Library exhibits look at the libraries’ creation and WWI

BY AMBERLYNNE UMAYAM | Evergreen reproter

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From the story of a building to the story of a war, exhibits in the Holland-Terrell Libraries keep memories from fading away.

To the right of the entrance of the Terrell Library Atrium an exhibit case reflects the process of the library’s creation. Deeper in the library, a more in-depth collection exists.

The exhibits in the Manuscripts, Archives and Special Collections (MASC) room are up for a much longer time, due to the fact that there is usually more time and work that goes into creating them, said university archivist Mark O’English.

O’English created the content for “Over Here: World War I and the Palouse,” an interactive exhibit where viewers can hear interviews and experiences from people during the war.

O’English said he spent at least 100 hours creating the exhibit, starting back in April. About three months later, the exhibit was open for visitors to see.

MASC staff mainly create the exhibits that are featured in the room, O’ English said. He said there are very rare occasions when they bring in other faculty and even rarer occasions when students create an exhibit.

These exhibits stay open anywhere from three to nine months and can be on any topic, but typically center on history. Past topics have included “Win the Victory: The Early Days of Football at Washington State” and “Paris Inspired Fashion 2003- Honors Thesis by Lisa Apple.”

“Sometimes the exhibits provide information that students may have not even known,” Gilles said. “I would encourage students to stop by the library and see the exhibits they haven’t seen. They are often educational and entertaining.”

O’English said creating the exhibit gave him an excuse to learn more about the topic.

“I knew I was going to do A, B and C, then when I went down there stories jumped out at me,” O’English said.

He said it is all about the stories he can tell. Since the World War I exhibit will be up until Oct. 31 he said he hopes to raise awareness and to bring black and white photos and dusty papers to life.

Mary B. Packingham’s story about her time writing letters to soldiers was one that O’English said he knew he wanted in the exhibit.

“Being able to bring light to her story that was lost is incredible,” he said.

He said the struggle with creating historical exhibits is connecting the topic back to ourselves and bringing emotion to something that is usually overlooked.

“Logan Wheeler was that connection for me,” O’English said.

Logan Wheeler was a WSU student who signed up for and died in the war, and his case shows several pages from his scrapbook.

“I still kind of choke up about it. He was just a kid,” O’English said.

Whether it is making history real and finding that emotional connection to dusty papers or sparking an interest in the students’ mind, Gilles said the library exhibits strive to educate and create a moment where even she would say, “I didn’t know that!”

The MASC exhibit is one of two formal exhibits in the library; the other is the atrium exhibit case in the entrance, currently telling of the library’s 20th anniversary.

Business and economics librarian Mary Gilles created the exhibit to showcase the library’s birthday. Gilles said she pulled from different articles and newspapers to tell the story of the building from start to finish.

Exhibits usually remain in the case for anywhere from a two to four week period. “Terrell Turns Twenty” will be up until Sept. 12 when a new exhibit will take its place.

An informal reception took place Aug. 25, which was the same day as the original dedication back in 1994.

Themes in the exhibit case can range from topics like history or current issues, and students, staff and clubs can participate in creating the exhibits, Gilles said.

“Sometime topics are about what’s happening around WSU, sometimes they are broader,” Gilles said.

Close to Mom’s Weekend, Gilles said she will usually put together another exhibit around fashion to tie in with the Department of Apparel, Merchandising, Design and Textiles’ annual fashion show.

She said she picks the fashion idea and Mom’s Weekend to compliment what is going on around campus. Junior interior design major Christine Hughes said she stumbled upon the exhibit last year and thought it was “pretty cool.”

Hughes said the exhibits are “nice facts to know.”