What's Happening in Special Collections and University Archives

Upcoming Talk: Care & Repair of Books

Print this pageEmail this to someoneShare on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterShare on Facebook

Monday, October 26, 2015
6:00 – 7:30 p.m.
Library Room 160

a book being bound
A book being bound. Photo courtesy of Carolee Harrison.

Do you have a favorite book from childhood with a torn page? Or a hand-me-down cookbook that’s seen better days? Have you ever wondered how a book is physically put together?

Join book repair expert Carolee Harrison from Portland State University Library Special Collections and University Archives and learn the basics of book structure and simple techniques for maintaining your personal library.

Carolee will share:

  • A brief history of book structure, with physical models
  • How to protect and repair your own books from your personal collection

These tips are directed towards understanding, storing, and repairing regular books in personal collections, not rare or unique materials.

This event is free and open to the public. PSU Library is hosting this event as part of Portland State of Mind.

See more information and photos on the Facebook event page.

Questions? Contact Joan Petit.
Portland State of Mind graphic

BikePortland Article Draws on Library’s Ernie Bonner Papers

Print this pageEmail this to someoneShare on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterShare on Facebook

The Ernie Bonner Papers in PSU Library Special Collections are the main source for Michael Andersen’s “The Secret History of Portland’s Weirdest Neighborhood,” the second in series of articles about the Lloyd District published by BikePortland.org.

Ernie Bonner (1932 – 2004) served as chief planner in Cleveland, Ohio before he was recruited to Portland as the City’s Director of Urban Planning in 1973. He acted as Portland’s chief urban planner until 1978. After leaving the City Council he worked as a Metro councilor, president of Sunlight Energy Systems, and as an energy conservation manager for Bonneville Power Administration. Later he worked or volunteered with various Portland groups including Riverfront for People, Metro 7, Portland Planning Commission, and the Park Blocks Foundation.

Ralph Lloyd
Ralph Lloyd, circa 1930.

The collection of Ernie Bonner Papers is comprised of materials from Bonner’s career, research, and urban planning projects. All of the documents are related directly to Portland, Oregon and are focused, with very few exceptions, on public planning. The material ranges primarily from the time Bonner was active in Portland planning and development (1970s-2003), but he also used and assembled a significant amount of historical material dating from 1919 through the early 1940s. Notably, for the BikePortland piece, it also includes a manuscript biography of Ralph Lloyd, the Los Angeles millionaire developer who purchased much of the land in today’s Lloyd District.

Michael Andersen writes:

For most of Portland’s history, the land we know today as the Lloyd District was best known for failure.

Holladay Park: named for a scoundrel who planted its trees and then gambled away his fortune. The state and federal buildings along Lloyd Boulevard: advance outposts of a government center that never arrived. And Lloyd himself: an oil multimillionaire who died all but cursing the city he’d fallen in love with 40 years before. …

But how did the Lloyd District become a suburb hidden in the middle of a city? And what happened as the 20th century ended that has started to open it back up — putting it on course to become what could be, 10 or 15 years from now, the most bike-oriented high-rise neighborhood in the country?

The answers to those questions tell a story about Portland, and a story about all American cities.

They also suggest a lesson that Portland, like all American cities, is still struggling to learn about itself.

Read “The Secret History of Portland’s Weirdest Neighborhood” at BikePortland.

See digitized materials from the Ernie Bonner Collection in PDXScholar.

Learn more about the complete collection of Ernie Bonner materials held by PSU Library Special Collections, including the Ernie Bonner Papers, 1919-2003 and the Ernie Bonner Oral History Collection, 1994-2004.

Gloves or No Gloves? On the Proper Handling of Rare Books & Manuscripts

Print this pageEmail this to someoneShare on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterShare on Facebook

The Spring 2015 issue of Portland State Magazine offers a cover story focusing on Texts of Time, the student-curated Library exhibit on a newly-acquired Medieval Book of Hours. We’ve heard questions from many readers, however, about the cover photograph, which shows a pair of bare hands holding the fifteenth-century manuscript. Some readers have wondered about proper handling of fragile materials and asked if it would be better to wear gloves.Photo of Book of Hours

We talked to Library Conservation Technician Carolee Harrison, who worked with the photographer on the photo shoot and whose hands are shown holding the book in the photographs. Carolee is well-known throughout the state for her knowledge of the care and repair of library materials. In her work, Carolee draws upon the recommendations of the Library of Congress:

“According to the Library of Congress, wearing gloves while handling antiquarian books may do more harm than good. Portland State University Library Special Collections follows their advice to handle most rare and valuable books with clean, dry hands.”

Specifically, the Library of Congress recommends the following: 

“Before handling any collection item, thoroughly wash and dry hands. Contrary to widespread belief, gloves are not necessarily recommended to handle rare or valuable books. Gloves (nitrile or vinyl) are always recommended if there is reason to suspect a health hazard (e.g., mold, arsenic). Clean gloves (nitrile, vinyl, or lint-free cotton) are also recommended when handling photograph albums/photographs or books with metal or ivory parts. Aside from those specific situations, it is generally preferable to handle your books with clean hands, washed with soap and thoroughly dried, rather than with gloves.”

Indeed, as conservators write in International Preservation News, the recommendation to use gloves is a dangerous and “pervasive myth” that may result in the tearing of pages. And gloves often carry far more dirt than clean hands. Please see “Misperceptions about White Gloves” in International Preservations News for more information.

We are pleased to learn of the Portland State community’s interest in rare book preservation! We welcome you to view the Book of Hours on display in the Library through mid-July.

Texts of Time: The Portland State Book of Hours and the Medieval Manuscript Tradition

Print this pageEmail this to someoneShare on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterShare on Facebook

May 4 – July 17, 2015
First Floor Exhibit Space

Please note: the Book of Hours manuscript will be on display Monday to Friday from 9:30 am to 4:30 pm. The accompanying materials are on display whenever the Library is open.

Photo of Book of HoursWith support from the Gordon Hunter Fund, Portland State University Library Special Collections recently acquired a late 15th century French Book of Hours, the first intact medieval manuscript owned by the Library. The Book of Hours was the most popular text during the late Medieval period.

A Book of Hours consisted of prayers and meditations that guided readers through the eight liturgical hours of the day celebrated by medieval Christians in Western Europe. These manuscripts were usually small enough to be carried around and sometimes decorated with colorful miniature paintings and gold leaf. A Book of Hours was an essential companion to a devout reader. Royal and wealthy patrons often owned several, lavishly decorated Books of Hours, but for a family of lesser rank, it was often the only book they owned.

Books of Hours were a compact version of the prayers recited at monasteries. They included calendars highlighting feast days, Gospel prayers, prayers to saints, and most importantly, prayers to the Virgin Mary. The prayers were divided into sections to be read from Matins to Compline with illuminations and decorative flourishes throughout. Books of Hours were highly personalized in their original design and later additions to the text made by their owners. Many Books of Hours were given as gifts and remained in families for generations. The Book of Hours presents a wealth of information about daily life and culture in medieval Europe.

Professor Anne McClanan’s art history seminar in winter 2015 prepared a digital and physical exhibit of the Portland State University Library Book of Hours. The physical exhibit is on display in the Library’s First Floor Exhibit Space from May 4 – July 17. The digital exhibit is available online.

bookofhours5 Photo of Book of Hours bookofhours2 bookofhours4

Primary Resources for Community Action: A Black History Forum at PSU Library

Print this pageEmail this to someoneShare on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterShare on Facebook


Thursday, May 21, 2015
Library, 3rd Floor

PSU Library Special Collections invites you to a free forum on the exciting community and history projects stemming from the archival collections of Senator Avel Gordly and Otto and Verdell Rutherford.

Politician and educator Avel Gordly and community activists and historians Verdell and Otto Rutherford are key figures in Oregon history. Their dedication to social justice, racial equality, and advocacy for the Black community is documented in the historical records they maintained and preserved.

PSU Library Special Collections is the proud steward of the Gordly and Rutherford archives, which have served as vital resources for students, activists, historians, artists, and filmmakers, inspiring creativity and fortifying action.

Please join us to engage with people and projects that carry forward the spirit and the commitment of Senator Gordly and the Rutherford family. After a series of lightning talks by invited presenters, all will have the opportunity to meet and exchange ideas for collaboration, mentorship, strategic action, and the creation and preservation of a representative historical record.

Come share common ground enriched by these important historical collections and consider how the history you are creating today can be preserved as a foundation for future action.

Families are welcome! Refreshments will be served.

For more information, please contact PSU Library Special Collections by email or phone at 503-725-9883.

RSVP on Facebook

This event is hosted by PSU Library Special Collections with support from the PSU Diversity Action Council and the Office of Global Diversity and Inclusion.