News & Notes

The Black Hours: In Memory of Lisi Oliver

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Special Collections recently lost one of our dearest friends, Dr. Lisi Oliver of the LSU English Department, who passed away unexpectedly on June 7, 2015. An expert in early English law and linguistics, Lisi frequently visited Special Collections with her classes to work with medieval manuscripts and other rare books. Through an electrifying mix of learning and laughter, she never failed to spark her students’ interest. Putting the raw materials of history into their hands was one of her many passions.

In Lisi’s memory, we have acquired a facsimile edition of one of the most remarkable medieval manuscripts ever produced—the Black Hours. Lisi saw the facsimile earlier this year when Giovanni Scorcioni, an Italian bookseller, visited LSU as part of a U.S. tour. Her eyes lit up when she saw it. “That’s the coolest thing I’ve ever seen!” she shouted. We knew we had to get it.

The original manuscript, now owned by the Morgan Library in New York City, was produced in Flanders in the late fifteenth century. Known as a book of hours, it is a collection of Christian prayers to be said at the canonical hours of the day. The book also contains a calendar of feast days. A wealthy layperson, possibly a woman, for whom many books of hours were made, would have used it in his or her private devotions.

Typical of such books, the manuscript contains twelve full-page miniatures depicting scenes from the Bible. This particular book, however, is extremely atypical in that its pages have been dyed black. (Lisi loved to show her students our facsimile of the Codex Aureus of Canterbury, famous for its purple pages, but she said she had never seen black pages.) The manuscript’s text is written in silver and gold, creating a striking contrast similar to a photographic negative. Further decorations in blue, green, white, and gold make this one of the most beautiful and unusual manuscripts ever produced. Although more books of hours have survived than any other type of medieval book, only a handful of black manuscripts are known. They seem to have been associated with death and mourning.

Giovanni Scorcioni was especially sad to hear of Lisi’s passing. “She was one of a kind,” he writes. “We originally ran into each other during the 2012 International Congress on Medieval Studies in Kalamazoo, Michigan. She was one of three hundred people I met there during the four-day medieval marathon, yet I still clearly remember her enthusiasm and bright smile.”

The two met again in Kalamazoo the following year. “At one point during my long stint at the exhibits, meeting hundreds of people, I heard someone shout ‘Hey, Giovanni!! How are you?’ and then, surprisingly, I received a big hug. I must admit that, at first, I didn’t even remember her name, but her warm smile and welcoming nature was instantly familiar. This was Lisi! She was a radiant human being, so enthusiastic and outgoing, with a unique ability to make you feel like an old friend, even if you had just met her a minute ago. The last time I ran into Lisi was last May, in Baton Rouge. I visited LSU and she treated me to dinner at a typical Louisiana restaurant. It was one of the most pleasant and welcoming evenings of my trip. We had a deal: the next dinner would be in Italy, and this time she would have to be my guest. Sadly, her hospitality will now never be returned. I’m sure many of those who enjoyed her presence and warmth have the same feeling: we all still owe Lisi something, and she’s left us way too early. Goodbye, Lisi!”

Page from the "Office for the Dead"

Page from the “Office of the Dead”

Michael Taylor is Curator of Books, LSU Libraries’ Special Collections

Posted in Special Collections Tagged with: ,

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Resources & services available during COVID-19 reopening phases

The LSU Library is open on a limited basis and by appointment only. Beginning August 17, it will be open to all. Extensive resources and services are available online.

  • Ask a Librarian: ask for help with research or anything library-related.
  • Book pick-up service: reserve books to pick up at LSU Library (ends Aug. 13).
  • Book browsing: reserve an appointment to visit the library to browse and check out books (ends Aug. 13).
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Recent faculty publications

2020 

Blessinger, Kelly and Dave Comeaux. “User Experience with a New Public Interface for an Integrated Library System,” Information Technology in Libraries. Volume 39, Issue 1. https://doi.org/10.6017/ital.v39i1.11607

Lounsberry, Megan. “Troubleshooting electronic resources from an ILL perspective,” Technical Services Quarterly, Volume 37, Issue 3.
https://doi.org/10.1080/07317131.2020.1768699

McDonald, Ebony. “2020 Regina Medal Recipient Christopher Paul Curtis,” Catholic Library World. 

Miles, John David.  “James Harrison and the Tensas Troubles of 1878,” Civil War Book Review: Volume 22, Issue 1 (Winter 2020).

2019

Batte, Elizabeth; David Dunaway; Emily Frank; Sarah Mazur; and Laurie Phillips. “LOUIS Membership with Open Textbook Network Brings Incentive for Faculty OER Advocacy on Campuses,” CODEX: Journal of the Louisiana Chapter of the ACRL. Volume 5, Issue 3 (Fall/Winter 2019).

Comeaux, Dave;  Emily Frank; and Mike Waugh. “Supporting Student Success: E-books as Course Materials,” CODEX: Journal of the Louisiana Chapter of the ACRL. Volume 5, Issue 2 (Fall/Winter 2019).

Dunaway, David. “Bibliometrics for Faculty Evaluation: A Stastical Comparison of h-indexes Generated Using Google Scholar and Web of Science Data,” CODEX: Journal of the Louisiana Chapter of the ACRL. Volume 5, Issue 3 (Fall/Winter 2019).

Haber, Natalie, Melissa Cornwell, & Andrea Hebert. “This worksheet works: Making the DLS Standards work for you,” College & Research Libraries News. 

Hawk, Amanda K. “Implementing Standardized Statistical Measures and Metrics for Public Services in Archival Repositories and Special Collections Libraries,” Proceedings of the 2018 Library Assessment Conference, (Association of Research Libraries, 2019): 836-843. https://doi.org/10.29242/lac.2018.78

Hebert, Andrea and Jodi Duet. “’I’m Really Confident I Can Find the Exact IKEA Pillow’: A Qualitative Look at the Search Self-Efficacy of Graduating MLIS Students,” Behavioral & Social Sciences Librarian. https://doi.org/10.1080/01639269.2017.1690891.

Lounsberry, Megan. “No Textbooks Allowed! (Unless You’re a Graduate Student!): Louisiana State University Pilots an ILL Textbook Service. Journal of Interlibrary Loan, Document Delivery & Electronic Reserve, 28 (3/4): 61–73. https://doi.org/10.1080/1072303X.2019.1676862

Miles, John David. “Colfax, Kate Grant, and the Domestication of Reconstruction’s Violence,” Civil War Book Review. Volume 21, Issue 2 (Spring 2019).

Miles, John David. “The Loyalty of West Point’s Graduates Debated,” Civil War Book Review. Volume 21, Issue 1 (Winter 2019).

Miller, Marty. “Curriculum, Departmental, and Faculty Mapping in the Visual Arts Department,” Art Documentation, Volume 38, Issue 1 (March 2019): 159-173.

Morgan, Randa L. “Libraries and Gardens: Growing Together.” Catholic Library World, Volume 90, Issue 1 (September 2019): 68.

O’Neill, Brittany; and  Allen LeBlanc. “Evaluating Trends in Instruction Scheduling Management: A Survey of Louisiana’s Academic Libraries,” CODEX: Journal of the Louisiana Chapter of the ACRL. Volume 5, Issue 2 (Fall/Winter 2019).

Russo, Michael, “The Moon Belongs to Everyone:  ResearchGate and Subscription Databases Compared.”  Louisiana Libraries. Volume 81, Issue 3, (Winter 2019).

Russo, Michael, “Information Literacy through Service Learning” in Library Collaborations and Community Partnerships: Enhancing Health and Quality of Life.  Fannie M. Cox, Henry R. Cunningham, and Vickie Hines-Martin, eds., 2019.

Simms, Sarah; Hayley Johnson. “Hidden in Plain Sight,” 64 Parishes (Magazine of the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities). Issue 4 (Summer 2019). https://64parishes.org/hidden-in-plain-sight.

Simms, S., & Johnson, H. Subtle activism: Using the library exhibit as a social justice tool, Alexandria, Volume 29, Issue 1-2 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1177/0955749019876119.

Ziegler, Scott; and Cara Key. “More Than a Pretty Interface: The Louisiana Digital Library as a Data Hub,” CODEX: Journal of the Louisiana Chapter of the ACRL. Volume 5, Issue 2 (Fall/Winter 2019).

Ziegler, S.L. “Digitization Selection Criteria as Anti-Racist Action,” Code4Lib Journal. Issue 45 (2019). https://journal.code4lib.org/articles/14667

Ziegler, S.L. and Steve Martin. “A Hidden Gem Becomes a Fertile Mining Ground: Historic Prison Admission Books and Data-Driven Digital Projects,” The Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography Volume 143, Issue 3 (October 2019): 363-373.

2018

Hebert, Andrea. “Information Literacy Skills of First-Year Library and Information Science Graduate Students: An Exploratory Study,” Evidence Based Library and Information Practice Volume 13, Issue 3 (September 2018).

Miller, Marty. “Sacred vs. Profane in The Great War: A Neutral’s Indictment: Louis Raemaekers’s Use of Religious Imagery in Adoration of the Magi and Our Lady of Antwerp.” Catholic Library World, vol. 89, no. 1, Sept. 2018, pp. 20–32.

Rasmussen, Hans. “The Life and Death of Raquette in Nineteenth-Century New Orleans,” Sport History Review 49 (May 2018): 23-38.

Wilder, Stanley. “Delayed Retirements and the Youth Movement among ARL Library Professionals,” Research Library Issues, no. 295 (2018).

Wilder, Stanley. “Hiring and Staffing Trends in ARL Libraries,” Research Library Issues, no. 295 (2018).

Wilder, Stanley. “Selected Demographic Trends in the ARL Professional Population,” Research Library Issues, no. 295 (2018).

Ziegler, Scott; and Richard Shrake. “PAL: Toward a Recommendation System for Manuscripts,” Information Technology and Libraries, Vol. 37, No. 3 (2018).

2017

Caminita, C.; Cook, M.; and Paster, A. (2017). Thirty years of preserving, discovering, and accessing U.S. agricultural information: Past progress and current challenges. Library Trends, 65(3), 293-315.

Dauterive, Sarah; John Bourgeois; and Sarah Simms. “How little is too little? An examination of information literacy instruction duration for freshmen.” Journal of Information Literacy, 11.1 (2017): 204-219.

Fontenot, Mitch; Emily Frank; and Andrea Hebert. “Going Where the Users Are: Three Variations on a Theme,” Louisiana Libraries, Fall 2017.

Hawk, Amanda K. “Highflying Crowdfunding: Creating a Successful Partnership with a Campus Donor,” Archival Outlook, July/August 2017: 12-13, 19. https://www.bluetoad.com/publication/?i=422988.

Hebert, Andrea; and Marty Miller. (2017). Using FSA-OWI photographs to teach information and visual literacy. Louisiana Libraries, 79(3), 19–25.

Johnson, Hayley. “#NoDAPL: Social Media, Empowerment, and Civic Participation at Standing Rock,” Library Trends, Fall 2017.

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