Year in review: One for the books

Join us as U of M Libraries takes a look back at 2022

The top stories of 2022 in the Libraries’ continuum news portal make the past come alive, outline present achievements, and forecast the promise of the future for the Libraries and its student, faculty, and community users.

Regents approve new collections facility

Rendering of the Off-Site Collections Facility for the University Libraries
Rendering of the Off-Site Collections Facility, which is expected to be open by summer 2024 at the intersection of 29th Street and Como Avenue S.E. in Minneapolis.

Even in our electronic age, books retain their value, as they preserve observations, thoughts, artistry, and facts from people around the world and throughout the ages. To better house our continually growing and evolving collections, the U of Minnesota Regents approved $62.7 million for a new Offsite Collections Facility.

Gopher Little Free Libraries arrive on campus

Goldy, Dean Lisa German, and Amelious Whyte Jr.
Goldy, Dean Lisa German, and Amelious Whyte Jr.

To encourage leisure reading, Dean Lisa German and Friends of the U of M Libraries Chair Amelious Whyte Jr. helped introduce Goldy’s Little Free Libraries to Twin Cities campus and off-campus sites in the late summer.

Sherlock Holmes

E.W. McDiarmid Curator, The Sherlock Holmes Collections
E.W. McDiarmid Curator, The Sherlock Holmes Collections

Artifacts from our world’s largest Sherlock Holmes collection arrived in St. Paul’s Minnesota History Center after nearly a decade on the road. The Sherlock Holmes exhibit remains on view until spring 2023; we also look forward to the opening of a Sherlock Holmes–related exhibit on campus in February.

The E. W. McDiarmid Curator of the Sherlock Holmes Collections Tim Johnson had a very special accolade when he was named a member of the Baker Street Irregulars this year.

Wangensteen receives cultural heritage grant

The Wangensteen Historical Library of Biology and Medicine will continue to improve access to its varied and in-depth collections of 3-D objects with the help of a Minnesota Historical & Cultural Heritage grant.

Bell Library acquires rare 17th century map

The James Ford Bell Library expanded its renowned collection of maps and globes from the Early Modern period by acquiring a 17th-century map designed for sailors in the South Seas.

Libraries’ Virtual Reality studio helps medical students

Charlie Heinz and Claire Thomas in the VR Studio.
Charlie Heinz and Claire Thomas in the VR Studio.

Health Sciences Library’s Virtual Reality simulation promises to help medical students in an Emergency Medicine rotation learn to work with patients in an active, experiential-learning type situation while keeping them out of COVID’s way.

Tretter Transgender Oral History Project wins Phase 3 funding

Lisa Vecoli in the cavern.
Lisa Vecoli in the cavern.

The groundbreaking Tretter Transgender Oral History Project, launched by Lisa Vecoli and Andrea Jenkins, entered a third phase with funding from the Tawani Foundation. Transgender people will record their own interviews with friends and loved ones. According to Vecoli, oral histories fill in a gap in the historical record. Traditional strategies of archiving publications, organizational records, and personal papers are just too limited in the transgender community.

Historically, we need peoples’ stories, from their perspectives, Vecoli says. They are history as lived experiences that can be difficult to record in other ways.

Mapping Prejudice project in Ramsey County

The Mapping Prejudice project continued to promote its volunteer-powered efforts to read property deeds in search of racial covenants that barred certain people from owning property, moving from Hennepin to Ramsey County. Daniel Williams, St. Catherine University sociologist who is on the team, was quoted in a report from Minnesota Public Radio. “Segregation was not inevitable,” Williams said. “But once segregation happened, it did effectively racialize space, and that had consequences that were really never ending.”

Libraries key to student success

Student employee Grace tries out some of the stressbusters in the Sensory Room.
Student employee Grace tries out some of the stressbusters in the Sensory Room.

Wilson adds Sensory Room
Back on campus, with the prodding of a transfer student, Wilson Library developed its first Sensory Room, a retreat for students (and others) who need to take a breather, for whatever reason.

The Summer Institute
Transfer and international students enrolled in the U’s graduate programs got a jump on their research with presentations from U of M Librarians. This Summer Institute is designed to improve the prospects for these advanced students who nonetheless may be new to the U, to Minnesota, or to the United States.

The benefit of being a student employee
Individual students, too, benefited from their ties to the U of M Libraries. Among their stories is the unusual path that Lauren Stach followed to earn her Biosystems Engineering degree, which has included stints as a much-appreciated Libraries student employee.

Events and programs

Lissa Jones-Lofgren, left, and Zakiya Dalila Harris.
Lissa Jones-Lofgren, left, and Zakiya Dalila Harris at the NOMMO event in March

Guests of the U of M Libraries and Friends included colleagues in the Data Curation Network from around the country and Zakiya Dalila Harris, author of the best-seller, “The Other Black Girl.” Harris’s reading overlapped with a celebration of the Archie Givens Sr. Collection of African American Literature and its founders.

Plus, after a hiatus due to the pandemic, the Libraries was again able to host an in-person Minnesota Institute this past July to embolden under-represented Librarians early in their careers.

Programs and services

Charlie Heinz and three design students in the VR Studio.
Charlie Heinz and three design students in the VR Studio.

Improving accessibility of library materials, services, programs
And, 30+ years after the Americans with Disabilities Act became law, library staff continued their commitment to people living with disabilities — striving to ensure that everyone feels they belong in the Libraries’ spaces, physical or virtual.

Text and data mining
Using powerful software and technical tools to mine text and datasets for information not available otherwise is growing as a research practice at the University of Minnesota.

VR Studio helps design student win national award
In addition, a student using the Health Sciences Library’s Virtual Reality studio for her retail merchandising class ended up winning a national award.

Riegelman, Kocher win Minnesota Academic Innovator award
What could two Librarians do when COVID totally changed the circumstances for their grant to train other librarians in evidence synthesis, to advance research? Amy Riegelman and Megan Kocher stepped back and came up with a virtual training program that reached many more participants than previously imagined, including librarians overseas — a feat that recently earned them acclaim as the 2022 Minnesota Academic Innovators.

The Kerlan Collection of Children’s Literature

Lisa Von Drasek, Andrea Davis Pinkney, and Dean of Libraries Lisa German.
Lisa Von Drasek, Andrea Davis Pinkney, and Dean of Libraries Lisa German.

Andrea Davis Pinkney was honored with the 2022 Kerlan Award. Pinkney, who has donated many of her children’s literature creative materials to the Kerlan Collection, is a New York Times-bestselling author of books for children and young adults.

Speaking of the Kerlan, Curator Lisa Von Drasek was an in-demand source for journalists, providing recommendations on summer reading, back-to-school reading, and books to give for holiday gifts — as well as speaking out against censorship during Banned Books Week and continuing to host the Libraries’ video podcast, “Read This Book!

Upper Midwest Jewish Archives

Kate Dietrick, Archivist for the Upper Midwest Jewish Archives, garnered a lot of deserved attention after being featured on TC Jewfolk’s podcast, “Who the Folk?!

New leadershipGray, Oates, Ohler

This summer, the U of M Libraries welcomed the three new Associate Univeresity Librarians: Jody Gray, AUL for Research; Evangela Q. Oates, AUL for Student Success; and L. Angie Ohler, AUL for Collections and Content Strategy.

Jean-Nickolaus Tretter: 1946-2022

Jean Tretter
Jean Tretter

Finally, we had to say farewell to one of our outstanding friends and donors, Jean-Nickolaus Tretter. The Tretter Collection in Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Studies has earned national and international attention over the years, and is set to thrive and grow in the years to come.

Thanks, Jean, and everyone of the staff, students, faculty, and community members who connected with the U of Minnesota Libraries in 2022 to satisfy their curiosity, increase their knowledge, and make new discoveries. See you in 2023!

—Allison Campbell-Jensen

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