What We Did at UArts This Summer

In the very early hours of the morning of April 29, 2017, one week before the end of the spring semester at the University of the Arts, an 8-inch water service line pipe burst in the basement of Anderson Hall where the lower level of the Albert M. Greenfield Library resides. Twelve feet of water quickly filled the basement and covered everything. Almost half of the library’s print collection—over 25,000 volumes of books, 10,500 volumes of periodicals—the Archives and Textile collections, Picture File, reading room, and the contents of staff offices and spaces were affected. Fortunately, the technical services librarian, whose office is in the basement, had taken her laptop home for the weekend!

Before and after

Once the water was pumped out of the building, the Archives and Textile collections were quickly identified as the most important collections to be removed as soon as possible for freeze-drying. These collections are essentially irreplaceable. Staff who live near the building arrived the next day to identify those materials for the reclamation company on the job. With the support of other librarians, I made the decision to declare the rest of the collection a total loss. Having gone through a less devastating water event in the past and seeing the results of freeze-drying on books that were totally saturated, this seemed the best course of action for over 35,000 books and periodical volumes. There was simply no way for us to quickly prioritize books for freeze-drying with less-than-ideal results. In addition to being soaking wet, books were scattered throughout the space and interspersed with shattered glass, toppled bookshelves that had been pulled from the walls, furniture that had been moved by the force of the water, and other debris. It was also not safe for us to stay in the space for more than a very short period of time. On top of that, the licenses and inspections department of the City of Philadelphia quickly placed a cease-occupancy order on the building so we were not permitted to enter any space in the building without an escort, and only for a short period of time to gather essentials. Many people, both within and outside of the university community, offered their assistance but there was little anyone could do with this order in place. In the end, everything that had been in the basement other than the Archives and Textile collections was discarded due to quick deterioration.

Water pressure does crazy things to books

All library staff and operations were moved to the Music Library—housed in the Merriam Theater Building just a block away from the Greenfield Library—on the Monday morning after the flood. The first thing we did was gather together over coffee and donuts so I could share the information I had and try to assure everyone that we’d get through this together, and to strategize about how to maintain library services. With the help of the Music Library staff, the displaced staff found spots for their new “offices.” Carrels used for audio equipment were converted into staff workspaces, Music Library circulation staff graciously made room at the circulation desk area for the displaced circulation staff, spaces in the reading room were claimed, and the music reference librarian happily squeezed two of us into his office. We were literally in every nook and cranny. The resilient library staff adapted very quickly and developed stronger bonds and working relationships.

Our “offices”

Being in close proximity to one another was a silver lining during a very difficult time; it increased and enhanced our communications and taught me, for one, to change my habits once we moved back into the Greenfield Library. I now think twice before sending off emails and, instead, often pick up the phone or walk to other offices to speak with people. I hope we will have the opportunity in the not-so-distant future to use what we learned to configure some staff spaces that offer privacy but are also conducive to more collaborative and personal interactions.

The outpouring of concern and support from colleagues like all of you, and others from inside and outside the university gave our spirits a tremendous boost and helped ease our anxiety. Frequent snacks brought in by very kind faculty and staff, support from other departments in the building, and a library staff field trip helped, too!

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Our field trip to the Masonic Temple in Philadelphia

We moved back into the first floor of the Greenfield Library almost exactly four months after the flood and just in time for the Libraries’ annual Open House and the first day of classes of the fall semester. The space is half of what we had before the flood and it has been a challenge to find spaces for two staff and the student assistants whose workspaces were in the basement, and for the books returned or acquired over the summer. We are busy purchasing materials lost in the flood that are needed by students and faculty, and processing the many replacement donations of books that have been streaming in from friends and colleagues (thank you!). Our communications to the university community at the time of and since the flood have focused on the fact that we were and are still able to provide the same excellent services as we did before the flood. Thanks to the dedicated, hard-working, professional, and service-oriented library staff, I am happy to say that we have done just that, and may even be providing better and more attentive services to the University of the Arts community.

After several months of gathering data for them (and explaining serial titles vs. volumes and other library specifics), we are in the final stages of working with reclamation and insurance companies and in the first stages of planning for the future of the UArts Libraries. Although we will rebuild parts of the collections, we will say farewell to others and determine what kinds of spaces will best serve our community going forward. We will use what we learned from this event to make strategic decisions about the future. Stay tuned!

Submitted by:
Carol Graney, Associate Provost and Director of University Libraries
The University of the Arts

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The SVA Library Resists!

Following the presidential election last November, the School of Visual Arts Library staff felt moved to come up with programming for our community that addressed the heated political climate in America. In March 2017 the SVA Library hosted a series of public events simply titled Resist! that showcased different mediums through which our students, faculty and staff could and were already taking action. Events in the series included two film screenings, a political art workshop, a Wikipedia edit-a-thon, a CryptoParty, a poetry reading, and a game night.

Resist! An Event Series Presented by SVA Library

An initial idea for our politically-themed programming was to hold a “mini conference” of sessions and speakers over one to two days. This format quickly gave way to a looser timeline of one to two weeks, which allowed for more scheduling flexibility on both the part of our event partners and potential attendees. Four library staff members, including our director, Caitlin Kilgallen, associate director, Rebecca Clark, digital services librarian, Phoebe Stein, and instruction/periodicals librarian, David Pemberton took part in planning the events.

The first two events in the series were held on March 15th. In the afternoon, a screening was held of the film Captured, a documentary about the people and places behind the creative energy of NYC’s Lower East Side neighborhood in the 1980s and 90s. The Tompkins Square Park riot of 1988 featured prominently in the film. The director, Clayton Patterson was on hand to introduce the film and hold a post-screening Q&A. That evening, volunteers from the Interference Archive visited the library to talk about their popular propaganda parties and discuss how independent artists and designers can collaborate with community organizations to create and distribute material that conveys a political message.  After the discussion, a workshop was held for participants to work through the process of imagining and planning their own propaganda party.

On the second night of the series, the library hosted a CryptoParty focused on personal digital security and operational security for activism and direct action. Two volunteers from CryptoParty NYC were on hand to lead discussions about general security precautions for email, web browsing and messaging, and more focused digital precautions for activist networks and journalists.

For our fourth event, the library hosted an Art + Feminism Wikipedia Edit-a-thon, dovetailing with other A+F events taking place all over the world in the month of March. Two training sessions, led by librarian Phoebe Stein, were held for new editors to become familiar with Wikipedia’s best practices, and then participants were free to use the library’s resources to add information and citations to articles. Our edit-a-thon saw 12 editors add one new article and over 2,000 words to 20 different existing articles about women artists.

Art + Feminism Wikipedia editors at the SVA Library

Our second film screening took place on March 20th, in partnership with SVA’s MFA Social Documentary Film department. Students from the program presented their activist films from the modern era of protest, including Standing Rock, the Women’s March, the NYC Yemeni Bodega Strike, and Funeral for the Presidency. They also screened sneak peeks of their other films, followed by a reception.

On the evening of Tuesday, March 21st, four prominent New York City poets, Patricia Spears Jones, Lydia Cortes, Sheila Maldonado, and Bakar Wilson shared their work and experiences at a reading introduced and moderated by librarian David Pemberton. For posterity, this event was filmed and posted to SVA’s YouTube channel; view it here.

The last event in our series, a game night, was held on the evening of Friday, March 24th. This event was a partnership with another SVA department, MFA Design for Social Innovation. Students in that program had designed tabletop games addressing social issues for a class assignment, so holding a game night was the perfect chance for students to see their games in action. Three different games were played by small groups, followed by discussion of the game play and issues raised by the games.

Game Night at the SVA Library

Overall, the event series was very successful. Individual events were attended in varying numbers, but anecdotal reports from attendees were overwhelmingly positive. All of the events were open to the public, and at most of the events we provided food and drink, which we find are one of the keys to attracting attendees. For library staff, planning the series was a great way to reach out to external and internal partners and to forge relationships with SVA departments that can at times be very siloed. To see others photos of the events, search the hashtag #resistsva on Instagram.

Join the ADSL Hangout this Thursday!

Looking for a great way to stay involved in ARLIS/NA and ADSL between conferences? Join us this Thursday, March 30th at 3pm EST/12pm PST for our first Art & Design School Library Division Hangout!

For this initial Hangout, we’re looking for topics and potential contributors for future ADSL discussions, events, and collaborations. If you have an idea for a conference panel or other presentation, or if you just want to listen in, this will be a chance to brainstorm and vote on what you want to see ADSL do in the coming year.

We hope to use Hangouts as a way to gather and discuss throughout the year, so this first meeting is a great no-pressure situation to test out the tech and get yourself familiar with the new Google Hangouts (through YouTube). The first part of the discussion will be orienting people to the tools available, so don’t worry if you’ve never done this before!

Just click this link when it’s time to join us Thursday March 30th — it’s that simple! https://hangouts.google.com/hangouts/_/q7jmtoqvrjfjxptudhtbkbjewue(Tip: paste the link right into a calendar appointment so you don’t have to hunt for this e-mail later.)

How it works:
We’ll all gather in a Hangout and discuss our ideas. If multiple people want to talk at once, we can use the text chat sidebar.  When someone wants to present an idea to the group we can turn Presenter status over to you, and everyone will see either your face or a screen share.  The resulting discussion will be captured as a YouTube video which won’t be publicly searchable, but will be shareable with a link.

Can’t make it to the Hangout?
If you have any questions or concerns about this Hangout, or have suggestions for future ADSL events, you can let the moderators know directly. We’ll send a poll after the Hangout to collect more votes on topics, too.

We look forward to seeing you all then!

How will your library celebrate National Library Week?

Two full weeks remain until the start of National Library Week (April 9-15, 2017).  How do art and design school libraries celebrate this annual event?  Creatively, of course!

2017 LCAD Library National Library Week flyer by Lora Wanta (LCAD BFA Illustration, ’15)

At the Laguna College of Art + Design, we use National Library Week to celebrate our library and libraries in general. We also use it to celebrate and thank our library patrons and supporters. Some years we’ve had used book sales, other years we’ve had collaborative zine projects or book-making workshops, and sometimes we’ve done double-duty with National Poetry Month and hosted poetry events and readings.  This year we are delighted to be partnering with our local independent bookstore, Laguna Beach Books, to host New York Times bestselling author Lisa See, who will discuss her new novel, The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane, in LCAD’s beautiful Nina’s Park during National Library week.

Selected pages from the 2015 LCAD National Library Week MindMeld Zine

One year, we asked library patrons to fill out a small form, completing the phrase, “My favorite thing about the LCAD Library is…,” and we displayed them on our front door for all to see.  It was an easy, affordable and non-survey driven method to get our constituency to share their thoughts about what they like best about us.  Yes, there are replies about the great books, the compact shelving, and sleeping in the window seats, but it warms a librarian’s heart to see the “helpful and friendly” library staff frequently mentioned.

Since National Library Week typically takes place during the last few weeks of the spring semester, by then the students are wearing thin with end-of-year-projects and can use a little sugary pick-me-up. Thus, we decided to celebrate National Library Workers Day in earnest — with cupcakes!  Luckily, we have a bakery nearby that has a discounted rate on cupcakes on Tuesdays.  We hold the event just outside of the library, adjacent to the courtyard.  After I say a few words about National Library Week and why we celebrate libraries and those who work in them, everyone cheers and we all dig in.  Our library’s 7th annual cupcake celebration of those who work in the library will take place at 3pm on Tuesday, April 11th, 2017.

In my office hangs a Wayne Thiebaud-esque painting by a BFA painting alumna of one of our National Library Week cupcakes she picked up a few years ago and painted in the senior studios.  She titled it, “Library Day.”  Every day is a library day for me, but I hope our students and faculty find their library days to be as sweet and delectable as mine.

Amy Bergener (BFA Drawing and Painting, ’13), “Library Day,” oil on canvas, 12×12,” 2013

For more information about National Library Week, visit http://www.ala.org/conferencesevents/celebrationweeks/natlibraryweek

How will YOUR library celebrate National Library Week this year?