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.

He swings, fans swoon: UofL library displays its renowned Tarzan collection

UofL Archives and Special Collections will display a portion of its enormous Edgar Rice Burroughs collection July 1, just in time for the release of the new “The Legend of Tarzan” film. Burroughs famously created the original Tarzan character and stories.

The Burroughs collection is the largest in the world, with more than 100,000 items such as first-edition books, fanzines, film stills, scrapbooks and posters, games and other memorabilia from the author’s life and works.

Known as “The Grandfather of American Science Fiction” Burroughs penned 63 novels, 21 short stories and 26 literary sketches. Originally writing for pulp magazines, Burroughs quickly mined a deep vein with his Tarzan character by capitalizing on the stories’ success by allowing merchandisers to create knives, bows and arrows, belt buckles, watches, figurines, candy, bread, pop-ups, coloring books and costumes. Many of these items are part of the collection.

Beginning July 1, to synchronize with the movie’s release, ASC will exhibit editions of “Tarzan” in 37 different languages, to emphasize the worldwide appeal of Burroughs’ iconic character. It will be on the first floor of Ekstrom Library, in the west wing across from the circulation desk, and run until Sept. 2, one day after Burroughs’ birthday.

“What better time to showcase some of this important collection, which means so much to the numerous fans of Burroughs, than at the release of another ‘Tarzan’ movie,” said Carrie Daniels, director of Archives and Special Collections. “Just the fact that this story, with an indelible character at the center, prompts a major movie release shows the longevity and imaginative depth of Burroughs’ original tale.”

Most of the collection was donated and curated by Archives and Special Collections Professor and Curator Emeritus George T. McWhorter, as a tribute to his mother, who taught him to read early in life using Burroughs’ stories. The collection is officially named in her honor.

In addition to the displayed exhibit, all items from the collection are available in Archives and Special Collections Research Room, Ekstrom Library, lower level 17. Anyone with a photo ID may view or research individual items 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday.

For more information, contact Daniels at 502-852-6676 or carrie.daniels@louisville.edu.


Students Share, Learn, Improve Writing During Annual Event

By Rob Detmering

At the 2016 Celebration of Student Writing (CoSW) last week, UofL undergraduate students from a variety of courses showcased their writing through posters, readings, and digital media presentations. Over 100 students presented their work at the event, which was held March 30 in the Ekstrom Learning Commons, its location since 2014.

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Highlights of CoSW included “Concept in 60” digital videos, where students must convey a single idea in just sixty seconds.  Another event, genre analysis assignments, featured students exploring conventions of particular types of writing, such as scholarly articles in different fields.  As in years past, many confident and enthusiastic students attended the event to learn and showcase their writing, research, and learning.

Co-sponsored by the Composition Program, Ekstrom Library, and the Writing Center, CoSW was made possible through the efforts of Assistant Directors of Composition and PhD students Travis Rountree, Rachel Gramer and Drew Holladay, as well as the support of Director of Composition Brenda Brueggemann.

On the library side, Rob Detmering, Bruce Keisling, and Josh Whitacre provided liaison and logistical support; Delinda Buie and George Martinez represented the Libraries as judges; and Ashley Triplett created a wonderful promotional poster (below).

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Research Assistance Gives Student Lifetime Skill

When they need help with their writing, most UofL students know to contact the Writing Center, located in Ekstrom Library’s Learning Commons.

But what about the meat and bones of their papers: research, i.e., finding, evaluating and citing sources? For this equally challenging and unwieldy task, students have an excellent resource in the librarians in Research Assistance and Instruction (RAI), also located in Ekstrom’s Learning Commons.

Christian Bush

Photo by Ashley Triplett

A phone call or appointment made online will get students a face-to-face meeting with a research librarian, who can help them find relevant sources and learn better methods of research to benefit their future scholarship.

UofL sophomore Christian Bush is a recent convert to the benefits of research assistance. He thought such help was only available to students in higher grades.

“Students at all levels and at all times need this help, and don’t realize such a resource is available,” said Bush, a History and Asian Studies major. “When you first enter college, you have an impression that research appointments are sacrosanct; that only seniors working on their senior papers can get help.”

But after a savvy History professor suggested Bush reach out to RAI for help with his research, Bush found he could access the services himself. Required to create an archeological site profile for his class, History 341, Introduction to Egypt, Bush “did what most students do, I googled. But I couldn’t find any information on Google at all,” he said.

In particular, he needed a specific site profile from 1911 that was nowhere to be found. Exasperated, he set up an appointment with RAI online, after which the response was “lightning quick,” Bush said. “They called the next day.”

At the research appointment, RAI Librarian Sue Finley showed Bush not only the original excavation report he needed, but subsequent ones, up to modern-era excavation where ground-penetrating radar helps archeologists explore  underground tombs.

“I got a wealth of information,” Bush said. “More than enough to write my paper, and then some.”

But beyond helping with his immediate needs, Finley “took me through her methodology for locating the sources. She spent a good amount of time showing me how to use databases and work with sources, the nitty-gritty of the research.”

“If I hadn’t been able to meet with her I wouldn’t have had such a strong research base and it would have made the profile much less substantial,” he continued. “The fact that she taught me how to research and how to go through sources and then use the sources within sources; that’s benefited me outside that project.”

“A paper is only as strong as your writing skills and your research; if you don’t have solid research, there’s only so much you can do.”

The short-term results were important to Bush, too: “I got an A on the paper,” he said, smiling.


Celebrate Black History Month with African American Read-In at Ekstrom Library

On Monday, February 8, words of African American authors will come to life as volunteers gather to read their written works out loud at the 27th Annual African American Read-In.

Attendees will gather in Ekstrom Library’s newly renovated First Floor East, in the Learning Commons, under the Cardinal Birds, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. for the event.

“The requirements for what may be read, or by which authors, are very broad,” said Joan D’Antoni, U of L professor of English Composition. “Participants can read books, poetry, articles, or anything – the only requirement is that the author be African American.”new image

Every 20 minutes or so, attendees will get the chance to win a free book by an African American author. Organizers plan to give 15-20 books away.

“The book give away is unique to our read-in,” said D’Antoni.

The University of Louisville has hosted a read-in since it was first established by the Black Caucus of the National Council of Teachers of English in 1990; it has been hosted by Ekstrom Library for the past 10 years. Now international in scope, the read-in celebrates Black History Month in February with a focus on literacy; the NCTE encourages schools, churches, libraries, bookstores, and other community groups to host and coordinate the read-in events.

“People who come to the read-in are really attentive,” said Fannie Cox, an Outreach and Reference Librarian and member of the Commission on Diversity and Racial Equality (CODRE). “They will stop and listen and they are amazed to be getting books.”

Anyone interested in reading at the event should contact Joan D’Antoni at joan.dantoni@louisville.edu.

The event is co-sponsored by the University Libraries and the U of L Department of English.


Getting Words Down on the Page

by Adam Robinson, University Writing Center

The hardest part of writing for me is getting those first words down on the page. And I’ve worked in the Writing Center long enough to know that I’m not the only person who has this difficulty. I’m dedicating this blog entry to any writer who is blocked or has been blocked. Hopefully, I can offer a little advice or at least some empathy with your situation.

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Image credit: desiitaly

I usually get stuck because my expectations for my project are too high in the beginning—insert image of a frustrated writer staring at a blank screen, writing then deleting opening line after opening line. The best way for me to free myself from the burden of high expectations is to start my projects with low stakes writing that won’t likely (or perhaps shouldn’t) make it in my first draft. I’m talking sloppy, unpunctuated sentences paired with some doodles and a few lists. In fact, low stakes writing is a constant presence in all stages of any project I’m working on. I’ve seen three benefits from this casual approach to writing. 1. I’m less bored with my writing process. Low stakes writing is a needed break from the formal, “correct” writing expected of polished drafts. I allow myself to go on tangents and explore my thoughts in my low stakes writing. 2. These tangents and explorations reflect the simple reality that we write or should write to discover what we know and don’t know about whatever it is that we are writing about. It’s often repeated among writing teachers that “writing is thinking.” 3. Lastly, writing the first draft seems less intimidating because I’ve already started writing. I was taught a linear approach to writing that involved picking a topic, researching, outlining, and drafting. That process certainly helped me develop as a writer. But that process also put a lot of unneeded pressure on me when it came time to write the first draft. I had already done a tremendous amount of research and thinking. I had completed an outline that promised a beautiful, logical final product. I needed to see that hard work immediately pay off with a successful first draft. I don’t thrive on that kind of pressure. I like to lower the stakes with my writing.

More importantly, however, I remind myself that I never write in isolation. I need other people (usually other writers) for motivation, guidance, and inspiration.   Reading other people’s words and ideas often unblocks me. And like low stakes writing, reading is always a part of each stage of my project.   I obviously read before I write a draft to get a sense of the conversation circulating around my chosen topic. But even after I’ve written a few drafts and have gotten closer to something that resembles a complete essay, I find myself needing and wanting to do more reading. I may reread a critical source for inspiration or to find something new, or I may seek out a new source that can plug a hole in my thinking.

And, of course, I seek out advice from other writers, which leads me to a final point…and plug for the Writing Center. We can help you with any project (professional or personal) at any stage of that project. We will engage you in a productive conversation about your writing. We’ll answer your questions and listen to your goals and concerns while asking you a few questions of our own and giving you a thoughtful response to any writing that you share with us. And since we always think about your writing as being in process, there is no judgment about the quality of your draft. It’s just a draft to us. There are no grades. No number scores. We are simply trying to help you move your project forward and to share with you some ways to approach future writing projects. We want you to come away from an appointment feeling more confident and more prepared to work on your project. You can visit our website (http://louisville.edu/writingcenter) to learn about our consultations and to access our handouts, videos, and other writing related resources.

Have a good semester!

Adam