What Students Are Telling Us About How They Use the Libraries

By Anita Hall, Assessment Librarian

An incredible number of students visit our libraries every day, whether in person or online. We’re always trying to understand how they use the Libraries and how we can improve their experience. One way we get this feedback is through surveys. Recently, we participated in a campus-wide survey of students called the Student Support Services Survey (S4), conducted by the Office of Institutional Effectiveness, which gave us lots of great information. Currently, the University Libraries is also conducting its bi-yearly Benchmark Survey to learn about student and faculty habits, needs and wishes in order to improve the Library experience for the University community.

Two students in the 102 alcove in Ekstrom Library

In the S4 survey, one of the things we really wanted to know was how students learn about the Libraries. This helps us decide how to reach out to students. Those who said they do use the Libraries in some way (in-person, online, or both) were most likely to learn about us from a campus tour, orientation, or resource fair (21.54%) or because of a course requirement (21.32%). Campus emails were not particularly helpful – only 1.98% said that they learned about the Libraries in this way. Good to know!

Here are some more of the top ways that students learned about the Libraries:

Which of the following helped you learn about the University Libraries?
Campus tour, orientation, or resources fair21.54%
Course requirement21.32%
A librarian came to my class11.10%
Blackboard10.00%
Academic Advisor8.35%
Freshman Guide6.70%
Recommendation from a friend5.49%

We also wanted to know why some students don’t use the Libraries. Most of these students said that they just haven’t needed to yet but will when the need arises (32.20%). Others say that they currently have access to all the resources they need to complete their coursework (22.03%). However, there were some students who said they either don’t know how to use the Libraries or don’t know what kinds of services and resources the Libraries offer (11.86% for each). We’ll be working hard to try and bring those numbers down before the next survey.

Another thing the Libraries wanted to know is what types of information skills we can help with. We asked how confident they are at several different tasks. Most students feel pretty confident with all of them, which is great. Below is a snapshot of the tasks that some said they are either not at all or not very confident in completing. We also asked questions about how and when they learned these skills, and their responses to those questions will help us work with professors to support them in teaching these skills. This might involve librarians leading instruction sessions in classes, creating online learning modules for Blackboard, or developing some of our own resources that can be accessed anytime. A great example of this is our Citizen Literacy resource, which has lots of great information about evaluating news sources.

Please rate your confidence in completing the following tasks:“Not at all Confident” or “Not very Confident”
Locate books and other materials required for an assignment9.41%
Locate scholarly, peer-reviewed materials when required for an assignment5.02%
Develop a research topic for an assignment5.06%
Cite sources appropriately when required for an assignment3.72%
Evaluate the trustworthiness of news and other web sources3.31%

Are you interested in providing more feedback about the Libraries? One great way is to join the Libraries Student Advisory Board. We’re always accepting new members! The Libraries will also be sending out our Benchmark Survey later in March 2021 – we have been using this survey for almost 20 years to get feedback about our spaces, services, and collections. This survey goes to a sample of the University community, so you may or may not receive a survey invitation. Watch your UofL email, and if you get one, please answer it! We really appreciate your time and responses.


Libraries Diversify Collections to Fulfill Anti-Racist Vision

The Libraries have increased funding to four libraries – Kornhauser, Music, Art and Ekstrom – to diversify our collections in support of UofL’s drive to create an anti-racist university. Dean Bob Fox has used gift funding to allow the purchase of more books, DVDs and other materials on civil rights, equity, and Black history, among other subjects.

“We’re very committed to expanding our collections in areas that will support President Bendapudi’s mission to have an anti-racist campus,” said Dean Fox. “This extra funding provides an additional boost to meeting this goal.”

Begin Again: James Baldwin's America and it's urgent lessons for our own by Eddie S. Glaude Jr.

The allocation of gift funding is in addition to the typical yearly budget for new materials.

Additional funding provided to the Music Library has covered recent purchases of 134 music scores by Black composers. Prior to receiving this funding, the Music library used one of the music library’s endowments to purchase 97 music scores by Black composers. A catalog listing of those items can be found here.

The Lexington Six by Josephine Donovan

In Ekstrom Library, new titles include The Devil You Know: a Black Power Manifesto by Charles Blow (2021); White Too Long: The Legacy of White Supremacy in American Christianity by Robert Jones (2020); Diversity, Oppression, and Change: Culturally Grounded Social Work by Flavio Marsiglia (2021); The Lexington Six: Lesbian and Gay Resistance in 1970s America by Josephine Donovan (2020); and Begin Again: James Baldwin’s America and its Urgent Lessons for Our Own by Eddie Glaude (2020). Additional funding helped the library purchase new titles for the Granville A. Bunton African American Collection.

Kornhauser Health Sciences Library has purchased new books dedicated to diversity and anti-racism, specifically in healthcare.  A current list of the library’s diversity related resources can be found within WMS by searching “diversity in healthcare.”

With the additional funding, the Art Library will continue to add to its collection of diverse materials related to art history, artists, graphic design and art pedagogy, among other subjects. See this list for a snapshot of the library’s latest acquisitions.

We’d love your help in this work! Please consider recommending materials that will help us better serve our community via this RECOMMENDATION FORM.


Muhammad Ali: A Transcendent Life: A Celebration in Virtual and Onsite Exhibits, Opens January 25

On January 25, 2021, UofL’s Muhammad Ali Institute for Peace and Justice and the University Libraries will commemorate Muhammad Ali’s social justice legacy with a series of virtual and onsite exhibits titled Muhammad Ali: A Transcendent Life

Image of Muhammad Ali. Charles Harrity, AP
Charles Harrity/AP

The exhibits honor Muhammad Ali’s connections to Louisville, his unique contributions to civil rights and social justice movements, and his inspiring global legacy. Transcendent Life will engage the UofL campus and community and show how Ali’s legacy as a global humanitarian and champion for social justice impacts peace and justice advocacy today. 

The multimedia exhibits will begin a phased opening on January 25, the week after his 79th birthday on January 17. The first exhibit showcases Ali as a Humanitarian and Peace Advocate. In February, a virtual exhibit will honor his civil rights record. Subsequent exhibits emphasize his boxing and athletic background and his involvement with Islam.

Multimedia exhibits launching January 25 include a display in Ekstrom Library of a rare book of Ali photos , while a virtual exhibit features a story map of public art and monuments titled “Muhammad Ali: An Extraordinary Life in Louisville and Beyond.”   

Photo of Muhammad Ali addressing a gathering at a Black Muslim convention in Chicago on Feb. 25, 1968. (AP)
Muhammad Ali addresses a gathering at a Black Muslim convention in Chicago on Feb. 25, 1968. (AP)

To include all voices in the celebration, exhibit organizers invite University and Louisville community members to record and upload video/audio memories or thoughts for a tribute titled “Standing Up For Peace.”  Contributors may share uploads to this video tribute and archive through June 2021 via: louisville.libwizard.com/f/ali-stand-up-for-peace.

Color photo of Muhammad Ali, by Eric Feferberg/AFP via Getty Images
Eric Feferberg/AFP via Getty Images

A symposium titled “Standing Up For Peace – Celebrating Muhammad Ali’s Social Justice Legacy” is planned for Spring 2022, Ali’s 80th birth year. The symposium’s focus will be national and global racial justice and human rights issues, featuring nationally recognized speakers, UofL student contributions, and excerpts from the video archive. A series of break-out sessions will bring together community organizers and justice advocates to design action agendas to stand up for peace in their communities.  

The Muhammad Ali: A Transcendent Life commemoration will include:

  • An exhibit in Ekstrom Library of rare archival resources on Muhammad Ali including the massive volume Greatest of All Time: A Tribute to Muhammad Ali with additional photographs by Howard L. Bingham and Lin Caufield. The Archives and Special Collections exhibit will be held in the first floor cases of the west wing of Ekstrom Library, across from the circulation desk through February 26.  
  • A Digital Storymap titled “Muhammad Ali: An Extraordinary Life in Louisville and Beyond”  featuring public art and monuments to Muhammad Ali in Louisville:  storymaps.arcgis.com/stories/a28b07b8238847de994dd6165877a1b6. This is a collaboration between University of Louisville, the Muhammad Ali Institute for Peace and Justice, the Bridwell Art Library, and the Center for Geographic Information Sciences.  
  • UofL’s Music Library display will feature original music and other recordings by and about Muhammad Ali.  He was an eclectic artist who acted on Broadway and released several recordings.
    • Did you know that the song “The Greatest Love of All” sung by Whitney Houston is about Muhammad Ali? The 1977 version was performed by George Benson as the theme song of the The Greatest, a film about Muhammad Ali.
  • The Bridwell Art Library will display books highlighting artists who photographed or depicted Muhammad Ali in their work.
  • The Kornhauser Health Sciences Library will feature innovations in Parkinson’s Disease treatments as well as Muhammad Ali’s contributions to advance this research.
  • A Research Guide will feature several Digital Timelines of Muhammad Ali’s life focused on: his Boxing Excellence; his Spirituality and Islamic Faith; his work as a Humanitarian and Peace Advocate; and his actions as a Social Justice and Civil Rights Icon. The timelines connect Muhammad Ali’s life with key moments in global and U.S. history. The Research Guide will feature additional resources from University Libraries and the Muhammad Ali Institute. https://library.louisville.edu/ali  
  • The Standing Up For Peace Community Engagement Video Series will ask our community to share their thoughts about this question: “What can we learn from Muhammad Ali about standing up for peace today?” This audio/video collection of community contributions will be available to the public. Upload here: louisville.libwizard.com/f/ali-stand-up-for-peace
  • Spring 2022 – SYMPOSIUM – “Celebrating Muhammad Ali’s Social Justice Legacy – Standing Up For Peace.” This symposium/conference will focus on how Muhammad Ali can inspire the world to stand up for peace today on national and international racial justice and human rights issues.  We are seeking funding and will collaborate with other UofL offices and academic units, student groups, and community groups.
  • Related Scholarship: Fannie Cox and Enid Trucios-Haynes will submit a proposal to present this collaboration and its outcomes at a national library conference.

The Art of Suffrage: Women Cartoonists

Bridwell Art Library employee Trish Blair introduces two female cartoonists for suffrage, and shares how their vision helped most women gain the right to vote.

For women coming of age at the turn of the 20th century there were not many roles outside the home for them to aspire to have. ​But War and other factors led to a surge in women participating in life outside the home; between 1880 and 1910, the number of women employed in the United States increased from 2.6 million to 7.8 million. Yet still most women could not vote in elections. Women began to rise up, and participate in organized protests​, becoming known as ​​suffragists. Merriam-Webster defines suffragist as “a person who advocates suffrage ​(the right to vote).” Suffragists believed in peaceful, constitutional campaign methods; after they failed to make significant progress, a new generation of activists emerged. These women became known as the suffragettes, and they were willing to take direct, militant action for the cause.

One way that women did make a mark in that time-period was in art. Two women made a name for themselves as cartoonists for suffrage, Nina Allender (1872?-1957) and Annie “Lou” Rogers (1879-1952). Women at this time did not have many role models as women had not yet become cartoonists, publicists, or public figures. These women were in a new generation, a transitional generation who with their middle-class, white, protestant upbringing were poised to change their circumstances and the country at large.

Photograph of Lou Rodgers. ca. 1910. Photographer unknown. Wikimedia Commons.

Annie “Lou” Rogers, one of the most prolific suffrage artists, was from a long-established American family in Maine. Her love of drawing took her to the Massachusetts Normal Art School, where she left after failing her first year exams. She “hated the plinths and the dead white casts and the stiff designs for wallpaper.” Rogers prided herself as a self-taught artist.  In 1908 when publications rejected her, she began using the pseudonym Lou Rogers.  Soon she became one of the country’s leading cartoonists with her work appearing in The Judge, Ladies Home Journal, and the New York Tribune.  She also published books, and hosted a radio show in the 1930’s. And little did she know that working at The Judge would change how the world sees women, albeit many years later. While at The Judge, Rogers worked alongside Harry George Peter, who would occasionally create pieces when Rogers was overbooked. Peter was the original artist behind William Moulton Marston’s Wonder Woman. Both Marston and Peter were inspired by the suffrage movement in the creation of the character, and while it cannot be determined whether Peter was influenced directly by Rogers work, it still showed the hallmarks of suffrage artwork.

Cartoon by Nina Allender. Published in The Suffragist. June 6, 1917.

Nina Allender was born in Kansas after her family moved westward from Pennsylvania in the early years of western settlement. Years later, her family would return east to Washington DC. Allender attended the Corcoran School of Art, and attended the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, one of the first art schools to provide professional opportunities for women. She joined the suffrage movement in 1913 when she met Alice Paul. She produced cartoons that showed a new spirit and interpretation of suffrage.  She began working at The Suffragist, a publication of the National Women’s Party. She worked to change the image of suffragettes to stylish young women patiently waiting for their rights—an opposite portrayal by anti-suffrage cartoons that caricatured activists as frumpy and nagging. The Allender Girl was in stark contrast to other depictions of women at that time such as the Gibson Girl, the most popular women’s image of the time by cartoonist Charles Dana Gibson. As a more popular version of the New Woman (i.e. the Suffragette), the Gibson Girl both undermined and sanctioned women’s desires for progressive sociopolitical change.

Informal portrait, Nina E. Allender, full-length, seated at desk, facing left with head turned toward camera, holding a cartoon sketch in her lap. Photograph by Harris & Ewing. Image from Library of Congress Prints and Photographs. Digital ID mnwp.274001.


Louisville Businesswoman and Community Activist named UofL Alumni Fellow

The University Libraries is pleased to celebrate long-time community activist and social justice advocate Jessica Loving as an Alumni Fellow for this year’s University of Louisville Alumni Awards.

Loving was named an Alumni Fellow from UofL’s schools and colleges as well as Libraries and Student Affairs along with 13 other graduates. This year is a virtual celebration featuring video interviews with the honorees as they discuss their time at UofL and the impact of their careers.

“I’m so happy that Jessica Loving is the 2020 recipient of the UofL Alumni Award on behalf of the University Libraries,” said Libraries Dean Bob Fox. “She has done so much for Louisville and for Kentucky through her work with community organizations and as a tireless advocate for social justice.”

“We are especially fortunate in the libraries that Jessica shares a vision of transforming one of our spaces in Ekstrom Library into a Jewish Studies Reading Room that would bring our Jewish studies collection into a space shared by scholars in quiet reflective study, as well as providing facilities to host noted lectures and speakers,” Fox added.

Loving is currently a board member of the American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky and the Jewish Community Relations Council. She previously served on the boards of the Louisville Ballet, the National ACLU, and the Center for Women & Families.  She is also a founding member of the Jewish Family & Career Service’s MOSAIC Award Committee.

Jessica Loving received her Bachelor of Arts in Humanities from the University of Louisville in 1968 and was inducted into the Phi Kappa Phi and Woodcock honor societies. She has been president of Jessica Loving & Associates, a public relations and marketing consulting business in Louisville, for a number of years.

Loving formerly was vice president of corporate communications at PNC Bank, executive director of the KY Commission on Women, and executive director of the ACLU of KY. Loving’s public relations and marketing clients have included banks, law firms, nonprofit groups, real estate developers, bourbon distillers, unions and a meatpacking plant. She has also provided pro bono campaign planning and management for several local judges.

Loving was a member of the University of Louisville Board of Trustees from 1996 through 2008 and was Board chair from 2001 to 2003. She has also served on the University’s Board of Overseers, College of Arts and Sciences Advisory Committee, and Athletic Advisory Commission.

“I would urge my fellow graduates of the UofL to be mindful of how we can help the university be the sort of place that can nurture young 17- and 18-year olds freshman and give them the kind of education that most of us got and help them make this world a better place,” said Loving. “We have a lot of work to do and the University is the place that nurtures the people that can make a difference.”

Jessica and her husband, Sheryl G. Snyder, a Louisville attorney, have a blended family of five children and seven grandchildren.

“We are so grateful to Jessica for her support of the Libraries, for her support and commitment to UofL, and her passion for social justice,” said Dean Fox.


Announcing the Chalkboard Artist Residency at Bridwell Art Library

“Chalk Artist-in-Residence for Social Justice Wanted” at Bridwell Art Library.

Over the holiday break in 2019, the Bridwell Art Library painted one of its walls with chalkboard paint to give art students a space to decompress, explore their creativity, and have fun. 

When Bridwell opened in January for the spring 2020 semester, employees put out chalk, wrote Welcome Back, and waited to see what happened. While the going was slow at first, eventually new images, words and drawings appeared on the wall and it seemed students were enjoying a new creative venue. Then a global pandemic hit and changed life as everyone knew it.

Another shattering event shook the Louisville community in the killing of Breonna Taylor. Local protests demanding justice prompted much discussion about the injustices that BIPOC (Black and Indigenous folks and People of Color) face living in the United States of America.

“We began to think about how the Art Library could become a part of the solution,” said employee Trish Blair.

With that in mind, Art Library staff went to “injustice square” and other places around downtown to take pictures of the art that people in the Louisville community were making on sidewalks, pieces of plywood, and on the sides of buildings.

“Once President Bendapudi announced the anti-racist agenda for the University of Louisville, the answer was clear: we must strive to become an anti-racist Art Library. We became inspired to use our chalkboard wall to address racism and any other injustices our community may face,” Blair said

The campaign, Chalk Artist-In-Residence for Social Justice, was born. Bridwell Art Library will present a rotating student’s artistic creation that explores social justice themes. The Library will provide the space and the chalk, and students will provide their voices and creativity.

“We are excited to provide a platform for artists to share their thoughts, visions, statements, and creativity to combat these inequalities. We are passionate about social justice and want to be the best library we can be. Libraries are for everyone,” said Courtney Baron, Art Library director.

All students who are interested in sharing their creativity and exploring social justice themes are encouraged to apply to become one of the chalk artists. Visit this link to access the Chalkboard Artist-in-Residence application: https://tinyurl.com/y6j58z5j. Apply by September 28, 2020 to be considered for the residency during the month of October.


Donor Spotlight: Dr. Donald and Catherine Cathy Shoemaker

During last fall’s 50th Anniversary celebration for 1968-69 UofL graduates, Dr. Donald Shoemaker and Cathy Shoemaker visited the Belknap campus for the first time in almost as many years.

“It was amazing, completely different,” said Don. “We couldn’t believe how things have changed.”

Don admits that over the years he had been immersed in his medical practice as an anesthesiologist at Baptist Health in Louisville and hadn’t kept up with the growing campus. “I went to med school in 1968 and hadn’t seen it since and the whole time the campus was growing. My goodness. The way it expanded was amazing.”

Don and Cathy Shoemaker

Don and Cathy Shoemaker

UofL Archivist and Historian Tom Owen led the couple on a lengthy tour of the campus, fielding questions about buildings and settings both familiar and unfamiliar. Owen is well-known for leading Belknap History Walking Tours throughout the year where he plays raconteur and tour guide for groups of faculty, staff, students and Louisville residents.

“He took us out to the new music school, where it was all older houses when I was in school,” said Donald, referring to the building built in 1980 which now contains the School of Music, Comstock Hall and Music Library. “There are three old buildings nearby and I used to take Poli-Sci, English and other classes there.” Facing north, “there was a stone wall, a parking lot and a pizza place” that once lined the now long-gone Shipp Street.

“On the south side of the campus I remember the Purina silos that they tore down. They moved the observatory and other buildings, just pushed them back.”

Cathy, who earned a master’s degree in social work, said that back in the day, “Kent School was in a large yellow brick house near the old Confederate statue. I took a statistics course in the garage.”

The couple were also impressed with the Foucault pendulum clock installed on the ground floor of Grawemeyer Hall in 1978. “The ground level, where you now see the pendulum, was the finance office where we would drop off our tuition checks.”

Don remembers the main library in Schneider Hall – now the site of Fine Arts and the Bridwell Art Library –  to study between classes and before fraternity events. He remembers the long fountain on the building’s east side was occasionally visited by soap bubbles as pranking students poured in laundry detergent.

“As a science major, I had all my classes in one building, the natural sciences building by Eastern Parkway. Now all the sciences have their own buildings. I’d just wait in the Natural Sciences library before classes.

“I’d be walking my legs off now, but probably I’d be in better shape.”

Since graduating from UofL, the couple has been busy with careers and raising a family of three daughters. Their eldest daughter also has strong UofL ties: Amy Shoemaker is the Associate Athletic Director for Administration and Deputy University Counsel. Lisa Borden, their middle daughter is a UofL medical school graduate and pediatrician in Middletown, and youngest Kristin Shoemaker is a commercial airline pilot, living in Charlotte North Carolina.

Cathy and Don were born and raised in Louisville and graduated in 1964 from local high schools, Cathy from Presentation Academy and Don from Seneca High School. Don’s fellow Seneca High School alum was Wes Unseld, the former UofL Cardinal basketball star who played for the Baltimore Bullets and was named NBA Most Valuable Player among other accolades. Unseld passed away on June 2, 2020.

“He helped our team win the Kentucky HS championship in our junior and senior years. We both went on to UofL; I went into med school and he went to Baltimore and had an NBA hall of fame basketball career.”

“He was a good, good guy. It was just a shock that he passed away. I saw him six years ago at the 50th HS reunion. We weren’t close personal friends, but we all rooted for him and I was proud of his talent.”

Cathy earned a master of science in social work from the Kent school. “First I went to Spaulding University and then I was a student at Kent School but I owed the state two years of work because they paid for my tuition,” she said. “I worked in Frankfort, teaching social workers how to lead therapy groups for families with dependent children.” She then worked as a clinical social worker for River Region (later Centerstone), and then after starting her family, she worked part-time for Seven County Services.

After Don earned a bachelor’s degree in Arts and Sciences, he entered the UofL Medical School and completed his residency at UofL Hospital. He served in the Air Force for two years in Omaha, Nebraska and then moved back to Louisville.

Cathy tells the story of how the couple met in 1970 at the old Louisville General Hospital – in the Psych ward, she says, laughing – while both were on rotation there. Cathy was working on her social work degree and Don was a medical student on rotation.

After they married, Cathy began working for the state of Kentucky, traveling all over the state to conduct trainings. At the same time, Don’s residency meant he worked overnight every third day.

“We used to joke that our marriage will last much longer than anyone else’s because we just hadn’t seen each other as much,” said Cathy.

In his long career – he retired in 2013 – Don has seen many changes in healthcare and in the world of anesthesia.

“Back in 1977, it was mostly MDs providing anesthesia, but now we need CRNAs, nurse anesthetists to staff all the areas where anesthesia is needed. Back in 1977, we had six ORs. Now there are close to 30, and they need anesthesia services in the endoscopy suites and delivery rooms, radiology, etc. Even in outpatient centers.”

“But during this COVID 19 crisis, I think people have changed the way they view anesthesiologists,” he continued. “They are heroes. They have to put people on ventilators, intubate them and keep them alive, keep their airways open as they battle the virus.”

Change has not only struck the healthcare profession, but also higher education and in particular, the University over the past 14 years of daughter Amy’s tenure. But though UofL had experienced some challenging times, Cathy and Don both expressed their enthusiasm for President Neeli Bendapudi and Athletic Director Vince Tyra.

“We have been very impressed with Neeli as a leader,” said Cathy. “She has been a stabilizing force and done a great job of turning things around.”

“We can’t say enough about her leadership. She’s personable, smart, and so energetic.”


Bringing Gender Equity to Wikipedia: Bridwell Art Library Hosts 2020 Louisville Wiki Edit-a-Thon Remotely

Fighting a longstanding gender imbalance on Wikipedia, UofL’s Bridwell Art Library recently hosted the Louisville Art + Feminism Wikipedia Edit-a-thon, an event it has staged several times since 2014 to add and improve articles on lesser known female artists.

Enid-yandell-1896

Photo of Edith Yandell. Photographer unknown; 1896 / Public domain.

This year’s event welcomed UofL students, faculty and staff of all gender expressions to edit the site’s articles in a collaborative online setting. Articles on mostly local women artists were improved and edited, including Julie Chen, Ann Stewart Anderson, Adele Brandeis, Marcia Shallcross Hite, Nancy Rexroth, Enid Yandell, and Martha Holmes. Other improvements focused on the local company Hadley Pottery and popular Mexican artist Frida Kahlo

Originally scheduled to be held at the Speed Museum, this year’s event was moved to a remote setting due to COVID-19, and the Art Library plans to host next year’s event at the museum to increase visibility and boost attendance. A small group comprised of UofL staff and faculty met on Teams for two days during two-hour sessions.

“Hosting an event whose aim is to inspire comradery and passion in a remote setting was challenging, but worth it,” said Art Library Director Courtney Baron.

“We can already see the impact our local event has on improving the coverage of women artists on Wikipedia. Perhaps this year the most valuable accomplishment was the transition from an in-person to a virtual event. We were able to accomplish a lot remotely.”

Prior to the Edit-a-thon, Baron and her colleagues, Collections Coordinator Trish Blair and Circulation and Reserves Manager Kathy Moore, created a research guide, with a list of articles that need to be improved.

“There is still a lot of work to do to mend the gender gap on Wikipedia, especially in regards to arts content and editorial representation,” Baron continued. “More women need to be contributing to Wikipedia because their participation has a huge impact on the content.”

While conducting research to create the guide, Baron said “we discovered so many Kentucky women artists who are not featured at all on Wikipedia. This means they are largely unknown outside of our region.”

“Our next step is to create stub articles for these artists that can be expanded at future edit-a-thon events.”

One of the world’s most-visited websites, Wikipedia is maintained and edited by mostly male volunteers, resulting in well-known gender bias. In 2014, the feminist nonprofit Art+Feminism founded a worldwide Wikipedia Edit-a-Thon to encourage women to write new articles and edit existing pages on underrepresented artists.

The Art Library’s past Edit-a-thons have been well attended, open to UofL students, faculty, staff and members of the public of all gender identities and expressions. Participants have created personal accounts on Wikipedia and learned how to edit articles, using library resources to add citations and information to Wikipedia articles on local and regional artists.

“During this year’s event, 12 articles were edited with a total of 70 edits; over 4,200 words and 31 references were added, and two images were uploaded to Wikimedia Commons,” said Baron. “However small, these changes have had a significant impact. In just a few weeks, the articles have been viewed over 159,000 times by Wikipedia readers around the world.”

“We plan to host our 2021 event at the Speed Art Museum and will focus on Kentucky women artists with a focus on community outreach. We hope the location at the Speed means we can reach a broader audience than we would have if we held the event on campus. This is one of the many efforts we are making to increase our collaboration and strengthen our partnership with the Speed Art Museum. The close proximity to the museum – a 5 min walk – in which we can see and interact with works from the Kentucky women artists we are researching and writing about on Wikipedia, is so valuable.”


UofL Digital Content Portal

Exploring digital content from the University of Louisville just got easier. The new portal provides an easy way to access faculty scholarship, theses and dissertations, UofL and student-produced publications, as well as archival photographs and newspapers, digitized interviews, and more.

The portal includes search boxes that make it simple to dive right in and explore. Visit it at https://library.louisville.edu/digital-content.

UofL Digital Content homepage

Indigo, Cochineal Bugs, Onion Skins, and Pokeberries: The Legacy of Alma Lesch

Bridwell Art Library staff member Kathy Moore reflects on the legacy of renowned fiber artist Alma Lesch and fondly recalls taking her class during her sophomore year at UofL.

Alma Lesch’s connection to UofL is long and storied; during her first stint as a teacher, she joined the Louisville School of Art in 1961, and after that was absorbed by UofL, she became an Adjunct Faculty in the Hite Fine Arts Department (where she founded the Textiles program) until retiring in 1982.  Alma’s second and more famous career took off while she was in her 40s, when she developed fabric collage portraits that were adorned with personal objects, which earned her accolades of Master Craftsman by the American Crafts Council (1974), and The Governor’s Award for Lifetime Achievement in Arts (1987).

Southern Gothic

1973 “Southern Gothic,” 27.5″ x 39″, fabric collage portrait; shown in first World Craft Exhibition, Toronto, Canada 1974, currently on display at Bridwell Art Library, UofL.

Alma Lesch

Alma Lesch workshop “Vegetable Dyeing,” 2nd Southeast Region Workshop, Memphis Academy of Arts, June 9-11, 1967.

My small connection to Alma was in 1976, when I was a sophomore here at UofL. Although my major was Biology, my work-study job was at the Bridwell Art Library, which worked out well since I loved historic costumes and crafts. When I saw a class on Natural Dyes I jumped at it. Held in the 1900 brick building now known as the Honors Overseers House, and taught by Alma, I didn’t know she was already famous, both for her textile arts but as the author of the book we used in class: ‘Vegetable Dyeing: 151 Color Recipes’ (1970). Huge pots full of different plants, mosses, barks and insects boiled on table-top gas burners, while we hand-twisted hanks of yarns into skeins that took on the whole range of colors in the rainbow. Indigo (blue), cochineal bugs (scarlet), onion skins (orange) and pokeberries (pink) all were tried with varying results. It was magic! Alma was patient with our mistakes, but her total focus on the craft and no-nonsense work ethic imbued in all of us a respect for the old timey traditions that were relevant once again, and that sticks with me still.

Vegetable Dyeing

Vegetable Dyeing; 151 color recipes for dyeing yarns and fabrics with natural materials” by Alma Lesch. New York, Watson-Guptill Publications [1970], ISBN: 9780823056002, Art Library Book Stacks  TP 919 .L47.