Michener Library Offers Academic and Historical Resources to Students

The oldest book in the Michener Library’s collection dates back to 1596. It is a “Commentary on Ezekiel” authored by Spanish Jesuit priest Juan Bautista Villalpando. In this work, Villalpando utilized his architectural expertise alongside Biblical accounts to envision and illustrate reconstructions of ancient sites such as Solomon’s Temple and historical Jerusalem. Unfortunately, the drawings have been cut from the library’s copy. The origins of how and when this manuscript came into the possession of UNC is still a mystery.

From expert librarians to rare university artifacts, Michener Library is filled with research support that many students don’t know about.

When students come into the library, they’re not just surrounded by rows of books, but immersed in a world of hidden treasures. Containing everything from old pictures to historical books, the library’s archives and special collections offer a glimpse into the past.

The University Archives is described as holding unique, rare and weird historical items that document the growth of the University of Northern Colorado.

They concentrate on three significant areas across campus: the university’s history that include documents from the 1880s, artifacts from James A. Michener, who is one of UNC’s most famous alumnus, and Special Collections that focuses on alum, faculty, the history of education and the history of marginalized communities in northern Colorado.

The documents and artifacts stored in the office are rare and, in some cases, are the only copy in existence. Faculty and staff ask students to book an appointment so they’re able to support and guide them through every step of their research journey.


Jay Trask, head of Archives and Special Collections, wants to start helping students in a new way.

“One thing that Archives wants to do is make sure to start collecting student voices,” he said.

Trask brings up the fact that history is usually written from the point of view of the people in charge and he would like to start recording history from a student point of view. By focusing on collecting documents and pictures from student-run clubs and organizations, it will help preserve the student stories.

The Office of Archives and Special Collections also offers a monthly or by appointment tour for students and is located on the lower level of the library.

If you don’t want to go in for an appointment, Archives offers a digital showcase on Digital UNC. This website includes research and creative works produced by UNC faculty and students.

Trask wants to remind students that faculty and staff are available and happy to help students across various majors with research and archive documents.

The university’s library website also offers video guides for beginners on how to find resources from the UNC Database. The website also offers advanced topics like understanding copyright, frequently asked questions and booking a research appointment with a librarian.

When scheduling an appointment, you have the option to meet via phone, Zoom or in person for either a 30 minute or one hour session. Additionally, you can select the day and time that best suits your schedule.

Rachel Dineen, associate professor and teaching and learning librarian, is one of the researchers you might meet when booking an appointment. She teaches classes focusing on developing good research habits and teaching library instruction sessions that are designed to help students conduct research for a specific project within the course.

Dineen and the other research librarians had to get a specific master’s degree in library and information science to be able to guide these students in research.

When researching, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the abundance of information available. These librarians are experts in guiding students through research projects, assisting in locating, evaluating and helping organize information to help students reach their goal effectively.

“Asking for help can be a major step for some students, so in a way, I feel sort of honored to be able to play even a small role in helping students achieve their academic goals,” Dineen said.

Each research consultation varies based on the student’s specific needs. Dineen emphasizes that she likes to understand a student’s preferred strategy and process rather than judging their research habits, aiming to build their strengths.

Michener Library isn’t the only library to offer research assistance. All UNC libraries offer research help to students in any major.

The UNC Libraries offer invaluable resources for students to explore the history of the university and beyond. Through initiatives like collecting local history and providing personalized research support from expert librarians like Dineen, students are empowered to take a look into the past and navigate complex research projects with confidence.


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