self-consciously distinct religion tied to the life and revelations of the prophet Muhammad in western Arabia, has been challenged by historians engaged in critical study of Muslim sources since the 1970s.

    Fred Donner offers a lucid and original vision of how Islam first evolved. He argues that the origins of Islam lie in what we may call the "Believers' movement" begun by the prophet Muhammad—a movement of religious reform emphasizing strict monotheism and righteous behavior in conformity with God's revealed law.

    Crossing the Finish Line: Completing College at America’s Public Universities
    by Bowen, William G, Matthew M. Chingos and Michael S. McPherson
    Call #: LC208.8 .B68 2009  
    Long revered for their dedication to equal opportunity and affordability, public universities play a crucial role in building our country's human capital. And yet—a sobering fact—less than 60 percent of the students entering four-year colleges in America today are graduating. Why is this happening and what can be done? Crossing the Finish Line, the most important book on higher education to appear since The Shape of the River, provides the most detailed exploration ever of the crisis of college completion at America's public universities. This groundbreaking book sheds light on such serious issues as dropout rates linked to race, gender, and socioeconomic status.

    Emerging Infectious Diseases and Society
    by Washer, Peter
    Call #:RA643 .W27 2010  
    In the 1970s it appeared infectious diseases had been conquered, but today global epidemics seem to pose a new, more sinister, threat. This fascinating study explores these new infectious diseases, such as Swine Flu, SARS and AIDS, the re-emergence of old threats, and discusses their role in society.

    Our Energy Future: Resources, Alternatives and the Environment
    by Ngo, Christian and Joseph Natowitz
    Call #:TJ163.2 .N49 2009  
    This title provides current coverage of the energy value chain. Some of the topics covered include coal, oil and natural gas, fossil fuels, electricity, wind energy, among many more. It is part of the Wiley Survival Guides in Engineering and Science series.

    Our Energy Future: Resources, Alternatives and the Environment
    by Ngo, Christian and Joseph Natowitz
    Call #:TJ163.2 .N49 2009  
    This title provides current coverage of the energy value chain. Some of the topics covered include coal, oil and natural gas, fossil fuels, electricity, wind energy, among many more. It is part of the Wiley Survival Guides in Engineering and Science series.