Open Educational Resources and Student Success

Studies have shown that students will forgo buying a textbook due to its price even while acknowledging that they will do worse in the class without their own copy. With hardcopy textbooks costing as much as $400 with averages running between $80 and $150, many students feel financially pressured to not purchase the text.

Open Educational Resources (OER) can help students succeed by reducing their costs and improving their access to course materials. OER are freely available material and the availability of them is growing as faculty recognize the advantages to students and their financial considerations in whether to buy textbooks, or indeed, to complete their degrees.

In order help faculty learn about OER, the University Libraries have created a new website, https://library.louisville.edu/oer/, that provides information on what OER are, how to find them, and how to implement them.

Open Educational Resources site home page
Open Educational Resources site

The Defining OER section introduces what OER are and how they benefit student learning.

The Finding OER section includes search options for OER metafinders and library e-books (which are available at no additional cost to UofL students, staff, and faculty). On the OER by Subject tab, faculty can link to individual guides for specific subjects which provide highlight available materials. The Evaluating OER tab provides a suggested list of questions faculty should ask when determining whether a particular OER will work for their class.

The Implementing OER section provides information on creating and adapting OER, creative commons licensing, and contact information for consultation services with our OER Librarian.

We invite you to explore the site and start thinking about how you could use OER to improve student success.

Sources

Richard, Brendan, Dean Cleavenger, and Valerie A. Storey. “The Buy-In: A Qualitative Investigation of the Textbook Purchase Decision.” Journal of Higher Education Theory & Practice 14, no. 3 (2014): 20-31.

“Average Cost of College Textbooks.” Updated August 12, 2021, accessed May 13, 2022, https://educationdata.org/average-cost-of-college-textbooks.


Libraries hire new project archivist for Julius Friedman collection

A trove of work by Louisville artist Julius Friedman (1943-2017), including a diverse mix of graphic design, books, commercial art, and photography, was recently donated to University of Louisville’s Archives and Special Collections (ASC), by Friedman’s sister, Louisville philanthropist Carol Abrams.

And now Friedman’s work will soon be preserved, organized, cataloged and available for public viewing thanks to additional funding from Abrams which allows ASC to hire a project archivist.

Poster of images associated with boys, a baseball, model airplane, string, toys, a whistle, junior safety patrol button, etc.
Boys Will Be Boys poster, created for Buckeye Boys Ranch in Grove City, Ohio, a home for troubled boys. Copies of the poster were sold to benefit the ranch. 

“It’s a rich and unique group of materials and there are so many different types,” said Haley-Marie Ellegood, who will serve a one-year term as archivist for the Julius Friedman Collection. “He worked with widely different formats – there is graphic design, posters, photography, and at the end of his career he got into bookmaking. He was moving into video production when he died.”

A recent Indiana University graduate with a Master of Library Science, Ellegood specialized in archives and records management and worked in the IU Archives. In addition to researching, cataloging, and preserving the collection, Ellegood will help select items for an exhibit of Friedman’s works to be held in mid-July in ASC’s gallery.

Image of book with colorful animals, a green fox, gray turtle, orange warthog, purple rabbit and brown chipmunk facing each other in a circle.
The Day the Animals Lost Their True Colors. Published in 2001 by the Brain Injury Association of Kentucky Press, this book was one of many books designed by Friedman. 

“He really loved working for nonprofit groups and he mostly worked for free,” said Ellegood. “He wasn’t really into making money, but he created annual reports for corporations and was able to charge a fair fee for it. That type of payment apparently funded his work for nonprofits.”

Brown Foreman Annual Report 1992
1992 Brown-Forman Corporation Annual Report. Friedman’s first B-F annual report, named a bronze winner for photography by Financial World magazine. 

Friedman was well known for his commercial photography, graphic design, and iconic posters, including “Fresh Paint”; “Ballerina Toe on Egg” for the Louisville Ballet; and “Ice Cream in French Horn” for the Louisville Orchestra.

In addition to many of Friedman’s iconic posters, the collection includes much of his photography, and graphic design for menus, postcards, stationery, event programs, and flyers. Other materials include some of his written work, including a few notebooks and some correspondence. ASC has had a relationship with Friedman going back decades. Although the Filson Historical Society has a small collection of Friedman’s art, ASC holds the largest part of the collection.

Four photographs of flowers at a high resolution and up close.
Photographs of flowers printed on Masonite. Friedman took pictures of everything, but he seems to have especially enjoyed taking pictures of nature. Later in his career he experimented with printing photos on different types of materials such as Masonite and aluminum. 

Ellegood says her love of archival work grew out of her love of history, her subject major as an undergraduate. “I love learning about important people in historic places and from historic times. And I enjoy making information accessible to people, so they can appreciate it.”

Image of young woman with dark hair.
Haley-Marie Ellegood

Processing Friedman’s collection is an exciting first professional project after graduate school for Ellegood. “His art really makes you think about what’s going on, it’s not what you would expect. You wouldn’t expect a ballerina to balance on an egg. It challenges your preconceived notions.”


Awards Honor University Libraries Employees

Three University Libraries employees have been honored with awards for outstanding performance and merit, and for contributions to the Louisville community.

John Burton, Acquisitions Specialist with Technical Services won the University of Louisville’s annual Outstanding Performance Award honoring exceptional service in staff.  Burton has worked for the Libraries for over 30 years, having begun as a libraries student assistant, and later with Technical Services, and has experienced first-hand the transformation of the library profession and its services, including the transition from an analog card catalog to digitized online collections. As Acquisitions Specialist, Burton is in charge of finding and evaluating items to add to the Libraries’ physical and digital collections.

Photo of John Burton
John Burton

The award comes with a cash award of $1,000, an acrylic plaque, and public mention on the University website and UofL Today.

Fannie Cox, Outreach and Reference Librarian, has been chosen for the University of Louisville Distinguished Faculty Award, which recognizes “the excellent service of the University of Louisville faculty and the significant impact that service has on the university and beyond.” The awards are given annually to faculty for exceptional service in five categories: service to UofL; service to the profession; service to the community, the commonwealth and/or the region; national/international service; career of service.

Picture of Fannie Cox with award.
Fannie Cox (photo by Rob Detmering)

As community outreach and reference librarian, Cox has forged relationships with numerous organizations and individuals working to help under-served communities in Louisville, particularly in the West End. She leads the Outreach Program within the Libraries, which offers instructional support to community members, helping them develop informational literacy and critical thinking skills. She has been with the Libraries for 22 years.

Cox and Burton were honored at the 2022 Faculty and Staff Excellence Awards Reception on Monday, April 18 in the Student Activities Center ballroom.

Additionally, Weiling Liu, Head of Office of Libraries Technology, was one of five individuals selected to receive the Jewish Family and Career ServicesMOSAIC (Multicultural Opportunities for Success and Achievement In our Community) Award.  The MOSAIC Awards “honor immigrants and refugees from around the globe who have made significant contributions in their professions to the Louisville community.” The 2022 nominations were open to individuals who, “regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, gender, or country of origin, have fulfilled their dreams of self-sufficiency and made an impact in our community” according to Liu’s award letter.

Photo of Weiling Liu
Weiling Liu

Liu has worked with the Libraries for 23 years. As the Head of OLT, she manages and directs a department responsible for all aspects of library technology systems and libraries technical support. In her history with the University Libraries, she oversaw the migration of the library catalog system and the implementation of Ekstrom Library’s noted Robot Retrieval System. She has been a member of state, national and international library professional associations.  In addition, she is a life member of the Chinese American Librarians Association (CALA), a non-profit international organization of librarians. Professor Liu also serves on the Association of Chinese Americans in Kentuckiana (ACAK) board and was president from 2018-2021.

The MOSAIC award ceremony and dinner will take place on Thursday, May 26, 2022 at the Muhammad Ali Center in downtown Louisville. In addition to Liu, this year’s award winners are Dr. Faten Abdullah, Jose Neil Donis, Dr. Juan Gustavo Polo, and Frank Schwartz.


Digital Collections – New and Old

The University of Louisville Libraries Digital Collections is moving to a new platform, Samvera Hyku, an open-source repository framework. It will allow for greater configurability, including an improved image viewer. The open-source software allows the University of Louisville Libraries to contribute technical development rather than licensing funds, ultimately saving money while developing our skills and promoting broader, more equitable access to digital content.

However, in the short term, situations beyond our control relating to the aging server and out-of-date software require us to limit access to the full set of materials on the old platform, at https://digital.library.louisville.edu, to on-campus and UofL logins only. If you are on either campus, the URL should work as it always has. If you are off-campus and are a student, employee, alumnus, or retiree with an active UofL address, simply go to https://echo.louisville.edu/login and log in, then either select Digital Collections from the confirmation page, or replace the “digital.library.louisville.edu” string with “digital-library-louisville-edu.echo.louisville.edu”.

Meanwhile, the beta version of Digital Collections on the Hyku platform can be explored and shared by anyone and everyone, on or off campus, at https://hyku.library.louisville.edu/.

Hyku version of Digital Collections
Digital Collections in Hyku

Only about 20% of the content has been added to the Hyku version. We are still testing code for upload of multiple-page items (books, catalogs, newspapers, postcard folios, baseball cards, recto/verso images, atlases, photo series…), but not even every single-page item has been uploaded yet. If you don’t see something you used to be able to access yet, don’t worry – it will get there!

Once everything has been migrated to Hyku, the old server will be completely shut down and the https://digital.library.louisville.edu address will transfer to Hyku. We do not recommend saving the URLs of items you’re interested in reviewing; instead, please make note of the Item Number, as that will be the best way for you and our staff to identify both the digital and physical items.

If you have questions about functionality, please let us know, so that we can not only help you, but also write up an explanation for others.


The Susan and William Yarmuth Jewish Studies Reading Room Opens in Ekstrom Library

To honor the local Jewish community and provide special presentation, reflection and quiet study space for the UofL campus, The Susan and William Yarmuth Jewish Studies Reading Room officially opened on Ekstrom Library’s 3rd Floor with a ceremony on March 20. 

The new space showcases the Libraries’ Jewish Studies collection, and features the Deborah and Rabbi Robert Slosberg Collection, which consists of the personal library the couple amassed over decades of serving and leading Jewish congregations.

Shown are Libraries Dean Bob Fox, UofL President Lori Gonzalez, William Yarmuth, Sue Yarmuth, Deborah Slosberg and Rabbi Slossberg standing before a red ribbon prior to cutting it at a ribbon cutting ceremony to open the new Jewish Studies Reading Room.

Libraries Dean Bob Fox, UofL President Lori Gonzalez, William Yarmuth, Sue Yarmuth, Deborah Slosberg and Rabbi Slossberg at a ribbon cutting ceremony to open the new Jewish Studies Reading Room.

“We are excited to open the new Jewish Studies Reading Room and are grateful for the generous donations that allowed us to fully complete the room and open it to the public,” said Libraries Dean Bob Fox. “We hope that the room will serve to inspire future generations of scholars to greater success.”

The ribbon-cutting ceremony and room dedication included remarks from Interim President Lori Gonzalez, William and Susan Yarmuth, Rabbi Slosberg and Libraries Dean Fox before closing with a mezuzah dedication. A mezuzah is a small scroll inscribed with prayers and verses from the Torah and attached in a case near the opening of a home or building as a sign of faith as a constant reminder of God’s presence. As instructed in the Torah, Jews will often touch the mezuzah as they go through the door. In the Yarmuth Reading Room, it is located on the wall to the right upon entry. 

The 2,600-square-foot space features floor-to-ceiling windows and offers one of the most scenic views on campus. Along with the Deborah and Rabbi Robert Slosberg Collection, the space features a drop-down screen, a built-in projection and sound system and Wi-Fi. It also includes a glass wall, which includes display cases for UofL’s Jewish Studies Program, part of the Department of Comparative Humanities, to use to highlight its collections.

The Susan and William Yarmuth Jewish Studies Reading Room will be used for reflection, study space, public events and guest speakers. The newly designed room can seat up to 42.


Louisville history of racial oppression and activism revealed in new online resource

By Rebecca Pattillo

University of Louisville’s Archives and Special Collections (ASC) has published a new resource, Uncovering Racial Logics: Louisville’s History of Racial Oppression and Activism, a website that provides access to documents, oral histories, photographs and other materials that tell the story of Louisville’s history of racial oppression and activism.

The site is focused on education, policing and housing, “areas in which we see institutional racism at work, producing unequal access to resources, freedoms, and opportunities as part of ongoing U.S. racial stratification,” according to the site’s introduction. Funded by the Cooperative Consortium for Transdisciplinary Social Justice Research (CCTSJR) and the Anne Braden Institute for Social Justice Research, the collaborative project was created by faculty members across multiple departments for an interdisciplinary look at the “racial logics” of Louisville via primary source materials housed in ASC.

A group of Black and white women standing in front of a bus, 21 July 1966. Source: R_18909, Royal Photo Company Collection, 1982.03, Photographic Archives, University of Louisville, Louisville, Kentucky.
A group of Black and white women standing in front of a bus, 21 July 1966. Source: R_18909, Royal Photo Company Collection, 1982.03, Photographic Archives, University of Louisville, Louisville, Kentucky.

Dr. Carrie Mott, UofL Assistant Professor of Geographic and Environmental Sciences and one of the site’s creators, said the goal of the project was to provide access to useful information to anyone interested in learning about Louisville’s history around racial justice.

“We also wanted to provide a tool that would help people see the amazing archival resources housed at ASC,” said Mott.  “From prior research and teaching with archives at UofL, I knew of the wealth of resources we have here at UofL. But we recognized many people on campus as well as in the larger Louisville community do not understand how to use archival resources, why they might be useful, or know how to access them. The website was an opportunity to provide some resources in terms of actual scanned documents, but also to help people learn that UofL has a lot more where that came from for research on Louisville’s racial history.”

Rebecca Pattillo, ASC Metadata Librarian and site co-creator, said “Working on this project allowed ASC to make some of our materials available digitally. The site also directs visitors to our robust online digital collections, where they can explore some of the materials referenced in greater depth.”

“One misconception about the archives is that they are only available to UofL affiliated people, when actually we are open to anyone in the community,” said Pattillo.

The site features scanned archival documents including pamphlets, newspaper clippings, oral histories, correspondence, and photographs, with contextual and historical information about each document and the larger collection to which it belongs. In addition to scanned documents, the site also highlights oral histories, story maps, and other resources addressing Louisville’s racial history. 

"Office of Black Affairs bulletin 1969-1970", Reference file: Office of Black Affairs, Archives and Special Collections
“Office of Black Affairs bulletin 1969-1970,” Reference file: Office of Black Affairs, Archives and Special Collections

Site users may explore the topic of both secondary and higher education in Louisville to learn about the push for equal pay among Black and white teachers in the late 1930s and early 1940s, the city’s move to desegregate schools via court-ordered busing in the mid-1970s, integration of the University of Louisville in the 1950s, and the founding of the Black Student Union and the Department of Black Affairs in the late 1960s. In addition, learn about Simmons University, one of Kentucky’s two HBCUs (Historically Black Colleges and Universities), and Louisville Municipal College, the only Black liberal arts college in the state which operated from 1931 through 1951, when it merged with a newly integrated UofL.

Another topic explored is the history of policing and police violence throughout the city. An example is the story of Fred J. Harris, a Black man who lost an eye after being beaten by police in 1979, and the work of the Kentucky Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression to seek justice for Harris by demanding accountability from the police force.

Progress in Education (PIE) Records, (Box 3, Folder 3 "Statewide March on Frankfort, July 2, 1976"), 
Archives and Special Collections, University of Louisville.
Progress in Education (PIE) Records, (Box 3, Folder 3 “Statewide March on Frankfort, July 2, 1976”), Archives and Special Collections, University of Louisville.

Housing and Urban Renewal is another focus of the Uncovering Racial Logics project. Select archival materials highlight the narrative of Louisville’s history of racist housing policies and practices, including the construction of racially segregated federal public housing projects in the aftermath of the destruction of neighborhoods and displacement of communities via Urban Renewal. These materials also reveal resistance to and organizing among the Black community and white allies to fight against racist housing policies and discriminatory practices. One such well known housing project is Beecher Terrace, which is explored via the papers of its long-time manager, Earl Pruitt.

Rounding out the project is an extensive, albeit not exhaustive, list of resources for further research. You can explore interactive maps that detail the history of racism within city planning and zoning, as well as redlining within Louisville. In addition is a list of community resources that highlight local organizations that work to empower and improve life for Louisville’s diverse citizens. Also included is a list of UofL Resourcesthathighlights on-campus organizations and committees that work towards racial and social justice, as well as minority affinity groups.

This project was created by Carrie Mott, Rebecca Pattillo, Melanie Gast, Anna Browne Rebiero, Joy Hart, Kelly Kinahan, and Catherine Fosl, with additional assistance from undergraduate and graduate research assistants Cat Alexander, Elizabeth Frazier, and Ben Harlan. Additional technical assistance was provided by Cassidy Meurer and Terri Holtze. Special thanks goes to UofL’s Cooperative Consortium for Transdisciplinary Social Justice Research (CCTSJR) and Anne Braden Institute for Social Justice Research (ABI) for funding and supporting this work, as well as our community partners.

Archives and Special Collections collects, organizes, preserves, and makes available for research rare and unique primary and secondary source material, particularly relating to the history and cultural heritage of Louisville, Kentucky and the surrounding region, as well as serving as the official memory of the University of Louisville.


How to reserve a room in our libraries

Curious about how to reserve a room in one of our libraries? It’s easy!

First, navigate to the University Libraries website: library.louisville.edu/home.

Libraries website home page. In the right-hand column is the box titled Reserve a Room.

Next, click on the orange “Reserve a Room” box in the right hand column. This page should come up:

Landing page for room reservations. Shows room descriptions and a limit to box.

Then choose the library where you would like to reserve a room. Or if you prefer, you can limit your choices by room type: auditoriums, conference rooms, group study rooms, or instruction labs.

Small box with inverted white text on black backdrop titled "Limit To"

Some rooms are only available to be reserved by faculty or staff. Others are also open to students.

Descriptions of rooms may include a list of equipment and technology available within the space. For example, Art Library’s Room 102C includes:

  • Movable furniture
  • Control panel to turn on/off system
  • 70″ mounted television monitor
  • Mac computer 
  • Web conferencing camera
  • CD/DVD player
  • Screen mirroring software compatible with laptops, phones, and tablets
  • Wireless keyboard and mouse
  • Freestanding podium
  • External speakers
  • Mobile whiteboard and markers
Shows image of Art Library's Room 102C, which may be reserved. Gray carpet, six tables with two chairs each, all modular, and a large video screen. Art on the walls.
The Art Library’s Room 102C

Please remember to visit each library’s policies (Ekstrom; Kornhauser; Art; Music). Some rooms have specific policies which are included in the room description.


James Everett Recalls Beecher Terrace and ‘Old Walnut’ in the ‘40s

By Tom Owen, Archivist for Regional History, Archives & Special Collections

Photo of young James Everett
Young James Everett. Courtesy
of Howard Breckinridge

Howard Breckinridge of Plano, Texas, a longtime friend of our Archives and Special Collections and a fountain of information about West Louisville history, told me that his eighty-eight-year-old cousin James Everett also had keen memories of Louisville’s African American community in the 1940s. Everett and his parents were among the first residents of the brand-new Beecher Terrace public housing project on Muhammad Ali, and he spent his entire youth enjoying the bustle of the ‘Old Walnut Street’ business district. I jumped at the chance to capture those memories on tape since Beecher Terrace is being totally redone as a mixed-income community. At the same time, the wisdom of the destruction by Urban Renewal of that segregated commercial district immediately west of downtown in the late 1950s is being reopened for debate.

The problem was James Everett, an Indianapolis resident, was in poor health and under Covid protocols it was unwise for me to travel. Heather Fox, director of ASC’s Oral History Center, stepped into the breech, downloading an app to my cell phone that allowed me to record an almost one-hour interview with James Everett which as a digital file has been added to our massive collection of 2000 oral histories, gathered since the early 1970s and including many from the African American community.

Beecher Terrace public housing development, Louisville, KY, 1940s
D. W. Beard Housing Authority Collection. Photo Archives. 1987.61.028

In our interview last July, Everett recalled the family move to Beecher Terrace when he was eight as a God-send—a new comfortable home with central heat, indoor plumbing, and hot and cold running water which trumped in every respect their former rental in Louisville’s Black Hill neighborhood at Eleventh and Magnolia. He also remembered ‘Beecher’ as a safe, pleasant community where children were admonished by other parents if they got out-out-of-line and there were plenty of things for kids to do. For him, the lengthy ‘Old Walnut’ business district, which bordered his home on the south and stretched from Sixth to Thirteenth and beyond, offered a potpourri of possibilities: a favored donut shop, movie theaters, cleaners and tailor shops, pawn shops, dry goods and drug stores, cafes, and taverns and much more. (Some of the venues were Black owned.) At one point, James tells how as a teenager he snuck into the locally famous Top Hat Nightclub without being ejected by Frankie Maxwell, the watchful manager. On Derby Day, he said, ‘Old Walnut’s’ sidewalks were filled with fashionably dressed visitors—some not even headed to the track—and a large parade filled the street on Thanksgiving Day prior to an annual Central High School rivalry football game.

Walnut Street, now Muhammad Ali Blvd., Louisville, KY, 1942
Walnut Street, Louisville, KY, 1942 https://digital.library.louisville.edu/cdm/ref/collection/cs/id/6563

One especially warm memory involved Mr. Davidson, James’ teacher at Central, who met eight or ten male students in the neighborhood and led them on a lengthy Saturday hike through Downtown Louisville, across the Second Street bridge, and down the Indiana shore to the Falls of the Ohio. Praising this youth mentorship, Everett told of wading into the shallow pools at the Falls to catch carp with his hands and stopping for lunch on the way back to Beecher Terrace. The last third of our interview is a chronicle of James Everett’s years in the Air Force, his brief return to Louisville, and a permanent move to Indianapolis where, after a decade of job changes, he was employed by Ford Motor Company twenty-eight years until his retirement.

Sadly, a couple of weeks ago, Howard Breckinridge texted that James Everett died on November 13. How happy I am that Heather Fox made possible a phone interview that will be preserved in our ASC Oral History Collection. Now we hold forever the memories of a childhood and youth of an elderly Indianapolis resident spent in the 1940s in Louisville’s Beecher Terrace housing complex along that once-vibrant ‘Old Walnut’ business district.


UofL Librarian Alexandra Howard Selected for Prestigious American Library Association (ALA) Leadership Program

Professor Alexandra Howard, Business Research & Teaching Librarian at Ekstrom Library, was chosen for the American Library Association’s 2022 class of Emerging Leaders, a prestigious national program that accepts a limited number of participants annually.

Photo of Professor Alexandra Howard, Business Research and Teaching Librarian.
Alexandra Howard

The program offers Howard the chance to lead within the library profession and learn about the ALA structure from an insider’s perspective. Participants receive support and encouragement to serve on ALA committees and other library-related organizations.

“I’m really excited to be selected for this program,” said Howard. “My goal is to be in leadership, and I’ve been very vocal about seeking out these types of opportunities.”

Howard, who joined Ekstrom Library in October 2020, conducted her interview and application process entirely online. The process was surreal, albeit necessary, and she is “relieved” to have been on campus since August, working in person with her colleagues and campus contacts.

“It’s been a great year. I’ve been super busy, meeting with lots of faculty, teaching 44 classes this year, and holding lots of research appointments with undergraduate and graduate students.”

Howard will bring her background in outreach and advocacy to her work with the EL program.

“My focus is on innovation, community engagement, and anti-racism in my work,” she said. “One of my goals is to be a leader for innovation and community engagement in libraries. A lot of the research assistance and instruction I offer as the Business Research & Teaching Librarian is related to management and leadership.”

She has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Africana Studies from Oberlin College, and a Master of Library Information Science in Cultural Heritage Informatics from Simmons University. Prior to earning her MLIS, she worked as a criminal defense investigator for the Nashville Public Defender, investigating hundreds of cases to secure not-guilty verdicts for people accused of committing felony offenses who could not afford an attorney. She also coordinated the Youth Advisory Board at Larkin Street Youth Services in San Francisco, a leadership and advocacy program for young people experiencing homelessness.

Professor Howard is a member of the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) and serves on its Diversity Alliance Task Force; she also is a commissioner on the University of Louisville’s Commission on Diversity and Racial Equity (CODRE). As part of her faculty role with the Libraries, she conducts research focused on connecting local Black-owned businesses and entrepreneurs with university resources to help address the racial wealth gap.

The American Library Association (ALA) Emerging Leaders (EL) program is a leadership development program which enables newer library workers from across the country to participate in problem-solving work groups, network with peers, gain an inside look into ALA structure, and have an opportunity to serve the profession in a leadership capacity. It puts participants on the fast track to ALA committee volunteerism as well as other professional library-related organizations.


In Memoriam: Photographer Ron Morris (1947-2021)

By Trish Blair, Art Library Collections Coordinator

In the fall of 2018, I met Ron Morris for the first time, and the very first thing he said to me and my co-worker Kathy Moore, is that he was dying. And that is how our partnership began – with that brutally honest and poignant statement.

Photo of woman with dark hair standing before a barn door. Part of Morris' portraits.
Woman standing in front of a barn. Part of Morris’ “Portraits” series.

He asked if the Art Library would be interested in a donation of maybe 200 of his books about photography.  Since we were between directors, we consulted with Libraries Dean Fox, Tyler Goldberg (Head of Technical Services), Matt Wyatt (Development Director), and James Procell (Interim head, Art Library), and decided to accept, as photography is one of our most popular collections.  After meeting with Mr. Morris, that quickly turned into a donation of over 1,100 titles.  We don’t have an official value, but a rough estimate is about $175,000. We think it was the largest single donation to the Bridwell Art Library.

Image of two birds in a cage on a table set for two in front of a Paris cafe.
Two birds on a table in front of a Paris cafe.

I began working with Mr. Morris, taking his hand-written lists of books and arranging for pick-ups. In the summer of 2019, I took our student intern at the time, Maree Grosser, with me for the heavy lifting.  Once a week we would drive to Mr. Morris’ house and fill either my car or the library van with the treasures he was gifting to us.  He would always have jazz or classical music playing and was happy to find out that Maree was an aspiring photographer. His keen intellect and interest in both our lives was comforting. He and I shared a love of taking pictures of things that were not “pretty” to museum standards. 

To say that he was eclectic is an understatement. He was unconventional, funny, and warm.  He collected antique typewriters, cameras, and books of all sorts. He had a very large collection of Chuck Taylor shoes that perfectly suited his style and being. His apartment was like a museum, mixed with a bookstore, mixed with a comfy home.

Woman with bare shoulders sitting on a couch.
From Morris’ “Portraits.”

Ron Morris was a Louisville native and alumni of UofL’s Hite Art Institute (1969). He was also the Arts editor at the Louisville Cardinal during his undergrad period. He went from UofL to the Massachusetts College of Art for his MFA (1982) and settled in Boston for 40 years teaching photography at Newtown High School and honing his craft.  He retired from teaching in 2014 and moved back to Louisville.  His photographs have been exhibited at the Addison Gallery of American Art, Hofstra University, MIT, the Portland Art Museum, Newton Art Center, Vision Gallery, Rhode Island School of Design, the New England School of Photography, the Memphis Academy of Art, the Hudson River Museum, Northeastern University and Texas A&M University, and the Caviar Forge & Gallery in Louisville.

We had great plans to celebrate his donation in 2020, but Covid cancelled them.  Unfortunately for us, Mr. Morris passed away in the spring of 2021. Through his death we have added more items to our collection from his estate: prints of his photography; self-made books; graphic design images of the objects he collected; re-imagined movie posters; and of course more books. We will celebrate his gift sometime in the near future, but until then we will keep adding the objects he gave to us and remembering the man who was so inspirational.