Voices from Underground Music Scene Added to Archives

Across the country, a substantial number of academic musical archives are dedicated to folk, world, country, bluegrass, classical and other musical genres, while other popular forms – namely punk, hardcore, indie and rock – are left out of the mix.

Aiming to correct this imbalance, UofL’s Louisville Underground Music Archive (LUMA) was established in 2013 to preserve recordings, photographs, videos, ‘zines, set lists, fan mail, and other artifacts of the Louisville underground music scene from the late 1970s until the present.

Not only does LUMA not consider these musical genres to be chopped liver, it recently pursued and was given a grant of $1,800 by the Kentucky Oral History Commission (KOHC), allowing LUMA to add oral histories – interviews with individuals from the era – to its collection.

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Hard Times covered the hardcore/punk scene in Louisville.

“These oral histories will be an excellent way to round out our collection” said Heather Fox, co-director of the Oral History Center and archivist for manuscript collections with Archives and Special Collections. Eighteen-hundred dollars doesn’t sound like a lot of money, but it makes it possible for us to do this work,” said Fox, who will oversee the project.

Matched by funds from the ASC’s oral history budget, the project will be built with $3,600, most of which will go toward paying local journalist and former punk rocker Chip Nold to conduct interviews with musicians from the era.

Nold is not only an experienced journalist and interviewer, with a degree in history from Princeton, but was also the lead singer for Babylon Dance Band (aka “the Babs”), one of the first punk groups in Louisville, thus “the perfect candidate for the project,” Fox said.

“Chip had experience interviewing people for feature stories, but we made sure to train him on oral history methodology, and then sent him out with a trusty Marantz PMD 660 [a portable compact flash recorder] to get started.”

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Skull of Glee

“The oral history project fills in the gaps of our collection,” she continued. “It lets us discover what it was like to be playing music during that era, and what it felt like to be there then. This is something oral history is great at fleshing out.”

Among the first interview subjects  was a local music critic, with other musicians from the scene also on tap.

“LUMA is an effort to document part of Louisville’s culture that might not be documented otherwise. Music has played an important role in cultural life of Louisville and still does, and LUMA is filling in that gap.”

“When we’re collecting artifacts around a music scene, we’re less interested in the published material, because there are multiple copies of that. We’re more interested in finding unique items, like fan mail.”

As an example, LUMA has a collection of fan mail sent to Louisville hardcore band Endpoint. Mail addressed to the band came from fans in Louisville, around the U.S., and even Germany.

“Fan mail demonstrates the impact this music had on this community and in other parts of the country and world. . . .It documents the ways in which people communicated before the internet, which is really neat,” Fox said.

“There is fan mail from Louisville fans just across town to the guys in the band. I doubt that ever happens now. People are on Facebook or other social media and have immediate contact.”

Once completed, Fox will upload them to the digital collections where visitors will be able to search for specific passages within the recordings. Archives and Special Collections will be “integrating a new software that will allow us to index digital oral histories and then provide online access that will include a search box, to make the recording key-word searchable. It’s also time-coded, so you can go to the exact place in the audio to find that passage.”

“Ideally what we want is a full transcription of an interview; that’s the most time consuming thing of the process,” she continued.

Fox has eight years of experience with all aspects of oral history, including recording, transcribing and conducting such interviews. She also provided access to oral histories through her work at the Kentucky Historical Society on the Pass the Word website and at the University of Louisville’s CONTENTdm instance which provides online transcripts and streaming audio.

The LUMA advisory board is comprised of local musicians like Nathan Salsburg, musician and curator of the Alan Lomax Archive; musician and actor Will Oldham; Diane Pecknold, professor of popular culture who has written and edited books about country music (who is married to a member of the Louisville band Squirrel Bait); and other members of the community like John Timmons, owner of celebrated ear X-tacy, an erstwhile record store that employed many active participants in the scene, developed a list of active and well-known musicians in the scene during the early to mid-1980s.

Please browse the LUMA collection and find out more about Archives and Special Collections.


Website Redesign Brings Better Mobile Experience

You may have noticed some changes happening on the University of Louisville Libraries website. Last summer we introduced new sites for the Bridwell Art Library and the Dwight Anderson Memorial Music Library along with improved scheduling apps for room reservations and research appointments.

In March we released the new site for Archives & Special Collections.

In the upcoming months we’ll be bringing you new sites for the Kornhauser Health Sciences Library, Ekstrom Library, and the University of Louisville Libraries. Tentative dates for these releases are July 1 for the Kornhauser site and August 1 for the Ekstrom and UofL Libraries sites.

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Desktop view

Better Mobile Experience

Mobile view for new UofL Libraries homepage

Mobile view

A driving reason for these changes is the increasing use of mobile  devices for accessing all parts of the site. In the previous version of our site the homepages for each library provided limited options in the mobile view. The new version will have the complete content of the site in the mobile version as well as in desktop views.

URL Changes

Currently, our website is split between two systems; when the project is complete the entire site will be located on one system. URLs for the pages on the old system will change. For example, when the Music Library site moved its URL changed from louisville.edu/library/music to library.louisville.edu/music/home.

The content management system (CMS) we are moving to is designed specifically for libraries and provides tools to help us keep links and other content fresh.


May I Help You? How Ekstrom Responds, Analyzes and Acts on Your Questions

By Matt Goldberg, Head, Access and User Services

Have you ever stopped at a desk in Ekstrom Library to ask a question, such as: Do you have any copies of Dan Brown’s new book? Where’s the bathroom? What time does the library close? If you have, our desk staff have carefully recorded the question and answer so that we can determine trends in patron needs and service requests in an effort to improve how our library operates.

Using a program called Gimlet, the Access and User Services Department (AUS) records every question and answer asked at the west, east, and technology desks, and this data is reviewed weekly by departmental staff. Beyond looking to make sure our staff is giving correct information, we do significant work to refine, manipulate, and extrapolate the hundreds of questions asked per week.

Gimlet word cloud

The collection of these questions is quite labor-intensive, thanks to the frequency of questions asked by patrons. From June 2015 to May 2016, there were nearly 32,000 questions asked at the desks, an average of more than 2,600 per month, or about 90 per day. Each question is tagged by the desk staff to group them into easily sortable categories (internal directions, policy, technology, research, etc.) so that we can go back and look for data trends.

You might wonder how we use these trends to make decisions. For instance, in early 2015, we noticed that there were an abnormally high number of printing and copying questions being handled by desk staff at the east and west desks. To alleviate this we opened the technology desk in the computer commons to give students more direct technology help. In another instance, high levels of directional questions have led to improved signage across the building to help patrons find what they are looking for with more visual cues.

We routinely examine trends in the data to examine our own processes and policies. Last semester we opened the east side of the building until 2 a.m., a move that was fueled by a combination of student suggestions, gate count data, and Gimlet numbers that showed students in the building later in the evening than usual. We periodically run visualization reports of the data to see how users are asking their questions, producing word clouds like the one above.

So the next time you ask a question in Ekstrom, just know, we are listening and always looking to be of better assistance!


Wikipedians Unite at UofL Libraries

2017 is the second year that UofL’s Margaret M. Bridwell Art Library hosted community members to learn about how to edit Wikipedia.  Over a dozen people attended this event to combat gender disparity in the art world.

Artist Elizabeth Catlett wrote “No other field is closed to those who are not white and male as is the visual arts. After I decided to be an artist, the first thing I had to believe was that I, a black woman, could penetrate the art scene, and that, further, I could do so without sacrificing one iota of my blackness or my femaleness or my humanity.”1

Not only is the field of contemporary art difficult for women and non-binary people to break into, but the highly-masculine culture of Wikipedia is also a barrier to gender equality.  For example, articles about topics typically associated with females (Polly Pocket) are typically shorter and link to fewer references, while those associated with males (Nerf) are longer, and include more references.

In a 2011 survey, Wikimedia found that less than 13% of its contributors were female.

Art+Feminism is a global, grassroots campaign to end gender disparity within Wikipedia, not only in terms of the number or articles about women in the visual arts, but more importantly the number of female editors.  Attendees gathered to attend a training about how to edit Wikipedia articles before beginning to make edits of their own.  In Louisville, attendees included UofL students, professors, and local St. Francis School high school students.  New editors corrected facts, added citations to existing article, and ultimately created two new articles.

Articles improved include those about African-American artists Senga Nengudi and Elizabeth Catlett.  Both are sculptors, and known for their work on themes of race, gender, and class.

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  1. Farris, Phoebe. Women Artists of Color: A Bio-critical Sourcebook to 20th Century Artists in the Americas. Westport, CT: Greenwood, 1999.

Seeking Your Opinion on Ekstrom Renovation

By Maurini Strub

It’s been over a year since the east wing of the 1st floor of Ekstrom Library was renovated.  We hope that during this time you’ve enjoyed using the space, and maybe discovered a new favorite spot.

Before the renovation, we collected feedback on your needs, desires and difficulties, and that data helped inform the design of the space. Design solutions include a clearly identified, “one-stop shopping” service desk; enhanced technology support and printing services; an intuitive approach to the layout of services and spaces; and a mixture of learning and study spaces.DSC_0045

Assessing how well we met our goals is the focus of a survey we’ll be conducting through April 25.  As you walk through the first floor-east, you’ll see some questionnaires, and a large red box as you enter the east lobby (see photos).

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The survey seeks to discover your satisfaction with these improved learning spaces, how these spaces have impacted your success at UofL, your experience using our services, and the value of collocating some of our primary services. Concurrently, we’ll conduct periodic observations and review collections usage data.

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We’d love to hear about your experience in these new spaces. Please feel free to complete this very short questionnaire or fill out the paper one and leave it in the red box in the lobby!


Interest in Dystopian Fiction Surges

By Carolyn Dowd and George Martinez

Following the November election, George Orwell’s 1984 became an instant best-selling novel. It is one among a number of 20th Century dystopian novels making a resurgence in popularity recently. A bitterly contested American election and subsequent change in governing style may have prompted some to seek out fictionalized accounts of dystopian realities, as an odd form of comfort.

1984

What is dystopian fiction?  Contrary to utopian fictions, in which an author projects an ideal worldview of humanity, dystopian fictions offer a darker vision of human behavior, where desired societal norms are turned on their heads. Thus, a society might led not by a beneficent, wise and humane ruler, but an immature, inhumane, simple-minded fool.

In 1984, Winston Smith lives under the intolerable, crippling and constant scrutiny of the ironically named ruler of Oceana, Big Brother. His attempts to find individual freedom within such a society forms the main drama of the novel.

Other examples of dystopian fiction include Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World,  Anthony Burgess’ A Clockwork Orange, and Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale.

Want to dig further into our collection of dystopian fiction? Here’s a list:

handmaids taleThe Road by Cormac McCarthy

Brown Girl in the Ring by Nalo Hopkinson

The Stand by Stephen King

V For Vendetta by Alan Moore

Battle Royale by Koushun Takami

Blindness by José Saramago

I Am Legend by Richard Matheson

The Drowned World by J.G. Ballard

Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler

 

 


Editing to Defeat Gender Disparity in Wikipedia

By Trish Blair

In a 2010 survey Wikipedia found that less than 13% of its contributors identify as female.    While the reasons for the gender issues are debatable, the results represent marginalization in the form of a combined history.  To combat this issue Art + Feminism Wikipedia edit-a-thon events were created.  Every year, since 2014, there have been over 280 events across six continents to combat this problem by creating and updating thousands of Wikipedia articles about women in art.

art-and-feminism

Last March the Bridwell Art Library participated for the first time, in collaboration with the Hite Institute of Art to create a page for the International Honor Quilt which UofL is the permanent repository.  This massive community based art project was on display in the spring of 2016 at the Hite Gallery and fit nicely into our first editing project.  We had 13 people working diligently to collaboratively research and create a new Wikipedia page.  It was hard work but we all felt a sense of accomplishment when our page was uploaded.

This year the Bridwell Art Library is proud to announce that our Art + Feminism Edit-a-Thon will be held Thursday March 23 from 4pm-7pm inside the library at Schneider Hall.  We would like to invite anyone to join us who in interested in learning how to edit Wikipedia regardless of age, gender or human experience.  If you are drawn to art or feminism come help us to research, create and celebrate great women artists.

To sign up please go to:

http://tinyurl.com/uoflartfem17

All you will need to bring is yourself, a laptop or tablet, and the desire to be a part of this incredible worldwide event.