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Collaboration at Work: Special Collections

One of the  pleasures of working with the MVP is the close relationship we enjoy with the University of Victoria’s Libraries–especially its special collections. I’ve been fortunate to work with great librarians over the years; in fact, much of my PhD research could not have been accomplished without the friendliness shown by the librarians at Tulsa’s McFarlin library. Yet, there’s something special about the public outreach and service performed by the people of McPherson Library. For example, Dr. Laura Estill’s Nuts and Bolts series, sponsored by the ETCL, is frequently attended by librarians as they actively seek out how they can better serve the UViC community.

The benefit of having scholars and librarians working closely together was self evident this week at the MVP. John Frederick, a Special Collections Assistant at UViC, came across some strange material in the archive. Because he’s worked so closely with us over this past term, he knew that we would be elated with something he stumbled across in the archive. I’ll let him explain in his own words:

The United States of America versus One Book Called “Ulysses”
The United States of America versus One Book Called “Ulysses”

One of the perks of working in Special Collections is getting to browse ourclosed stacks. Being a fan of Ulysses and Joyce, I’ve come to know the contents of call number range PR6019.O9 very well but recently I came across an item I did not know we had. I was getting out a copy of Ellmann’s biography of Joyce and I happened to see a small envelope with U.S. District Court written on it. Not only did it contain a mimeographed copy of the court decision allowing Ulysses to be brought into the U.S. but I was delighted to find there was also a separate enclosure: a copy of the injunction brought by Joyce against Samuel Roth. […] I knew Matt [Huculak] and others involved with modernist studies would be as excited to see the injunction and court decision as I was. (Frederick)

As we rush in to talk about big data, we sometimes forget that many of our archives are still underrepresented–or even missing–in our indexing systems. In this particular case, these two ephemeral items weren’t explicitly catalogued.

One helpful point of collaboration between the library and the MVP is that we can assist librarians in identifying rare and important materials in the formidable stacks of the archive; in turn, we gain access to this rare material and are able produce new scholarship.

Work Cited

Frederick, John. “Re: Blog.” Message to the Author. 21 March 2013. Email.

Matt Huculak

Postdoctoral Fellow, Digital Scholarship, University of Victoria Libraries; Co-Founder, Modernist Versions Project

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