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Dr. Michael Weisenburg Promoted to Director of the Irvin Department

Dr. Michael Weisenburg has been promoted to Director of the Irvin Department of Rare Books and Special Collections at University of South Carolina Libraries.

Weisenburg joined the Irvin Department in 2013 as a summer employee working on the digitization of the Osman Collection of Braun Hogenberg maps. He has served in progressively responsible positions since then, becoming the department’s temporary instruction librarian in 2015, then its Reference and Instruction Librarian and, in 2019, its Associate Director. Originally from Buffalo, he received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Stony Brook University in 2006 before receiving his Master of Arts in English Literature from The College at Brockport: SUNY in 2009. He received his Ph.D. in Literature from the University of South Carolina in 2017.

His broad-based research interests and extensive teaching experience make Weisenburg an ideal fit for the role, says Associate Dean for Special Collections Elizabeth Sudduth: “While many people remember Michael as a Ph.D. student, working as Dr. Joel Myerson’s research assistant, taking courses, and teaching in USC’s Department of English Language and Literature, few people realize the breadth of his background and interest in the sciences and natural history.  He is a polymath, and his background makes him the perfect steward for our collections.  In addition, he is an exceptionally talented teacher and relates well to undergraduate and graduate students, faculty, and members of the community.” 

Not only does Weisenburg place great importance on community engagement, but he is also a strong advocate for students being hands-on in the archive. “It is more fulfilling for me and engaging for the students to get to use these materials firsthand,” he says. One of his main objectives as Director is to further develop the department's robust interactions with students. “Finding ways for students to connect their interests with the collections is a great way to present these research methods to them, while also keeping them engaged,” he says.

If a student isn’t so much interested in eighteenth century manuscripts as they are the first appearance of Luke Cage in Marvel Comics, or the famous etchings of Piranesi, they can find a relevant item in the Irvin Department, and a treasure trove of relevant information in Weisenburg. You don’t need to be a student or faculty member to experience the depth and breadth of what the Irvin Department has to offer, according to Weisenburg. “You don’t need a guided tour to experience Rare Books,” Weisenburg says. It’s easy to spend time wandering through the rotating exhibits in the Ernest F. Hollings Special Collections Library, where the Irvin Department calls home.

Above all, Weisenburg is mindful of the Irvin Department’s capacity to give the people of South Carolina a chance to see rare historic materials they never would have before. “When will they ever be able to hold a medieval manuscript, or the first appearance of Spider-Man again,” he says. “When people hear ‘rare books,’ they think of old tomes, or manuscripts. But we are that and so much more.”

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