Alexandra Alvis

Reference Librarian

Alexandra Alvis is a book historian and bibliophile who has foundher niche in the Cullman Library. As a Reference Librarian, she interfaces with researchers both in the reading room and online, in order to assist them with whatever topic they may be pursuing. She manages the movement of Cullman collection items from the vault to the reading roomand beyond to exhibition, digitization, and conservation. She regularly shares her bibliographic experiences on Instagram (@book_historia) and Twitter (@book_historia), and writes longer-form articles on interesting aspects of book history on her blog(

Alexandra received her undergraduate degree with honors from the University of Kansas in Linguistics, the field which first put her into contact with rare books and materials. From there, she attended the University of Edinburgh, earning an MSc with merit in Material Culture and the History of the Book, focusing on the rebinding and conservation of medieval illuminated manuscripts. Deciding that one Scottish master's degree was not enough, she also attended the University of Glasgow, this time earning an MSc with merit in Information Management and Digital Preservation. Her thesis for her second MSc laid the groundwork for a wider study of the influence of the English bindery of Douglas Cockerell and Son, a project that she is actively pursuing.


Journal Articles

Newman, Alexandra. “Sharing, Not Shushing: Social Media and Rare Book Librarians.” TXT 2017: Navigating a World of Text: 38-46. (Journal)

Newman, Alexandra. 2016. "Issues in the Rebinding of Illuminated Manuscripts: Facing the Future, Conserving the Past, and Creating Useable Objects for Today."The International Journal of the Book 15(1): 1-16.doi:10.18848/1447-9516/CGP (Journal)

Blog Posts

"Elizabeth Gould: An Accomplished Woman." Unbound: Smithsonian Libraries Blog. March 2018.

"'So you don't have to go to the trouble of reading:' Indexing, note-taking, and correction-making in Pliny's 1491 Naturalis Historia." Unbound: Smithsonian Libraries Blog. January 2018.

"Publishing, Pretense, and Pigeons: The Case of Madame Knip." Unbound: Smithsonian Libraries Blog. March2017.

"Book Marks." University of Glasgow Library Blog. May 2016.

"Happy Birthday, Shakespeare!" University of Glasgow Library Blog. April 2016.