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What Was Old is New Again

Posted 3:44 p.m. Friday, May 7, 2021

Student looking at archival material and wearing a mask in Special Collections

Recent additions to Murphy Library Special Collections

By Paul Beck and Mike Olson 

Murphy Library Special Collections collects, preserves and provides access to materials that, due to their physical or intellectual properties, require special handling and care. Special Collections is especially interested in acquiring materials that document the history and culture of the La Crosse area. Some recent acquisitions reflect the variety of formats and subject matter that can be found in Special Collections.  

LP collection

A collection of LP albums by local musicians and orchestras was recently donated by Library Department Emeritus Bill Doering. These include:  

The Sounds of God's Country

The Sounds of God's Country, on the Coulee Recording label out of La Crosse, featuring the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse Collegiates and choirs from Aquinas, Logan, and Luther High Schools 


little carols for little men!

little carols for little men!, put out by the Gregorian Institute, featuring The Bishop's Choristers from the Cathedral of St. Joseph of the Workman in La Crosse  

Central Jazz 77'

Central Jazz 77, featuring the Central High School Jazz Band. Cover by Ken Spirduso, Central High School graduate (1979), who went on to work at Disney painting backgrounds for The Lion KingPocahontasThe Hunchback of Notre DameMulanTarzan and Lilo and Stitch. 

Otto Blihovde on Polka City

Otto Blihovde on Polka City, featuring La Crosse Norwegian farmer and self-taught musician singing and playing the accordion on such favorites as “The Gamel'ost Song”, “Silver Bells” and “Lutefisk”. He became a minor sensation in the early 1980s after advertising the album (recorded in Nashville) during televised pro wrestling and ended up on Late Night with David Letterman in 1983. 

Fine Press Publications

Special Collections seeks to add to its rare book holdings by collecting the efforts of local writers and fine press editions from several regional publishers.   

Les Cocobopros

One local fine press is Heavy Duty Press in Liberty, WI, operated by Michael Koppa. His latest publication is Les Cocoboprosfeaturing collaborative collages (by Lisa Chun, Gary Ortman, William Cody, Musta Fior, Flore Kunst, Francine Martin, and Rhed Fawell with Michael Koppa) collected in a series of five booklets housed in an archival slipcase. Special Collections is lucky to add one of the limited runs of 26 numbered copies of this gem to our holdings, joining two dozen other artist book projects from the press. 

A Citizen's Guide to Journalism

Ope! Publishing is a new publisher of zines in La Crosse. They first came to our attention by their flyers and a sample publication pinned to the public kiosks in the Murphy Library lobby. One of the first zines acquired from Ope! is A Citizen's Guide to Journalism that folds into the shape of a pencil and highlights the effect of people-powered reporting. Special Collections has created a standing order to acquire all the future zines from Ope! Publishing. 

Contours: a Literary Landscape

Another local publication recently acquired is Contours: a Literary Landscape from the Driftless Writing Center in Viroqua, an anthology collecting poetry, fiction, essays and artwork from writers of the Driftless Region. Special Collections also has their 2019 volume Stories From the Flood: a reflection of resilience documenting recent flooding events.