Student Spotlight: Instruction & Outreach GA Edie Sandler

IMG_3915_1It is a leisurely summer weekend following my freshman year at UCLA, and I’ve got my fencing  gear packed in the back of my boyfriend’s 1986 Volvo, and four hours until practice. Just enough time to warrant spending 20-something dollars for a visitor’s ticket to the Huntington Library in San Marino, CA. The grounds are breathtaking and perfectly manicured; the reputation of its art collection peerless and the architecture of the library and museum impressive. But nothing compared to the moment I walked into the library and spotted the vault.  The vault door looks like something out of a bank, cracked open just far enough for the curious to get a glimpse inside.  I was hooked.

Years later, I am now married to the boyfriend with the 1986 Volvo, though the Volvo is long gone and I now live and work in the DC area. Though I miss being able to visit the Huntington Library, I am thrilled to be working as Graduate Assistant for Instruction and Outreach in Special Collections and University Archives at Hornbake Library, especially because it doesn’t cost me 20-something dollars to come to work every day. There might be a perception that the job of a librarian is boring and repetitive, but I can now confirm that that is not necessarily the case.

My main project has been the Alice 150 Years and Counting exhibit. The exhibit team and I began with a rough plan of how we wanted to organize the exhibit, which evolved into outreach and social media plans and a year-long timeline. Over the course of that year, I helped flesh out the details, working with my fellow co-curator, the collectors, the designer, and a team of library staff and student interns.  I learned how to use Photoshop to manipulate digitized images and design captions, signs and all kinds of ephemera. I edited caption, panel, and other text countless times. I compiled facts and quotes and scheduled them on social media, wrote blog posts, designed lobby screens, wrote a press release, and more. I used the phrase “fall down the rabbit hole” so many times, I thought I may have fallen down some kind of rabbit hole myself.

Was I relieved when the exhibit finally opened in October? A little. I felt like I understood a little bit better what it’s like to see your baby all grown up and going to college. But there is still work to be done with Alice. I’m working on getting the online exhibit up now, and soon a catalog will follow.

I also get to flex my teaching muscles as part of my GA-ship. I’ve worked closely with our Instruction and Outreach Coordinator to develop lesson plans and pull material for undergraduate classes who come to Hornbake to learn about what we do and how they can use our resources for their research. One of my favorite classes was a Shakespeare course that was interested in comparing early editions of Shakespeare. Watching the class get excited about early 17th and 18th century Shakespearean literature got my heart all a-flutter.

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Every day of my job is different and I love it. I feel like a dragon sitting on a treasure trove of books, papers and other archival odds and ends. But in my story, I welcome the hero into my treasure-trove, where he finds all the other heroes of past journeys reading animatedly. That is what I believe is the responsibility of a Special Collections. Not only to allow people to come share in the treasure, but to reach out and show them that what we have and what we can do is priceless beyond measure.


Spotlight on Wonderland: The Hatter


Why is a raven like a writing desk? The Mad Hatter may not know, but asking nonsense questions is all part of the appeal of this quirky character. 150 years after he appeared in Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, he is still loved for his maddening garden parties where it is always Tea Time.

How did Lewis Carroll come up with his Hatter? One inspiration could be that hat makers in the 19th century were known for going ‘mad’ from mercury poisoning, as mercury was commonly used in felt hat manufacturing.

Mad Hatter Running

Sir John Tenniel (the original illustrator of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland) may have based his drawing of the Hatter after Theopilus Carter, an eccentric Oxford furniture dealer who always wore a top hat. Since Tenniel, countless illustrators and artists have created their own versions of the Hatter. Do you have a favorite?

Did you know?

  • The Mad Tea Party did not appear in the original Alice’s Adventures Under Ground. The never-ending tea party would not make its debut until a later edition of the tale.
  • Carroll never uses the name ‘Mad Hatter’. Instead, it is the Cheshire Cat who tells Alice that the Hatter and March Hare are “both mad.”
  • The Hatter reappears in Through the Looking Glass as ‘Hatta’.

Visit the Maryland Room gallery in Hornbake Library from October 2105-July 2016 to explore the Hatter and the rest of the Wonderland cast of characters in the exhibit Alice 150 Years and County…The Legacy of Lewis Carroll: elections from the Collection of August and Clare Imholtz.

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Alice 150 Years and Counting Opening Reception

On Friday, October 16, 2015, the University of Maryland Libraries hosted the opening reception for the exhibition Alice 150 Years and Counting…The Legacy of Lewis Carroll: Selections from the Collection of August and Clare Imholtz.

Alice Postcard

Students, staff, Alice fans, bibliophiles, librarians, collectors, and the curious alike gathered in Hornbake Library to view the new exhibit and enjoy a night of frabjous festivities. A Cheshire Cat and Mad Hatter were even spotted among the crowd. Testudo got into the Wonderland spirit, donning the Mad Hatter’s hat!

Tasty treats included The King of Hearts’ Mushroom Tarts, The Duchess’ Royal Tea Sandwiches, “Don’t Be Late!” Carrot Cake, and “Off with Her Head!” Red Velvet Ice Cream. Collectors August and Clare Imholtz and members of the Alice 150 exhibit team were on hand to delight guests with details of the exhibit.

Speakers included Interim Dean of the Libraries’ Dr. Babak Hamidzadeh, Associate Dean for Collection Strategies & Services, Dr. Daniel Mack, Head of Special Collections and University Archives, Doug McElrath, and private collector August Imholtz.

Visitors were encouraged to go on a White Rabbit scavenger hunt in the exhibit gallery, try their hand at a Lewis Carroll word puzzle, and go mad as a guest at the table in our Mad Tea Party Photobooth. Additional items from the exhibit, which will not be in the exhibit until next year, were also on display for guests to explore.

Visitors also had the chance to participate in the Libraries’ ‘Adopt a Book’ program and donate to help preserve a fragile item from our rare book collection. Among the books “adopted” were a set of  rare miniature children’s books from the Association for Childhood Education International collection housed in Special Collections and University Archives.

Did you miss the frabjous festivities? Or, perhaps you want to relive all the excitement!  Visit our Flicker gallery with images from the opening reception. And thank you to everyone who made the evening such a success!


Curator Pick: Favorite Item from the Alice 150 Exhibit

Okama’s Alice in Wonderland manga brings back fond memories of sitting cross-legged in the Borders stacks with a pile of Sailor Moon and Cardcaptor Sakura books by my side. I would have been instantly captured by the cover, counting my money, and fretting over which book to put back so I could add Okama’s to my bookshelf.

Alice is falling down the well.

Looking through this manga version of Alice is like receiving a double shot of nostalgia. Two fond parts of my childhood make up every panel from wishing to see the wonders of Wonderland to wishing to be as fashionable and cute as the manga characters I adored.

Alice is sitting at the table with the March Hare, the Mad Hatter, and the Dormouse. Tea cups are everywhere and the table nearly extends off the page.

Okama draws his characters with exaggerated features. Their clothing is highly detailed as are the scene settings with their patterns and striped elements. The most impressive garb, as is befitting their station, belong to the King and Queen of Hearts. Their stylized appearance is based on the traditional card deck royalty and their fashions.Alice is surrounded by the Queen of Hearts' subjects. The queen is pointing at Alice accusingly as four cards lay prostrate before her.Alice is staring up at the Chesire Cat who is smiling down at her from a tree.

My only wish is that I knew how to read Kanji so that I could further enjoy Okama’s work!

Visit the Alice 150 and Counting exhibit in Hornbake Library to view more international editions of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, or explore our online exhibit.

Sabrina Reed is an intern for Hornbake Library-Special Collection’s ‘Alice 150 Years and Counting…The Legacy of Lewis Carroll’ exhibit. As a graduate student in the University of Maryland’s iSchool, her areas of focus are youth media, diversity, and digital literacy. Sabrina is also an alumna of the university’s undergraduate English program. She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature and a minor in Creative Writing.

Halloween Comes to Special Collections

Looking for  devilishly entertaining rare books? Visit Hornbake Library this week to view two Halloween-inspired exhibits featuring our most frightful items from Special Collections and University Archives.

From A History of Serpents (1742), entomology bug models, and ghostly Nancy Drew novels to hauntingly illustrated tales by Edgar Allan Poe, these items will send a chill down your spine.

It’s all part of the Halloweek fun this week at the University of Maryland Libraries!

Looking for more scary items from Special Collections and University Archives? Ask a librarian in the Maryland Room how you can view more rare items like a first edition of Edgar Allan Poe’s ‘The Raven’ and books on ghosthunting in Maryland, or Katherine Anne Porter’s painted coffin.

Curator Pick: Favorite Item from the Alice 150 Exhibit

My favorite piece in the Alice 150 collection is a sweet white booklet, titled “Useful and Instructive Poetry”, written and illustrated by Lewis Carroll at the adolescent age of 13. What I find both endearing and fascinating is that in reading it, we can see themes that pop up again in Carroll’s writings as an adult.

For example, even as a child, Carroll took the issue of punctuality quite seriously ( a little too seriously if you ask me…then again I was huffing and puffing to get to a meeting this morning, so who am I to talk? I’m sure that from wherever he is now, Carroll is tsk-tsk-tsk-ing my lack of punctuality.)


We are all accustomed to hearing of the white rabbit, dashing to an event for which he fears he will be too late. But in this booklet Carroll illustrates what almost appears to be an early version of the white rabbit: a rather stout man rushing, and multiple versions of a grandfather clock. The charming, albeit somewhat puzzling illustration is also followed by a rather sermonizing poem on the importance of being on time for any and all occasions.

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Another motif that appears both in this volume and in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is Carroll playing around with the idea of “A Tale of a Tail.”

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I think what intrigues me most about “Useful and Instructive Poetry is that it opens a window for us to be able to view the themes and ideas that shaped Carroll as a child, so much so that they reappear in his most popular and endearing work.

What do you think about “Useful and Instructive Poetry”?

Explore this item and more works by Lewis Carroll in our Alice 150 Years and Counting exhibit, now open to the public in Hornbake Library at the University of Maryland.


Brianne Phillips is a graduate student at the University of Maryland iSchool. She graduated from Southern Illinois University of Edwardsville with a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature, and loves nineteenth century literature . She currently works in Special Collections and University Archives in Hornbake Library, as well as McKeldin Library. She is one of the Alice exhibit team interns who assisted with the creation of the ‘Alice 150 Years and Counting…The Legacy of Lewis Carroll’ exhibit.

Hornbake Goes Mad this Halloween

Join us on Friday, October 30 to celebrate the madness of Halloween at Hornbake. Enjoy free pizza, play games, enter the costume contest, and listen to a live reading of Lewis Carroll’s frightful poem “The Jabberwocky”!

The frabjous festivities will take place between 12pm-2pm in the 1st floor lobby of Hornbake Library. Follow us on twitter for more goulish details to come.

Looking for costume inspiration? Visit our Alice 150 Years and Counting… exhibit in Hornbake Library and explore the imaginative world of Wonderland. We hope to see plenty of Terp Mad Hatters, Cheshire Cats, and Queens of Hearts, and Alices haunting Hornbake!
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