She-Ra Visits the Archive

by Metadata Specialist Kathleen Smith

As a seventh grader nearly thirty-five years ago, I used to watch She-Ra: Princess of Power after school every day. I was thrilled to find that Netflix had a new rebooted version titled She-Ra and the Princesses of Power. I have been watching the reboot and I found it much better than the original version, with the characters having more diverse backgrounds and backstories.

In the reboot, a former soldier of the evil Horde, Adora is trying to find her identity and purpose in life on the planet Etheria after coming upon a magic sword which transforms her into the mighty warrior She-Ra. Helping her on her journey are Princess Glimmer and Bow who are fighting in a rebellion against the Horde.

One of the characters, Bow an archer and technology whiz, grew up in the Library of the Whispering Woods with his two fathers George and Lance, the library’s historians/archivists. This is featured in the second season episode “Reunion,” when Bow secretly runs off to visit his fathers. Adora (She-Ra) and Glimmer follow Bow’s tracks and find him in the archives, where they learn unique artifacts and ancient pottery. Not giving much more away, this is an episode I consider to be a favorite because it features a library and archive complete with artifacts and rare books.  The vase and other pottery on display there remind me of the ancient Cypriot pottery in ODU Special Collections’ Dudley Cooper collection that is on display in our Reading Room in Perry Library.

ODU Professor Jared Benton’s Ancient Arts and Archaeology class visited the Libraries’ Special Collections and University Archives to analyze ancient Cypress pottery

It was a great thrill to watch this episode, because I work in an archives department within a university library, and I like seeing libraries and archives being represented animatedly.  If you are binging on Netflix during the stay-at-home order and are into libraries and archives, you might want to watch this!

Researching When Your Repository is Closed

by Allan Blank Curator of Music Special Collections Lara Canner

With massive closures occurring all over the country due to COVID-19 (Coronavirus), what happens if the repository you rely upon shuts its doors to researchers? Does scholarly work stop until archives, libraries, universities and museums re-open? Perhaps the answer to these questions is: simply changing tactics.

Have you tried contacting your local repository?

Many archives, Old Dominion University Special Collections included, have decided to virtually open their doors to patrons. We are providing distance research and available to answer questions via chat, or email. While, we are not allowed back on campus during this troubling time, we are very much here for our researchers.

Please contact Special Collections and University Archives with your archival inquiries by emailing:

We also have specialized librarians available for an array of subjects:

Have you tried online resources?

Archives, through the years, have seen a rise in virtual patrons. Those looking to access historical records via the internet, without the need to physically visit a repository. Old Dominion Special Collections and University Archives have over twenty digital collections with hundreds of records, just to fill this need. We are even digitizing more materials as I speak. Photographs, oral histories, specialized newspapers, music, video, and military collections can all be found by visiting:

Old Dominion University Libraries have an extensive collection of online journals available to our users. Ranging from Abstracts in Social Gerontology to the Wall Street Journal and a staggering number of subjects in between. However, you have only ever seen the reference book needed for your research at one repository, which happens to be closed…what now? Are you positive that book can only be found at one institution? WorldCat is a catalogue containing manuscript listing from all OCLC members (basically all, or most libraries). Chances are, this database can link you to another copy of the book you seek, even digital copies. Please visit our alphabetical list of databases here:

Wanting to connect researchers to Old Dominion University scholars resulted in the libraries creating ODU Digital Commons. An online space where researchers can download professional papers from Old Dominion University faculty and students. The Digital Commons boast over eleven thousand papers from over nine hundred disciplines:

Have you tried reaching out to others in your field?

Unsure what to do, or how to find sources now that most of us are confined to our homes? It may be time to network. Email, FaceTime, use social media, simply reach out to those whose work you are acquainted with, or admire for professional advice. Recently, I spoke with the director of an archive who I met briefly at a conference. She gave me advice on projects, study guides and professional development trainings to watch while teleworking. One recommendation she had, which might benefit the historical researchers out there was the American Historical Association’s Resources for Historical Researchers:

Have you tried preparing for when archives reopen?

To hit the ground running when research institutes do re-open, taking the time now to prepare can make all the difference. Creating detailed outlines, informational spreadsheets and compiling lists of collections to later view, will mean that your research will go much more smoothly.

 Speaking from personal experience, prepared researchers are always my favorites. These patrons email weeks prior to their visit (asking what times are the best to visit), they have organized lists of the collections that they want to view (saving everyone time) and know library polices (such as no food or drink…so sadly no Starbucks in Special Collections). This also gives the archivists time to prepare and provide the best service. To prepare for ODU Special Collections and University Archives re-opening, please visit our list of finding aids:

Have you tried relaxing?

The world is at a stand-still due to a devastating illness. The stress of confinement, employment and factors outside of one’s control. Perhaps, the answer is to take some time to read a novel, ride a bike (while social distancing, of course!), virtually watch a symphony and most importantly take care of yourself. Really, I have found that the best points in my papers have come after walks. Literally, stepping away from work has given me the clarity to write more persuasively.

While I’m very much looking forward to the moment my repository re-opens its doors, now is the time to take care of ourselves. Research can wait.

For the most up-to-date information concerning Old Dominion University Libraries response to the COVID-19 virus, please view the following link: