By Margaret Garmon
Nancy Birk is truly one for the books and more than 150 friends, colleagues and family members showed it when they recently attended a farewell reception for Birk who retired as curator of special collections and university archivist for Kent State University Libraries.
The reception was appropriately held in the special collections and archives.
Birk joined the faculty of Libraries and Media Services in 1983 as an instructor and assistant curator of special collections and rose to the rank of university archivist, curator of special collections and professor in libraries and media services.
Her work in adding to the collections local, national and international scope have added to a rich source of research materials for scholars, according to Mark Weber, dean of libraries and media services.
Birk has brought many important collections to KSU including records of both local (the Kent Historical Society, the Brimfield Historical Society, the Kent League of Women Voters, the Cleveland Labor History Society) and international significance (the Comparative and International Education Society), according to Weber.
Nancys most notable contributions, however, have revolved around her work with the May 4 Archive, a significant collection of primary materials related to the shootings of May 4, 1970, Weber said.
Now retired, Birk said her life has shifted into new areas of significance.
One of my recent goals has been to start a national, non-profit organization to support others with a brachial plexus injury and I will work to see that awareness is raised about prevention and treatment, Birk said.
The brachial plexus injury from birth resulted in a partial paralysis of Birks left arm, hand and shoulder. The condition necessitated a disability retirement that was effective at the end of December. As part of our awareness effort, we continue to get the word out. The organization is the United Brachial Plexus Network and our Web site is www.ubpn.org, Birk said.
In addition, her family, which includes husband Tim, son, Josh, and daughter-in-law, Heather, and grandchildren, Scott and Phillip, will play a big role in her retirement.
While at KSU, Birk played a leadership role in organizing programs for major anniversaries, including the 1990 Gathering of Poets, and a 2000 exhibit featuring material from the private collections of former students of the KSU School of Journalism and Mass Communication who were actively recording May 4 events at the time. The exhibit attracted national and international media attention during the 30-year commemoration of the events of May 4, 1970.