The Library Channel: news, events, announcements

The Library Channel

Nov 26, 2018 · Events

An extremely rare, first-edition copy of a 17th-century literary work by one of the world’s most fascinating female writers has found a home at Arizona State University.

The writer is Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz (circa 1651-1695), the premiere poet of the Americas, a celebrity in her day and now considered an early feminist, who joined a convent in order to devote her life to the study of science, philosophy, writing and art.

The book, or booklet, is "Neptuno alegórico," an essay commissioned by the archbishop of New Spain, or Mexico, in 1680, documenting the arrival of the new Spanish viceroy.

In the essay, Sor Juana describes an arch that was used for the viceroy's procession into Mexico City and the classical artwork that decorated it. The booklet was printed unbound and in limited number to be given as gifts.

Just two known original copies exist.

“This is a rare ephemeral document that is now the anchor of our colonial Latin American collection at ASU Library,” said Seonaid Valiant, curator for Latin American studies at the ASU Library. “The piece is well-known, often included in collections of Sor Juana’s writing, and lets us study a unique style of printing.”

Sor Juana’s essay depicts the new viceroy as Neptune, emerging from the sea, a display of the breadth of her classical knowledge, says Valiant.

“She was self-educated and knew all the great classical scholars. Because we have the first edition, we get to see the essay before her corrections were incorporated in the third edition,” said Valiant. “It’s a fascinating document.”

An American individual

Nothing about Sor Juana’s life is ordinary.

She built one of the largest personal libraries in the Americas, learned how to read by the age of 3, and declined many a marriage proposal, ultimately becoming a nun in an effort to continue her self-directed scholarship.

Born in New Spain, she joined the Order of Saint Jerome, or Hieronymites, in order to further cultivate her intellectual life, which at the time was not reserved for women.

“She entered a convent in order to be a scholar, slowly showing that her writing could be a benefit to God,” said Valiant. “She cared deeply about the quality and purpose of her life, and vocalizing this made her an American individual. Sor Juana uses the word ‘I’: She tells us, ‘I have ambition. I have needs.’ She is one of the first Americans to say this.” 

By the time Sor Juana wrote "Neptuno alegórico," her literary accomplishments were becoming better known throughout Spain and New Spain.

Emil Volek, a professor in the School of International Letters and Cultures at ASU, says the acquisition of the booklet is significant, in part, because it had helped cement her career as a writer. 

“It was this booklet that launched her secular career,” said Volek, the author of several critical writings about Sor Juana’s work. “It will stimulate research already done on her at ASU and will further strengthen the national standing of ASU as a powerhouse and a well of knowledge.”

Valiant, who facilitated the acquisition, is working to grow the Latin American collection at ASU Library, which was established in the 1970s to support faculty and graduate students doing work in this period.

“These earlier books are harder to find, but it is important to have them at hand in order to study the content as well as the history of the book,” she said.

University Librarian Jim O’Donnell, a classics professor in ASU's School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies, said Sor Juana’s "Neptuno" is “so rare, so special, so fascinating … it’s the kind of library acquisition that gives its readers gooseflesh.”

Readers of Sor Juana can experience the booklet — gooseflesh and all — by requesting an appointment with Kathy Krzys, the library's curator for rare books and manuscripts.

Nov 26, 2018 ·


Your paper is due at midnight. Your roommate just got dumped and needs to talk it out. And the status of your group project is a mystery to all.

Don’t worry. You’ve got this.  




Here are 5 reasons why:

  1. ASU librarians. Helping you succeed is not just a thing they’re good at – it’s in their job description. Let them help you. They want to help you. It’s why they’re here.
  1. Online help.  Your questions about citations, keywords and research databases already have answers, and you can find them on our FAQs page, where librarians are also available for online chat. Relax – if you have a connection to the internet, there is hope.
  1. Group study rooms. Maybe it’s time to figure out what’s going on with your group project. Several types of group study spaces are available at our libraries to support those necessary conversations and collaborations. Gather your group and get it done.
  1. Quiet and silent study. No signs of your roommate quieting down any time soon. Have no fear – ASU Library quiet and silent study is a thing, and it’s here for you. It’s a magical place where devices go silent and your thoughts thank you.
  1. Counseling. Not a library service, but a great resource nonetheless, offered to ASU students who may be feeling like they need to talk to someone. You’re not alone. Also, you may want to suggest it to your roommate.

Relax, take a breath. You’ve got this.

Nov 15, 2018 ·

The historic Mapping Grand Canyon Conference, to be held at Arizona State University, Feb. 28 through March 1, 2019, will feature three student map competitions in the following categories:

Best Artistic Grand Canyon Map

Best Data Driven (static) Grand Canyon Map

Best Data Drive (dynamic) Grand Canyon Map

Students currently enrolled in a certificate, undergraduate or graduate program from any institution are invited to submit their original cartographic work to the Grand Canyon student map competition. Top place winners in each of the three categories will win a $100 Amazon gift card, a certificate of achievement and cartographic bragging rights.

As the Grand Canyon National Park marks its centennial, the ASU Library Map and Geospatial Hub invites you to explore the region's mapping history which dates back over 150 years.

Deadline to submit is Sunday, January 20, 2019. Visit the competition page for complete details.

Please contact Jill Sherwood with questions regarding the competition.

Nov 09, 2018 ·

Portions of the Grand Canyon gained protection as a United States national park in 1919. A century later, we are celebrating 100 years of Grand Canyon National Park history. 

As the national park marks its centennial, the ASU Library Map and Geospatial Hub invites you to explore the region's mapping history, which dates back over 150 years, as part of our Mapping Grand Canyon Conference, set to take place on the ASU Tempe campus, Feb. 28-March 1, 2019. 

Free and open to all, the conference promises a full two-day program of map-based storytelling, transdisciplinary thinking, demonstrations of state-of-the-art geospatial and cartographic techniques and engaging hands-on activities. (Check out the conference presenters.)

Questions? Contact Matt Toro, Director of the Map and Geospatial Hub.




Nov 07, 2018 ·

"Untitled" by Jasmin Martinez
Part of the life cycle of a library is the withdrawl of worn-out or excess materials. 

In 2013, the ASU Library began to withdraw duplicate copies of topographic maps that were stacked mile-high and taking up space in the library's Map and Geospatial Hub

The maps were offered to various organizations. A few were claimed, but the majority were not.

Until the following year, when Ellen Meissinger discovered them. She brought a cart to Noble Library and loaded it up.

"I rarely turn down free materials, and maps are a fantastic resource," said Meissinger, a fine arts professor in the School of Art, within the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts, who supervises one of the largest watercolor and water-based media arts program in the country.

In Meissinger's "Art on Paper" class, students are challenged to develop critical awareness as well as the ability to articulate critical opinions, all while exploring conceptual and technical approaches combining painting and drawing.

The class works with a variety of paper materials, including synthetic paper, colored paper and used books. Maps were added to the rotation in 2014. 

"Working on the maps is one of my personal favorites," Meissinger said. "Maps give a structure to start with rather than just a blank sheet of paper. I saw working with the maps as a fantastic opportunity to have a different kind of paper resource as a starting point for class assignments."

Those assignments have become the driving force of the Creative Cartography program, a five-year collaboration between the Map and Geospatial Hub and the School of Art that provides students entry into the world of cartography and the opportunity to exhibit their work.

Over the last five years, Meissinger has worked to build the program with Karina Wilhelm, a map specialist at ASU Library, who has been busy preparing for the 2018 installment of Creative Cartography.

Each year, Wilhelm adds the students' artwork to the unique online collection she began curating in 2014.

"It's been very important to me from the beginning that students have as many chances as possible to display their art," Wilhelm said. "I also wanted to have a more permanent record of the exhibits, so I created a library guide to document them. Each year, I add a new subpage."

Wilhelm says the collaboration has created a successful cross-disciplinary relationship.

"The students get to visit the Map and Geospatial Hub for a tour and introduction to the historic and illustrative maps in the library," Wilhelm said. "They might not have previously thought about mapmaking as an art form, but it is an inherently visual medium."

Committed to responsible environmental practices, both Wilhelm and sustainability scholar Meissinger also see the program as an important lesson in sustainability. 

"We can repurpose maps in a creative and original way and share our process with the public," Meissinger said. "Thanks to Karina, there is an exciting online record of what we have accomplished."

This year, Meissinger's students have used the maps as a launch pad for thinking about Place and Space, the name of this year's collection, which will be showcased Nov. 7-26 at Noble Library in the Map and Geospatial Hub (room 380).

An opening reception is scheduled from 4 to 6 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 8.

"The collaboration has been a tremendous success," Meissinger said. "We're hoping it can keep going for another five years."

Oct 23, 2018 ·

This post is an excerpt, authored by Claudio Garcia, a student worker in Noble Library and a classics major at ASU. Here, Garcia examines the need to preserve LGBT history in Arizona and its impact on queer youth.

Growing up queer for me was, as it is for many others, an intensely lonely experience. Being in the closet left me isolated from the friends and family to whom I was meant to be closest. The shame of hiding a secret and the fear of losing those relationships by revealing myself prevented these relationships from reaching a place of true security and trust, and as a result left me with little deep connections. 

Being Mexican-American only pushed this loneliness further, as I was distanced from my own culture - a culture of intense machismo and masculinity - by my own femininity. Coming out of the closet did little to alleviate this loneliness. Although I was blessed with an accepting and compassionate family, my distance from the hyper-masculine culture of my own family was irreversible.

For many years, I remained unaware of a thriving queer culture and history that was far more compatible with my personality. For too long, queer people have been erased from history, at best, or been demonized by educators and historians, at worst. Despite working for ASU Library, I did not become acquainted with the work of special collections until I found the Arizona LGBT History Project, a collaboration between ASU Library and Phoenix Pride, the largest LGBT organization in the state.

Immediately, I was captivated by the project. I had the luck of studing queer history in college, but I knew that many did not have the same opportunities. I could only imagine how I might have been affected - how much loneliness and disconnection I might have been spared - if I had known about such a project in my own youth. 

[Read: ASU Library partners with Phoenix Pride to preserve LGBT history in Arizona]

While many queer youth, tragically, still lose their culture and their families, projects like this make it possible for them to find a new culture to connect to. Anyone with an internet connection can quickly find themselves immersed in a rich history of defiance and resilience, inspiring them to be themselves.

Yet, what is history without the people that participate in it? More than anything, it was the accompanying archival evidence - of fliers, photographs and periodicals that made that history come alive for me. These materials are a testament to the presence of queer people throughout history, evidence of a strong culture, and evidence of a people willing and able to carve out a better future for themselves. 

My work here with special collections digitizing the BJ Bud Memorial Archvies has enabled me to take part in this tradition. I sepnd most of my days analyzing and digitizing images of gay life in Arizona. These photographs include typical bar nights, Halloween parties, gay rodeos, birthday parties and many other events. In these images, the history of queer people comes to life.

So often, we view queer history as nothing more than a political story of oppression, struggle and resistance. While this is certainly an integral and important part of queer history, for many queer individuals, life was about having a drink with a friend after work, or watching the joy on a friend's face as they blow out their birthday candles.

It is in these surprisingly common and all too human moments that the real soul of queer culture reveals itself: loving life and all the little joys that come with it.

- Claudio Garcia

Oct 16, 2018 ·

Travel to Chicago over spring break!

ASU Library, in collaboration with the Newberry Center for Renaissance Studies, is pleased to announce available funding to travel to the Newberry Library in Chicago with Seonaid Valiant, Ph.D., the Curator for Latin American Studies in Distinctive Collections at ASU Library.

Four ASU undergraduate students and/or graduate students will spend three days at the Newberry Library in Chicago from March 5 to March 7, 2019.

The curators and librarians at the Newberry Library will provide orientations on the history of the book, the history of Renaissance and Medieval collections, and Indigenous and colonial collections related to the history of the Americas and the Pacific Islands. Additionally, students will have time to research in the archives for materials related to their own projects.

To apply:

  • Explain why working with primary sources will assist you with your current or future projects (200 words).
  • Review the Newberry Library catalog ( and describe one particular document at the Newbery Library that you would like to examine (200 words).
  • Submit one letter of recommendation from a faculty member.
  • Applications and letters of recommendation should be sent to Seonaid Valiant at


Application deadline:
Friday, November 30, 2018

Attend an information session:
Friday, October 26, 2018
2:00 p.m.
Noble Library Instruction Room (105)

Questions? Email Seonaid Valiant at

Oct 05, 2018 ·

When Hayden Library, Arizona State University’s largest library, re-opens in 2020, its open-stack print collections will have a whole new look. 

The future display, curation and delivery of books at ASU, and how those books interact with the heavily digital-dwelling community in which they are present, is the focus of the Future of Print initiative, an exploration into the behaviors, needs and expectations of 21st-century academic library users.

Led by ASU Library, the initiative addresses specific needs of today’s public universities, and has resulted in a widely shared white paper and a three-year grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Lorrie McAllister, Associate University Librarian for Collections Services and Analysis, and Shari Laster, Head of Open Stack Collections, is now leading the Future of Print into its next phase: experimentation.

Here, Laster discusses these experiments and how they aim to inspire new thinking around the design of inclusive, high quality and user-focused print collections for research and learning. 

Question: This fall, the library is experimenting with a series of collection experiments. Can you tell us more about them?

Laster: ASU Library has a lot of ideas about how people and books get connected together. We came up with a list we are calling “10 Compelling Ideas” and we’re trying out some of these ideas in different library locations and in other spots on campus. This fall, we have several mini-projects, or experiments, in motion.

Surprise Me! is a collection of poetry and drama at Fletcher Library on the West campus. The books in this collection are being shelved spine-backward in order to invite students to explore an unexpected collection. 

Another project, Vamos Argentina! Books, Tango and Meteors, is an exciting series of talks and events that is drawing attention to the collection of Argentine literature currently housed at Noble Library on the Tempe campus. 

At the Downtown Phoenix campus, we are featuring Health Humanities Horizons, a collection curated in collaboration with faculty whose research and teaching intersects with the CLAS certificate program in interdisciplinary health humanities.

We’re also cooperating with Barrett, the Honors College to assemble a mini-library in a student-friendly environment, in addition to planning a mini-collection for Hayden Library that’s all about the act of collecting, what we collect and why we collect. 

Q: With digital interfacing consuming more of our time and attention, what are some unique strengths of the print medium?

Laster: Books mean different things to different people. While digital content certainly has many advantages, accessing and using a book in print format is a specific experience that can bring about a different form of interaction with the content. We all have different ways of learning and absorbing information. We hope that allowing for the possibility of a book to “catch the eye” of a passerby will enrich the experience of our spaces.

Books also have a physical presence in library spaces. Print books are often considered an essential component to creating a thriving learning environment. For example, they can make a room more conducive to study and focus. This project takes into consideration which books we are presenting in and around spaces where students study and learn. By making parts of our collections more visible, we add another layer of learning where users can physically be immersed in the collections.

Q: University libraries have always been a source of academic support for students. How does this initiative, focusing on print materials, connect to the success of ASU students?

Laster: When Hayden Library re-opens in 2020, it will be a destination on the Tempe campus for studying, research and classroom learning. It will also be a place for the campus community to relax, take a break and explore new ideas. We want to create collections that make library spaces more welcoming and inviting. We also want to use print books to present new perspectives on academic disciplines and research, and to inspire innovation and discovery. By helping everyone who enters the library to see our collections in a new light, we also give them a new way to explore ideas that matter to their success at ASU.

Q: How can people participate in these experiments/mini-projects?

Laster: Visit the collections and leave us feedback! Visitors can expect to see emoji stickers for a quick shortcut to speaking your mind. Anyone can borrow the books on display, so pick up and check out what looks interesting to you. 

We also want to hear from the ASU community about the library collections that make you feel welcome in our spaces. Anyone is welcome to send me a note at

Oct 01, 2018 ·

Inclusion is at the heart of Arizona State University’s mission as a public research university deeply committed to an open, adaptive and accessible education, and research that is use-inspired and applicable to the world’s challenges.

Championing these values, Open Access Week is an annual global event that aims to make scholarship open and accessible to all.

Anali Perry, the Scholarly Communications Librarian at ASU Library, specializes in open access as a practice guiding the university’s scholarly output. Here, she discusses its significance.

What are some of the barriers open access faces in reaching the community?

One major barrier is that most research results, like journal articles or monographs, are not available in an open access format. This isn’t only true of ASU - most research institutions struggle to manage the copyright, collection, and description complications that arise from trying to provide open access in a comprehensive way to the research produced at their institution. It’s a struggle because authors do not always retain the copyright to their work when they sign a publishing agreement and they are most likely restricted from posting the final published version in an open access repository, which makes it more difficult for a systematic collection of published research by the library, for example. This places a greater burden on authors to voluntarily provide the appropriate version of their publications, or to ensure they retain the rights they need when they sign publishing agreements. I want to clarify, though, that currently existing publishing models contribute to these complications. The publishing industry is highly profitable, so they are very invested in maintaining the status quo.

For Open Access Week, we’re hosting a screening and discussion of a new documentary, Paywall: The Business of Scholarship, as a way to engage in conversation about the publishing industry and how it helps, or harms, access to scholarship. The ASU community can also join us for coffee and conversation exploring different scholar expectations, perceptions and practices for sharing scholarship around the world. 

What responsibilities does ASU have to the community to ensure that open access not only exists, but is also readily available?

Providing open access to scholarship is perfectly aligned with ASU’s charter, defining what we do by who we include and how they succeed. Open access enables that inclusive mission by allowing anyone, whether in Mesa, Arizona or in Macedonia, to read and learn from the amazing work done by the ASU community. Most people in the world don’t have easy access to journals unless they are affiliated with a university. This means that policy-makers, doctors, teachers and many others, make decisions based on knowledge that is available, not necessarily the best, most recent, or most innovative information. It also means that we are missing out on hearing from voices around the world who may be blocked from participating in the scholarly conversation through lack of funds, institutional support or governmental intervention. We don’t have to look far to find examples of people who lack access to current scholarship – ask Arizona’s elementary school teachers, ask your doctor, or think of our native nations who may not even have reliable internet connections.

Our responsibility is to consider who we are excluding when we make decisions on where to publish our work, who we are trying to reach, and how that knowledge can be used.

How can ASU ensure that open access to research is able to serve the most people in the community?

ASU made a great first step last year by passing an Open Access Policy, encouraging faculty to make their work openly available. We can continue on this path by finding mechanisms to easily collect and share our scholarship, and provide easy access to the community. We already have a statewide portal at, but we need to be able to work with staff and faculty at ASU in order to get the scholarship in there!

ASU student Dava Newell contributed to this story. 

Sep 17, 2018 · Exhibits

A new book display of poetry and drama at Fletcher Library is encouraging the ASU community to take a chance on a book.

Immune from judgment, all books in this display are shelved spine-backward in an effort to encourage discovery and serendipity. Featured poets include Joy Harjo and Juan Felipe Herrera.

“Surprise Me” is the first book display in a new series of collection experiments, part of the Future of Print initiative at ASU, which looks at new and innovative ways to present print materials to library visitors.

Students, staff and faculty are invited to "explore the unknown" during normal library hours at Fletcher. "Surprise Me" will be located on the ground floor of the library through October 15.