A late summer transformation of the Special Collections and Archives reading room on the fourth floor is in full swing this week: early Monday morning workers began to dismantle the “DMV” interior walls (no way you could miss that noise!), followed by old carpet removal, and recarpeting throughout. Gone is the red carpet. Soon to be gone too: the ‘mirror’ film on the storefront glass. If you are missing the transformation in person, we’ll have photos and video soon. This project, funded by private donations, has opened up ample space and wonderful views to the north and east that will be enjoyed by the growing number of students (more than 700 last year) and classes for whom our manuscripts, unique books, and archives are a shared laboratory.
One of our long-standing goals has been to find ways of sharing our exhibits with broader audiences. This has included creating traveling exhibits (versions of exhibits that can be sent to other venues). We’ve also explored creating online versions of our exhibits that can be seen anywhere, anytime. This sounds easy, and we’ve looked into some platforms like Omeka, but we haven’t found a solution that presents exhibit content and context very satisfactorily. Meanwhile, we’ve been having some interesting discussions about other ways of sharing exhibits: they are in a sense “lived” publications: the result of research, collaboration, design, curation, and editing. What if we shared our exhibits AS publications, either in print, or digitally, or both? (Or could an exhibit live on as an artist’s book?) These are intriguing ideas that we’ll be exploring more this year.
And this leads to reflections on the place of art in a library. We’ve been thinking more about this lately, thanks largely to the swell of enthusiasm and ideas across the library about what we are doing, and what we could do, with art! Just think about what we’re already doing: from exhibiting student work, to our galleries and formal exhibits, to the Atrium artwork, to Clare Olsen’s grand stairway piece. Last January, research libraries (ARL), CNI, and academic museums joined forces to convene a meeting about collaboration between libraries and museums, and a few weeks ago, a white paper resulting from the meeting was published, “Prospects and Strategies for Deep Collaboration in the Galleries, Libraries, Archives, and Museums Sector.” The “call to action” in the report includes this from ARL executive director Elliott Shore:
“Imagine a scenario in which the core of the university’s mission has a place together—either in one department or in allied groupings with shared spaces and staff—where the creation and dissemination of knowledge, the preservation and exhibition of our cultural heritage, the teaching and learning with objects both physical and digital—all happens in a coherent way.”
Have a great weekend,