Michigan State University

The Special Collections Staff

The staff of Special Collections strives to preserve the heritage of the past and acquire important records of contemporary culture while making these materials available for use.

You may contact the staff during the reading room hours at (517) 884-6471.

Peter Berg, Interim Head of Special Collections.

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Peter Berg was appointed head of Special Collections in September 1988. He was responsible for the administration and development of Special Collections, including direction of collection development, collection maintenance/conservation, and public service activities of the unit.

Berg received his undergraduate degree in History from MSU (1969), his Library Science degree from the University of Michigan (1975), and his doctorate in History from MSU (1994).

As of 2017, Peter has stepped down as Head of Special Collections and retired June 2018. He has returned as Interim Head of Special Collections until a new Head of Special Collections can be hired.

Jessica Achberger - African Studies Librarian

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Jessica Achberger is, since 2017, the African Studies Librarian at Michigan State University, where she is also Adjunct Assistant Professor of History. In addition to managing the regular Africana collection, she is the curator for all Africana in Special Collections, including archival material.

Prior to coming to MSU, Jessica was a Senior Research Fellow and Associate Director of Research and Programs at the Southern African Institute for Policy and Research (SAIPAR), based in Lusaka, Zambia. While there she focused on libraries and archives programing and capacity building regionally, supervising students, and conducting and coordinating research projects. She received her PhD in African History from the University of Texas Austin in 2012 and her MLIS from Florida State University in 2016.

Leslie M. Behm – Special Projects Librarian

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Leslie Behm joined the MSU Libraries staff in 1978 as a Science Librarian. In 1982, she became Head of the Clinical Center Library and divided her time between there and the Science Library. In 1984 she became Head of the Veterinary Clinical Center Library and split her time between the two branch libraries.

In 2009, Leslie joined the staff of Special Collections to work on special projects. She is responsible for Little Cookbooks: The Alan & Shirley Brocker Sliker Culinary Collection and the MSU Libraries' Archives. She received her Bachelor's degree in Biology from Heidelberg College (1976) and her MSLS from Case Western Reserve University (1977) with an emphasis on medical librarianship. She also has a MPH in Epidemiology from University of Michigan (1996) and a MS in Education from Capella University (2010).

Tad Boehmer -- Special Collections Cataloger

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Tad Boehmer joined the MSU Libraries in 2017 as Special Collections Cataloger within the Cataloging and Metadata Services unit. Additionally, he curates fine press and alternative press materials for Special Collections. Before coming to MSU, Tad worked as a graduate assistant and project cataloger at the Rare Book & Manuscript Library at the University of Illinois, where he also helped to organize exhibitions and other programming, as well as assisting with patron services.

Tad has a BA in Art History and Classics from Grinnell College, an MLS from the University of Illinois, and an MA in Religious Studies, also from the University of Illinois. He has completed coursework at the University of Virginia Rare Book School, where he also worked on the summer staff, including as the William Reese Fellow in the Print Culture of the Americas.

Ruth Ann Jones - Education and Outreach Librarian

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Ruth Ann Jones joined Special Collections in 2015 as Education and Outreach Librarian, after many years of working with Special Collections in other roles.

Beginning in 1999 she managed two grant-funded projects to digitize materials from Special Collections: Shaping the Values of Youth: Sunday School Books in 19th Century America and Feeding America: The Historic American Cookbook Project. From 2005 to 2012, Ruth Ann was a Special Collections cataloger, working primarily with the Radicalism, Popular Culture, and Ethnic Studies collections.

She has prepared exhibits and promotional materials on many different genres within Special Collections: non-traditional publishers in Latin America; labor songbooks; the Changing Men Collection; gay pulp fiction; South American poetry; the Holtzman Israeli literature collection; international cookbooks; and the handmade books of Ediciones Vigía, to name a few.

Ruth Ann has a BA in Anthropology from Carleton College, an MLS from the University of Illinois, and a certificate in Special Collections Librarianship from the University of Illinois. She has also completed coursework at the University of Virginia Rare Book School.

Sarah Klimek - United States History Librarian and Curator of the Radicalism Collection

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Sarah Klimek joined MSU Libraries as the U.S. History Librarian in 2017. In addition to her role as a subject liaison to the MSU history department, she also serves as the curator for the Radicalism Collection in Special Collections.

Prior to coming to MSU, she worked as a graduate assistant in reference and instruction at the Herman B Wells Library at Indiana University. Her previous experience in special collections includes digitizing collection materials and developing online exhibits. She received her MLS from Indiana University and her B.A. in History from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.

Elisa Landaverde - Librarian 

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Elisa Landaverde - Metadata Librarian and Curator of the LGBTQ+ collection

Elisa Landaverde is a Metadata Librarian focused primarily in digital collections, and a member of the MSU Libraries digital repository team. She joined Special Collections in 2016 to assist with archives and manuscript collections. In 2018, she became the curator for the LGBTQ+ collection in Special Collections.

Previous experience with archives include volunteering at the Oriental Institute’s Research Archives at the University of Chicago, and the Penn Museum Archives. She received her MLIS degree from Drexel University and her Bachelor’s degree in East Asian Studies from Bryn Mawr College.

Andrew Lundeen

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Andrew Lundeen joined the MSU Libraries in 2013, working part-time in Special Collections before becoming Authority Control and Collections Coordinator for the Turfgrass Information Center. In 2018, he took on the role of Turfgrass Projects Librarian, with a secondary appointment in Special Collections. Andrew received his Master of Science in Library and Information Science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, with a specialization in Data Curation and a certification in Special Collections. Andrew also earned a Bachelor of Arts in Religious Studies from Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Oregon, with minors in Philosophy and Classical Studies.

Diana Rivera - Chicana/o Latina/o Studies Bibliographer

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Diana Rivera joined Special Collections in 2009 and continues to build a core collection of primary sources, rare books and unique ephemera on the Chicana/o and Latina/o experience for the MSU Libraries. She is the Chicana/o Latina/o Bibliographer overseeing the Cesar E. Chavez Collection and provides reference desk assistance in Special Collections.

The Cesar E. Chavez Collection is a multi-disciplinary, multi-format collection which she has headed since 1995 when it was established. Many unique Chicano and Latino themed materials purchased and housed in Special Collections are regularly exhibited in the Chavez display case on 1 West. She received her undergraduate degree in Racial & Ethnic Studies from MSU and her Library Science degree from the University of Michigan.

Randall Scott - Librarian & Assistant Head of Special Collections

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Librarian Scott specializes in organizing and providing bibliographical access (cataloging and indexing) to rare, popular and radical materials, especially including comic books, popular fiction, and the fugitive publications of activist organizations.

Steven Sowards, Associate Director for Collections

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Steven Sowards was appointed Associate Director for Collections for the MSU Libraries as a whole in December 2004. In that role, he is responsible for units that include Special Collections, but specific decisions in the areas of  collection development, collection maintenance/conservation, and public service fall to regular Special Collections unit staff. He has a background in History, and received his MLS (Library Science) degree from the Indiana University in 1986. He came to MSU in 1996 in the role of head of social sciences and humanities reference.

Lydia Tang - Librarian & Archivist

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Lydia Tang joined Special Collections in 2015 primarily to work with archives and manuscript collections.  Prior to coming to MSU, she was an archivist in the Music Division of the Library of Congress working on the Danny Kaye and Sylvia Fine Collection.  She also previously worked at the American Library Association Archives, and in a variety of positions at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, including the Rare Book and Manuscript Library, University Archives, Music and Performing Arts Library, and the Sousa Archives and Center for American Music.  She received her MLIS degree with a Certificate in Archives and Special Collections from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where she also completed a Doctor of Musical Arts degree in 2016.

Agnes Haigh Widder - Humanities Bibliographer

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Agnes Haigh Widder, Humanities Bibliographer, is responsible for British history/studies, French studies except Africa, medieval/Renaissance/Early Modern studies, and religious studies collections for the MSU Libraries.  She contributes to the mission of Special Collections by adding to and improving our Libraries’ entries in the ESTC, English Short-Title Catalogue.  This is an international, online bibliography of imprints from England and other English-speaking places around the world from the beginning of the use of printing technology in the 1400s to 1800.  It includes library locations.  She collects early modern conduct literature for SPC and assists with building our representative English and European history and literature collections. She is interested in English early modern and Victorian period writings: by, for, and about women, about travel and places, and about cookery, gardening, childhood, household management, and books and reading. We have a small collection about Princess Diana, also of interest.

Agnes has been a librarian for MSU Libraries since 1979. She received her A.M.L.S. from University of Michigan School of Library Science (1976), her B.A. from Ohio Wesleyan University (1975), and her M.A. in history from MSU (1984).

Mary Jo Zeter - Latin American and Caribbean Studies Bibliographer

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Mary Jo Zeter is responsible for Latin American and Caribbean Studies at the MSU Libraries. She is contributing to the mission of Special Collections by acquiring and providing bibliographic access to popular materials from Latin America, the Iberian Peninsula and Italy. These  include comic books and graphic novels, as well as representative selections of alternative press publications from throughout Latin America and the Caribbean, such as the popular “cartonera” books and handmade artists books of Matanzas, Cuba. Mary Jo also identifies and acquires additional resources from or about her areas of responsibility that fall within the collecting priorities of Special Collections. She is, for example, actively engaged in strengthening a “Cookery of the Americas” collection with acquisitions from Latin America and the Caribbean.

Kristine Baclawski - Library Assistant

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Kris Baclawski began working at MSU's Library first as a student assistant at the Science and Vet Clinic (Med) libraries in 1978 and later in 1982, joined the pre-cataloging staff of Monographic Acquisitions. In 1985, she moved to InterLibrary Loan, working on both the borrowing and lending sides.

2001 brought Kris to Special Collections, where she divides her time between the desk, assisting patrons; supervising students; collecting and processing materials for the Vertical Files; filling what InterLibrary Loan requests can be copied; and cataloging incoming Special Collections gifts and serials.

Nora Sleasman - Library Assistant

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Nora Sleasman began working for the MSU Libraries while a student at MSU. After graduating in 1981 with a BA focusing on Library Science, she began working as a full time staff member in Serials Acquisitions. Since then she has worked in various units within the Libraries including Information-Reference, the Agricultural Economics Reading Room, Conservation and the Gast Business Library.  Nora joined Special Collections in 2015.

Dayna Topalian

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Dayna started working for the MSU Libraries in 2007 as a shelving student.  Her first full-time position was in Conservation, where she managed the daily activities of the Google book scanning project.  Before joining Special Collections she served as a supervisor in the Stacks Maintenance department.  Dayna has an English degree from MSU.