UK Special Collections: Learning Lab

LEXINGTON, Ky. (April 3, 2012) − The University of Kentucky Libraries Special Collections will highlight the work done by graduate students employed by UK Libraries in the exhibition "Special Collections as Learning Lab." An opening reception will be held for the exhibit, featuring projects completed during the 2011-2012 academic year, from 4 to 5:30 p.m. Thursday, April 5, in the Great Hall, at the Margaret I. King Building


Each year graduate students assist Special Collections faculty and staff in the care and management of the university’s rare and unique resources. This year’s students undertook experiential learning projects designed to increase the accessibility of material held in Special Collections and encourage the use of primary sources among the campus community. Many of these students are pursuing master's degrees in UK’s School of Library and Information Science and hope to pursue a career working with rare material following graduation; their work in Special Collections offers them an opportunity to gain valuable experience in their chosen profession.


Sheli Saltsman (MSLS '12) works with Kate Black, curator of the Appalachian Collection, to design exercises that introduce students to on-site archival research. Focusing on UK’s rich Appalachian Collection, Black and Saltsman use the materials to teach students how to analyze and incorporate primary sources into their scholarly repertoire. The pair have worked with classes in a range of disciplines, such as biology and medical ethics, Appalachian studies, linguistics, anthropology, gender and women's studies, sociology and theatre.


Ida Sell (MSLS '12), 2011 graduate Eli Riveire, Desiree’ Perry (MSLS '13) and Laura Hess (MSLS '12) work with Katie Henningsen, access archivist, to arrange and describe manuscript collections previously unavailable to researchers. Through their collective efforts more than 60 manuscript collections have been made available to scholars and students; among these are the Hillenmeyer family papers; the Pettit, Duncan, Gibson family papers; and the Thomas Merton papers.


Mark Wetherington (MSLS '12) has been working with Jeff Suchanek, senior archivist, to design, construct and implement web-based pedagogical tools to aid undergraduate and graduate students in navigating the world of primary sources and their possible uses. Using the UK Libraries' Research Guides, Suchanek and Wetherington have put together more than 75 subject based tools identifying materials in Special Collections. You can find these tools here:


Sara Wood, a 2011 graduate, worked with Kazuko Hioki, conservation librarian, during the past year to preserve the university's rare books through the creation of custom made boxes designed to support and protect the fragile material inside. Wood's project provided a unique logistical challenge in that the rare books are located in the M.I. King Building, while the Conservation Lab is located in the William T. Young Library. 


Each of these students' projects will be showcased in the exhibit, "Special Collections as Learning Lab," from April 5 through May 30. 


UK's Special Collections is home to UK Libraries' collection of rare books, Kentuckiana, the Archives, the Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, the King Library Press and the Wendell H. Ford Public Policy Research Center. The mission of Special Collections is to locate and preserve materials documenting the social, cultural, economic and political history of the Commonwealth of Kentucky.


For more information on "Special Collections as Learning Lab," contact Katie Henningsen at



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