Read, hot & digitized: Librarians and the digital scholarship they love — In this series, librarians from the UT Libraries Arts, Humanities and Global Studies Engagement Team briefly present, explore and critique existing examples of digital scholarship. Our hope is that these monthly reviews will inspire critical reflection of, and future creative contributions to, the growing fields of digital scholarship.
The Fashion History Timeline is an online, open access resource that seamlessly marries dress history with modern technology, offering users an interactive and engaging way to explore the world of art and fashion. Its roots started in art history, when Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) faculty and students developed a pilot project in 2015, aiming to make fashion history accessible to everyone, regardless of background or prior knowledge. This innovative platform boasts an array of features that redefine how we learn about and appreciate costume throughout the ages.
For example, if I were curious about western garments in the early 1900’s, I would simply click on the appropriate time period, which is available in the main drop down menu. The page features an overview of styles worn and when scrolling further, displays recommendations for primary or secondary sources to further my research. The site also offers articles dedicated to both historical dress in BIPOC and LGBTQ+ cultures. Contributors to Fashion History Timeline range from academic professionals and experts within the fashion and art history fields around the world.
One of Fashion History Timeline’s standout features is its reliance on and promotion of published writings. For example, the source database, a curated annotated bibliography wherein users can dive into citations for a vast bibliographic list of textbooks, catalogs, and monographs that span across time and cultures. I found this to be helpful for digital research, with these particular sources being used as foundational pieces in building the database. The visual approach with information transforms the learning experience, allowing users to gain a deeper understanding of the context and significance attributed to each source. In addition, the website also has a Zotero database, where students and researchers can draw information as well as contribute to the wealth of bibliographic information. The sources are organized in a similar manner as the Fashion History Timeline website, emphasizing cohesion as a goal across the indexing.
As a former apparel design student, I would have loved to explore the Fashion History Timeline in my time as an undergrad. I highly recommend researchers, sewists, and anyone who is interested in costuming to utilize it. Comprehensive images and information for fashion history are not always easy to come by and this database fulfills a longtime need for accessible, reliable information about dress.
Want to learn more about fashion history? Check out these resources from the UT Libraries:
The Fine Arts Library has a collection of over 500 zines focused on art, music, performance, as well as zines created by regional and local authors. Zines are typically described as self-published or DIY works that have limited editions. Zines are often made of 8 ½ by 11 sheets of paper folded in half and stapled together. Early zines emerged from science fiction fandom, though over time different social and counter-cultural movements adopted the medium as a way to disseminate information and share ideas. More recently, artists also adopted zines as a creative medium and method to distribute work outside mainstream channels within the art world. Many cities around the country and world, including our Texas neighbors in Houston and Dallas, have zine or independent publishing festivals.
Back in January, a group of Austin librarians and zine makers gathered to discuss the possibility of creating a new festival called Lone Star Zine Fest (LSZF). LSZF took place on June 11th at Cheer Up Charlies and was co-sponsored by UT Libraries, Sherwood Forest Library, Town Talk Library, and artist Josh Ronsen. The goal for this festival was to create a space for Austin’s artists, poets, zinesters, and zine-lovers to come together as a community to celebrate and share work. LSZF had close to 30 exhibitors participate and over 375 attendees during the Sunday afternoon event.
Longhorns were well represented at LSZF as exhibitors and attendees. Several graduate students, undergraduate students and staff shared their zines or small presses. The UT Libraries also had a table where Gina Bastone, English Librarian, and I highlighted the Zine Collection at Fine Arts Library and UT Poetry Center at the Perry-Castañeda Library.
Gina and I also created a zine to use as an outreach tool that playfully describes the two complementary collections to readers. Members of the public along with UT students, faculty, and staff who stopped by our table expressed surprise to hear these two collections were present within the libraries. The library zine proved to be a fun outreach tool that we plan to continue using with our respective departments.
In addition to working with Gina to promote our collections, I also represented UTL on the planning committee for the festival. Serving as a co-sponsor of this event, shows Longhorns and Austinites alike the value UTL places on supporting creativity on campus and within our city. As the liaison to the Art and Art History department, it is important to me to help create spaces on campus and within the greater Austin community that celebrate makers and their creative output. One of my favorite moments of the day was an exchange with an Art History student. Upon checking in to exhibit at the festival, the student remarked that I am their librarian. The student expressed excitement that UTL helped put on an event like LSZF. This was one of the many positive remarks heard from Longhorns throughout the day, demonstrating the importance events like this have to our community.
Stop by the Fine Arts Library or UT Poetry Center to see new zines and chapbooks acquired at the festival.
The Fine Arts Library continues to support campus partners with the hosting of an exhibit of publications highlighting a Nigerian subculture with important ties to the African Diaspora.
The display — Nigeria/Yoruba: Some History — features materials relating to the Yoruba people and the history of Nigeria. It includes various published histories of Nigeria — including several written for children — as well as publications and items related to Yoruba art and culture. The sampling from a much larger corpus of materials related Yoruba culture features a number written by professors at the University of Texas at Austin.
The Yoruba people are an ethnic group of Nigeria who are located across the Southwestern region of the country and other parts of West Africa. The Yoruba people are one of the largest ethnic groups in Africa, and Yoruba culture has had a profound impact on the nature of the African Diaspora, in different parts of the world.
The British Empire controlled vast swathes of the continent of Africa, including the country that became Nigeria which was, until Independence, one of the largest of Britain’s colonies. “Nigeria” was taken from the Niger River running through the country, and was said to have been coined in the late 19th century by British journalist Flora Shaw, who later married Baron Frederick Lugard, a British colonial administrator, whose career included being Governor-General of Nigeria from 1914–1919.
The exhibit is in celebration of the University of Texas at Austin’s annual Yoruba Day, hosted during the course of the Spring Semester by the John L. Warfield Center for African & African American Studies.
The exhibit was curated by Eddie Chambers, Associate Professor of Art History. Chambers has researched and written extensively on the African Diaspora and its impact on the art and culture of affected regions and peoples.
The exhibit will be on display in the Fine Arts Library through May 16.
There’s no doubt that the embrace of digitization by museums and libraries has significant benefit for the devotees of art history. The preservation of the cultural record from the degrading effects of time is the most utilitarian benefit of the practice, but archival digitization also allows for non-linear consideration of creative works in its ability to allow art to be partnered with other data, information, critical context, etc. Digitization is, though, limited by the sheer volume of historical works that exist and by that which continues to be created. Sometimes, the only sure way for art to be preserved digitally, is for a specific need to arise.
Such is the case with the work of Sandow Birk, a visual artist in southern California, whose art contemplates modern American society with a nod to past masters.
Earlier this year, UT College of Fine Arts Ph.D. candidate Rose G. Salseda began research for her dissertation by interviewing several artists who created artworks in response to five days of civil unrest caused by a jury’s acquittal of four white Los Angeles police officers who had been charged with the videotaped beating of Rodney King, a black motorist.
“These riots were the first in history to be heavily documented through live news coverage, film, video, and photographs,” says Salseda. “Yet, past scholarship has failed to recognize the potential encompassed within art to speak to the history of the riots.”
“My dissertation seeks to unearth a missing visual narrative. Moreover, it reveals the capacity of art to unhinge and complicate polarizing histories of the 1992 LA Riots.”
Along with Birk, Salseda had interviewed sculptor Seth Kaufman and graffiti artist Man One, only to discover that virtually none of the artists’ work from the 1980s-90s had been digitally preserved.
“It really alarmed me,” says Salseda, “because, since most of these artworks were in private collections or in unprotected public spaces, no one would have the opportunity to see them again.”
In working with the Birk, Kaufman and Man One, Salseda was able to gain access to slides, photos and ephemera directly from the artists themselves.
“Birk was the first of the three artists that I met. He shared slides of his work with me and I was surprised that only a few had ever been digitized,” recalls Salseda. “I knew that if the documentation of the work was not updated, it may continue to be overlooked by scholars, teachers, and others.”
Salseda remembered from previous work with staff at the Visual Resources Collection (VRC) at UT that a library might be able to help her capture the imagery, thus ensuring that it would be preserved for both her use, as well as the use of future researchers. But she needed to find someone close by in Southern California that would be willing and able to assist.
“I contacted the head art librarian at Cal State Long Beach — the university closest to Birk’s studio. She then directed me to Jeffrey Ryan, the CSULB Visual Resource Center staff,” recounts Salseda. “I spoke with Ryan and he volunteered to digitize Birk’s images, as well as that of other artists whose work has not been digitized. Thus far, he has digitized several hundred slides for me and the artists I work with — all of which are now available to CSULB students, faculty and staff.”
Salseda then followed up with Sydney Kilgore, media coordinator for the UT’s VRC — an actively growing collection of some 80,000 digital images of art and architecture located at the university’s Fine Arts Library — to see if it would be possible to ingest a selection of Birk’s work into the university’s digital media repository, the DASE (Digital Archive SErvices) Collection, for the benefit of students, faculty and researchers at UT.
“When Ms. Salseda approached us with the Birk project we knew it would be another win/win situation,” says Kilgore. “In this case, the VRC additions resulted with Rose Salseda wanting to share her research, and artist Sandow Birk being willing to personally choose and share 30 images of his art which he felt were representative of his career.”
Salseda is currently working with Kaufman and Man One to secure digital images of their work for inclusion in the VRC, as well, which are expected to arrive next year.
She believes that there is a larger history to be told by the art that was created in the wake of the unrest, but because of a lack of documentation, the story of the period has an incomplete context.
“Due to the numerous artworks the riots inspired and the surprisingly scant scholarly and curatorial consideration of this work, I am positive there are many more artworks out there that have not been properly digitized and archived,” Salseda says. “In general, the lack of art history on the riots and the unbalanced focus on a small pool of artists means that other artist contributions to this important episode in LA and US history are forgotten or go untold.”
It’s this personal, practical experience that Salseda had in the process of her own research that prompted some realizations about the temporality of art and the necessity of digital preservation.
“I have come to realize even more the importance of digitizing images. These images are essential when original artworks are lost, reside in private collections, and/or are irregularly exhibited,” she says.
“It is also important for artists to update the format of their image archives to ensure that future generations have the potential to access images of their art when viewing equipment for older formats become scarce or defunct,” says Salseda. “However, taking on such tasks are out-of-reach for many artists: the equipment is expensive, as is hiring private companies to do such work, and it can take an extraordinary amount of time if one does not have the proper equipment or assistance.”
“Resources like UT’s VRC and CSULB’s Visual Resource Center are invaluable. From personal inquiries to professional ones, like documenting my exhibitions or archiving images related to my dissertation, I knew I could rely on these resources. I hope more students and faculty realize the important indispensable services they offer.”
An exhibition featuring Sandow Birk’s “American Qur’an” is currently on view at the Orange County Museum of Art.
Sydney Kilgore, Rose Salseda and Thao Votang contributed to this article.
Born in 1948, much of Carmen Lomas Garza’s work reflects upon her formative years in Kingsville, Texas. Drawing on her experiences in a close-knit Mexican-American community, Garza’s work focuses on memories of everyday life with her family and her community.
Thanks in part to a generous donation by the Libraries’ own Linda Abbey and her husband Mark Hayward, the Benson was able to acquire those works of art in giclée, lithograph and serigraph form to join Lomas Garza’s archive as part of the permanent collections at the library.
The PCL Media Lab wouldn’t be the resource it is without the presence of knowledgeable student staffers to help users to make the most of the available technology. These lab assistants are brought on board because of their familiarity with the software, and their practical and creative experience with it.
We’ve highlighted the work of users in the past, but we shouldn’t overlook the creative proclivities of gifted staffers, as well. Whitney Chen is a lab assistant and a Design major at the College of Fine Arts, where she’s honing, among other talents, her skills at digital illustration. Her job in the Media Lab is providing her more time to practice her art, a few examples of which are below.
“Zines are not a new idea. They have been around under different names (ChapBooks, Pamphlets, Flyers). People with independent ideas have been getting their word out since there were printing presses.” ― Mark Todd, Whatcha Mean, What’s a Zine?
As institutions traditionally charged with gathering and providing access to the broadest range of information, libraries have in large part transitioned their focus from the physical to the digital realm of resources. But there are pockets of attention that remain fixed on collecting those materials that hold significantly greater value in a corporeal state.
In 2010, Fine Arts Library (FAL) Head Librarian Laura Schwartz joined a fledgling movement of librarians across the country in establishing a collection of DIY pamphlets, popularly known as “zines.”
Zines — short for “fanzines” — take a variety of forms, but are generally self-published and noncommercial, homemade or online publications often devoted to specialized or unconventional subject matter. Traditionally, zines have been published in small runs — less than 1000 copies — and most are produced on photocopiers or by other, more economical means.
At a time when virtually anyone with access to the web can reach an audience, the idea that your local Kinko’s still has the patronage of a subculture of the most indie of independent publishers seems almost absurd.
Schwartz is determined about her motivation to build the collection. “This is a form of art,” she says. “Museums or galleries do not typically collect this format, so it is incumbent upon libraries to do so.”
“Libraries have a history of collecting ephemeral and personal materials,” says Schwartz. “That is the essence of archives. Libraries are capturing a slice of history and culture of a particular time period by collecting zines.”
The FAL’s zine collection currently maintains over 200 items of state, regional and national origin, and recent donations will potentially double the size of the resource. The content of the materials covers a range of subjects including art, photography, music, skateboarding and Texas culture.
Schwartz was fortunate at the time of the collection’s inception to have a ready resource for development in the form of the manager of a specialized local bookstore, Russell Etchen of Domy Books. Being an artist and autodidact in zine history — as well as a curator/manager for the shop/gallery — Etchen had an informed perspective on the significance of the genre, and offered his insights as a service to preserving the form.
“Laura had an innate sense for what would and wouldn’t work when she started building the collection,” says Etchen. “We would walk through the store together a couple times a year, and I would share the works that I felt, at the time, were most deserving of preservation.”
“When it comes to the underground, there are no ‘right zines’,” says Etchen. “There is a very decentralized history behind self-publishing and generally we chose works that I felt had a unique history behind them or ahead of them.” Continue reading The Copier as Canvas→
A stretch-goal? That would imply that we would cross the finish line before our campaign was over!
Thankfully, we took their advice because this week we surged past our original goal of $10,000!
Since we about two weeks left, we have announced our stretch-goal: $15,000. That’s just $4,445 in the next 14 days. The extra funds will enable us to build an even better Fine Arts Library Recording Studio with better sound-proofing, software, and hopefully new carpet and furniture.
We’ve come so far, so please help us go even further by broadcasting our message through Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, E-mail, or word of mouth, and consider making a contribution if you haven’t already.*
We’ve started planning an end-of-campaign show at Tom’s Tabooley on the last day of our campaign, Friday, May 1, so save the date! More details to come!
If you haven’t already, make sure and check out our most recent video featuring some images of what the Fine Arts Library Recording Studio might look like.
* If you or your company are interested in contributing a matching gift during the campaign, don’t worry, there is still time! Please contact Gregory Perrin for more information.
As you may recall from my last post, UT Libraries has launched our very first HornRaiser (crowd-funding) campaign to raise $10,000 for the Fine Arts Library Recording Studio. The campaign has been active for just over a week now and 29 donors have helps us raise $2,400! That is 24% of our goal! Special thanks to Tom + Regina Nichols for generously matching $500 during the campaign. * Every dollar counts as we make our way closer and closer toward our goal. Are you a social media ninja? Help us spread the word through Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Keep an eye out! We will have special contests throughout the campaign! Reactions from current UT students who can’t wait to start using the Fine Arts Library Recording Studio:
Justin LaVergne Theatre, fourth year student with two more years to go
Recording studio would benefit me by being able to create voice overs for theatrical productions. As well as record songs to send out as demos to help me pay for school.
Ian Price Theatre and Dance and Radio & Television, and Film, junior
As an aspiring Voice-Over Actor, I myself have my own Mic that I use for recording lines for audio-dramas, audiobooks, online-cartoons, ect. However, I also live with 3 other roommates, in an apartment that, well, isn’t soundproof. Whenever someone is simply watching TV in the living room, I cannot record. And don’t even get me started about recording lines that require yelling. Basically, a recording studio, open and free to students would not only clear up those types of problems, but could also give good startups for the next ‘Welcome to Night Vale’, or Beyonce. There are many here who have talent but just don’t have the money, or the space to record in their home or in a private recording studio. As a college who prides itself on changing the world, its only right for us to have the resources to get started.
Hi. I’m Natalie Moore, the development specialist for the Libraries.
Over the past few months, I’ve had the opportunity to participate in a grassroots effort to crowd-fundraise for the Fine Arts Library Recording Studio here at UT. At first mention, this seemed like a really great idea for a really unorthodox place. Don’t get me wrong, I love working in the Libraries, but it seemed like an unlikely place for a recording studio. As I started to identify students, faculty, and other staff members to help with this cause, it became apparent that the Fine Arts Library is the most appropriate place for a recording studio on UT’s campus. While this technology exists on campus, it is locked up, and saved for individuals in certain departments and colleges. Students, faculty, and even my fellow staff members’ eyes lit up as they learned that, “yes, the FAL Recording studio will be open to all current faculty, students, and staff,” and, “no, this isn’t just for musicians.”
I am excited about the Fine Arts Library hosting this incubator for creativity. I can only imagine what types of work will surface as a product of this great initiative.
UT Libraries HornRaiser site will become live Wednesday, March 18. Interested in getting involved? Email me at email@example.com
As we gear up for our HornRaiser campaign, I want to share some reactions from current UT students. Here is the first one:
Music Production, Sophomore
“Well, I work in my shoddy home studio everyday. It’s very low key with the ultimate level of ‘just the essentials.’ Having a place to have access to more equipment, like 2 mics, different kind of mics, instruments, workstations, really awesome sound monitors, would make the biggest difference in the world. Having a professional area adds a level beyond hanging up egg cartons and stuffed animals to help reduce room noise. The possibilities are endless.”
UT Libraries is about to embark on a HornRaiser (crowd-funding) campaign to equip a recording studio in the Fine Arts Library. You can check out our funding page here: https://hornraiser.utexas.edu/createut