2023 was a full year for the University of Minnesota Libraries! From increasing access to our archives and special collections, engaging with the broader community off-campus, and helping students in their coursework, we’ve been going non-stop, and there’s a lot to show for it. So let’s take a deep breath, slow down, and think back on a handful of our favorite stories from the past year.
We celebrated a few anniversaries
Construction for Walter Library started 100 years ago as officials laid the building’s cornerstone on May 17, 1923, finishing construction by summer the following year. There’s a lot of history between its walls, and not just in the stacks. International students Ling Wang and Robert Duan had countless study dates at Walter Library before getting married in 1998. The couple celebrated their 25th anniversary last year with a trip back to the Twin Cities campus.
Boynton Health’s Pet Away Worry and Stress (PAWS) program also had an anniversary last year, hitting the 10-year milestone in November. The program held a celebration at Walter Library with over 280 students, faculty, and staff.
We said goodbye to some familiar faces…
With another year gone past, a few friends are riding off into retirement, like Erik Biever, an Integration, Identity, and Information Security Analyst, who worked at the Libraries for 41 years, or Kathy Allen, Librarian of the Andersen Horticultural Library (AHL), who retired after 27 years.
Unfortunately, we’ve lost several community members over the last couple of years, but they will not be forgotten: Kristen Cooper, Plant Sciences Librarian; Mark Desrosiers Operations Manager, St. Paul Campus Libraries; Bob Fredrickson, Minitex; Archie Givens Jr. Humanitarian, philanthropist, businessman, and U of M alumnus; Tim McCluske, Minitex; Jean-Nickolaus Tretter, Founder, Tretter Collection in GLBT Studies; and Maxine Wallin, Volunteer, community and philanthropic leader, and former U of M staff member.
… and said hello to some new faces
The Tretter Collection started its first full year under the direction of its newest curator, Aiden Bettine, who also runs Late Night Copies Press and founded the LGBTQ Iowa Archives and Library. The Tretter also hired Oral Historian Jae Yates and launched Phase III of its Transgender Oral History Project.
Davu Seru became the new curator for The Archie Givens, Sr. Collection of African American Literature and Life, and Kristen Mastel — a longtime Libraries employee who became the new lead librarian for the Andersen Horticultural Library.
We hosted a lot of exhibits
The Upper Midwest Jewish Archives discussed Minnesota’s history of starting the academic year during the Jewish high holidays, the Performing Arts Archives traced the roots of Minnesota’s dance community, the Charles Babbage Institute explored our relationship with technology, the Tretter Collection documented the long history of LGBTQ print culture, Exhibit Designer Darren Terpstra paid tribute to Jack Edwards and the Dayton’s Holiday Show, and seven photojournalists covered the war in Ukraine. And though not an exhibit, Archivist Ryan Bean published a book recounting the troubled history of the YMCA’s Indian Guides program.
We made some maps
The Map Library held its first summer teaching fellowship, while Mapping Prejudice held its first community fellowship. Mapping Prejudice was also cited by the Minnesota Supreme Court in its public school “racial imbalance case,” and Ryan Mattke, the Map and Geospatial Information Librarian, was appointed to the National Geospatial Advisory Committee.
We explored the world and cooked old recipes
The Ford W. and Amy Bell Room found a new home in the Elmer L. Andersen Library and a new vision of magnifying the history of underrepresented peoples. The James Ford Bell Library also had two exhibits: one about textiles and trade, and another showcasing premodern cartography.
We also recreated recipes from over 200 years ago. Try making hodge podge and French lentil soup at home!
We helped students save money
Our Partnership for Affordable Learning Materials (PALM) program helped replace expensive course materials and commercial textbooks with openly-licensed alternatives, and implement existing open education resources into classrooms. These PALM projects will impact 9,100 students a year and will save students approximately $183,000.
We got out into the community
Three Libraries staff members were selected for the inaugural Radical Librarianship Institute (RLI) program, and each of their projects focuses on community-building and engagement, from Aiden Bettine’s zine workshop series, to Ellen Holt-Werle’s community archivist hub, to kalan Knudson Davis’ communal memory of 2020.