Now that spring is hopefully around the corner and the academic year is slowly wrapping up, it’s fun to look back at past student experiences. One of my favorite collections is RS 21/7/288 Sylvia Flogstad Student Life Scrapbook. I processed this collection in 2020 and enjoyed how it provided a glimpse into the female undergraduate student experience in 1918.
Below is a selection of photographs from the scrapbook.
This past spring, SCUA migrated from our previous collection management system to ArchivesSpace (ASpace). One of the reasons for this migration was ASpace’s interoperability with other systems used by SCUA and other departments at Parks Library. However, we quickly ran into a problem trying to get ASpace to work with Aeon, the patron request system that we use in the reading room. If you have searched CARDinal in the last six months, you might have noticed that that the “Aeon Request” button on an individual resource page does not always work.
We originally thought this was just a simple issue caused by the plug-in fields not mapping correctly. It turned out that the issue itself was simple but the solution was going to be a time-consuming long-term project. After weeks of discussing the issue with colleagues and developers at both ASpace and Aeon and troubleshooting, we realized that the issue was caused because none of the containers (i.e. boxes) were attached to the resource records (i.e. finding aids). The system knew that they existed since patrons could request individual folders but the containers themselves were not attached to the resource record and not requestable. The solution? We now had to attach the containers individually to each of SCUA’s 1852 resource records.
To begin this project, we downloaded a list of all the resource records in ASpace, which we used to track our progress and document any issues that arose. One helpful feature in ASpace is the ability to assign profile types, including dimensions, to containers that the system can use to calculate a resource’s extent. Since we had to manually add the containers to each ASpace record, we saw this as an opportunity to also do a shelf read and assign container profiles in order to get a better handle on what exactly is in our holdings and how much space is utilized in the stacks.
Since June, I have been spending a few hours a week conducting this shelf read, which requires that I look at each box to figure out the box type and count the number of boxes in each collection, and have run into some interesting problems. The first issue that I uncovered was how many of the extents and box counts listed on our finding aids were incorrect. This was easy to fix by just noting the discrepancy in the tracking spreadsheet and adding new containers to ASpace as needed. The second issue I discovered is much larger and multiplied the amount of work needed. This is now a multi-part, long-term project to fix.
The second issue was caused by our local practice of numbering university archive sub-groups being in conflict with the ASpace software expectations. Traditionally, box numbers are consecutive throughout an individual resource records hierarchy, however, in the case of university archives record groups, the box numbers start over with each sub-group, as you can see in the photo above. This means that there can be multiple box 1’s, box 2’s, etc. within a single resource record. However, when the data was transferred, Aspace flattened this hierarchy, assuming that each Box 1 within a record group was the same Box 1. This is a problem because it can affect the resource extent calculations as well as pulling the correct box for researchers. Our solution was to expand the spreadsheet to include all the sub-groups and document the box count and type for each subgroup and create the containers in ASpace. Once all of the containers have been added to ASpace, we will begin part II of this project which is to barcode all the boxes in our collection. After everything is barcoded and the barcodes are tied to the proper containers in ASpace, we will use the Bulk Update Spreadsheet to move files out of their shared box into the correct individual boxes. That will make it easier to pull the correct box for research requests and provide a more accurate measure of total linear feet in SCUA’s holdings.
The ongoing success of this project is largely due to our student workers Landon Broadhead and Marios Tsekitsidis, who have been helping conduct the shelf read and are adding containers to ASpace daily. Without them, part one of this project would take much longer to complete.
Figuring out why the Aeon plugin wasn’t working and how to solve the problem took a lot of discussion with colleagues and working with the systems until we figured out the issue. Although the shelf read has been time-consuming, it has also helped the department gain insight into our holdings and when it is completed, will make it easier for researchers to request material. Containers are being added to resource records daily but if you have trouble making an Aeon request or have any reference questions, please contact us!
In honor of the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, I want to highlight the first collection I processed at SCUA, the Cora Hawk Keith Papers on Women’s Suffrage. It is a small collection, but I think it provides a glimpse into the activities of local organizations and how suffragists persuaded people that women deserved the right to vote. One of my favorite parts of the collection is the note written on Iowa Equal Suffrage Association letterhead (Box 1, Item 3) refuting the argument “when all women want the ballot-they will get it.” Keith writes, ” Most thinking people, however the see the incongruity between such a statement and the fact that not nearly all voters want to vote: that a great percent of those who have the power do not exercise it…and that event those who do vote – many sell their vote, and even then the price is ridiculously low.” The image below shows the full handwritten note.
While working remotely, I have been adding digital records to our finding aids to provide access to a portion of our materials while the department is closed. For more information on how to access our digital records, see Virtual Access to Digital Records.
Last year we moved two terabytes of early 2000s photographs from University Relations to a new networked location. We are in the process of moving access copies to Box and you can access them using the link in the digital records subgroup in the RS 5/2 Office of University Relations finding aid. This is an ongoing process, so check back for additional photos.
The photographs are in original order and often do not have descriptive filenames. A majority of the photographs are located in the “Z to File” folder, which contains photographs of students, faculty, staff, campus events, and campus architecture in alphabetical order. Below are a selection of photographs from RS 5/2.
Please contact archives staff if you have any questions on how to access these materials or request copies.
The Special Collections and University Archives Department is excited to announce that RS 9/1/5 Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture records have been processed and are open to researchers. The collection contains the administrative records from the Leopold Center including grant applications and reports from the center’s thirty year history. Types of materials include photographs, correspondence, grant reports and applications, annual reports, meeting minutes and agendas, notes, newsletters, and electronic media.
The Leopold Center, named after environmentalist Aldo Leopold, was established at Iowa State University in 1987 by the State of Iowa’s Groundwater Protection Act. The Leopold Center was originally charged with researching the negative impacts of Iowa’s agricultural practices, assisting in the development of alternative practices, and informing the public, in cooperation with ISU Extension, on the results of Leopold Center research. According to its 2002 vision statement, the Leopold Center “…explores and cultivates alternatives that secure healthier people and landscapes in Iowa and the nation.” The Center’s goals “are to identify and develop new ways to farm profitably while conserving natural resources as well as reducing negative environmental and social impacts.” In accordance with this new direction, the Leopold Center focused its research initiatives into three distinct areas: marketing and food systems, ecology, and policy. During its 30 year history, the Leopold Center also funded grant projects to help further the center’s research mission.
In 2017, the Iowa Legislature voted to de-fund and close the Leopold Center. Governor Terry Branstad used a line item veto to allow the center to remain open although it lost its primary funding source. Following a listening tour and discussion with an advisory board, the Center shifted their mission to focus on the education and research of alternative approaches and practices to promote resilient rural communities across Iowa.
This semester, members of the SCUA staff have been visiting different parts of campus in order to see other types of repositories and libraries at Iowa State. As a new SCUA staff member, this has also been a good opportunity for me to learn my way around campus and about Iowa State.
A few weeks ago, Rosalie and I toured the College of Veterinary Medicine. Our tour guide, a second year student, showed us around the school and the animal hospital. Part of the tour included visiting their library and seeing the R. Allen Packer Heritage Room. A former faculty member helped create the exhibit, which displays the history of veterinary medicine. It was interesting to see the different advancements and to try to guess how some of the instruments were used. The library has two separate study spaces, one side of the library is reserved for quiet studying and the other side is for group study. This summer the Vet Med Library will undergo renovations as the school expands the women’s locker rooms, which will take over a portion of the library space. The locker rooms are being expanded because the school has outgrown the space as women’s enrollment has increased.
One thing that struck me throughout the tour was the support provided to the vet students and the different classroom spaces they had. When showing us the student lockers and mailboxes, our tour guide mentioned that on big test days the administration puts candy in their mailboxes. There is also an on-site administration and financial aid office. All of the classes are filmed so that students can go back and watch lectures as needed. Another highlight was walking through the anatomy lab while a class was in session and getting to see specimens like an inflated section of a cow’s stomach. For privacy reasons, we could not take photographs in the labs or in the animal hospital. Additionally, the Clinical Skills Laboratory allowed students to practice their sutures using different material that resembled animal skin and organs. Also in the lab is a life-size Holstein dystocia simulator, named Frosty, to help students learn how to deliver calves. There was also a life-size calf replica, named Snowflake. Snowflake was laying on a table and we were able to lift her head in order to judge how heavy a new calf is. It surprised me how heavy her head was!
Touring the College of Veterinary Medicine was a nice
opportunity to see a part of campus that we normally do not get to see. If you
get the opportunity, I would highly recommend taking a tour.
For information about Vet Med, visit their about page or read their news releases. The archives also has information from Vet Med in the RS 14/1 and in the RS 22 collections.
Kahlee Leingang joined the SCUA team as a Processing Archivist on January 22, 2019. She is originally from the Chicago suburbs, but called North Carolina home for the past four years while she completed her graduate education. Kahlee earned a master’s degree in Library Science from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and a master’s degree in Public History from North Carolina State University. In her free time, she enjoys reading, traveling, cooking, and visiting local museums.