Who’s Who in RBSC: Aedín Clements

Aedin Clements, Irish Studies LibrarianStanding beside oversized reproductions of two issues of The Cork Examiner from May 8-9, 1916, Aedín Clements commented how delighted she is that Rare Books and Special Collections (RBSC) has such an extensive collection of historical newspapers from Ireland. She explained that these newspapers are important sources for understanding Irish society and, thus, must be preserved and made discoverable and freely accessible to researchers here and worldwide. This has become one of her many projects as Irish Studies librarian.

Aedín, a native of Dublin, studied Irish literature, language, and folklore at University College Dublin from which she earned her bachelor’s and library degrees. She also earned a master’s degree in English literature from Western Michigan University. In 2005, Aedin joined the Library as Irish Studies librarian. She was attracted to this job because of Hesburgh Library’s extensive 20th-century Irish language collection, one that covers a broad range of disciplines and includes children’s literature, Irish language and literature, traditional songs and ballads, and more. She admits a special place in her heart for the O’Neill Collection, which has a little something for everyone. In December 2015, Aedin also became Interim Head of the Area Studies and Global Affairs unit within the Hesburgh Libraries. Her expertise and work in Irish Studies are evident in many ways including invitations to speak at conferences and events and the multiple exhibits she has curated for RBSC. Her scholarship and service to the profession have been recognized by Notre Dame: Aedín was awarded the 2013 Rev. Paul J. Foik, C.S.C., Award by Hesburgh Libraries and was elected in September 2015 as a Faculty Fellow of the Nanovic Institute for European Studies.

Aedín has a list of to-dos that is perpetually growing because she is always on the lookout for enhancing existing areas of collecting strengths—18th- and 19th-century literature and history—and keeping up with all of the new or evolving research interests of faculty and students on campus. She is always thinking about how to make Hesburgh’s collections more accessible and, equally important, how to educate people about these collections. Recently, she partnered with a newly established network of librarians, the Libraries and Archives Group of the American Conference for Irish Studies (ACIS), to develop innovative ways for better developing collections. The network will take up this very issue at the upcoming roundtable discussion during the ACIS conference at Notre Dame, March 30-April 3, 2016.

After discovering that Hesburgh Libraries holds a wealth of sources documenting the Irish American perspective, Aedín developed an interest in Irish American history. When asked if there was a particular item that caught her attention, she smiled and said, “Yes, McGee’s Illustrated Weekly!” This was a newspaper founded by an American, James Redpath, who gave Americans a glimpse into Irish life, spattered with a bit of Irish and American humor, the latest fashion trends, and portraits of prominent Irishmen. Yet, Aedín’s love of the Irish language always draws her back. She is currently immersed in reading Visions of Ireland: Gael Linn’s Amharc Éireann Film Series, 1956-1964 by B. Mairéad Pratschke.

Aedín can often be found digging through the Irish collections in RBSC. None of her colleagues is ever surprised when she comes skipping down the hall with the biggest smile you can imagine, as she did when she discovered that we have a large collection of yet-to-be processed historical Irish newspapers. It turned out that this is where she unearthed the copies of the Cork Examiner. Aedín’s wide-ranging knowledge of and curiosity about all things Irish can be seen in her current exhibit, Easter, 1916: The Irish Rebellion, which is on display in Rare Books Special Collections through April 28, 2016.

Who’s Who in RBSC: Dan Johnson

Dan JohnsonWith his excitement barely contained, Dan Johnson reveled in what a great addition this would be for RBSC—a map of Middle Earth annotated by J. R. R. Tolkien himself! Dan went on to explain that this map was recently discovered stuck in the renowned illustrator, Pauline Baynes’ personal copy of The Lord of the Rings and that it promises to be an important piece of Tolkien ephemera. “If only we had a Tolkien collection to justify pursuing this,” he lamented.

Dan’s enthusiasm and appreciation for the Inklings is among his many literary interests. He studied English literature, earning his BA from Bethany Lutheran College in Mankato, MN, and then went on to earn an MA from Wake Forest University. He is currently researching the supernatural in the 18th century. Part of this research examines the work of Charles Brockden Brown, the first major American novelist and Gothic fiction pioneer. He is finishing his dissertation, “Visible Plots, Invisible Realms,” en route to earning his PhD in English literature at Princeton University. All the while he is learning the ropes of the library world as the new English Literature and Digital Humanities librarian for Hesburgh Libraries.

Having come to Notre Dame in August, Dan quickly immersed himself in getting to know the collections, faculty, and students. Within the first couple of weeks, he was meeting with English students and faculty, and preparing classes that featured rare materials, including the works of Samuel Taylor Coleridge. He pulled out multiple editions of The Ancient Mariner and along with Professor Yasmin Solomonescu guided the students through Coleridge’s marginal glosses, talking about the book as artifact.

Tightly integrated with Dan’s interests in American and British literature from the 18th and 19th centuries is his fascination with how technology can enhance research in the Humanities. Dan founded and manages a digital archive of texts and digital humanities projects related to 18th- and 19th-century British and American literature called Scholar’s Grotto. This includes his own project, a scholarly edition of The Relief; or, Day Thoughts (1754), a parody and critique of graveyard poetry by Henry Jones, the “bricklayer poet.”

Dan is quite excited about enhancing RBSC’s literary collections. He has acquired two significant additions: a 1725 edition of Shakespeare’s works edited by Alexander Pope and the 1818 second edition of The Family Shakespeare in Ten Volumes edited by Thomas Bowdler. Both of these will be featured in his upcoming Shakespeare spotlight exhibit in RBSC—this will be the first exhibit Dan has ever curated. It will coincide with RBSC’s hosting of First Folio! The Book that Gave Us Shakespeare, the Folger Shakespeare Library’s touring exhibit that will bring a First Folio of the bard’s plays to each of the 50 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico. Dan will also lead guided tours of both exhibits and invites everyone to brave the snow and come out to learn about Shakespeare.

 


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Who’s Who in RBSC: Natasha Lyandres

nlyandresLetters written by and to Lady Byron—these are among the many rich surprises Natasha Lyandres has found in Rare Books and Special Collections (RBSC) since she joined the department in Fall 2013 as Head of Special Collections.

Before joining RBSC, Natasha studied Art History at Moscow State University and then earned a Master of Library and Information Science degree from San Jose State University. She has held positions as Special Projects Librarian for the Hoover Institution Library and Archives at Stanford University, Reference Librarian for the Joyner Library at East Carolina University, and Head of Acquisition Resources and Discovery Services at Notre Dame.

The main focus for her, according to Natasha, is working with her staff to make RBSC collections more visible and accessible to students, faculty, and researchers. This involves processing collections and making them discoverable in the library’s online catalog and on the department’s website. She and her staff also make the intellectual content of their collections understandable to specialists and non-specialists alike by providing descriptions on the RBSC website, talking to individuals, teaching classes in RBSC, and co-teaching courses with campus faculty.

Natasha is also curator of Russian and Eastern European collections. She continually searches for rare and unique materials that support the existing collection strengths and the research interests of Notre Dame teaching faculty. Among her recent acquisitions are avant-garde Russian and Polish rare books, materials by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn and Joseph Brodsky, both recipients of the Nobel Prize for Literature, as well as documents about extraordinary lives of their interesting but less well-known contemporaries. Currently, she is working with the department’s manuscript processor, Ken Kinslow, to finalize the processing of and finding aid for the Elizabeth Markstein papers she acquired.

When asked if there is an item she dreams about acquiring for RBSC, Natasha replied without hesitating, “Kazimir Malevich’s On New Systems in Art: Statics and Speed—this is a phenomenal work by one of the most important artists of the twentieth century!” Natasha’s interests extend beyond art and manuscripts. She is currently immersed in The Millionaire and the Bard: Henry Folger’s Obsessive Hunt for Shakespeare’s First Folio by Andrea Mays. This page-turning read is setting the stage for the upcoming exhibit RBSC is hosting, First Folio! The Book that Gave Us Shakespeare, January 6-30, 2016. Notre Dame is the sole Indiana site to host the Folger Shakespeare Library’s national traveling exhibition of Shakespeare’s First Folio.

Natasha’s parting words returned us to the department and its staff. Admitting that she really enjoys working with the breadth of RBSC’s collections, she said in no uncertain terms that the highlight for her is “working with the people first and foremost because of the knowledge they possess about so many different things and because they are all so enthusiastic about what they do.”

 


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