The Library Channel: news, events, announcements

The Library Channel

Jan 04, 2019 ·

The work of ASU archaeologists has been in the spotlight, thanks to the Phoenix Art Museum’s current exhibition Teotihuacan: City of Water, City of Fire and its related programming.

Arizona State University’s presence at Teotihuacan, one of the largest cities in the ancient world and the most visited archaeological site in Mexico, began in the 1980s and continues today, according to Seonaid Valiant, curator for Latin American Studies at the ASU Library, who has curated a new exhibit documenting this significant relationship using materials from ASU Library and archaeology collections.

"Teotihuacan is a historically significant site because since the time it was built, it has been in use as either a political or religious site," Valiant told KJZZ reporter Matthew Casey in a story published Dec. 19, 2018.

The exhibit, ASU at Teotihuacan, on display at Noble Library through January 30, visually documents ASU’s working archaeological lab in San Juan Teotihuacan and highlights the archival papers of late ASU professor George Cowgill in the ASU Archives. 

A closing reception for the exhibit is scheduled for 3:30 to 4:30 p.m., January 22, at Noble Library.

Question: How long have archaeologists been working at the site of Teotihuacan?

Valiant: Unofficial excavations and looting began at Teotihuacan as early as the 1860s. The Mexican government took over the site and began official excavations in 1906. They prepared the ancient city so that it could serve as a showcase during the 1910 centennial celebrations. For example, the society of the International Congress of Americanists were given a tour of the site in September of 1910. The tour was followed by a state dinner, held in a local cave, hosted by President Porfirio Díaz. Excavations have continued at the site, off and on, since the early 20th century.

Q: How long has ASU had a presence at Teotihuacan?

Valiant: As a graduate student from Brandeis University, George Cowgill started working with René Millon at Teotihuacan in the 1960s on the Teotihuacan Mapping Project. Cowgill officially joined Arizona State University as a professor of archaeology in 1989 and continued working at Teotihuacan until the 2000s.

Cowgill excavated at the Pyramid of the Feathered Serpent, and he examined artifacts collected from the entire surface area of Teotihuacan. Cowgill’s documentation of these collections provided the first large archaeological database and systematic analysis of this material.

Following Cowgill’s move to ASU, he continued as the custodian of the research lab at Teotihuacan, and it became the center for multiple excavations. The addition of a second story to the lab in 1992 allows for the storage of the several million artifacts, many of which were collected by the Teotihuacan Mapping Project. Furthermore, the lab trains students from both the United States and Mexico and provides a home base for researchers working at Teotihuacan.

Q: What is ASU doing at Teotihuacan currently?

Valiant: ASU’s work at Teotihuacan continues today. Michael E. Smith, who has been the director of the lab since 2015, has taken on the task of organizing and publishing the data collected by René Millon that, although not previously published, continue to be relevant.

A student of George Cowgill, Saburo Sugiyama is associated with both ASU and Aichi Prefectural University in Japan and has excavated at the Pyramid of the Sun, the Pyramid of the Moon, and the Pyramid of the Feathered Serpent in addition to smaller structures. He is currently excavating at the Plaza of the Columns at Teotihuacan in collaboration with Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History.

Q: What is on display in the Noble Library?

Valiant: On exhibit in the Noble library are photographs of the lab, maps and negatives created by René Millon, reproductions of the maps and graphs by George Cowgill, as well as a few small artifacts from the site. The exhibit highlights the ”work in progress” as archaeologists do their day-to-day analysis. The documents that they create and leave behind then become the primary sources for the next set of researchers.

Valiant is the author of Ornamental Nationalism: Archaeology and Antiquities in Mexico, 1876-1911.

Dec 20, 2018 ·

As part of its Future of Print initiative, ASU Library has joined forces with students from Barrett, The Honors College to identify and share books for students to read and explore. These books, selected by the Barrett Student Ambassadors, make up some of their favorite and most inspiring reads.

Students are invited to stop by the bookshelf in the Burning B Café to participate in a “take one, leave one” reading experience – a practice growing in popularity worldwide as a way to encourage reading and foster a sense of community.

In order to participate, students can take a book that interest them – yes, to keep – and leave a book that they would like to share with others. The Barrett Ambassadors have chosen to theme this display after the beloved Harry Potter series and are eager to see how their classmates will respond.

To learn more about how the Future of Print is working to develop active print collections at ASU campuses, please visit This project is funded, in part, by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the ASU Library.

Dec 19, 2018 · Events

A new book display coming to Hayden Library in January 2019 will explore the unique and bizarre objects that people collect – everything from Mickey Mouse memorabilia to Star Wars action figures.

The latest from The Future of Print initiative, “Collecting Collections” will be on display through February with the goal of highlighting the interests and hobbies that fuel the act of collecting and examining the collecting practices of museums and libraries.

Visitors of the bookstore-style display are invited to discover and develop their own critical perspectives on practices of collecting, as they gain a deeper understanding of library collections.  

“Collecting Collections” is part of a series of experimental projects exploring new ways to encourage engagement with ASU Library print collections.

Read more: ASU Library writing the next chapter in the ‘Future of Print’

The Future of the Arizona State University Library Print Collection: A Collaborative and Data-Driven Approach to Stack Design and Curation project is funded by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. For more information, visit

Nov 27, 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 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 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