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Honor Roll: The Librarians Behind Special Collections

In various locations, culminating in Normal Hall and then Cunningham Memorial Library, numerous men and women contributed significantly to the growth of the collections housed the present-day Special Collections Department. Prior to the construction of Normal Hall and the appointment of Arthur C. Cunningham as the first bonafide library directory for the normal college which became Indiana State University, various teachers were assigned the oversight of the library. The creation of holdings for a special collections facility seems unlikely prior to 1891.

The beginnings of special collections holdings, as they are currently understood, occurred under the auspices of Arthur C. Cunningham, Indiana State Normal School library director from 1891 to 1928. In the years in which he served, although not particularly well documented, it is believed that some rare books and works about Indiana or by Indiana authors were acquired and housed in a special room on the balcony floor of the library. In Normal Hall, the following directors served after Cunningham for the following terms: Edwin Maurice Fitzroy, 1928-1929; Hazel Armstrong, 1929-1954; Samuel J. Marino, 1954-58; and Fred Hanes, 1958-1974 (with his last year as director in the Cunningham Memorial Library opened in 1973). Some of the collections mentioned below or described by collection name on Special Collections web pages were begun during the periods these library administrators' provided leadership.

For example, during World War II, the college which had served as a base of operations for the Federal Writers' Project retained the materials, and so a collection, albeit one which had not been designated formally, was created. In 1956, Arthur Cunningham's widow presented a grant to establish the Cunningham Collection. The department has continued to expand and build upon these initial holdings in subsequent decades. A Faculty Collection was begun in 1964 to provide a central repository for faculty publications. A few earlier imprints have been added when received as gifts. In 1967, with assistance of Bernard Brommel, a professor of speech, the Debs Collection was begun with an initial gift of letters and other manuscript materials from Marguerite Debs Cooper, Eugene V. Debs's niece. The Cordell Collection, although never displayed in Normal Hall and actually stored in the Science Library once housed in a building used by various science departments, was established in 1969.

Without bibliographical access, the usefulness of materials in collections is limited to those industrious enough to plow through items in hopes of a serendipitous discovery or finding something germane to their research. While the librarians who helped create the collections in the Special Collections Department also created listings, card files, book and online catalogs, and even on-line searchable databases of various collections, several dedicated special collections catalogers and staff members have provided the kind of in-depth descriptions of ISU's special collections materials that advance the record of knowledge about the titles themselves. While much remains to be done, since the Cunningham Memorial Library opened in 1973, the following individuals worked diligently to provide in-depth catalog records of our important holdings: Frances Kepner, Kathryn Wright, Ann O'Bryan, Cinda May, and Ms. Jamie C. Davis.

Care of the collection is as important as providing access. Long-time library staff member Dennis Vetrovec has identified many works with structural problems and maintained meticulous records of anything done to the items as a result. For more than a dozen years, Janette Maher has meticulously repaired and restored volumes in the Cordell Collection to a state in which they may be comfortably handled by scholars, rigorously maintaining the original appearance of the works. In addition, she has fashioned numerous containers to maintain particularly at risk books in a safe environment while maintaining their accessibility to researchers.

A list with accompanying descriptive notes of individuals known to have worked as librarians since 1961 and to have helped develop the holdings found in the department's major collections follows:

Fred Hanes
Library Director
Supervised construction of Cunningham Memorial Library. Established or accepted several collections, including the Faculty and Debs collections.

O. Gene Norman
Head of Reference & Collection Development Officer
Donated books from the estate of his uncle Dewey Hanner's in both his uncle's and his uncle's wife's name, primarily for the Indiana Collection. Also safeguarded and enriched existing holdings of rare books, Indiana titles, and Federal Writers' Project/Program papers maintained in Normal Hall Library before the Cunningham facility opened.

Robert L. Carter
Special Collections Librarian
Along with Dr. Earl Forrest, library bibliographer, traveled to Yonkers, New York in 1968 to acquire the Ganz Collection, amounting to over 16,000 volumes, of which 4,200 hundred were added to the Rare Books Collection. (These books were stored in the Science Library along with other holdings, including the initial Cordell gift, until the Cunningham Memorial Library was opened in 1973.)

Earl Forrest
Collection Development/Reference
Advised on the acquisition of material or selected titles for the Indiana Collection, which was not initially part of the Special Collections Department, when the CML opened in 1973, but a separate room or lounge, containing these materials. Brought Ganz Collection to campus and selected the best works for addition to the Rare Books Collection

Earl Tannenbaum
Library Director, 1974-82
Worked closely with Warren Cordell in establishment of his collection, creating the first catalog of the Cordell Collection, a checklist, in April 1971. Also worked in the establishment of the Dictionary Society of North America, giving a paper on the Cordell Collection at its inaugural meeting. The planning and building of Cunningham Memorial Library should be attributed to the efforts of Mr. Tannenbaum as well as the establishment of a separate Special Collections Department with its Cordell Room, which houses a portion of the collection on public view behind glass cases.

Allen Keathley
Music Librarian
Accepted the C. Weir Kirk Collection of Printed Music from the Music Department in 1985 and sorted and arranged the collection until 1988, when it was moved to Special Collections. (Keathley continued his involvement, cataloging some of the music and designing the data template used to this day for database entries used to create HTML catalogs of the holdings.)

Paul Koda
Head, Special Collections
Worked principally on the Cordell Collection of Dictionaries, creating a catalog complete with see-also references, while adding numerous titles to the collection which were either purchased by the library or received as gifts from Warren Cordell. Began to accept Gilbert Coble's books by signed by Jesse Stuart as well as related material. Accepted Gene Norman's gift of several hundred volumes of Indiana titles from his uncle Dewey Hanner's estate.

Tsokan Huang
English Librarian, Browsing Librarian, Reference Librarian & Cordell Curator
During last three years in the CML, Huang relinquished his half-time position as a reference librarian and served half-time as the Cordell Curator, selecting titles to be added to this world-renowned collection.

Sul Lee
Dean of Library Services
Oversaw the continued growth of holdings, including the addition of Indiana and Debs materials and several major gifts from Warren and Suzanne Cordell.

Robert K. O'Neill
Head, Rare Books & Special Collections
Continued the expansion of the Cordell Collection and accepted the Floyd Family Collection and the Walker Collection, both of which are primarily holdings of early textbooks. He also continued to accept Gilbert Coble's materials on Jesse Stuart as well Oscar Edelman's material on socialism and Debs the man. Prepared a descriptive catalog of the Cordell holdings, published in 1988 by Greenwood Press.

Ronald Leach
Dean of Library Services
Added several education organizational repository holdings and accepted on behalf o the library the final estate gift from Suzanne Cordell. (Leach left the library in 1996 to return to full-time teaching.)

Lawrence McCrank
Head, Special Collections
Began to bring material into the department from the circulating holdings acquired during the time of Cunningham and participated in the planning for a floor renovation which would increase the storage space in the department by approximately 75%.

Anton Masin
Head, Special Collections
Participated in the initial stages of department renovation. Safeguarded holdings & and prepared a catalog of incunable linguistic holdings in the department. Acquired millionth volume in the CML as an incunable added to the Cordell Collection.

David Vancil
Head or Chair, Special Collections
Added Kirk Collection of Printed Music in 1988, the Neff-Guttridge Collection on the Lincoln Era in 2000, and the Herrmann Collection on Human Memory in 2001. The Cordell Collection has increased by over 20% under his leadership. Has lectured and written extensively on the collections, notably producing two highly regarded works, a catalog of the Cordell Collection in 1993 and a publishing history on pre-1501 printed dictionaries in the following year. In addition, bolstered all previously existing collections with additions amounting to as much as a 50% increase in materials. In the Indiana Collection, increased the holdings significantly on Theodore Dreiser, Booth Tarkington, and typographer and book designer Bruce Rogers. Within the Rare Books Collections, added a large selection of scarce Spanish-language Latin American titles and three collections: (1) the Lowney Turner Handy Library used to teach creative writing at the Colony to writers such as James Jones; (2) the Bunce Collection of amatory works, emphasizing examples of printed illustrated books which were subject to suppression because of their sexual content in examples of printed work from the seventeenth through the mid-twentieth century; and (3) the Obscure Publications Collection, comprising archivals copies of the press output as well as PDFs of select titles. In 2010, Vancil added the Laurence Urdang Archive, over 30 cartons (or 900 cubic feet) of material related to the interests and career of a pivotal lexicographer of American English. The digitization of music scores and Debs Collection pamphlets began in the late 1990s. A project to digitize the Cordell Collection began in the summer of 2010. Acted as Curator of the Cordell Collection in a part-time capacity beginning 2011.

Betsy Hine
Head or Chair, Cataloging & Associate Dean
As associate dean and acting dean of the libraries in the late 1990s, provided assistance in funding the Cordell research endowment established by Dr. Vancil. She also authorized Vancil to add the Neff-Guttridge and the Herrmann collections.

Ellen Watson
Dean of Library Services
Provided additional funding for book conservation, primarily of Cordell Collection holdings, increased funding for Cordell purchases, and authorized the establishment of the Cordell Collection Research Fellowship proposed by Dr. Vancil.

Alberta Comer
Dean of Library Services, 2008 - .
Head of Lending Services or Associate Dean, 2001-2007.
Restored funding for book purchases and conservation to the department. She placed an emphasis on giving the Cordell Collection of Dictionaries primacy and advocated for an increase digitization projects. In 2009, Ms. Comer authorized the purchase of the Laurence Urdang Archive.

Cinda May
Chair, Special Collections, 2010- .
Chair of University Digital & Archival Services, 2004- .
Began in 2010 to combine various units into a single department to be called Special Collections, including book and manuscript collections, university archives, and digital collections. Note: in a position held prior to 2004, May cataloged materials in various book collections, including the Cordell Collection of Dictionaries.

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