Telling the University Libraries’ Story

What are we, the University Libraries, all about? What do we do, and what is our story?

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Discover. Create. Succeed.

These three words describe our patrons’ process of interaction with the Libraries. They evoke the wonder and excitement of learning, the reciprocal interaction between finding material and turning it into scholarship, and the projected outcome of having interacted with our invaluable resources, whether printed, digital or human.

The University Libraries are vital to the academic success of the University of Louisville community. Both on campus and online, we are a key resource, teaching students best practices in scholarly research and collaborating with faculty to support their pedagogy. Our rich resources promote academic success. Above all, we help make UofL great.

With an important place in the UofL framework, the Libraries invite students, faculty, staff, alumni and visitors to revisit our facilities and interact with our resources, and our people.

The University Libraries support over 170 fields of study within 12 schools and colleges. Over three million people visit our libraries annually, and millions more access our website at http://www.louisville.edu/library. As members of the Association of Research Libraries (ARL), the University of Louisville Libraries rank among the top 100 academic research libraries in North America.

Visit your University Library to learn more!


Ekstrom Library Festooned for Dia de los Muertos

A visual feast awaits students, researchers and visitors in Ekstrom Library this week. In celebration of el Día de los muertos, or Day of the Dead, a national holiday celebrated throughout Latin America, traditional kites made by University of Louisville Spanish students hung in the third floor lobby, while altars honoring those who have passed away this year, including David Bowie and Muhammad Ali were set up in the Lower Level and on the first floor.

In Mexico, Día de los muertos is recognized as a National Holiday. The celebration takes place on November 1-2, in connection with the Catholic holidays: All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day. Traditions include building private altars honoring the deceased and
visiting graves with gifts.

Los barriletes gigantes (giant kites) are a unique tradition in Guatemala. For months, teams work to build giant kites made of bamboo and tissue paper. The designs are incredibly intricate and often hold a political message. On Nov. 1, the giant kites are taken to a sacred hill on the outside of town, overlooking the main cemetery. There is music, dancing, food and general celebration. At dusk, the kites, 6 meters in height and width, are
launched. The high November winds soon tear the kites to pieces, symbolic of the life
and death that all celebrate on el Día de los Muertos.

University of Louisville Spanish students have been studying the diverse ways in which el Día de los muertos is celebrated throughout Latin America. The Ekstrom Library annual event showcases the culmination of these lessons with a small Día de los muertos celebration.

To learn more:

http://louisville.edu/spanish/day_of_the_dead

http://events.louisville.edu/event/el_dia_de_los_muertos_day_of_the_dead?utm_campaign=widget&utm_medium=widget&utm_source=University+of+Louisville


Libraries Program Adds Diverse Voices, Perspectives

On a recent rainy Thursday on the eastern steps outside UofL’s Ekstrom Library, a small group gathered, defying cold and noisy UPS cargo jets, to read and hear excerpts from I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Beloved and Slaughterhouse-Five, books banned at some point in the past.

The event was led by George Martinez, the 2016-17 Diversity Residency Librarian for the University Libraries, to commemorate Banned Books Week at Ekstrom.  Earlier in the week he’d staged a screening of Persepolis, an Iranian movie based on a banned graphic novel, and directed visitors toward the Writing Center, where they could create imaginative book covers.

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George Martinez, University Libraries 2016-17 Diversity Resident. (Photo by Ashley Triplett)

These tasks were among those Martinez eagerly embraced as part of his diversity residency, a Libraries’ initiative that gives a deserving individual from an underrepresented group a foothold in a competitive profession, where minority workers are trending up, but remain relatively scarce.

Unlike most internships, which are unpaid, the diversity residency provides a salary and on-the-job training; in return, the Research Assistance and Instruction department, where Martinez works, benefits from his expertise and training as a librarian and teacher.

“He brings a fresh perspective and lots of energy and enthusiasm for his work,” said Anna Marie Johnson, head of RAI.

“There is flexibility in the position,” she continued. “The resident can attend meetings and participate in the work of groups across the library to learn about the various aspects of the academic library. In addition, the residency comes with a unique opportunity, co-authorship on an annually produced bibliography of articles on information literacy which allows the resident to gain knowledge in this important area while also getting his or her name on a publication which is important in the academic library world.”

“There are only a handful of these types of librarian residencies throughout the country. It’s a great way for me to get my foot in the door of academic libraries.”

– George Martinez, 2016-17 Diversity Resident, University Libraries

The fact that the position exists highlights the Libraries’ commitment to diversity, says Martinez.

“There are only a handful of these types of librarian residencies throughout the country. It’s a great way for me to get my foot in the door of academic libraries and I would not have relocated from California to Kentucky without this opportunity. It was also very helpful to know that the Libraries cares about diversity and serving the entire UofL community.”

In 2015, 166,000 individuals were employed as librarians in the U.S.; of those 83% were female; 84% white; 8.5% black or African American; 2.8% Asian; and 4.8% Latino, according to the U.S. Dept. of Labor Statistics.

There are various reasons for the imbalance, says Martinez.

“It’s complicated to pin down why exactly librarianship is not diverse. One factor is that librarianship is not viewed as a high paying profession and that could deter people from investing in a master’s degree in library science, which is a prerequisite for librarians. Some of the other factors relate to cultural competency within libraries.”

It’s important that libraries diversify, to “properly serve their patrons and show that they welcome a variety of backgrounds and perspectives. If we can foster diversity in librarianship, then we can more easily connect with a wider range of communities.”

“The profession is aware of it and is working on it. The residency program is one way the UofL Libraries is tackling this,” he said.

The program began in 1999 as an internship that offered participants paid tuition to complete their master’s degree in library science. In 2008, the program changed to a post-MLS residency that supports librarians from underrepresented groups early in their careers, after they’ve finished their MLS degrees. In this way the Libraries align with the UofL 2020 Plan’s overarching goal of supporting diversity within the student body and solidifying its position as a nationally recognized metropolitan university.

The residency is designed to be limited in duration, to allow a greater number of participants. Martinez will be leaving in summer of 2017.

“I’m in a place of learning right now, I do more listening than talking. I can explore in this new part of the country. My family is on the west coast, so I do intend to go back after the residency is up.”

Martinez grew up in Salinas, California and lived there for many years.  He worked as a K-6 substitute teacher in the Los Angeles public schools, and taught English and writing at New York University where he received an M.A. in Educational Theatre.  His 2015 M.L.S. is from the University of Maryland.

“The ability to grow into my first position has been so important, just seeing how the library functions, learning the different responsibilities of my job, and getting concrete skills in teaching and library instruction has been huge.”

“I feel supported and fostered,” he said. “Everybody’s been extremely welcoming and helpful.”

The fact that he has been so well supported reflects well on Ekstrom’s environment: “A library has to be in a place where they can create that kind of atmosphere. This has given me a space to collaborate while I’m learning.”


Celebrate Banned Books Week Sept. 25 – Oct. 1

Banned Books Week is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read. Typically held during the last week of September, it highlights the value of free and open access to information.

The University Libraries are sponsoring several events to commemorate Banned Books Week, including:

  • Film Screening: September 26 at 4:00pm in Ekstrom Library, Room 117A/CLC
    • Persepolis (2007): A film based on the autobiographical graphic novel by Marjane Satrapi about an independent young woman growing up in Iran. (Donuts will be served!)
  • Banned Books Read Aloud: September 27-29 from 11:00a.m. to 1:00p.m., East Side of Ekstrom Library
    •  Faculty, students, and staff will be reading from their favorite banned or challenged books on the east side of Ekstrom Library.
  • Create Your Own Book Cover: September 27-29 from 11:00a.m. to 1:00p.m., East Side of Ekstrom Library
    • Create your own book cover with the Writing Center and reflect on why a particular banned book has been meaningful to you

For more information, contact George Martinez at george.martinez@louisville.edu.

Banned Books Week brings together the entire book community — librarians, booksellers, publishers, journalists, teachers, and readers of all types — in shared support of the freedom to seek and to express ideas, even those some consider unorthodox or unpopular.

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Image: Banned book mark, The COM Library. Creative Commons

By focusing on efforts across the country to remove or restrict access to books, Banned Books Week draws national attention to the harms of censorship. The ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF) compiles lists of challenged books as reported in the media and submitted by librarians and teachers across the country.

Find out which challenged books made the 2015 list, which was released as part of the 2016 State of America’s Library Report.

A challenge is an attempt to remove or restrict materials, based upon the objections of a person or group. A banning is the removal of those materials. Challenges do not simply involve a person expressing a point of view; rather, they are an attempt to remove material from the curriculum or library, thereby restricting the access of others. As such, they are a threat to freedom of speech and choice.

The books featured during Banned Books Week have all been targeted with removal or restrictions in libraries and schools. While books have been and continue to be banned, part of the Banned Books Week celebration is the fact that, in a majority of cases, the books have remained available. This happens only thanks to the efforts of librarians, teachers, students, and community members who stand up and speak out for the freedom to read.

If you would like more information about banned and challenged books, contact the Office for Intellectual Freedom at (800) 545-2433, ext. 4220, or oif@ala.org.

 


Art Library’s Former Director remembers Bridwell as Central to Career and Creative Life

The Margaret M. Bridwell Art Library played a pivotal role in Elizabeth Douthitt Byrne’s life. Before she became its second director in 1970 – one of only four women to lead the 53-year-old library – she immersed herself in art, history, and librarianship, met her future husband in the slide library, and embarked upon an auspicious career.

This summer, Byrne (BA Art 1968) and her husband, Chuck (BS Design 1972), visited Art Library and toured the facilities, which have vastly changed. Not only has the library (named for its first director) been relocated, renovated and rebranded in the intervening years, but the collection has grown exponentially.  When she left four decades ago, the library only contained 24,000 items; it now has more than 90,000.

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Chuck Byrne, Dr. Dario Covi, and Elizabeth Douthitt Byrne

Her connection to UofL began in the 1960s when she enrolled as an art student and served as a Hite scholar from 1964-1968. During this time she worked as a student assistant in the Library, and after earning her MLS from Indiana University, she was hired as the director of Bridwell Art Library.

 

In an email, Byrne reflected on her history in the art department and with Margaret Bridwell, the Art Library’s first director:

Both Chuck and I were students in the Art Department many years ago when it was in the old administration building, and it was THE place for everyone in the Department—art, design and art history students, as well as faculty—to meet and hang out. Even after the Library moved to the basement of the then ‘new’ University Library (editor’s note: now Schneider Hall), it continued to be the gathering place for everyone, and Margaret Bridwell made it a welcoming and wonderful place.

I resigned in July 1971 when Chuck and I married and I moved to Detroit, where he was working, to join him. Chuck worked as a graphic designer and taught design for many years. I was an art/architecture/design librarian for 42 years. Our experiences with Mrs. Bridwell, the Art Department and the Art Library shaped our careers.

Byrne’s career included librarian positions at Detroit Public Library, the University of Cincinnati, and the San Diego Public Library. She concluded her distinguished career as the head of the University of California at Berkeley Environmental Design Library, a role she held for 30 years until her retirement in 2011.

During Byrne’s short tenure at the Bridwell Art Library, she made a significant impact.  In the late 1960s, much of the Art Library’s collections had been developed through personal gifts from faculty or alumni.  According to her annual report to the University Libraries’ head in 1970, Elizabeth initiated an intentional book purchasing plan in support of the expanding art department curriculum.  In particular, she purchased books on American art, architectural history, and photography.  The library is still known for its strengths in these areas today.

As the couple completed their recent tour of the Bridwell Library, they stumbled into an old friend and colleague, Dr. Dario Covi, retired Professor Emeritus of Fine Arts with UofL’s College of Arts and Sciences, who had stopped in for his daily visit (in his 90s, he still maintains office hours on campus). The couple had corresponded with Dr. Covi over the past 50 years but they hadn’t seen each other since they left Louisville. Long-time friends and colleagues were reunited in a pivotal locale that has held a special place in their hearts – the Margaret M. Bridwell Art Library.


Applying Medical Theory to Daily Clinical Librarianship: Insights from Prestigious EBCP Workshop

To benefit their patrons – physicians, clinicians, medical and dental students – clinical librarians at the University of Louisville’s Kornhauser Library are actively seeking to deepen their understanding of contemporary medical theories and practice.

This summer, Assistant Director and Clinical Librarian Vida Vaughn attended the prestigious Evidence-Based Clinical Practice (EBCP) workshop at McMaster University in Ontario, Canada.  Her main goals were to learn how to assess biostatistics in medical literature, expand her awareness of evidence-based practice, and become a better clinical librarian and teacher.

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Vida Vaughn, Kornhauser clinical librarian, interacts with dental students during a seminar break.

She soon realized that biostatistics analysis “is a graduate program in itself. But I came away knowing I can look at the literature more competently now.”

Vaughn’s work involves teaching students and clinicians on the Health Sciences Campus in the classroom setting, small groups or one-on-one, and also partnering with other medical educators. She said the workshop has helped her work more effectively, particularly with medical faculty at UofL.  Gaining their buy-in and confidence is a constant mission and based on hard work, she said.

“I learned how much physicians crave the assistance of a librarian. When they heard what I do for UofL Physicians, they were just amazed and wanted to know how to get something similar started in their organizations.”

“They have so much advanced medical knowledge and training that it can be challenging,” said Vaughn. “You have to work very hard to prove yourself, to begin to gain a level of trust. But when you help solve someone’s problem for them, they become your best advocate.”

The immersive, week-long workshop is designed to benefit physicians, nurses, dentists, clinical librarians and other health-care professionals, who learn more about EBCP – and how to teach it – in a small-group setting. EBCP is a contemporary approach to healthcare practice that “explicitly acknowledges the evidence that bears on each patient management decision, the strength of that evidence, the benefits and risk of alternative management strategies, and the role of patients’ values and preferences in trading off those benefits and risks.”

All attendees work for 10-hour days throughout the week to explore a broad curricula. Vaughn worked alongside three family practice physicians, two naturopath physicians, an optician, a research professor, a mentor in training, and another clinical librarian. “It was extremely extensive, very intense. Everyone leaves completely exhausted.”

What surprised her most was how clinicians truly view her work as a librarian.

“I learned how much physicians crave the assistance of a librarian. When they heard what I do for UofL Physicians, they were just amazed and wanted to know how to get something similar started in their organizations. The type of embeddedness and buy-in that exists at our institution is not readily available to many clinicians around the country.  At UofL, our clinical librarian team has made a concerted effort to be accepted as part of the medical teams. With some departments, I’m embedded to the point of being considered part of the furniture.”

Despite the asymmetry in medical training between the participants, there was no haughtiness or “lording it over anyone. Their attitude was, ‘We’re just here to help each other get through the workshop.’ It was an intense learning experience for everyone.

“I was pleasantly surprised by how supportive the physicians were on my process and learning. They were very engaged and mentored me through the workshops. In the critique of her presentation, her fellow group mates counseled, ‘You shouldn’t apologize so much for what you feel you don’t know because you know much more than you think.’

“I felt extremely sustained by that because I had felt quite out of my league at times.”

Vaughn, who is president of the Kentucky Medical Library Association, spoke about the workshop at a recent KMLA meeting and found a highly receptive audience.

“Now that we have made this investment in my learning, it’s my turn to come back and teach my staff and colleagues and impart the things I’ve learned.”


Kaleidoscopic Shelf Displays Show Art Library’s Collection

Talented UofL graphic design student creates sense of place for Bridwell Art Library.

Bridwell Art Library has discovered an inventive way to display its books: a colorful, edgy new bookshelf design showing patrons what they’ll find in the stacks – art and more art.

The shelving graphics, called endcaps, highlight call numbers for Bridwell’s collection, displayed over multilayered, fragmented images from within the library’s art books. Not only is the design of high quality, rivaling that of any professional graphic firm’s work, it was surprisingly local, the product of talented UofL graphic design sophomore Jenna White.

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Bridwell Art Library’s new endcaps reveal images from within art books in the stacks.

Bridwell Director Sarah Carter was first introduced to White in Fall 2015, when UofL Graphic Design faculty member and Power Creative designer-in-residence Leslie Friesen approached Carter with the idea of allowing Friesen’s graphic design class to use the library as a blank canvas of sorts, for environmental graphics within the space.  Carter would be under no obligation to implement a design, but if one emerged, the library had the option to see the project to completion.  The class gave students real-world experience, but also allowed them to explore the limits of their creativity without feeling too constrained by the client-artist relationship.

Eager to upgrade the library’s interior, and loathe to turn down an opportunity to work with student designers, Carter agreed.

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UofL graphic design student Jenna White designed the endcaps.

“I was happy to offer our space as their laboratory,” said Carter. “I knew we really needed something to display the call numbers at the end of the stacks shelves, something functional but with aesthetic parameters. So I agreed.”

The students first met with Carter to hash out details and learn about the library’s collection, color palette, furniture, lighting and environment. They then immersed themselves in the library’s interior space for several weeks, poring over stacks of art books, taking notes and pictures and “learning about us,” said Carter.  After a design charrette where Carter offered a critique of students’ work, they refined their designs.

“It was really gratifying to see, as a client, how they listened and met my needs,” Carter said.  “The trickiest part of the design was that the call numbers were variable, ranging from short to long, depending on how the books are catalogued, so the design had to be flexible for future updates and additions to the collection. Many of the students had innovative ideas, but they were not flexible or modifiable.”

Two designs emerged quickly as possibilities, though “one was a clear winner after the modification,” said Carter. “It was a very active design that accomplished the functional goals we had, enhanced wayfinding, but was aesthetically pleasing and visually exciting  ̶  and most of all, it was flexible.”

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Another view of the Art Library endcaps.

“I felt so honored to have my design selected,” said White, a UPS-sponsored sophomore and graphic design intern with the Alumni Association. “It was just a class project; we had no idea it would be implemented, but when it was, it was such a great opportunity.”

“I feel so lucky, even though it was a lot of work,” she continued.  “The class project took a semester, and then I worked with Sarah for the entire summer, pulling images from the books on the shelves. I spent a lot of time in the library and really got to know the place very well. The creative process was a bit faster than that. I knew how important it was to get it right for the librarians, because they have to look at these things all day. They had to like it.”

“This is the first time something of my own has been put out into the world. And I just thought, this is going to work,” White said. “I worked with this group of images and made a collage, played with filters and saturation until I found something that I thought looked great and showed it to Sarah and we worked on it.”

Finding the balance between aesthetically appealing graphic design and practicality was the main challenge, she said. “I was good at coming up with the creative side of things, but I had to work with Sarah quite a bit to make sure it fulfilled all the needs she had, like wayfinding. That was all new to me and more of a challenge.”

Carter says the process of working with a designer as a client helped her understand the patrons she serves much better. “It was really important to me, because I need to learn what they need so I can help them do their research,” she said.

“My favorite part about this whole process was working with Jenna and learning about the design process from a client perspective,” Carter continued. “As an art librarian, I am always trying to understand the way designers think so that I can help them in their research. It was extremely illuminating to hear her questions and watch her work to achieve the library’s goals. This process has helped me do my job better.

“I really wanted to invigorate the space and the endcaps really have done that. They help visitors conceptualize what we have on the shelves, and who we are.

“Our books are so much about visual information, but you can’t tell without opening them sometimes. They are like geodes, plain on the outside but sparkling inside. The primary content of our library is visual material.”

“I worked very hard to give Sarah exactly what she wanted,” Jenna said. “I really liked it, the way it evolved.”

Carter does, too: “It has become our identity,” she said.

White entered UofL as an art major and was involved in studio art, eager to grow as a painter. “But after I took my first graphic design course, I thought, ‘this is it.’ I just felt pure enjoyment and I was so successful, and then all these opportunities came my way.”

Carter was so impressed with White that she hired her as a student assistant for the library after the project was completed. White is also a graphic design intern with the Alumni Association.  But beyond those two commitments and her full class load, White works the night shift at UPS from 6 p.m.-8 a.m. three days a week.

Even though she stays busy, she has welcomed new requests for design work. “I try to say yes as often as possible,” she said.

“I love UofL,” she continued. “It’s a wonderful place. I feel like I’m leaving a mark.”

Photography by Trish Blair.