Projects and Initiatives of the Special Collections
at The Ohio State University


Rare Books & Manuscripts Holds Preview Night

The sixth annual preview night, featuring new acquisitions from the eleventh through the twenty-first centuries in the Charvat American Literature Collection and Rare Books and Manuscripts Library, will be held Wednesday, October 29, 2014, 6-8 PM.  The evening will spotlight the Herman J. Albrecht Library of Historical Architecture, and include comments by Michael B. Cadwell, the Walter H. Kidd Professor of Architecture and the Director of the Austin E. Knowlton School of Architecture.  The materials will be displayed in the Thompson Library Creighton Reading Room (105).  Refreshments will be provided, so an RSVP is requested.  Please see the invitation for contact information.  We hope to see your there!


Special Collections Open Houses offered in 2013-2014

Maps Open House

Drawn from libraries across the university and from documents that span continents and centuries, our map collection is a rich archive of information about parks, cities, and history. The first Maps Open House was held on November 20, 2013, from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm in Thompson Library room 150.  Maps on view represented the Rare Books and Manuscript Library, The Byrd Polar Archive, University Archives, the Geology Library, Historic Costume & Textiles Collection, the Gardner Family Map Room, and the Ohio Congressional Archives.

 For a list of maps displayed:

 Highlights included:

 16th and 17th century maps of the World and the “New World”

 Early Ohio Maps

 Subway Maps

 Andersonville Prison Map

 Antique Maps from the Robert E. Oscar Collection 

 Railroad Maps 

 Artists’ Book Open House

Visitors to the Artist's Books open house were treated to works by Marina Abramovic and Ulay, John Baldessari, Johanna Drucker, Fluxus, General Idea, The Guerrilla Girls, Hans Haacke, Nancy Holt, Douglas Huebler, Barbara Kruger, Sol LeWitt, George Maciunas, Ed Ruscha, Carolee Schneemann, Richard Tuttle, Lawrence Weiner, Xu Bing, and many more. The Artists’ Books Open House took place on Wednesday, the 23rd of October, 2013 from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm in Thompson Library room 150.


Special Collections Open House Schedule for 2013-2014. 

All Open House will be held in Thompson Library in 150. 

Artists’ Books (October 23rd, 2013) 10:00-2:00

Maps  (November 20th, 2013) 10:00-2:00

Pop Culture: Science Fiction (February 12th, 2014) 10:00-2:00

Early Modern Printed Book (April 16th, 2014) 10:00-2:00

Internship and Practicum Info

Internships and Practicum Opportunities at OSUL Special Collections

Special Collections at OSUL often have opportunities for students looking for internships and practicums. 

PLEASE NOTE:  OSUL does not pay for internships or practicums.

If you are interested in pursuing an internship or practicum, please follow these steps:

  1. Decide what type of project you would like to do during your internship or practicum.  Examples include web exhibitions, processing a collection, creating an education unit for teachers.
  2. Review the OSUL Special Collections and determine which fit your interests. 
  3. Contact the appropriate staff person (listed below) to learn if there is an opening for an intern or practicum student.  There may be times when there are no opportunities available.  In addition, some areas may require certain course work to be completed before a practicum can be started.
  4. The staff person will set up a meeting with you to discuss the project, if your skills and desires meet their needs, and if so when the internship or practicum will begin.

Byrd Polar Research Center Archival Program: Contact Laura Kissel at or 614-688-8173.

Previous project examples: processing manuscript collections, including creation of finding aids; processing artifact collections, including photographing the item, creating appropriate metadata and uploading the images and metadata to OSU’s Media Manager; creating digital exhibitions.

Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum: Contact Jenny Robb at or 614-292-0538.

Previous project examples: processing collections of original cartoon art using Past Perfect collections management software; processing manuscript collections, including creating EAD finding aids; and creating union lists, digital exhibitions or albums.

William Charvat Collection of American Fiction: Contact Geoffrey D. Smith at or 614-688-4980.

Previous project examples: Processing book collections; processing the literary archives of prominent American authors, performing collection-level surveys related to particular genres or thematic topics.

Hilandar Research LibraryContact Predrag Matejic at or 614-292-0634

Previous project examples: None

Ohio Congressional Archives: Contact Jeff Thomas at or 614-688-8429

Previous project examples:  None

Rare Books and Manuscripts Library: Contact Geoffrey D. Smith at or 614-688-4980.

Previous project examples: Processing manuscript, map and photograph collections; undertaking extensive provenance research on particular collection areas; performing collection-level surveys related to particular genres or thematic topics.

Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee Theatre Research Institute ( Contact Nena Couch at or 614-292-9606

Previous project examples: Processing manuscript collections including creation of finding aids; processing original scene and costume designs and theatre technology materials; creating digital exhibitions

University Archives ( Contact Kevlin Haire at or 614-292-5769

Previous project examples:  Processing manuscript collections; processing photograph collections; creating an online exhibit about university history.


Early Modern Printed Book Open House


Visitors could see this gentleman from Bulwer's "Anthropometamorphosis" at the Early Modern Printed Book Open House

Special Collections Sponsored Early Modern Printed Book Open House on April 3rd.

The OSU Libraries extended and invitation to the final open house of the school year: our Early Modern Printed Book Open House! Featuring books, pamphlets, art and architectural treatises, and travel itineraries in English, Latin, German, French, Italian, and Spanish, we pulled items with substantial visual material that date from the 1400s to the 19th century from our collections university-wide. Among the artists and authors included were Albrecht Durer, Giorgio Vasari, Leon-Battista Alberti, Andrea Palladio, Giovanni Battista Piranesi, Sebastiano Serlio, Baldassare Castiglione, Peter Paul Rubens, William Blake, and many more. Subjects included History, English, Architecture, Entomology, Herbology, Astrology, and more. Rare Books Librarian Dr. Eric Johnson was on hand to explain the making and materials of these objects, as well as to help with on-the-spot Latin translations. The Early Modern Printed Book open house took place on Wednesday, 3 April, from 11 to 2 in Thompson Library room 150. 

Patrons with freshly clean hands were able to handle the items gently. Because of the sensitive nature of the materials (such as their age, designs, paper qualities, and fragility), we will ask that no backpacks or portfolios, food, drink, or wet media be brought into the room with such materials. Pencils and paper are recommended for note-taking and sketching, and photography is permitted. Instructors were invited to bring classes or to encourage students to stop by. For highlights of the Open House visit a list on Buckeye Box.


King James Bible Digital Exhibit Now Live!

At long last, our digital repackaging of our 2011 physical exhibition, "'Translation... openeth the window to let in the light: The Pre-History and Abiding Impact of the King James Bible,"is live! Please visit the exhibit to see this great online show, complete with medieval manuscripts, early-printed books, fine press Bibles, steel engravings, original art, comic books and strips, literary classics, and much much more!

Special Collections Sponsored Artists' Book Open House Back by Popular Demand

The OSU Libraries had a great response from our Fall semester Artists’ Books Open House. And so, by popular demand, we’re bringing it back this semester! Come see work by Marina Abramovic and Ulay, John Baldessari, Johanna Drucker, Fluxus, General Idea, The Guerrilla Girls, Hans Haacke, Nancy Holt, Douglas Huebler, Barbara Kruger, Sol LeWitt, George Maciunas, Ed Ruscha, Carolee Schneemann, Richard Tuttle, Lawrence Weiner, Xu Bing, and many more. The Artists’ Books Open House will take place on Wednesday, the 20th of February, from 11:00 am to 3:00 pm in Thompson Library room 150.

This semester we’re also thrilled to include a selection from the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum’s Dylan Williams Collection of small press and self-published mini-comics, which showcase unique formats and binding techniques from underground cartoonists to contemporary self-publishers. If you are interested in homemade comics and the art of the book, this is a unique opportunity to examine these objects up close and to really understand how they’re made. The Cartoon Library curator Caitlin McGurk will also be available during the open house to discuss the materials and their construction. We will provide gloves so that you can study the works. Because of the sensitive nature of the materials (such as their designs, paper qualities, and fragility), we will ask that no backpacks or portfolios, food, drink, or wet media be brought into the room with them. Pencils and paper are best!

Open House for Artists' Books 2012


Special Collections Celebrates American Archives Month

October is American Archives Month, and Special Collections conducted two programs to highlight our archives.

Tamar Chute, University Archivist, and Kevlin Haire, Archives Librarian, conducted tours focusing on the history of the buildings on the Oval on October 11th and 17th.

Tamar and Kevlin conducting an Oval Tour

Special Collections also held a program entitled “Voices from the Vault:  Unique and Amazing Finds from Special Collections” on October 29th. The program highlighted items from The Ohio State University Archives, The Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee Theatre Research Institute, the Byrd Polar Archive, the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum, and the Floyd and Marion Rinhart Collection of Photographs.

Attendees view the items on display. The Milton Caniff life mask from the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum is in the foreground.

Visitors enjoy the stereograph viewers and daguerreotypes provided by the Rare Books and Manuscripts Library Rinhart Collection.

A new addition to the Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee Theatre Collection

A new addition to the Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee Theatre Collection.

For more information on these events, please contact Melanie McGurr, Instruction and Access Librarian for Special Collections at 247-4689 or at



Medieval Slavic Summer Institute (Hilandar Research Library)


From June 27 to July 25, ten participants in the 2011 Medieval Slavic Summer Institute (and the sixth such since 1999) participated in four weeks of daily three-hour lectures, additional practical exercises, and afternoon hands-on work with actual medieval Slavic Cyrillic manuscripts and other resources of the Hilandar Research Library. The 2011 MSSI was the first to be held in the “Jack and Jan Creighton Special Collections Reading Room” in what were enhanced, superb teaching and research conditions with original materials. For the first time, related materials in other special collections were also used.

The premise behind the MSSI is to use and share the unique resources at Ohio State to provide opportunities to graduate students to receive practical training and expertise in handling, reading, and understanding Slavic manuscripts, their component parts, tradition, and cultural significance. The Slavic Cyrillic manuscript tradition dates from the 9th to the 20th century.

MSSI-teamworkThe MSSI was conducted by Daniel E. Collins, Department of Slavic Languages and Cultures, and Predrag Matejic, Curator of the Hilandar Research Library, who presented lectures on “Readings in Church Slavic” and “Practical Slavic Paleography.” Additional guest and occasional public lectures were provided by professors of other universities, most of whom have themselves conducted lengthy research in the Hilandar Research Library.

While OSU graduate students, especially those in Slavic, Linguistics, and History are the most frequent participants, the MSSI was envisioned to also provide needed instruction and training to graduate students of other universities. The 2011 MSSI had guests from Michigan, Brown, Arizona State, and the Pontifical Oriental Institute in Rome. 

For more information on the Hilandar Research Library and the related Resource Center for Medieval Slavic Studies, see

MSSI -presentation2


"Picturing History: Editorial Cartooning in America, 1754-2011," an Ohio Humanities Council Summer Institute

(Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum)

August 1-5, 2011

Ohio 8th and 10th grade teachers explored the history of American editorial cartooning at the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum in August, 2011.   Jenny Robb and Lucy Caswell served as co-directors of the Institute.  More infomation is available on the Ohio Humanities Council web site, as well as a brochure listing other topics and locations.



Festival of Cartoon Art
(Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum)

The Festival, a celebration of cartoons and comics, took place October 14-17, 2010Cartoon Festival images

About the Festival:
This was the tenth triennial Festival organized by the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum (formerly the Cartoon Research Library).  An academic symposium kicked off the Festival events.   Humor, Play and Indentity: Academic Perspectives took place on Thursday, October 14 at the Ohio Union and ended with a keynote address on George Herriman by author Michal Tisserand.  That evening, all Festival participants were invited to celebrate the 100th birthday of Krazy Kat at a special exhibition reception and birthday party.   

Creators who were scheduled to present at the Festival on Friday, October 15 and Saturday, October 16 included Steve Breen, Roz Chast, Tony Cochran, Jan Eliot, Matt Groening and Tom Gammill, Dave Kellett, Paul Levitz, Dan Piraro, Jen Sorensen, James Sturm, and Gene Luen Yang.  The Festival also featured a special tribute panel to Jay Kennedy, the late Editor in Chief of King Features Syndicate.  Kennedy was a collector and scholar who bequeathed his extraordinary collection of underground comics to the library.  Panelists included Brendan Burford, Bill Griffith, Matt Groening, and Patrick McDonnell.  

In addition to these events, Wexner Residency Award Recipient Art Spiegelman gave a special presentation on Sunday, October 17.

Two cartoon exhibitions were on display during the Festival.  Ireland of the Dispatch, a retrospective of the work of Billy Ireland, was held in the Exhibition Gallery of the spectacular and newly-renovated Thompson Library.  Scenes of My Infint-hood: Celebrating the Birth of Krazy Kat was exhibited in the Cartoon Library & Museum Reading Room Gallery.


Avant Writing Symposium (Rare Books & Manuscripts Library)

In Memoriam Thomas L. Taylor

August 19-21, 2010, the Thompson Library was invaded by an exciting horde of writers, scholars, artists, and others for the 2nd Avant Writing Symposium.  AWS posterThere were some 50 presentations, performances, papers, readings, installations, exhibits, and other events, and an untold number of observers, fans, scholars, and kibitzers.  Sponsored by The Avant Writing Collection and the Rare Books & MSS Library, with additional support from The Department of Spanish & Portuguese and The Center for Latin American Studies, the attendees and presenters came from all over the United States, Latin America, and elsewhere; all with a focus on various of the Avant Gardes active in the world today, primarily those using language in some form or other.  Events took place in the Thompson Library, at OSU’s Urban Arts Space, and at Skylab in downtown Columbus.   In addition to the presentations and performances, there were exhibits in the Thompson Library, and at Skylab, and a room dedicated to continual presentations of electronic and digital poetry and literature.

The previous Symposium, in 2002, was a huge success, and is still being talked about.  The 2010 symposium provided another great opportunity to learn about literary innovation and experimentation, avant garde writing, electronic and digital literature, multi-lingualism, visual poetry, performance poetry, Fluxus poetry and texts, collaborative writing, sound poetry, international networking, artist´s books, cut-up text, concrete poetry, found poetry, mail art, video poetry, and much much more.

For complete schedule and poster please see:


Rare Books Academy (Rare Books & Manuscripts Library)

On July 13-15, 2010, the Rare Books & Manuscripts Library hosted its first “Rare Books Academy” for children. Fifteen students—from Columbus and as far afield as Morgantown, WV—enrolled and spent three days learning how manuscript books were made in the Middle Ages, how books were printed in the hand-press period, and how librarians children at workand conservators today help to ensure that old and rare books will continue to survive for years to come. The students didn’t just learn things about the history of books, however; they also learned how to make their own manuscript and hand-printed products. They practiced the medieval technique of “pouncing,” a method of illustration in which the artist lays a picture on top of a piece of parchment, pricks holes around its outline piercing both the illustration and the parchment beneath, and rubs colored chalk over the pierced illustration that passes through the pricked holes onto the parchment to form dots that the artist then connects to complete the illustration. Students also printed their own sheets on hand-presses at the Logan Elm Press, experimented with calligraphy, learned how to bind their own manuscript booklets, and lent a hand in the Libraries’ conservation lab by treating old paper with a deacidifying spray-gun.children's creations

The students produced and bound their own sheepskin booklets, including pounced and free-hand illustrations, decorated initials, short stories and more. All fifteen booklets are currently being highlighted in a ten-day long “Rare Books Academy” exhibition in the Special Collections display area on the first floor of Thompson Library (through 1 August). Like the manuscripts and old books they’re modeled after, each of these booklets has its own unique qualities and charm that reflect the interests and preoccupations of their makers. More importantly, they all also embody  the thoughtfulness, creativity, effort—and fun—that goes into the design and use of books.

(more photographs of the event on our blog at: